Denis Leary says autism is from bad parenting; autistic kids are just stupid &/or lazy

Denis Leary had that song “I’m an a**hole,” and he pretty much proves it with his latest statement that rates of autism are rising due to poor parenting and lazy children. He writes in his new book “Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid” that autism is a phony diagnosis and that the children are just deficient in some way:

Leary writes,”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.”

[From PopEater]

What a jerk he is! Maybe he’s talking about his own experience in which his kid was incorrectly diagnosed, but to generalize that to all children with autism is just incredibly ignorant and cruel. I think his comments need to be taken in content, and there’s a remote chance he didn’t mean them literally. Popeater notes that the Autism Society has called his remarks outdated and ridiculous:

The Autism Society of America responds: “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.”

Denis Leary’s wife Ann published a memoir this summer, “Outtakes From a Marriage,” in which she described the premature birth of their son Jack, born three months early in 1990. She also lambasted celebrity culture in her book, and called the red carpet a “a narcissists’ parade.” Denis and Ann also have daughter Devin, 16. That must make Leary some kind of f’ing expert on autism if he has two kids and one was once considered autistic by a doctor. It’s doubtful he knows any children who suffer from the disorder, which is surprising considering how prevalent it is. Maybe he just doesn’t have many friends.

Leary, 51, is one of the creators and stars of the FX firefighter drama Rescue Me.

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60 Responses to “Denis Leary says autism is from bad parenting; autistic kids are just stupid &/or lazy”

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  1. Codzilla says:

    What a supreme piece of sh*t. Let’s hope a group of parents grab pitchforks and torches and storm his house.

  2. Heidi says:

    So this is the kind of sh** you say when you’re life is pathetic!

    Oh & Leary ur show sucks!!

  3. cara says:

    Well, what’s his excuse? Because he’s a retard.

    The rise in autism…..mercury.

  4. daisyfly says:

    I see that he’s decided to share the brain of Michael Savage. Nice.

    So long “Rescue Me”. It was nice knowing ya.

  5. delilah says:

    Maybe occasioanlly its true that people would rather have a diagnosis that is ‘fashionable’ than deal with the real issues…..but to me there is no doubt many people have the condition and need tons of support. He must know what the reaction will be, I guess thats the fun part for him.

  6. Samantha says:

    Maybe he is angry about what happened to him…and in a stupid attempt to lash out he just insulted autistic children and parents everywhere. Wrong way to go about expressing your disgust with the psychiatric community, Den Den. :(

  7. ER says:

    He’s clearly just ignorant of the facts. Many times disorders involving the brain are dismissed as one’s imagination or simply behavioral issues, when in fact there are some serious underlying medical issues going on.

    When people don’t understand something they just chalk it up as stupid or dumb.

  8. Ron says:

    I can hear Jenny McCarthy’s clacking heels as she walks over to bitch slap this idiot!

  9. Shelly Shellz says:

    I don’t think he meant autism doesn’t exist. I think what he’s saying is that there are lazy/neglectful parents who look at their childrens lack of performance and effort in school and other areas in their life and instead of trying to get involved and help them they instead use autism as an obvious answer. Sending the poor kid off to sum fancy skrink with their perception of whats wrong and the kid gets misdiagnosed as autistic.

    What it sounds like to me, he’s saying just because ur kid is lazy or behind in school or as he said it “stupid”, doesn’t automatically make them autistic. For parents to take sum responsibility for their kids less then ways instead of instantly labeling them autistic.

  10. geronimo says:

    @Shelly S – Agree. I’m on the side of him expressing a real concern but unfortunately doing it very, very badly.

  11. Shelly Shellz says:

    Absolutely. He could’ve gone about expressing this in a more tasteful manner, but then again, this is Denis Leary…he’s an asshole.

  12. Lauri says:

    He is quite mistaken. Autism is a real disorder. It’s ADD/ADHD that is overdiagnosed 90 percent of the time.

