A Bunch of Turkeys
Chompabilly

Diagnosis: Idiot

(Apologies in advance for the screediness of this post. I slipped in my socks and fell flat on my ass while attempting to kick a foam soccer ball into a miniature goal in my living room this morning, so perhaps it's my wounded pride [and backside] lashing out at its inner child, or some such.)

(For something more fluffy, feel free to visit the Luvs Momspeak site for my entry about Ghetto Fabulous Bargain Baby-Proofing.)

I currently find myself irrationally angry at Denis Leary.

Okay, let me back up. Denis Leary was on The Daily Show last week, where he attempted to clarify this passage from his book, from a chapter called "Autism Schmautism:"

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 fuck what these crackerjack whack jobs tell you—yer kid is NOT autistic. He's just stupid. Or lazy. Or both.

HA HA! Oh, funny fucking shit, that.

So in case you missed the 284304822343489 blog entries about this, uh...yeah. KIND OF NOT THE BEST THING TO SAY. The excerpt appeared in the New York Post, parents went nuts, people got angry, the Autism Society of America essentially told Leary to go fuck himself, and as of this morning, "DENIS LEARY AUTISM" is still the very first suggestion that the Google search bar offers you when you type in his name.

But! Dudes! You totally took that out of context.

So as part of the Denis Leary Big Fucking Apology Media Blitz (aka the book ain't selling so well), he appeared on The Daily Show, where he essentially repeated a canned statement he already released. A canned statement that SURELY was thought through and would make everything better.

*breathes*

*ctrl+zees*

...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.

(Oh my God, he did NOT just pull the "but some of my best friends are autistic!" thing. He did NOT.)

The point of the chapter 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.

("BFFs! Really! I LOVE AUTISTIC PEOPLE AND THEIR BOOK-BUYING PARENTS!")

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.

On The Daily Show, however, Denis left out that "grown men" bit, and instead went on and on about parents. (Here's a link to the episode -- Denis appears in the last segment.) Parents are seeking low-level special needs diagnoses for their kids as some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card for their children's bad behavior. Bad behavior that is a direct result of bad parenting.

Question. What "low-level special needs diagnoses" are you NOW expertly calling bullshit on, Denis Leary? PDD-NOS? Aspergers? Sensory Integration Disorders? Because now you're shitting really close to my own lawn, dude, and I've got a really long and pointy-ass rake.

(He then reiterated AGAIN that he totally knows a family dealing with "real" autism and knows how TERRIBLE AWFUL DEATH-SENTENCE-Y this "real" autism thing is. Like seriously, worst disease EVER! A lifetime of drudgery with a non-verbal kid who bites you and hand-flaps in a corner all day. That's not really my fight to pick with him, except that I AM SO SICK of people using autism -- and a misinformed and narrow view of the spectrum at that -- as a catch-all boogeyman to strike fear in the hearts of parents everywhere. Vaccinate? AUTISM. Get an extra ultrasound? AUTISM. Use a microwave while pregnant? AUTISM.  Meanwhile, I know plenty of parents who actually LIKE and ENJOY and LOVE their autistic children just fine! And their children love them back! Like they're real people or something! Imagine that!)

So, first. I get that Denis Leary is a comedian. I read the excerpt ages ago and while I thought it was dumb and misinformed and just highly ridiculously DUMB, I didn't get worked up over it. He's a comedian. He went for incendiary and controversial and frankly, he nailed it. South Park, Team America, Tropic Thunder -- three movies I laughed a lung out over; three movies that all had moments where I went, "duuude, I think they may have just gone far enough to kind of offend me." And then I went, "touche, good sirs. Tou-fucking-che."

But if you're going to backtrack on that incendiary and controversial statement when it doesn't pan out the way you wanted, when it appears that you indeed went waaaay too far, when it's hurting your sales figures and you start making the rounds of an I-Was-Taken-Out-Of-Context Media Tour, THAT'S when I'm going to take the words you say seriously.

And, second. This totally isn't about Denis Leary. This is about the last few days and weeks around here, as we attempt to navigate through Speech Delays v.2.0.

The school district -- and we live in a "good" and well-funded school district -- may provide Noah with some speech services. Services that we have already witnessed first-hand and realize that they simply won't be enough to get Noah where we think he needs to be, and where he's capable of being. There's a lowest-common-denominator aspect to the programs that hurt kids with the more mild (SOME MIGHT SAY "LOW LEVEL") delays and disabilities. Noah was always near the top of the Early Intervention scale of need. Put him in a classroom with neuro-atypical kids and other more serious disorders and he looks pretty good. He can hook himself onto the bottom rung of the ladder of "normal," and that's about as high as the free services are obligated to lift him. Which is exactly what already happened and what led to EI ending his services.

