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DENIS LEARY’S autism remarks are appalling

By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Thursday, October 16th, 2008 at 1:37 pm in Health & Safety.

STRIt seems Michael Savage has a partner in idiocy. Actor Denis Leary is blaming the brain disorder autism, in part, on “inattentive mothers” in his new book, “”Why We Suck: a Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid.” (See more on the New York Post’s Page Six.) The excerpt from the book shows the heights of Leary’s ignorance and callousness:

“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.”

He calls these children “stupid” and “lazy,” not autistic. So are ill-advised comments about a health issue that experts — you know, the folks with actual medical degrees — have shown is a true epidemic for our children. Like radio talk show host Savage, who spouted off in July with equal rubbish, Leary is clearly trying to grab headlines for his own self-promotion. So here’s a thought: Don’t buy his book, unless you need kindling for your fireplace.

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No Responses to “DENIS LEARY’S autism remarks are appalling”

  1. Mark Says:

    Denis Leary has always been abrasive and low-intellect. It served him well for his new york smart-mouth type stand-up humor. The reality is there is not much behind the stereotype he displays.

    In interviews he is shallow. Deep thinking for him is wondering why he likes pork chops versus hamburgers.

    Hopefully people will now see him for the fake that he is.

  2. Sue Says:

    Hey, my autistic teen is clearly smarter than Leary.

    His GPA is in the top 25% of his high school class. His report card came home last week with four A’s and two B’s, and attached was really great note from his drama teacher. Next week he’s getting an award from the school.

    Maybe someone knows how to contact Mr. Leary and invite him to that award ceremony – Skyline High School in Oakland, 12:30pm Thursday. Think he’ll have the nerve to show up and face my kid and an “inattentive” mother like me?

  3. Sean Says:

    Wow. One sentence taken out of context from an entire BOOK written by a stand-up COMIC makes the news… Does that mean that the Bible is pornography because of all that “begat”-ing in the beginning? Must have been a slow day in the economic-collapse arena.

    Whatever you do, don’t READ THE BOOK AND THEN JUDGE because you might actually find out what he’s saying and have nothing to write about.

  4. Thomas D. Taylor Says:

    People interested in learning the facts about autism are welcome to listen to the free autism spectrum podcasts by Midnight in Chicago. They are located at

  5. C'mon Says:

    Have you read the book yet? How do you know this isn’t taken out of context. I believe that he does say that autism is real and that he knows a family with an autistic kid, but as a comedian, he’s stating that it’s being used as an excuse by some to explain away why the parents are have a hard time.

    But of course, what fun would it be to write about that. The sound bite is much more interesting.


    “The people who are criticizing the ‘Autism Schmautism’ chapter in my new book … clearly have not read it,” he said in a statement released Wednesday. “Or if they have, they missed the sections I thought made my feelings about autism very clear: that I not only support the current rational approaches to the diagnoses and treatment of real autism but have witnessed it firsthand while watching very dear old friends raise a functioning autistic child.”

    His point, and he does have one, is “not that autism doesn’t exist — it obviously does — and I have nothing but admiration and respect for parents dealing with the issue, including the ones I know,” explains the father of two. “The bulk of the chapter deals with grown men who are either self-diagnosing themselves with low-level offshoots of the disease or wishing they could as a way to explain their failed careers and troublesome progeny … Please give me the benefit of the doubt by reading all of what I wrote before attacking me.”

  6. Cindy Says:

    Let’s just write a new book…Whatd’ya think of this title: ‘101 Reasons Why Denis Leary Sucks’. Man, that would be some fun writing!

  7. David Says:

    Read the book. I haven’t read the book and I already know that what he said is taken out of context. The media and bloggers need to read and think before attacking people based on snippets of what they said.

    People need to read more than just blogs before saying things. (I even admit that and here I am posting this.)

