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Michael Savage, Autism and Civil Discourse

I didn’t hear the program, but if this report is true, Michael Savage spoke in a cruel, thoughtless way concerning children with autism. He should offer an apology and a retraction.

On his radio show last week, Savage said: “What do you mean they scream and they’re silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, you idiot.’

More of the story here.

Parents of autistic children around the country are outraged, and correctly so. One company has pulled their advertising  endorsement of the show, and there are calls for the syndicator to fire him.

In the past, I’ve listened to Michael Savage, and I agree with many of his views, although his style is abrasive and sometimes crude. While he is an intelligent learned man, I can only take so much of him, and when he begins loud rants and calling people jerks and worse, I switch off the radio. Amazingly, he ranks as the third most popular talk show host, just after Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Those who follow my writings know I have studied, strong opinions and frequently state them. I do, however, try to do so in a courteous, thoughtful way, and I endeavor to create a forum in which those with contrary opinions feel welcome to debate. I suspect I am more likely to have my thoughts fairly examined if I couch them in polite tones.

A subject worthy of its own column is that of speech in America, but for now let me make the simple observation that we are lacking in civil discourse. Too often our discussions launch into name calling, vulgarity and crude remarks. It’s easy to pitch out derogatory remarks and epithets; much harder to construct a cogent argument while being attentive to facts and contemplating all tangents and possible issues of the discussion. 

It would please me to hear that Michael Savage has issued an apology for his crude and insensitive remarks. Let us all use this incident to consider our daily speech, and endeavor to avoid flippant remarks and indiscreet statements.

Are you aware that the Bible speaks to courtesy? 

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:” 1 Peter 3:8

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Alex Ousted from Kindergarten by Vote of Classmates

His story broke last week, and when I read it, I was troubled, saddened and outraged, but because of time constraints all I could do was make notes, knowing that it would be this week before I would be writing about this charming little boy

Alex Barton

Photo provided by the family

Alex Barton was a kindergarten student at Morningside Elementary School in Port St. Lucie, Fla. when his teacher Wendy Portillo led the class in a vote which resulted in the ousting of this child from his class. As startling as this sounds, he was ejected from the classroom and sent to the nurse’s office–because of the vote of his classmates.

Alex, a 5 year old boy “who is in the process of being diagnosed with autism,” specifically Asperger’s syndrome, was voted out of his kindergarten classroom by the other students. How did that happen? The teacher thought it would be a good idea to let the other kids tell Alex what they thought of him. “Disgusting” and ” annoying” was the verdict. The vote was 14-2 in favor of kicking him out of the class, so he left and spent the rest of the day in the nurse’s office.

from Strollerderby

Melissa Barton, his mother, filed a complaint with Morningside’s school resource officer, who investigated the matter, Port St. Lucie Department spokeswoman Michelle Steele said. But the state attorney’s office concluded the matter did not meet the criteria for emotional child abuse, so no criminal charges will be filed.

I understand how annoying it can be to have a disruptive child in a classroom, or in a home, or in a church service, or in a Sunday school situation. In both Rialto and Garden Grove, Jerry founded Christian schools, and I’m quite familiar with such frustrations, although we were not staffed to handle autistic children, so we would not have admitted Alex to our school. But we had plenty of disruptive students, believe me. So, I sympathize with the difficulty the teacher must have experienced in dealing with Alex.

But to call such a child to the front of the room and lead his classmates into berating and belittling him is far beyond the pale. It smacks of cruelty, and a complete lack of feeling for this challenged child.

It is my opinion that the teacher should be fired.

There have been positive developments in the story since last week. From around the world, Alex and his mother have received support. In this video, you will see Alex and his mother Melissa being interviewed.

I’m interested in your opinion about this matter. Can you think of any reason the teacher was justified in such action?

Edit: Breaking News Friday 10:00 A kindergarten teacher has been reassigned after she allowed her students to oust a fellow 5-year-old from the classroom because of his disciplinary Chicago Sun-Times

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Severely Autistic, Carly Fleischmann Speaks Using a Computer

One of Rebecca’s friends has a daughter who is autistic, and through the years as Rebecca has often cared for the child so that the parents could have respite, I have observed the extreme challenge such a child presents. I have seen the child screaming and so out of control that Rebecca must physically restrain and hold her. She is of a higher functioning level than some and speaks in a limited way. Her parents are dedicated to her recovery and have tried special schools, home schooling, medication and unique diets. At times there has seemed to be progress–at other moments all seems futile. Having this limited experience with autism, I am especially pleased to read of the tremendous success another young lady is having as she deals with this mysterious, debilitating condition.

Carly Flieshman

Carly Fleischman has severe autism and is unable to speak a word. But thanks to years of expensive and intensive therapy, this 13-year-old has made a remarkable breakthrough. Through the means of a computer, she commicates with intellect, clarity and passion. She speaks of her fears, frustrations and other feelings. This is a tremendous stepforward that is of immediate promise to the thousands of families so affected.

From ABC News is this article and very moving video.

“It feels like my legs are on first and a million ants are crawling up my arms,” Carly said through the computer.

Carly writes about her frustrations with her siblings, how she understands their jokes and asks when can she go on a date.

“We were stunned,” Carly’s father Arthur Fleischmann said. “We realized inside was an articulate, intelligent, emotive person that we had never met. This was unbelievable because it opened up a whole new way of looking at her.” This is what Carly wants people to know about autism.

“It is hard to be autistic because no one understands me. People look at me and assume I am dumb because I can’t talk or I act differently than them. I think people get scared with things that look or seem different than them.” “Laypeople would have assumed she was mentally retarded or cognitively impaired. Even professionals labelled her as moderately to severely cognitively impaired. In the old days you would say mentally retarded, which means low IQ and low promise and low potential,” Arthur Fleischman said.

Therapists say the key lesson from Carly’s story is for families to never give up and to be ever creative in helping children with autism find their voice.

“If we had done what so many people told us to do years ago, we wouldn’t have the child we have today. We would have written her off. We would have assumed the worst. We would have never seen how she could write these things —

What a remarkable development this is, virtually releasing the soul of Carly Fleischmann, and giving us a look inside her probing mind.

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