But. Put him in a classroom with neuro-typical kids and kids with zero speech or sensory issues and suddenly it doesn't look so great. He loves school, but that doesn't mean it's a perfect fit. His first progress report (we got it yesterday) was heartbreakingly abysmal. He tries hard to communicate with his teachers and peers, but no one can understand him. He still melts down over every transition. He cannot tolerate operating in the group for more than a few minutes. He needs constant one-on-one attention that the teachers cannot give. He is not demonstrating skills that I know he knows -- I looked at row after row of capital Is (for "Introduced," basically the lowest mark he can get) with a huge lump in my throat. He knows how to do that! And that! He's smart, I swear. I really swear he's a smart, loving, wonderful kid.

But he's struggling. In preschool.

And you know what, Denis Leary? If I were a bad or lazy parent, I wouldn't fucking give a shit. I wouldn't spend hours researching doctors and specialists in search of answers or therapy or a way to help my child NOT struggle in school and social situations. I would sit back and shrug my shoulders and tell myself that it will all work itself out by kindergarten. But I'd like to get my son a bigger boost up that ladder, Denis Leary, because I think he's capable of it and I believe in him and I believe it's my fucking job as his mother to get him that boost.

And you know what else, Denis Leary? You know why parents want those low-level diagnoses? It's not to ease our guilt or abdicate our responsibility for our child's "bad" behavior. It's because that's the fucking way the fucking system works, jackass. Call up your health insurance (if you've got it! ha ha!) and find out what kind of coverage they offer for, say, speech therapy.

Now find out what kind of conditions they put on it, and find out what conditions and diagnoses they exclude. Dyslexia? Articulation problems? Abnormal speech development? "Speech problems that are educational in nature?"

Now once you've asked the nice insurance rep what the fuck that even means, and well, what kind of diagnosis DOES get you the speech therapy coverage, and recieved absolutely no answer or guidance, you may realize that hell, the next phone call better be to a developmental pediatrician (appointment wait time: six months!) so hell, you can get your kid fully evaluated beyond the vague oral-motor sensory problems and get a damn solid diagnosis, and hell hot damn in a blanket, you might actually sort-of maybe secretly hope that diagnosis is enough for your incredibly expensive insurance to pay for a few measly sessions of speech therapy. (And let's not even get into occupational therapy! Ho ho!)

Meanwhile, try to look at your child -- your smart, loving, wonderful but struggling child -- and not be whalloped with fear from both sides. Fear that your insurance will reject your claims...and fear that if the insurance DOESN't reject your claims, it will be because the diagnosis your child receives will indeed be something that scares you. Something that you don't quite feel capable of handling, or something that means other people -- other misinformed, ignorant people -- will forever look at your child differently, or hold him to lower expectations, or cast pitying glances at you and wonder what you did wrong, whether you vaccinated or had ultrasounds or used a microwave while you were pregant. The boogeyman. The new scarlet letter A.

You have any best friends dealing with that, Denis Leary? Because if you do, I'm wondering why they haven't gently pulled you aside and told you -- with love! -- to please fucking cram a sock in it already.

Comments

criri

you are absolutely right1

Miss Kate

BRAVO.

He is a total cad, and I can't believe how completely out of line he has been.

Thank you for so clearly articulating your journey with Noah.

criri

!*

Amie

I'm totally applauding you over here. Doubt you can hear it through the intrawebs, but it's pretty damn loud on my end.

Sprite's Keeper

Denis Leary jumped the snark on this one.
Fucking A, Amy!
:-)

exile on mom street

Amen Sister!

You are preaching to the converted over here!

Plano Mom

I do believe that was the best post I've ever read. THAT POST needs a media blitz!

Sadie

I have no dog in this fight, but you articulated the whole issue perfectly, and in a way that made me understand just how fucking rotten Denis Leary's comments were. NOBODY goes through what you, and thousands of other families, go through for services and treatment just because they are looking for a 'label' or 'an excuse' for their lazy or bad parenting. You are doing right by Noah.

Jen

Dennis Leary is socially retarded. And that ain't funny. Isn't it interesting how the WHOLLY UNINFORMED feel so bizarrely comfortable spewing off definitive and sanctimonious oprinions like this. Didn't some MALE hollywood actor once poo-poo at PPD syndrome? Idiots.

Carrie

Wow Amy, what you wrote there is amazing. And I kinda hope someone points Mr Leary in this direction. And then I hope he feels like a turd.

Ariel

Fuck ya! I'd call him an asshole but he's already done it for me.

Jamie Bowden

I like Dennis Leary, and I saw his bit on The Daily Show, but as a parent of an Asperger's kid, yeah. I wasn't terribly impressed with him in that particular moment.

Mouse

Amen.

I had a developmental pediatrician tell me outright that one of the problems with the system is that the kids who could benefit the most from therapy are those who can't get it paid for because their problems are not severe enough to qualify under insurance. My son is one of those kids. (Though our insurance will allow 30 total visits in a year for any combo of speech/OT/PT.. for a co-pay and only with a covered provider, none of which are nearby.)

We're in a holding pattern right now, waiting another year to go back for a follow-up evaluation since the team was split when we went in two months ago.

