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July 23rd, 2008
05:50 PM ET

The reality of autism

Watch Michael Savage on Larry King Live
Watch Michael Savage on Larry King Live

Editor’s note: Dr. Charles Sophy is responding to recent comments by radio talk show host Michael Savage. Savage said this about autism: “Now the illness du jour is autism. You know what autism is? I'll tell you what autism is in 99 percent of the cases. It's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out.” WATCH SAVAGE ON LARRY KING LIVE

Dr. Charles Sophy
Medical Director, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services
(the nation's largest foster care operation)

Uneducated opinions such as Mr. Savage's are truly reprehensible. There is NOTHING fraudulent about Autism! It is a real medical condition. It is like saying there's no such thing as a broken leg.
It's not that there are necessarily more autistic people in the world now, but parents and medical experts in the U.S. today are more aware of and more apt to explore "unusual" behaviors or developmental delays in babies and toddlers.

Moreover, there is no medicine for autism. So overmedicating or over prescribing for autism is not a possibility. Many people with autism, however, do have co-morbid disorders i.e. depression, anxiety, mood disorders etc. which sometimes do require and respond very well to medication.

Most importantly, early intervention for autism is key. Any developmental delays or unusual behaviors should be explored early on by an expert. In this way, a mild developmental delay (not on the autistic spectrum) can be helped along, and a true case of autism will have the best chance for an optimum outcome.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Autism • Dr. Charles Sophy • Medical News • T1
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Pam M -London Ontario Canada

    Does Michael Savage read? If he had done the proper research on autism, he wouldn't make such ridiculous remarks and obviously has not spent much time with autistic children. In this day and age, we know more about this disorder and others such as bi-polar. Let's thank our lucky stars, he doesn,t work in the medical field. How would he like it if we said that talk show hosts are people who are just highschool dropouts who couldn't find work anywhere else?

    July 23, 2008 at 8:54 pm |
  2. Maddy

    I was very pleased to see how many people reacted with horror at his ranting.
    Best wishes

    July 23, 2008 at 8:31 pm |
  3. Cherica

    I also heard what Savage had to say. The only coherent part of his argument is the possibility that children as young as eighteen months might be too young to make a definitive diagnosis of autism. However with that said, everything else that came out of Savage's mouth was, as Dr. Sophy said, uneducated and reprehensible. Recognizing that a child is autistic at a young age can benefit him or her in that they have access to resources to help them overcome the hurdles they will face growing up. I find it interesting to note that Savage was insistent that people with conditions like autism use their "non-existent condition" to reap the free programs, resources and funds from the government. He gave an example of minorities and asthma. Talk about uneducated; I suppose it never crossed his mind that factors that pollution in urban areas and the inability to afford health care might have any role to play in his "example."

    July 23, 2008 at 7:32 pm |
  4. Lisa

    I have no doubt about the increase in Autism and believe it to be linked to the environment. But I have further concern that as with ADD, children with behavioral problems that cannot be explained will be diagnosed with Autism – as this seems to be the "diagnosis de jour" with kids. And just as with ADD, surprise, surprise there will be a drug one can give their child to "control" the episodes, rather than get to the root of the problem.

    On the surface, it does appear that the pharmaceuticals have a new "cash cow". It would be nice if, as a society, we can step away from the "profits at all costs" and "my child is out of control, what can I blame it on" mentality we seem to be presently living in. And it gives to rise to uneducated comments and observations such as that of Mr. Savage.

    I fear that children who really do suffer from Autism will be lost in the shuffle as a result.

    July 23, 2008 at 7:09 pm |
  5. Cindy

    I heard what Savage said about autism yesterday. He is ridiculous to think that these kids are putting on an act just for attention or because they haven't been made to mind. He needs to read up on a subject before he runs off at the mouth about it.

    Cindy...Ga.

    July 23, 2008 at 6:26 pm |
  6. Jack

    I am not saying autism is not a real condition, however when you have doctors taking money from pharmaceutical companies and it seems everyone is being diagnosed with some disorder or issue, it makes me very skeptical. Just because a kid have behavioral issues does not mean he has a disorder or illness. If you could write a prescription, and the pharmaceutical companies could make money, for discipline I bet that would be handed out more than aspirin.

    July 23, 2008 at 6:20 pm |