  13. Leni says:

    It does not matter “what he meant”. He knows very well that what he says will be noted. This was after all not a said in a private conversation. He is as bad as Tom Cruise with his assumption that he is some sort of expert. This was totally ingnorant and will be used by some people to ignore and abuse autistic children. What an absolute waste of breath and being.

  14. Rosanna says:

    People who don’t know the facts should have the decency to shut up about what they can’t possibly have an opinion on. What a jerk.

  15. Jess Doherty says:

    Being an ass isn’t always cool, particularly when talking about children and illness. He needs to get over himself — freakin’ idiot!

  16. Lara says:

    Jeez, it’s a joke! What do people expect with a book title like ““Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid””??
    And yes “The rise in autism…. mercury”, definitely (attention, this is sarcasm from my side). F*ck them epidemiological studies who show no correlation, if Dr. Jenny McCarthy says it is so, then it is so.

  17. RhymesWithSilver says:

    Dude’s gonna get his eyes scratched out…

    I used to volunteer with autistic kids. No way in hell you can look at that and say it’s not real. Even stupid, lazy children smile and say ‘I love you’ now and then. Some autistic kids can’t do that. And some autistic kids do way too much to ever be described as stupid or lazy…

  18. Tabby says:

    @Lauri: I absolutely agree. His remarks would make complete sense if he were talking about ADD/ADHD. Maybe someone f*d up and misquoted him?

  19. b- says:

    please don’t choke to death the next time you eat

  20. Vern says:

    Lauri & Tabby-
    I was thinking the same thing-he HAD to mean ADD-ADHD whether he realizes it or not.

  21. WTF?!?! says:

    Blaming mercury and inoculations for “the rise” in autism is fashionable. Mercury is far LESS prevalent in daily life than it was 30, 40, 50+ years ago, and more parents are “opting out” of getting their children immunized (morons). So… where do the inflated numbers come from?

    As indelicately as he’s stated it, his point is accurate, it just comes across as an unprovoked attack on the families that really do have genuinely autistic children.

  22. lalala land says:

    What an ASS :roll: !!! I have an autistic son, who at six is still in diapers, cannot talk, and cannot sit still for more than 5 minutes!!! He is very bright, not at all stupid!! I wish he was just lazy or stupid!! By the way, I am NOT a lazy parent!!! I don’t think anyone would pay for this diagnosis!!! I hope he rots in hell!!!

  23. Sunny says:

    As the parent of an autistic child, I can assure Mr. Leary that it’s no fad, game, or act, nor is it the parents’ fault.
    My child is not stupid or lazy.
    Someone who has no idea how heartbreaking it is to watch a ‘normal’, bright, happy infant slowly disappear, and become silent, introverted and high-strung, should probably not use situations of which they are ignorant to conjure relevance.
    No one cares who Dennis Leary is, and hasn’t since the 90′s, and while that’s sad, it’s even sadder to attempt an ascent to the A-list on the backs of disabled children.

  24. hmmmm says:

    I’d like to hear his comments in their whole context. If he had a child diagnosed with autism he would’ve learned SOMETHING about it, non? And didn’t Jenny McCarthy say that her son has been cured, that he longer has it? She said that on The View on day.. even though most parents & doctors claim there is no cure?

    I’m thinking that he’s thinking that he and Jenny just refused to accept the diagnosis for their kids, found alternative treatment, no longer suffer from it, and thinks other people can do the same.

    Of course he writes it in a sensational way, but without reading all of his rant there’s no way to tell where he’s coming from.