Not sure what services you can pursue through the school district for right now, but we were able to get some OT for our son in ours under the broad category of "Other Developmental Delay." It's a category with a time limit, but it's getting us some services now at least.

Victoria

A diagnosis of apraxia of speech (aka verbal apraxia) qualifies for speech as a medical (non-educational) for insurance. Same for Mixed Receptive-Expressive Speech disorder. But the speech provider should not use 299.x in conjunction with either of the above.

Been there too. Hang in!

the new girl

Oh man. What an amazing post.

April

THANK YOU! I couldn't have said it any better. I was SO pissed off by his appearance on the Daily Show, I wanted to wring his neck. We've spent $16,000USD out of pocket in CANADA (free health care my ass)for Occupational Therapy for our hypotonic, still parallel playing, no one can understand him, at the time 4 year-old! That's not a fucking psychiatrist Mr. Leary and the wait time for an actual developmental evaluation, if by some miracle you can find someone who can get him on the list, was 18 months! He needed help and he needed it ASAP, so we spent from our savings and emergency funds, we put off trips, we saved where we could so he could get HELP.
I hope your insurance will cover things, but if they don't, max out your Husband's flexible spending plan for next year and remember you can write medical expenses over a certain amount off on taxes. Let's hope Obama can help us all out a bit here.

Dani

So sorry that this is all happening. We're in sorta the same place with our son. He was a preemie who remarkably has few issues. He has a bit of sensory oral motor problems and a signifigant lag when it comes to motor dexterity on his left side. He was in PT and OT but no longer qualified this past summer. He'll turn 3 in January. He's doing really well! But he still can't jump, he still can really run or do anything complex with his left hand besides hold something in place.

He looks fabulous next to the kids qualifying for EI but abysmal when next to his peers at daycare. I want to have him re-evaluated but I know he's not going to qualify and it's frightening because we all just want to do the best we can.

Sorry, I'm rambling, but I just feel like I know this place. There are wonderful services out there but I'm just afraid their out of our reach, either because of not qualifying or because we simply can't afford it.
I'm thinking about you and take faith that there are a lot of people out here that know how smart and loving and amazing Noah is.

cagey

My 20 year old brother and my 5 year old nephew (my sister's youngest son) are both autistic - at higher ends of the spectrum. Which Oh MY, still comes with a world of hurt, disappointment and challenges. Oh, and mountains of rejected insurance claims.

I used to be a fan of Denis Leary. Now? Not so much.

Amy

Well said! Especially the part about the stupid health insurance. When is this country going to wake up and see what heartless robber barons these insurance companies actually are

Beth

WOW! I had no idea this happened, but can't even believe it. Can someone PLEASE find a way for Dennis to see Amy's post? Who has the connection? I am sure he has heard from many, but this is from Amy...our Amy!

NotAMeanGirl

*Stands on her chair and applaudes her ass off*

Amen girl! I don't have a child that's been diagnosed with any of the things you've spoken about, but, he's struggling. He's gifted and talented level smart PER HIS TEACHERS, and he is bored out of his GD mind at school... so he is struggling. Leary is an asshat... A dirty, DIRTY Asshat

Denis L.

But you're still going to buy my book, right? Right?

bejewell

I think this is the first time I've ever left a comment here -- it's certainly the first time I can remember -- and I really don't even have anything of value to add except to say that I'm in complete agreement. I'd missed all the media attention until I saw Leary on the Daily Show and even then I didn't really care (although the "but some of my best friends are autistic" argument did make me throw up a little in my mouth), but this post really brings it all home. Noah's situation is unfair and breaks my heart a little. Leary and others without any personal experiences with autism ("best friends" not withstanding) should keep their pieholes shut and stick with what they know instead of casting baseless aspersions.

(Unrelated note: That is the first time I've ever actually used the word "piehole" in context.)

Cat

Bravo!

Mara

Well said. I don't have any experience with autism or its relateds, but I saw that Daily Show and it really pissed me off.

Kelsi

Wow!
Well said.
You're doing a great job. It's incredibly difficult to navigate the insurance waters and so utterly exhausting.
Chances are very good that you can get help for your son. Denis Leary will never get help for his affliction.

Walking With Scissors

Damn straight. Keep on digging that hole, Denis Leary, and soon you'll be in so deep that all of us "bad parents with lazy, stupid children" can bury you alive.

Deanna

Nicely done.

Bunny

You are so fucking awesome. Well done, well said.

slynnro

Well fucking said.

Lisa

The system is broken; health care, insurance, public schools, all of it. Nobody knows what to do about it because the problems are too big. There is no easy fix...all we CAN do as parents is attempt to navigate this system and glean the best results possible for our "low-level" kids who routinely slip through its cracks (AGGHHH - low level??) And this, Mr. Leary, is a full-time job and is NOT fun and NOT an easy way to explain away developmental/behavioral issues. This is the path of MOST resistance and Denis Leary can kiss my ass.

