My Photo
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Saturday, July 26, 2008


A Note About Crying to Michael Savage

I was very disturbed and concerned last week, as most of our community was, when I heard of Michael Savage's remarks on radio. As you can read in yesterday's post below, he suggested that autistic people are faking it, that the kids are crying as a bad behaviour instead of recongizing what that behaviour might be communicating.

Today, I have an example of something Adam has written and how I must try and understand what he is trying to tell me. I can do so by watching him and I usually think I can understand, but also, because he can, we practice his typing. Of course, when autistic people are distressed, communication is more difficult. Nevertheless, I gently prod Adam to try and tell me what he means. For weeks now in the summer he has been typing "red jar." Because he's been using it over and over again, I was trying to learn its meaning. I found out today:

Me: Why are you crying?
Adam: I am crying read in red on red
Me: That is difficult for me to understand. I wonder if you can explain what red means when you write it?
Adam: red means to cry yes.
Me: What were you crying about?
Adam: in red jar
Me: So do jar and red mean to cry or be upset?
Adam: feel too hot.
Me: Oh yes! It is very hot and humid outside today. Were you very hot on our walk with Kiki?
Adam: yes
Me: Would you like anything to eat or drink before mommy takes you out?
Adam: is ready a party
Me: Mommy is taking you out for lunch.
Adam: to ears is eat.

So, I learned that all summer Adam's use of red jar means likely his feeling hot. The air is humid, so maybe he links that with the jar. I have to inquire more. Also, I liked the way he said "to ears is eat." I took that to mean (and the receiver must always acknowledge their own way of knowing and understanding meaning), it sounds like we're going to eat.

Savage said autistic kids are just brats. Imagine Adam being viewed, as he tries SO hard to communicate his needs and desires, being treated like a brat! I really think the brat is Michael Savage for accusing autistic children of this. He makes our lives more difficult.


Blogger Maddy said...

I know what you mean. Trying to understand, often getting it wrong [at least in my case]. Savage does us all a disservice.
Best wishes

11:14 AM  
Blogger Monica said...

I left a link on an autism board to a petition about getting him fired. I was quite shocked when someone from that board started saying that he didn't mean it the way everyone is taking it. It was suggested that I go to his website and listen to all of his clips and statements from that show. I am outraged to say the least.

Autistic children are not brats, I think mine are better behaved than NTs.

I have many more feelings about that man. I refuse to let him or his false perspective of who my children are, change things.

My youngest one had to have an ambulatory EEG last week, and his head was wrapped up like a mummy. We didn't let that stop us from going out to eat. :)

If we want people to treat our children the way they should be treated, we can only teach by example. If they never see difference how can they be accepting of it?

I wanted to end my comment with a positive thought. :)


3:58 PM  
Blogger Monica said...

Forgot to say, that is great Adam is really trying to be understood!

What a difference encouragement, and showing that you truly desire to listen does for a child.

It is so important!


5:48 PM  
Blogger Greg Reich said...

I don't feel the need to prove myself to Michael Savage in regard to my daughter, but reading this post about wife and I go through that sort of thing with our daughter daily, trying to figure out what she means as her vocabulary grows and she learns new concepts. Maybe putting those little slices of life out there will help people understand what it means to live with autism. I don't have much hope of educating Savage--which is why I'm part of the effort to get him off the air through contacting his advertisers--but I think it would educate a lot of other people.

3:26 AM  
Blogger Mama Mara said...

Early in my younger son's development, I took him to a speech therapist who said my son spoke like a genius poet. It's more work to find the meaning behind the words, that's all, she explained. And like great poetry, there is great beauty in the words our children find to express themselves.

9:10 AM  
Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction) said...

As a psychologist, when I talk to teachers (as occasionally I get to), I recommend that they look at children's behaviour as a form of communication and this is especially so with 'behaviour that challenges us'.

So, looking at the rather challenging behaviour of this wanna-be-but-failing-miserably 'shock-jock', it might be useful if we view it as communicating something that he isn't yeh verbally eloquent enough to express using words... like, maybe, that he's just too happy being an ignorant git.

10:09 AM  
Blogger lonestar818 said...

Great post, it's so true that it can take some detective work to interpret what our kids say. One of our sons' speech therapists referred to it as "unusual word choice," but I LOVE Mama Mara's take on it in her comment above.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Tom Smith said...

Hi Estee,

Adam was definitely trying to tell you something concerning the red jar but you totally missed it and redirected him. That is what he meant by "To ears is eat". You got confused by what he was saying or tryng to communicate and then tuned it out ("to ears") and redirected to eating ("is eat").

The red jar may have something to do with anger and how it makes him sad. This Savage thing and the way it was handled is probably not how the auties would want it handled.

I'm assuming you are using the Facilitated Communication (FC) method. Don't do the fading thing, it's a waste of time. If FC ever gets it's due than you can get help with fading maybe later. Get proficient at full support and learn to understand him! You're doing great so keep it up and you will get in "tune" with how he communicates and understand most of it eventually. Auties are very creative and bright so they talk that way too.

I'm an FC advocate and transcriber of the FC interview "QIM Tunes".

Tom Smith

5:23 PM  
Blogger I am Jamie Sue! said...

Micheal Savage is just expressing the combined opinions of the uneducated population that has recently become inundated by an epidemic. Autism is like AIDS in the 1980's. It is highly publicized, poorly understood, and sensationalized across the nation. It will take years for the general public to fully understand and accept individuals with autism. Till then we can do our best to educate others.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I am pleased about is the "Countdown to Midnight" CD is finally getting some radio airplay. It raises money for autism. Who knows? Sooner or later it may shut Mr. Savage up.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Miss Suzy said...

Late, but ditto, ditto, ditto!
No excuses for Michael Savage.
Bless your son for his supreme efforts.

8:37 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home