  25. Skank Basher says:

    @Shelly Shellz – I concur. I doubt he meant to make light of autism, but everybody’s so f**king PC, these days. I believe he meant to go after those parents (and they ARE out there) who dose a kid with drugs in the hope that he or she will become a Rhodes Scholar “if only they could get a handle on all that hyperactivity and channel the energy into something productive and socially acceptable.” Meh. What can one do??? :mrgreen:

  26. actingrc says:

    i gotta go with lara on this one. guys, chill the F out, it’s like al franken. only even meaner. There’s a point behind it (we do indeed overdiagnose out kids – also i think he really means Asbergers, cause some kids diagnosed with that are just awkward, no disorder to blame, because it’s easier) but rather than making a point in a calm reasonable and boring manner, he went with sensationalism. did you even read the title of the book? i think that explains everything regarding his tone…

  27. Jamie says:

    Just my FYI…

    Case example: My child has been diagnosed as being autistic. He attends weekly sensory integration therapy. While in therapy we met a couple who have two children (boys) one with a very severe case of Autism the other only mild. So why is that I wonder? Well, Child 1 did receive his vaccinations while Child 2 did not.

    It is in my opinion that I believe certain kids are pre disposed with the gene but I do believe that certain vaccines (MMR) will amplify the severity of the diagnosis.

    A kid that’s a picky eater will eventually eat when hungry. A kid with sensory issues would rather starve. A kid that is lazy will eventually do what’s asked when given consequences if he does not. A child with autism becomes over stimulated and virtually “forgets” what was asked of him. (for instance upon asking the child to take a plate into the kitchen will loose track of the task and then set the plate down in the middle of the floor and walk away)…

    These are just minor examples of what we as parents are faced with on a daily basis. It’s not something that we choose to have happen. It’s not neglect. It’s not laziness. We are actually quite the opposite. Quite frankly if anything we, at times, are so desperate that we tend to over compensate and become overly attentive.

  28. ms adamantia claus says:

    Oh man Dennis, are YOU in trouble.

    ‘snicker snicker’

    “They” are gonna snatch you by your dyed roots and take turns slapping your face lifted mug in a circle like a pinata.

    ‘snicker snicker’ :lol:

    Fake wanna-be causing controversy because your show’s lost its audience ass.

  29. Lindsay says:

    @Lauri – many people think autism is becoming over-diagnosed and a “trendy” disorder, like ADD/ADHD their is a sudden unexplainable jump in the numbers of people being diagnosed. If he had said ADD he wouldn’t be getting nearly as much press and he needs to publicize this wonderful book (:”roll”:)

  30. RAN says:

    Yes, but still… ADD and ADHD DO exist… I tend to agree that too many doctors (and teachers) want to drug the kids these days, but he’d better not be insulting those kids either.

    Thanks Geronimo and Shelly for bringing another perspective, I started to write my comment as a ‘lashing out’ at his asinine comments, but you’ve made me look at it a different way. I HOPE that’s what he intended to say/mean. Otherwise, he just looks like and and sounds like an ignorant, uneducated a@@wipe.

  31. smit33 says:

    Man, he’s going to get so much shit for that statement. Does he even know the difference between ADD and Autism ? Doesn’t sound like it.

  32. Jinxy says:

    They’ve done over 50 studies related to vaccinations, there is NO CONNECTION. Jenny and other families want a reason why their children are broken. Sometimes there is no reason, it just is. Please don’t stop vaccinating children, infant mortality is up – because people are afraid, and a consequence of that is more infants are dying of whooping cough, something that had been under control via inoculations, but now babies are DYING.

    Please don’t listen to Jenny and her ilk who just pick a random unproven reason, the consequence of this bad thinking is killing babies. I am sorry her child is so ill he can’t even go to school one class a day, and yet she declared him cured! Via some cockamamie diet she made up. Pathetic.

  33. vdantev says:

    The vaccination ‘reason’ for autism never sat well with me either. There’s no proven link of any sort. It’s genetic, most likely a very recessive trait that can’t even be traced through generations. There’s so much junk DNA that’s so poorly understood.