Kyla

AAAAAAA-men!

Sharon

Comedians who abuse their audience are never beloved and usually do not last. And comedians who lose face with women don't last because no man will laugh if his date is pissed. He's playing a losing game, no matter what his absurd opinions are or how he justifies them. He will be remembered for this, hated for it. Not only was this a really shitty thing to say, but it was a walloping career mistake.

Suzanne

Amen.

When Michael Savage made his comments this past summer, I wrote an open letter for equally clueless remarks :
http://suzannesez.blogspot.com/2008/07/open-letter-to-michael-savage-autism.html

I love how Dennis trots out 'friends' when he is called out on his incendiary comments.

He needs the same thing as Savage does-a week or two in the company of one child who IS on the spectrum.

To see that a trip to the store involves a briefing to rival the Iwo Jima invasion. That homework each night is a four hour struggle-for three pages. Or that menu planning involves the child's irrational fears of certain items.

Hah, insurance? I'm unemployed and husband is making 8 bucks an hour right now, but at least he has a job. I've wiped out the savings to buy medications. When we had insurance, they didn't cover the social skills therapy his psychiatrist strongly recommends. They didn't cover his doctor visits, either. This makes me a bad parent, right? Then explain why my 9 year old is so totally different.

Sorry, I didn't mean to rant and rave. It's bad enough that Jenny Mc Carthy raves about how she 'cured' her son's autism. No, you learned what makes your son tick. Big difference.

Amy, keep going Mama Bear on them. If you were in another county in Maryland, I'd suggest a program that starts in elementary school. It did wonders for my son and I was a stupid idiot for leaving it behind...

Gracie

Yes. Just hell-fuckin-yes to everything you wrote. You have verbalized everything that I've wanted to ever since my oldest son was in kindergarten and diagnosed with ADHD. He's now 10 yrs old and has also been diagnosed (about 8 months ago) with Aspergers Syndrome.
We've gone the school district route (luckily, he qualified and they've been wonderful with a captial "W") .....and we are now looking into the insurance part of it for outside of school. We have dealt, and are still dealing with, those in our family who think that he will "outgrow it" or that he can "take something for that" (ADHD yes, and he does. Aspergers? No.) or that he's "just a boy" or that he "just needs a firmer hand" yada yada yada. This child o' mine is extremely intelligent academically....common sense and socially? Not so much. Sensory issues? Oh yeah. Anxiety? Oh yeah. Speech issues? Oh yeah. Fine motor skill issues? Oh yeah. He's seeing the speech therapist at school 2x a wk, as well as the OT...and 2x a day he does sensory training (aka, Sensory Diet).
Our youngest was evaluated by EI...and found not to qualify in regards to speech delays, or anything else for that matter. However, we've since gone the route of Parents as Teachers thru our school district and he will be evaluated again in March when he turns 3 to see if he qualifies for either of their 2 early childhood programs. As smart as he is, I believe he's definitely got sensory issues...and he's very shy...and he lines all his little cars/trucks/trains/planes up in a row and lord help you if you touch them.
Do I worry? Hell yeah.

Thanks for saying everything that I've wanted to say Amy. Your Noah is going to be just fine. You know why? Because you are his mom and you love him and want what's best for him....and you won't stop until you get it.

Ck

Well said. I concur. Best of luck with finding Noah the therapies he needs. As a mom of two boys on the spectrum, I know what you're going through. Keep fighting for your boy.

Redneck Mommy

Dude is a douche.

I always felt bad with kids with low-level diagnoses. Bug never had that issue as he was so damned handicapped. But I always felt bad for parents who had to fight so hard to get the services and funding for their kids. Even with a child as disabled as Bug was it wasn't easy.

I couldn't imagine how difficult it must be for parents with kids with lesser handicaps fighting for their children's needs to be met.

Great post Amy. As usual.

Amaelija

While I don't have an autistic child, I can relate to a lot of the frustration. Just say "ADHD", and you'll get a lot of that "bad parent looking for an excuse" bullshit.

I'm sorry that you feel like you have to fight against the world just to get help your child. Being a mom sucks sometimes.

Meg

Amen, girlie! I've stayed away from the whole Denis Leary bit because it, and he, are totally ridiculous. But the latest round of clean up is pathetic and even worse. Thank you for covering it.

My son IS autistic, but low level/high functioning. Your son sounds like he has some of the same issues we've dealt with. One thing we did to conquer those I's on the report card was hold him back for an extra year of preschool. Even though he knows much of the academic stuff, it gives him an extra year to deal with speech and sensory issues before throwing him into the big classroom setting. PLUS, an extra year for us to continue with the MOUNDS of paperwork, insurance, school district, etc. And an extra year to have fun being a kid. And he's a great kid.

ashley

He should be required to read this.

