Tag Archives: Asperger’s Syndrome

Denis Leary or Schmenis Schmeary

Dear Schmenis,

Why so angry, chum?

In your new book Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid  you’ve directed your ire at the autism community. Word is out that you’ve titled a chapter “Autism Schmautism.” In it you state

“There is a huge boom in autism right now because inattentive mothers and competitive dads want an explanation for why their dumb-ass kids can’t compete academically, so they throw money into the happy laps of shrinks . . . to get back diagnoses that help explain away the deficiencies of their junior morons. I don’t give a [bleep] what these crackerjack whack jobs tell you — yer kid is NOT autistic. He’s just stupid. Or lazy. Or both.”

Hmmm. Methinks someone has employed the Michael Savage publicity firm in an attempt to sell some books. Perhaps the book couldn’t sell on its own merits because it’s…well…not funny? Far be it from me to critique your writing – I haven’t read the book. I have enjoyed your humor – it is yours, right? – on numerous occasions & think you’re a clever guy. Who doesn’t love Two if by Sea?

If you must take the Savage route and bash a group of parents, why not choose parents of children with another disability? Don’t you think that picking on parents of children with Aicardi syndrome or Cystic Fibrosis would yield the same amount of chuckles? Oh right. You have issues with originality.

Okay. I see where you’re quoted as saying that you’d like Jenny McCarthy to picket your book tour. I’m more a Melissa McCarthy fan (& Amy Sherman-Palladino)  , myself. Sounds like you think that if Jenny went after you it would help you sell a lot of books. Is that why the autism parents are your target? Because we have a celebrimom spokesperson who is hot ? Or was this a calculated decision based on the sheer number of families affected by autism? The greater the outrage, the greater the number of media outlets – is that the plan?

One could make the argument that you’ve actually done the autism community a great service by bringing the disorder back into the headlines. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Maybe going after the autism community isn’t a publicity stunt, maybe it’s a keen social commentary couched in biting humor. Maybe you’re going to make a very generous donation to the autism charity of your choice –  hopefully not based on a percentage of the sales of this book. Or maybe you’re just….this.

Denis, my parting words to you are this: remember, the Affleck kids will always have better seats than you at the Sox games -even before they’re potty-trained. That must hurt.

-the cheese says WTF Gus? If I boycott your movies I’ve got to find a new holiday flick.



It’s not a problem for me….but you might want to get a clue.

Geez. I’m really starting to loathe homework – which is weird since I’m not taking any classes currently. I’m talking about my son’s elementary school homework. We’re spending HOURS at the table each night trying to complete homework that my kid doesn’t know how to do.  I need to clarify – he understands the concepts covered in school, he just can’t seem to recall the directions for how to complete the homework. Then I read the directions and take my best guess. And 90% of the time, I’m wrong. I’m spending so much  time trying to prompt him to recall directions that I don’t have any time to get anything else done.

 I <gasp> didn’t get to see “The Biggest Loser” last night (nor the presidential debate, but I’m in saturation mode when it comes to politics. I’m still plodding my way through policy & couldn’t take another night watching them try to establish dominance. From the clips I’ve seen this a.m. it appears the candidates did everything except pee on the floor to mark their territory. ) I TiVo’d, only to find that my youngest has set up new priority recordings which overwhelmed poor TiVo until TiVo cannibalized my recorded shows to make space for dozens of episodes of “Total Drama Island” and the like. For those of you not hip to the DVR, it’s the same end result as when I recorded over the Bears’ 1985 SuperBowl victory – it’s gone, gone, gone.

The TiVo is a petty concern. The homework isn’t. BTW, I’ve been told that I’m overwhelming the staff (school, not TiVo – though if TiVo could talk….)with my questions. Even if I hadn’t been chastised for asking questions, I still couldn’t get them answered prior to the assignments’ due dates –  which are typically the next day.

We’re in a quandry. My kid can understand the work & needs to do all of the work just like the rest of the kids – but it takes him more time & he has additional work outside of school. So they send home more homework- which I’ve encouraged but not without adequately explaining to him how to do the work.

Writing this down has helped me form a new question: Is he in the room when the directions for homework are being given? Oh crud. I thought I was past advocating for him to be in the room.