  34. wow says:

    There ARE proven links to vaccination and autism. People are so naive. Pharma and CDC are releasing bogus studies saying there is no connection. You cannot, CANNOT, accept any report at face value when the life of your child is at stake people! Is it that easy to fool people?! Oh, I heard it on TV so it must be true. Oh, I read it in a pharma sponsered magazine i.e. Time, Newsweek, etc. so it must be true. I work with austistic kids. Every single parent has told me they noticed a difference after their vaccination. EVERY SINGLE ONE. The CDC and Pharma and our GOV’T are not divine institutions. Nor are your pediatricians divine. Stop worshiping them and wake up!

  35. vdantev says:

    So we should let children suffer and die from easily preventable diseases because of you 50′s era paranoia? No thanks.

    Site your incontrovertible evidence or f*ck off, fear merchant. When my 9 year old comes up with measles and there’s no vaccine because of you freak shows, I’ll just drop her off at your house so you can deal with it.

  36. wow says:

    Best book on connection between vaccinations and autism

    “Evidence of Harm”

    by David Kirby

    Kirby is a journalist who decided to investigate the controvery surrounding vaccinations and autism. He was initally a skeptic, after reasearching his book he saw “evidence of harm”. He recently stated that he is now convinced of the link. This book lays it all out there. The studies, CDC, Pharma, scientists, parents of autistic kids..

  37. Jess says:

    I can’t believe he made that statement.

    Autism is real!

  38. Lara says:

    “There ARE proven links to vaccination and autism”

    Where? Please provide us these links. Look, I’m not saying that these vaccinations have no adverse affects at all, they’re immunizing us against (deadly) diseases after all, but just because some parents “notice” a difference does not mean that this is a “proven link”. So maybe you should take your own advice and “stop worshiping them (parents) and wake up” yourself.

  39. wow says:

    Can you provide the links to the studies that say there is no connection between autism and vaccinations?

  40. Jamie says:

    I’m not saying that we SHOULDN’T vaccinate our children. But there are “Green Vaccines” that are available.

    It’s the combo vaccines that create these issues. It’s a Mecury based preservative that is beeing linked to this surge in diagnosis.

    You can ask your Doctor to give your child each vaccine one at a time. Instead of the MMR you can ask for the Measles, Mumps and Rubella individually.

    Health insurance companies are saving BILLION’S of dollars by using the combo’s. Hence them not even informing us that they are available in other forms.

  41. wow says:


    I’d have the pediatrician sign a form indicating that that vaccines he/she is using in their practice are mercury free. If they truly are, there shouldn’t be a problem.

  42. Lara says:

    I’ve cited two links in a post that apparently still awaits moderation. Hopefully it will show up.

  43. Moderator says:

    Lara, your comment had gone to the spam folder. That happens sometimes when more than one link is in the comment. I am not aware of those unless people tell me, so thank you for mentioning it. It has been rescued and should be visible now.

  44. Lisa says:

    He needs to brush up on the facts before he opens his mouth. Ignorance never goes over well in a public forum.

  45. WTF?!?! says:

    People, there are no “mercury based preservatives” in the vaccines, because since 2001, ONLY flu vaccines have contained trace bits of Thimerosal, not the commonly administered childhood inoculations. And the amounts in the flu shots are negligible– tens of millions more people have adverse reactions to the eggs the vaccines are grown in.

    PLEASE read up on the FACTS so your non-immunized children don’t kill other kids by being carriers of easily-controlled diseases.

  46. wow says:


    I feel this is turning into a pissing contest – my concern is safety and well-being of children. Not proving I’m right, you’re wrong.

    The links you posted are studies done by the CDC and the American Pediatrics society. Both of these institutions are biased towards a no-link result. Each institution has culpability if the results showed a causative relationship between vaccinations and autism. The CDC promoted the vaccination schedule along with having the “watchdog” label and the Pediatricians are injecting the babies with shots. Therefore, the results are invalid due to a conflict of interest. The only valid studies are those done by independent researchers with no bias towards a specific result.