Denis Leary's best friend

You say you're not a bad or lazy parent because you're researching ways for other people to help your kid...maybe what your kid needs is YOU to help him with his speech? Talk to him, read him books, even read your blog to him out loud. I think that would help your kid in more ways than blaming insurance for not accepting claims for services that YOU should be doing as a parent.

SarahMcow

Wow. Just wow. My heart hurts for you as I read this. If you have a strong enough WHY you can withstand any HOW.

kim

Brava!

Kristin

You tell him! I just don't get why seemingly intelligent people like him make such a blanket statement like that...UGH.

Brandi

My son was diagnosed with a severe speech delay at 2 yrs old, right around the same time as Noah. He participated in a free program from the state of CA, where to qualify you needed a 1/3 delay in something. How they quantify 1/3 I have no idea. After 5 months he basically got kicked out because he was above age level. But you are right, had made moderate progress it would have been "enough" to stop therapy at 3 yrs old and i don't think our school district would have picked him up. the only other option would have been insurance. Check with your local colleges to see if they offer programs in speech pathology. If so, students getting their masters have to have clinical hours and many of the colleges have clinics where you can go for free therapy while the students earn their hours. At least here in CA if you ask the school district to evaluate they have to. Just keep looking for options and keep fighting for him. Noah knows you are trying to help him.

lis

YES. Thank you.

Mallory

To Amalah: Amen.

To Denis Leary: You are an asshole.

tutugirl1345

There is nothing to say but that you are awesome. And I hope that I'm just like you when I'm a mom one day.

Karin

I wish someone would kick the shit out of that asshole. I can't imagine what in the world he was thinking!

I am a "shadow" so to speak for a child with autism, he is so special and can function in most ways fine. He has a problem with fine motor skills and he ALWAYS wants everything to be the same (and in the same order) but on the other hand, he is a genius. This child is 5, he can read, write and use a computer better then most 10 year old children. He is absolutely adorable and I love him. His name is Andrew.

I wish I could just reach through the computer and give you and your family hugs.

God Bless you all.

Heather

Noah is beautiful and perfect!

Aimee

I'm kind of confused. I thought I read that you were of the "he's a comedian and comedians offend everyone" and I was happy. But then, not so much. It's the same, You can make fun of whoever you want as long as it's not me.

Sasha

Yeah, Dennis Leary totally went too far on that, but I have such a hard time disliking him.

Ok, so, possible assvice warning. Please do not feel the need to take this suggestion seriously (I know that you probably don't, anyway) and this is based on no experience with my own children, seeing as how I have none. BUT: have you considered private school? I know, it's expensive and not all offer services and support the public school system, etc. But hear me out. I went to Catholic school starting in 6th grade because my district middle school was a mess. It was not very expensive and had smaller class sizes and much more individual attention and structure. About the same time I started to develop moderate to severe learning disabilities and ADHD. While I maintain that I think I would have been fine in public school for middle and high school (I continued in a private school for high school) I am secretly very glad I had the individual attention, because I'm not so sure I would have done as well had I been lost in a crowd. Oh, I am also not Catholic, and I understand that sending your child to a religious school may not be what you want to do. Also, there are lots of non-denominational private schools, but they tend to be more expensive.

Sorry for the long comment and personal story. My point is that IF there is a private school that is the right fit, and they either offer help or you can get outside help and send him to a school with smaller class sizes without labeling him as "special" then it might be something to look in to.

Also, I realize he is still in pre-school and this isn't something you have to look into quite yet.

Again, worked for me, might not work for him.

Compa

[Stands up. And claps. And whistles. And wonders why America doesn't get off its political ass and get itself some socialized medicine, already. Honestly, this shit is hard enough in Canada, where these kinds of things are free.]

Colleen

Well said. Our last preschool in-depth evaluation (the form was actually one through our county schools' Child Find), showed Gavin to have similar issues. Doesn't interact often with others, plays on his own a lot, refused to transition to new activities (and would be upset if he had to do so), difficult to understand esp. when upset, has difficulty understanding new verbal directions, has difficulty coping with new people in class (teachers or kids), and on and on. It seems to be slowly getting better as his time in Speech Therapy (through the county) continues. His comprehension often seems like that of a 3 year old, other times it's more on his age-level, but he still sounds like a 3 year old when he talks (he was evaluated to be roughly a year delayed). It's been hard, and I wonder how much help will we continue to receive free through the county as time goes on. At least we can see he's making some progress.

Maybe now that Noah is 3 he might qualify for the preschool Child Find (or EI), which, at least in Prince William Cnty, is a different program altogether. We actually get services at our local elementary school instead of at home, and in a very small group setting (2 or 4 kids total) and without parents in sight. I don't know if it's the same in your county, but it might be worth checking into again.

Amy Evangeline

Very well articulated!

Sabrina

My neighbor's son (he's now 18) is autistic, and I've known his parents since I was about 9 or 10 years old. They are some of the nicest people I know and damn good parents. Dennis Leary is so lame for saying that autism is a result of bad parenting -- maybe he should take some time away from writing about himself to read a book written by doctors and scientists, or watch a documentary about parents dealing with autistic children. Parents of autistic children are not self-absorbed or inattentive; it’s the complete opposite. They are some of the most loving, special and patient people you'll ever meet.

