Friday, July 25, 2008

Just how ridiculous is Michael Savage, anyway?

I just had one thought that came from Savage's show last night. Before some of the segments of his show, they play clips from past shows (Please remember that I am only listening to this garbage to make sure my list of sponsors is accurate, and will never debate him point-by-point). One of those clips involved Terri Schiavo. Savage compared pulling the feeding tube from Terri Schiavo to the beginning of the Holocaust, linking liberals to Nazis in the process.

However one feels about the whole Schiavo ordeal, how could anyone in their right mind compare a euthanasia issue with the wholesale slaughter of millions of people to fulfill the sick fantasy of racial and cultural purity?

I guess if you listen to his show from the perspective of anticipating what ridiculously outlandish thing he is going to say next, it might be entertaining. I just find it disgusting.

Savage keeps saying that his rant about autism was taken out of context. I say that there is no context into which you could put his words to make them any less incendiary, and his subsequent shows have done nothing to make me feel any differently--he still denounces the concept of the autism spectrum as something made up by greedy pharmaceutical companies and doctors, casting suspicion on families whose children have the diagnosis of autism. He's saying that he's defending the defenseless, the children who really have autism, but he's actually hurting them--us, in the case of my family--by labeling autism a misdiagnosis in most cases.

In the time my wife has been on autism message boards (since Caitlin, our daughter, was two) and in the short time I've been on them myself, we have found that the autism community is quite skeptical of doctors (as just about anyone who has dealt with the health care industry will be--I really must talk about my back sometime and the six-month circus that occured before I had any sort of treatment). I encourage such skepticism; therapy for autism isn't cheap. I just dropped nearly $1600 down on classes that meet three days a week for a couple hours each day so my child can receive therapy from professionals. Savage probably would call this therapy a racket, too, but I've seen the progress my daughter has made in this time. She's really learning how to interact properly in social situations in a way that is fun for her. Her clarity of speech is improving. It was a real sacrifice in my current situation to spend that money, but the best research demonstrates conclusively that children diagnosed with autism respond best to early intervention. The longer parents wait, the more difficult it becomes to get the child to respond to therapy.

There is a physiological reason why early intervention works. Anyone who has studied childhood brain physiology (I know, it's a hobby for us all!) and mental development knows that when we are children, we have the ability to form more connections between synapses, known as dendrites. This physiology is the reason why we learn language best before the age of ten--the more connections we make early on, the easier it is to maintain them later. For the child with autism, the earlier the diagnosis, the more malleable the brain will be, and more likely it is that the brain can be "rewired" a bit to get around the issues associated with autism.

With the kind of therapy we're providing for our daughter, even if she didn't have autism, she'd benefit from the social interaction and the mental stimulation. The people who have been involved in her therapy at The Abilities Center in Walled Lake and at the Bussey Center in the Southfield School District have always want to involve the parents, as well; they send us information on what they're doing with Caitlin and how we can help.

I encourage skepticism; I denounce derision. The former is a quality rational, protective, loving parents have where there children are concerned; the latter is a quality Michael Savage has.

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