  47. wow says:


    Pediatricians did not clear their shelves of mercury preserved vaccinations once mercury was removed from vaccinations. It was well-publicized as a “phased-out” plan. Pediatricians continued to use up their stored supply of mercury preserved vaccinations. There was never an official “cut-off” date where vaccinations were given without mercury. This conveniently avoided any admission of causal link if all mercury vaccinations were immediately pulled.

  48. wow says:

    If this link doesn’t work, go to Go to the library and read “Evidence of Harm” by DAvid Kirby.

  49. WTF?!?! says:

    wow: The vaccines have clearly marked expiration dates. Conspiracy theorists abound, and this “well publicized” plan of which you speak was nothing more than spin, and well in the past tense, no less.

    Again, the mercury amount was negligible, it is NOT a preservative in the actual vaccines, it is utilized in one element early in the manufacturing process and is almost entirely gone before it is administered to humans.

    I’m sorry for those of you who have autistic children, I know everyone is looking for someone to blame for a non-interactive, developmentally disabled child, but the vaccine defense is a red herring.

  50. Melanie Farris says:

    For those of you that post comments defending this man and making rude comments about having a child with
    autism. Trust me this is no walk through Disney Land. We don’t choose
    to have non-verbal diaper wearing children. So till you have or know someone that has to walk this walk
    maybe you should keep your comments to yourself.

    Proud Mother of a son with Autism!

  51. wow says:

    WTF? May I ask what your profession is? Also, how do you determine what a “negligible” amount of mercury is? What empirical data proves this to be true? They have closed down High Schools and called in HAZMAT for traces of mercury where I live. But you think injecting it into a baby’s bloodstream is ok?

  52. mark says:

    I’ve never understood the appeal and success of this guy. By the way autism is not caused by vaccinations. It’s science.
    -Ron Burgundy

  53. WTF?!?! says:

    wow: I would ask you the same question. “Concerned parent” doesn’t qualify you to perpetuate false assertions.

    See Lara’s links and do some research on your own from legitimate sources. Believing every alarmist posting and email forward doesn’t put you ‘in the know’. “Trace” is a relative term for a given situation, a percentage of the total, and “exposure” is different from ingestion, so what constitutes trace amounts differs from situation to situation.

    If you can’t understand the context and terminology, please don’t toss out incorrect information. And–AGAIN– unless you think all physicians are in conspiracy, the vaccines were discarded once their expiration dates passed after the 2001 ban. Years ago.

  54. wow says:


    What is your definition of “legitimate” sources? When investigating a crime scene such as the explosion of autism, you don’t let the defendents do the investigation. There are physicians that DO believe vaccinations are the cause of autism. There are very legitimate sources who have investigated this crime. Boyd Haley, of Univ of Kentucky, Andrew Cutler PhD of Chemistry from Princeton to name just a couple. And you have no idea who I am – nor do I have any idea who you are. But your blind defending of the ENTIRE medical community leads me to believe you are a physician or a close relative. Your ramblings about trace and exposure made no sense by the way.

  55. WTF?!?! says:

    YYAAWWNN. You are the one discounting the vast majority of empirical medical evidence and research based on email mention of “a couple” of professors (not scientists, not researchers, but professors, and actually Princeton faculty lists no Andrew Cutler, and the majority of Haley’s presentations deal with amalgam in dentistry , not one-time, no-comparison-mercury-content inoculations).

    From your inarticulate expression and your obvious lack of grasp of what a “legitimate” site would be– decidedly NOT, a blatantly special interest site akin to Winston-Salem’s site debunking lung cancer, nor Wikipedia, which by their own initiative heads the Boyd Haley “article”:

    This article or section may be inaccurate or unbalanced in favour of certain viewpoints.

    The neutrality of this article is disputed.

    Those who blame what doesn’t merit the blame will never seek the true cause, which is sad for the future autistic and chicken-pox-infected kids.

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