Beth

BTDT with the insurance company and was actually RELIEVED when my daughter's speech delay was related to a hearing loss because then medical insurance would pay for the $3,000 worth of therapy she needed each month.

It looks like you're heading toward some sort of private therapy and that's what I would advise. We investigated the public school route for our daughter when she was 3, and they wanted to put her in a class with kids who were much different place than she was. Best case scenario: She looks and sounds awesome. Worst case: She regresses.

So we went with the private therapy and have never looked back. We had a $30 co-pay for 8 therapy sessions a week.

Good luck and lots of hugs. (It's a 6-month wait for a pediatric neurologist around here. Six months is an awful long time when your 8-year-old son is having absence seizures...)

Valerie

I know you know this, but your kid is effing awesome and perfect and just how he's supposed to be. Whatever struggles he faces will make him tougher (and you tougher for guiding him through it). You're a fabulous, loving, strong mother and I hope I do as good of a job with my little guy and you do with yours.

amalah

Aimee - In this case, however. Denis Leary wasn't BEING a comedian. His explanation and statement isn't a schtick or a bit. He was trying to backtrack from something he said that went over badly and explain what he really meant in all seriousness. "But I didn't MEAN to offend you!"

And then he completely bungled it and dug himself in deeper. It's almost funny. Except not really.

Jasmine

why, that low-lying fucker. He's probably trying to argue from the lesser-broached perspective and he still comes off as a dipshit who has no respect or consideration and his words bear no gravity at all. even with the pattern of therapeutism being perhaps somewhat valid in the US, it's not one-size-fits-all, autism is definitely not something that parents actively desire as a label for their child, as an excuse or explanation. hell, look at Forrest Gump. look at Mrs. Gump!

...sorry for the rant, but I believe this man touched a raw nerve and Noah just can't be slighted by his idiocy.

Amy

Oh Amy,

About 10 years ago, I found a letter that my mom had written to my grandmother. It talked about how she would never give up on me. And she didn't. When I was just about Noah's age, maybe a little older, I went through all of these unbelievable things, I didn't speak until I was 3 or 4, I had so many problems. I remember tests upon tests, doctors visits, being put in the regular class and struggling (not with my brain as much as getting along with the others), put in the "special class" where I kicked butt and where they realized that I was in the wrong class. I remember knowing that my brain was just late to the party, but I sure as hell was on the way. My mom balanced as best she could between turning over every rock to find out what was wrong with a dose of "F-YOU" thrown in much like you are doing. You are doing nothing wrong in that you aren't giving up and you see what you see in Noah. I'm perfectly fine now, better than fine. Oh, to the mothers like you, who fight. I loved reading my mom's letter so many years later. The end of the letter says that, "We faught for her and we won."

Superfantastic

When I worked in a pediatric therapy center, we got a lot of referrals from a pediatric neurologist (one of about three in all of San Antonio which meant it took a good year to get an appointment) who diagnosed almost every one of our patients with something that in Big Fancy Medical Terminology basically meant "unspecified brain abnormality" just so that insurance would cover the speech and OT that the kids clearly needed. It sucks that you have to work the system that way, but if you can get in with a pediatric neurologist or developmental pediatrician, they might be able to help you out.

norm

Yeah, this is the problem faced at some point by all comedians whose schtick revolves around them acting like an asshole. At some point, they'll actually be the asshole in their schtick, and it will cost them.

See also: Dennis Miller

Sonya

well written!

Julie

Oh Amy! This breaks my heart! You are such a good mommy! :)

Solmaz

wow... Amy!
I just want to catch a flight to DC (from San Diego) and hug you. We are giving you an standing ovation here.

norm

Yeah, this is the problem faced at some point by all comedians whose schtick revolves around them acting like an asshole. At some point, they'll actually be the asshole in their schtick, and it will cost them.

See also: Dennis Miller

Andrea C

Amy- love the post. I know/understand the feelings you have towards DL. I have learning disablities but i also happen to very smart. People often tell me i'm too smart to have learning disabilities. Or that i'm faking it. I just want to scream at them and throw my stuipd reports at thier head. i literly score into the retarded precentale on some of the tests (very humbling to say the least) However i've learned work arounds and/or ways to hide my issues.
Your post is just like what i want to say to all the f-ers who tell me i can't have an LD. YOu really struck a chord with me today. Thanks for the post.

Good luck with the Noah stuff!

Michelle

Dennis Leary = Giant Douchebag who's career is so dried up he needs to spout incendiary bullshit to remain on the scene. Not to get too new-agey, but the man has some baaaad karma coming at him for this shit.
I share your frustration with the riigamarole around getting services for a child that needs them, but doesn;t have "enough" of a delay to qualify for services that will make an impact, both as a teacher and as a parent. Do keep fighting. It's tiring and infuriating, but it works.