  8. marie Says:

    I have always thought that autism was just another name that they give stupid low intelligent kids, in the 80s & 90s it was adha, now its autism, people just dont want to face the fact that a lot of kids are just not to bright! and if you notes most of these kids come from older mothers. may be all this has something to do with stale eggs? no one wants to be the one with the stupid kid, there was a time where we just lock them away, but know we dont we just wave them out in the world, look at me look at, dont you just fell sorry for me, ever one love the attention.

  9. Ann Tatko-Peterson Says:

    Allow me to be more clear: I have read the book, including the entire chapter on autism. Denis Leary’s knowing a family with a functioning autistic child AND stated belief that autism exists does not excuse his sweeping generalization that the “boom” in autism is because of “inattentive mothers” and “competitive fathers.” As the Autism Society of America noted in response to the book’s chapter: “For Mr. Leary to suggest that families or doctors conspire to falsely diagnose autism is ridiculous… [His] remarks reflect the same misconceptions of autism being caused by bad or unemotional parenting that were held over 50 years ago.”

    Perhaps more telling, Leary chose to include this in a book in which he unleashes his trademark politically incorrect tirades against Dr. Phil, Hillary Clinton, Paul McCartney, and more. It’s inappropriate, and frankly, I’m glad the book came into my hands for free because I would have been disgusted with myself for putting any money in Leary’s pockets.

  10. Ed Says:

    Oh Ann, It’s funny how your response is almost word for word of an article I read yesterday. You may not have bought his book, but someone did and everyone is talking about. So who is the sad and stupid person? Denis Leary or all of the people making a mountain out of a mole hill? And I’m sure Denis is crying all the way to the bank!

  11. Sue Says:

    Would you like to come to my son’s award ceremony at Skyline? I’d *really* like you to meet the boy you just called “stupid”.

    Please say you will…

  12. kim Says:

    First he ( DENIS LEARY’S ) Actor success has gone down the hill. He knows 1st hand Autism is the number 1 leading disorder in the world right now and This is his way of grapping some fame for another 15 minutes so then maybe he can get a better job than Rescue Me show, Because HE is a (terrible) actor … Plus he has to get someone elsa to write his book because he is (stupid). Yeah this piss me off.

    Cindy , The first number reason on the your new book ‘101 Reasons Why Denis Leary Sucks’. Man,

    1. Is I am one hit actor and where am I know and what can I do to get more fame.

    Oh lets see , Autism is big , so he thought his little stupid ass would say something about Autism and then only thing it did was piss off JENNY MCCARTHY and Families that do have Autstic Children because he knew that would grab everyones attetion.

    Yes , His new book should be banished from every store. If you buy that book then you are wasting your time and money trash talk like him. HE is what I would call WHITE TRASH!

    Sue, It would be a pleasure for anyone to go to your sons event, But do you really think such white trash deserves to enjoy a bright , smart , and wonderful for your son event . I would NOT give him that pleasure. I would keep all the happiness to myself and My family.

    Yes, I do have a child with Autism and No she is a such a pleasure to be around and such a bright, smart wonderful loving child . She is much smarter than him.

    No, I am not a lazy parent, I work my ass of for my child to be more independant and to be as normal as she can. I fight evreyday for her and well continue to until the day I die. I am a proud parent of a who has Autism.

    Only GOD gave parents these wonderful kids , because he knew that these parents could handle anything that comes there way and they are the ones who are blessed.

    I feel kind of sorry for this dumb ass!

    Just my southern Thought! LOL.
    (Editor’s note: This posting has been edited.)

  13. Chris Says:

    It’s so funny how Michael Savage gets blasted for his comments on autism but ever since he did, more attention has been brought to the problem. So in a sence, he’s done anyone with this problem or anyone who has loved ones dealing with anyone with this problem a great service. He believes that autism has been misdiognosed. It’s not a mental disorder like bi-polar disorder or liberalism. It’s a medical disorder and should be treated as such. So don’t hammer people who are just stating their opinions. Remember, until obama gets in, this is still a free country. Denying anyone’s freedom to say what they want to say is facism to the core. Thank you.