Well, it’s so nice to have this time together. I hope that if you’ve devoted time to reading this entry that you weren’t under the misguided assumption that it was anything but a cathartic exercise. I’ll try to make sure that my next entry is more resource-oriented. Some days, I’ve just got to complain. I hope that’s not a problem.

– the cheese on a soapbox in the conservatory with a lead pipe…

resource for the day great site for finding obscure board games

Autism, you first?

The negative political ads that are sprouting up around my kids’ favorite TV shows make me wonder how correct is politically correct? I was recently accused of trying to impose PC language on others when I (in a very low-key manner or so I thought) corrected a loved one who said that a boy was “an autistic.” My primal instinct was to redirect her to the more person-first language of “the boy who has autism.” My loved one really hasn’t spoken to me or my primal instinct since.

Person-first or people-first language is the practice of using semantics to consciously promote the idea that we should first recognize the person and then the disability. For example instead referring to a kid as a “diabetic” you would say “a kid with diabetes” in people-first language. Likewise, instead of saying a person “is autistic” you would say a person has autism.The rationale behind this  practice is that it allows for the person with a disability to be considered for more than just his or her diagnosis. In the past, when I’ve heard others using people-first language, it’s been  music to my ears – mainly because I’d always felt that using this phrasing implies a more evolved way of thinking about disabilities.

While it can be grammatically correct to use the word “autistic” it still grates on my ears.  About a year ago, Mac and I were at a conference filled with autism experts and educators. The keynote speaker for the conference was the state’s superintendent of schools who I assume is a person supportive of the ASD community as evidenced by her attendance at said conference,  made what seemed like a major faux pas by addressing all of the wonderful “autistic teachers” from her state.  Mac and I stifled our giggles when we saw the discomfort the superintendent’s comments brought to the faces of the experts on the stage behind her. I may have even stage-whispered sort of shouted something to the effect of “Good! At least we know our kids have jobs waiting for them as teachers in this state!” or something equally snide.  I felt pretty smug in my knowledge that I knew the more correct way – grammatically and politically – to describe the teachers of children with autism.

And then I came across this: http://web.syr.edu/~jisincla/person_first.htm. This essay by Jim Sinclair isn’t new, but it was new to me. It was definitely an eye-opener. It made me think about how we discriminate between autism and personality. Are all of the bad traits attributed to autism and the good traits to personality? I’ve started wondering how mindful I have been of the boys’ ways of thinking. Do they see themselves as separate from their autism? Do they see all of the grammatical awkwardness (really, people-first language can be cumbersome and redundant) that I’ve imposed on everyone as evidence of a message from me, albeit unintentionally, that says  “I love you. You’re perfect. Now change!” ?

Sure, you could dismiss this whole issue as a matter of semantics. But let’s face it, words matter -especially to parents of kids on the spectrum. How many other parents do you know that count every word that they’ve ever heard their child say? How many other parents know what “mean length utterance” is?  Who else lives and dies by the communication notebook from school? Reports of new word combinations used to mean an evening of celebrations. “No new words to report” led to  a night of near depression for me. To think that how we speak about our kids (& how we allow others to speak of them) is a luxury kind of challenges one of those pieces of wisdom that probably came needle-pointed on a pillow :  while actions speak louder than words, we use words to inspire action.

The argument against people-first language is not unique to the world of ASD.  C. Edward Vaughn wrote an article for the National Federation for the Blind entitled, “People-First Language: An Unholy Crusade.” Ouch. Talk about a name saying it all (actually the name doesn’t say it all – read the article to learn Mr. Vaughn’s well-worded argument). Wikipedia also notes that people-first language is rejected by many “deaf and autistic people.” So perhaps the politically correct stance is to go with the preferences of the individual who has the disability. Unfortunately when writing on a more global scale -like, I don’t know a blog maybe? – this rule doesn’t provide much in the way of guidance. Cheese reserves the right to write in people-first language & the right to change without advance warning…like a garbage truck backing up without beeping.

 Of course I’m going to need years of behavior modification to overcome my instinct to use people-first language. Does anyone know a good BCBA for that?  

– the cheese

cheese first, people second