Kay

I invite Dennis and any other smartass to spend the day in my sister in law's shoes with my 10 yr old nephew. Any frickin' day!

Miss Kate

To Denis Leary's Best Friend,

Where do you get off trying to tell Amy how to parent? I hope you read through all of these comments when other readers light you up like I am.

Get Bent. Go to Hell. Etc.

Lori

I think he's spot on. Guess that makes me an asshole too.

amalah

Now, now. Denis Leary's Best Friend made some helpful and thoughtful and fully informed points. I intend to look into these "book" things of which he speaks right away!

(And oh yeah, "services" are a freaking walk in the park for parents, as we're not involved in every session and step of the way or anything, or could think of things we'd rather be doing with that time. Like having more children so we can score MORE free services! MWA HA HA!)

Tricina

Nice post. I was an un-diagnosed kid with some sort of learning disorder that left me behind in all classes except reading/writing classes. That is until it somehow clicked in high school. My GPA shot up and I went to college and did really well. I still leaned on English, but the block mostly evaporated. If there were good programs and we could have discovered the issue I might have had a childhood with fewer tears and a lot less frustration (on all our parts: mother, teachers, and me). I was rarely (but sometimes) called stupid since I always exhibited intelligence in some arena, but that only made my teachers more frustrated when I couldn't get it. I'm prepared for the possibility that my kids might have some block too, and I hope we have an easier time working through it.

Fuck Leary. He's just going for shock value, you're actually raising kids.

Rachel

To Denis Leary's best friend,

What a profound statement. Read a book to Noah! Talk to him! I am sure Amy never thought of that! You are a genius.

Who needs speech therapy or early intervention. Just read the kid a book and he'll be fine. Do your job as a parent and TALK to him. I can't even bring myself to write what I think of this idiot. I hope you can ignore him. I am a mother of a 2 1/2 year old (Noah too) and I am just now at the point of ignoring anyone who clearly has no fucking clue what they are talking about. Hopefully you got there before me and can laugh at his comment. I am commenting for the first time, but wanted you to know that reading your blog has gotten me through some rough days with my toddler. While I can't relate to the specific challenge of speech delay or sensory issues, so much of what you write mirrors how I am feeling and assures me that it will pass, it is managable, and yes, it is totally worth it. Thank you.

Johanna

(((HUGS))) for Amy and cookies for Noah- keep up the hard work kiddo!

flaming bags of doo-doo for Dennis, because, shut up already dummy!

More (((HUGS))) for Amy!!!!

Jess

Amen and halle-fucking-lujah.

Amy H

this post? belongs in every parenting magazine in the country!

BRAVO! YOU should go on the Daily Show rather than dumbhead Dennis.

Dana

You have hit the jackass on the head with this one. How fucking stupid, comedian or not, is he? Ugh.

EmmaNadine

Amen.

amber

Wonderfully put! Denis Leary really need to shut his mouth.

Amy

Man oh man, I love you.

Monica

People shouldn't take medical advice from celebrities - Dennis Leary OR Jenny McCarthy.

Our health insurance pays for about 8 speech therapy sessions and that's it. I can't tell you how many times I've had to call them and say SHE'S STILL DEAF, they didn't fix THAT yet.

Asha {Parent Hacks}

A tour de force, Amy. Thank you for saying it so forcefully and intelligently.

Jo

Denis Leary aside while you wait for the suckish system you could put Noah on a sensory diet (no matter what he's diagnosed with, it's good stuff and gives you quality time with him).

Sometimes, the world is so clueless about what we as moms go through with kids that are "not the same as most"...

Alicia Millis

Amen! You hit the nail on the head here Amy! Ignorant ppl who feel they should open their mouths about something they do not know enough about, like Denis, totally piss me off! But then when it is about autism, something i studied in school and then went onto to be a Intervention therapist with young autistic children, it really pushes my buttons. grrr.

I can imagine you are feeling scared and overwhelmed, and I hope you figure it all out. But you are so right when you say that doing this research, making all these efforts to get Noah the supports he needs, really shows the love you have for him! And he is a fantastic kid, who is going to do great! I know it.

Jo

Denis Leary aside while you wait for the suckish system you could put Noah on a sensory diet (no matter what he's diagnosed with, it's good stuff and gives you quality time with him).

Sometimes, the world is so clueless about what we as moms go through with kids that are "not the same as most"...

Her Bad Mother

"And you know what, Denis Leary? If I were a bad or lazy parent, I wouldn't fucking give a shit."

EXACTLY. EXACTLY.

*applauds*

NG

You. Are. Awesome.

karishma

denis leary's best friend: shut the fuck up! have you never read what amy has written here before? then you would know just how much she HAS done and how it requires a little more of a direct approach then just being read to and talked to, which she DOES. newsflash: being read to does not help at all with actually being able to articulate the words, and also does not help sensory issues. HELLO.

amy: amen. definitely one of the best posts i've ever read anywhere, now starred for future reference. I never even made the very logical connection between getting a diagnosis and insurance denials, shame on me. very well said.