  14. marie Says:

    they tried to tell me my son had ADHA when he was 8, then all they wanted to do was dope him up!
    I would not let them all i am trying to say is not ever one learns the same, and some of us will never have thing come ease to us. I am not say any one is stupid, that was the rong word! But we have to just help our kids to achieve to the best of there abilities with out doping they up or labeling them.
    my son got through school with out being doped up his hole child hod just to make the school and teachers more comfortable! My son even excel past his cousin how is the same age and went to the same school, she was in the advance class, when my son was in resource class, then by the 8th grad he was in the same class as her and getting better grades. He knows what head work is, We did not have money to send him to collage, but his cousin went and drop out after the first semester, pissed my son right off!! he is married now with a good job! the one thing that pisses my son off is when he was in school the way the teachers just o you pore thing do what you can, we dont expect to much out of you, that’s how he felt they were treating him and the others. he thinks kids like him should be pushed harder. not put them back 10 steps and felling sorry for them!

  15. Amy C. Says:

    I have a nine-year-old with autism. He was diagnosed at the age of two by a developmental pediatrician (not a “shrink”) and has NEVER been on any medication, nor has any of the doctors, teachers, or therapists we have worked with ever mentioned putting him on meds. He has made a lot of progress over the years, but we still have a long way to go. Comments like Mr. Leary’s are not helpful to the debate on whether autism is overdiagnosed or not (which I myself am not sure of, but I would certainly do more research before making such remarks). Free speech is not the right to insult a whole class of people. He has the right to voice his opinion, and so do I.

  16. Sue Says:


    I’m glad you made the right choices and decisions for your child, and that his life has turned out so well.

    But… there always is a “but” isn’t there?

    Medical treatment works and is a huge benefit for some. My sister was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, and was very lucky to have a special reading tutor – back in the 60’s before the era of IDEA made special education services available to all students.

    In college, she was diagnosed with ADD, and getting the appropriate medication helped her tremendously. She has an MS in Civil Engineering and works for Caltrans. Her daughter is a 10th grader, and also has an ADD diagnosis, and also benefits from medication.

    There are no drugs that work for dyslexia, even today. There are no drugs that help with autism symptoms – except for a *very* tiny minority of folks on the autism spectrum.

    When my son was first diagnosed in 1st grade, the neurological and developmental specialist offered DH and me the opportunity to try ADHD medication for our boy. The doctor explained that it was unlikely to make any difference, but suggested a blind trial (teacher not knowing about the medication) for two reasons. First, if our kid was amoung the minority of autistics who was helped, it would be a huge change and improvement for him. Second, we could and should expect, at some point, that school officials would want us to drug-the-kid-into-submission, and when that discussion inevitably arose, we’d be able to say, “We tried medication, and it had no effect. Now, let’s move on to the things the school and the district can do that will help him.”

    The second reason was the correct one for our family. But our experiences don’t apply to every family, and I don’t think I can dictate what other families *should* do for their child, based on what has (or hasn’t) worked for my child. We’re all trying to figure it out. There are no sure answers, and we just have to try different things and learn what works, and what doesn’t, in each individual’s unique circumstances.

    That’s why I don’t appreciate people – Leary, Savage, etc. – who make sweeping generalizations, and insult children and parents who are struggling with the child’s disabilities. We’re all trying to get the best results we can, and we need to be supportive of each other.

    If someone gets their eyes opened by meeting my son, maybe they’ll be more humane to the next family they meet – maybe when a kid has a meltdown in the grocery store, the parent won’t get so many dirty looks from others who judge him/her to be a bad parent. Maybe instead, they’ll get asked, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

    If meeting my son changes one attitude, and that person with the changed attitude then changes their behavior towards others, then my son’s autism will have made the world a little bit better place for all of us to live. I dream of that better world.