Heidi

I never liked that Denis Leary. He just rubs me the wrong way. Blech!

Noah's got an amazing advocate in you. Red stupid fucking tape.

Kristen

"Denis Leary's best friend" should suck it. I'm sure it never occured to you to just read to Noah!

What a fucking idiot.

Karen

The Leary Best Friend person is a bigger ass than he. No...we don't read to our children. Shit, if reading makes children less developmentally disabled, than my son would be diagnosing PDD-NOS instead of living with it! Jackass. Don't post if you don't know what the hell you're talking about....and Amy, you are not alone. Your blog helps me laugh at life instead of crying. Thank you.

megmatthews

I saw his interview last night and was shocked. What parent would EVER choose a diagnosis for their child? Seriously? You think those parents are lazy and looking for an easy out? Are you fricking insane??

I worked for years at a therapeutic riding center for disabled kids; those parents were the hardest-working, most exhausted, ridiculously gracious people I knew. I have no idea what rock Leary crawled out from under, but I kind of wish he'd go back. (Cue Fiona Apple.)

stacy

I think you are taking this way to personally. You are clearly a wonderful mother who knows that kids are hard work, and enjoys being a mother dispite all those ups and downs. You are an ispiration to many of us - that's why I read your blog.
However, not all parents are that way. Not all parents are willing to put in the work, and some even crave the attention that a special needs diagnosis brings.

Rebecca (Bearca)

His comments smack of the Tom Cruise diatribe about treating depression with vitamins. Said another way: people spouting off on issues about which they know nothing and are unqualified to comment on.

You go!!

Jennifer

Amy- I also happened to catch Dennis leary on "The Daily Show" that night, and I have to tell you that in my experiences lately with my daughter in an ESE program, he's not far off. I'm not sure how it works in your area/county/state- but where I live, the school board gets more money for grants, etc for every diagnosis of Autism, Asperger's. etc, that they see. And also, many, many physicians get money and perks from drug companies for every "autistic" child they see and put on this companies mediciation. (I worked in a pediatric office for 10 years, believe me it happens more that you think.)

My daughter just had an evaluation with our local EI and was found to have a moderate-to-severe speech delay, and I am starting to see what he was saying. She was labeled pratically autistic, but we were later assured by everyone from the speech pathologist, to the ESE specialist to her own pediatrician that it was just the label the school needed to start her in the program so they get the funding needed to continue from Medicaid and our school board, and we're not even on Medicaid. Just because she stutters at 4 years old, they get more money for every diagnosis added. And after some research I found that my county has one of the highest diagnosis rates of ADD, ADHD and Autism in the county. And oh- by the way, my county's school board has the highest funding payment rate for Autism research in the country. Coincidence? I think not.

And I know that there are kids that do have problems and fall through the cracks of insurance, etc. But it seemed to me that what Dennis Leary meant was that he saw people who cannot control their kids, are lazy with parenting and would rather look the other way and decide it's easier to medicate them and label them ADD, ADHD, Austitic, etc. than to actually discipline them and spend ten minutes with their kids giving them the attention they require and want, and I believe it.

No matter what label gets put on my child, it doesn't change anything for me. I know I am doing the absolute best thing for her and will continue to do that, it's my job. No matter what comedians, actors or even our own school district "label" her, because that's just what it is, a label. This is something she has, not who she is. And that goes for you too.

Amy H

To Denis Leary's best friend (anon. commenter):

wow! I sure with Amy had thought of that herself. Reading to Noah? Ridiculous. Why would she ever do that? She isn't a literate person herself so why should she pass that on to her child?

You are a bigger idiot than DL if you think Amy doesn't already read to her son.

r+k+mama

I have no personal experience with the issues you face but I have to say I was subconsciously clapping my hands at the end of this entry.
True to form you were insightful and funny and holy crap the love you have for Noah is amazing. He is one lucky kid to have you in his corner.
PS Dennis Leary= sad, sad douchelinger.

Muffy

Great post Amy. Amen! Its hard to hear any of those morons from Dennis Leary to Michael Savage say hurtful and moronic things about children!

My three year old was diagnosed with PDD-NOS last spring. The diagnosis is what go him into the public school preschool program. But even with him getting OT, PT, and Speech in school we stil have to get him outside services. The OT only treats issues relating directly to school so $150 a week after insurance we get OT.

Now I beg Dennis Leary to tell me how getting a diagnosis and treatment for my child and shelling out that kind of money weekly is me being a shitty parent and compensating for that. My kid speaks beautifully but lacks social speech and is recommended to receive outside speech therapy but I can't afford another $150 a week for that.

I know it must be hard to see Noah struggle in school but once you get this all sorted out and get him where he needs to be you'll both be happier. I know it!

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