  17. Suzanne Says:

    I think it’s funny that Marie has the nerve to call people stupid when she can’t write worth (anything)! There’s a little something called spell check and grammar check, learn it and use it, honey!

    I am a special educator as well as a family member of children with autism and I think that your comments are obscene. ADHD (not ADHA) is COMPLETELY different from autism. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. They’re not the same disorders!!!

    I think it is disgusting that people like Denis Leary and some of you who have commented here are accusing parents of children with autism of being inattentive. That’s bullshit. I’m sure that Sue and Amy are fantastic parents as are all of the parents of children with autism that I have encountered.

    Some of you, especially you Marie, should consider educating yourself rather than being ignorant fools who walk around talking about things that they don’t even understand. Do some research, read a book, google some websites, and then get back to me. Until then, don’t go around making accusations about things you know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about.

    I support autism and autism research. It is essential to find a cure for this disorder as it is affecting children at the rate of 1 in 150!! That’s evidence. Take the time to make a difference and do something about the cause rather than attacking those who are struggling with this issue every day.

    (Editor’s note: Edited for language)

  18. Sue Says:

    Suzanne, your passion and your intensely emotional response show a wonderful empathy and love for your students. Thank you for that. Teachers like you have done wonders for my son and so many of his peers, and he wouldn’t be where he is today without those loving and generous people.

    OTOH, yelling at and insulting someone who clearly doesn’t know any better, won’t inspire that person to learn better. If we (parents and educators) want to be treated with dignity and respect, and especially want that for our differently-abled kids, we have to hold ourselves to a very high standard and model that behavior to the very best of our ability.

    I do understand your feelings – and I often feel the same way. It’s *hard* to be subjected to Marie’s harsh, unthinking comments, and to Leary’s, and to Savage’s.

    I think I blew it in my first comment when I suggested that Leary was less intelligent than my autistic son. I think venting my frustration the way I did, provoked Marie’s and the other hostile comments here. My only excuse is that I knew when I did it that it was unlikely in the extreme that Leary will ever be aware of my insult, and even more unlikely that he’ll ever become an ally of ours in advocating for people on the autism spectrum.

    When I responded directly to Marie, first, inviting her to attend my son’s award ceremony, and second, attempting to provide more information which she seemed to be unaware of, I was trying to be gentle and civil – hoping that even if I didn’t win *her* over, I might still win over other readers.

    One of the little tricks I used to curb my angry feelings (and I think I was just as angry as you) as I wrote, was I started with “Grandma always said, ‘you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.'” Grandma was a very wise woman.

    You won’t see that sentence in anything else I’ve posted here – I simply kept it in front of myself in the text box. As I typed each sentence and paragraph, it reminded me to check that what I was saying was as honey-filled and vinegar-free as Grandma would have liked.

    When I was finished, I deleted that sentence because it was only meant for me, not to the readers of this blog. I hope I was successful, but others will be a better judge of my success or failure.

  19. Suzanne Says:


    Thanks for being the level-headed and calm one in the discussion, I do appreciate your ability to be rational and speak out of truth rather than emotion. I really admire that quality in other people, and I will keep your words in mind.

    I realize that my response was not rational, and that I should take the “high road” and be the bigger person, hold myself to a higher standard than the likes of Denis Leary and those who agree with him, but I stand by my remarks. I stand by them, albeit written in anger, because I think I had the nerve to say what other people were thinking after reading this.

    I’m sick of hearing people speak poorly about people with disabilities. If I have to hear the term, “That’s retarded” one more time… and that’s coming from educated people at the University level and higher education! The group is spoke of in such an ill-manner on a regular basis and it is a form of oppression.

    Words can oppress, and when I read the comments listed here, I thought of my 6 year old cousin and the 8 year old I provide respite care for who has become a sister to me, and realized the oppression that they face and will continue to face from ignorant people. I think I stood up for them here on this site, although obviously only viewed by a small group, and I can sleep tonight knowing that I love them enough to put my reputation on the line for them.

  20. Sue Says:



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