Denis Leary Thinks "Inattentive Mothers" Are To Blame For Autism

In his new book, Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid, Denis Leary writes that autism is a joke.

“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.”

The Autism Society of America has fired back: “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.”

Wow…that is an ignorant and insensitive statement.



  1. Kelly says

    Denis Leary can’t possibly be talking about autism. Spend just one hour in a group gathering of autistic children, and you’ll see in the first five minutes that these children are different, and you would also see concerned and frightened parents doing the best they can in the midst of an epidemic about which little is substantively known. I’m one of those parents, and my son is an autistic 5 year old. ps. I don’t smoke, never have.

  2. Zbella says

    I can tell Denis who the ¡d¡ot is, and it’s not me nor is it my son. He has just lost a former fan.

  3. Zbella says

    Thanks Jenna for your well informed views. And for the record, I never smoked a day in my son’s life, or prelife. Bull Sh¡t.

  4. carla says

    I must say iam very upset learys comments. Iam a mother of a recently diagnosed autistic son, Finding out that my son has autusm has been the most heart wrenching pain for me and my family. Watching my little boy be but through test after test is not somthing any mother should have to go through and hearing some silly little mans thoughtless comments just adds the heart ache. He has no idea of the pain and scarafices that parents with autsitc children go through. iam totally outraged at his comments!

  5. oriana says

    He will be backtracking pretty soon and saying he was misunderstood. He is a Bad Boy and revels in it, his show is prob more like his real character. I think he should have kept his mouth shut and thoughts to himself. Big Mouth!

  6. Barry Jack says

    It takes a really small man to make fun of a very serious matter. Not to mention what kind of moral fiber does this person have to “abuse children” with is verbal @#$%^. Shame on you. Get informed before you open your pie hole!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. babyrazzi junkie says

    What an idiot! I think there are a lot of kids who are misdiagnosed as having autism but those that truly are autistic aren’t that way because of parental neglect or laziness.

  8. Sandra says

    The guy is an idiot and some of the comments are here are questionable too!

    How the f does disciplining a child have anything to do with diagnosing Autism or ADD or ADHD?? Do you guys even know what the meaning Autism, ADD or ADHD means? Seriously my kid has ADHD and Autism both. Did I take him to the doctor as a concerned parent because he isn’t disciplined enough?? NO he was falling behind for his age! Discipline or lack thereof doesn’t make a kid fall behind in speech, learning and motor skills. He is medicated for a reason, because he has ADHD and he cannot concentrate or follow simple instructions. You know like we can shut the lights off, talk on the phone and make food for our kids at the same time. My son cannot pick up his room unless he has a list, i.e. pick up cars, then pick up legos, then pick up puzzles. To him looking at his room is all overwhelming and frustrating. I would assume because he has an orchestra going off in his brain that doesn’t allow him to focus. But yet I guess that is my lack of discipline!

  9. emmauk says

    Oh my sons a naughty boy coz i dont discipline … quick give him a label then i wont be a bad mother…
    Go leary… so right

  10. Lauren Brighouse says

    What an absolute idiot Dennis Leary is. Also, on the subject, WHO exactly is he?

    It’s hardly worth commenting on such spectacularly ignorant tosh but that fact that someone has allowed his comments to be published is very scary. He needs something very large shoved up his rear end, then he might have some idea on how hurtful his pathetic attempts at humour actually are. He should be thrown in jail (with some big male rapists) for inciting of hatred towards disabled kids and their families.

  11. says

    If 1 in 150 children having some form or autism isn’t an epidemic I don’t know what is.Yes it IS an epidemic.
    When my children were growing up in the late l980s and l990s I never even heard or saw any child that had autism and neither did any of my friends(And my kids were in every type of mommy and me,nursery school,gymboree you name it so I was around lots of little kids)
    It was NOT as prevalent as now -no it’s not just a label it’s an epidemic that has exploded and we need to find what is causing it.

  12. Amanda says

    Notice its Inattentive MOTHERS and not PARENTS. Why do FATHERS have no responsibility??? He is just attacking Jenny. What a low life, has nothing better to do than stir up trouble.

    I do think kids are over diagnosed with everything these days simply because parents are too afraid to disipline thier children anymore. So now the new answer is to medicate them. Its sickning.

  13. M says

    As a teacher i find myself thinking that there must be something in the water, or in foods with e numbers and dare i say it parenting.
    These abbreviated terms ADHD, Autisim, Dyspraxia- hardly existed ten years ago and now theres a term or condition for everything.
    In worse scenarios of Autisim you can see that no one is to blame, where children cant talk, follow simple instructions etc.
    But i do believe that strong parenting helps and not hinders a childs development- and cannot be under estimated in itself.

  14. k says

    It’s not an epidemic. We have always had autism. It just has a label now. There are many disorders that don’t have a name yet, so they are placed under the autism umbrella. For those who are offended…It’s Dennis Leary.

  15. Star says

    It really is a sad day when someone who had most likely never been around autistic children or the mentally challenged makes a blanket statement, calling their parents lazy, etc.
    I’ve worked with children for years and believe me, there is a difference between a lazy or not so bright child and a child who cannot communicate or make relational connections.

  16. JackieApple says

    He’s a real A-hole! Nothing good will come of him. His soul is lost. Perhaps never really there. I’d pray for him if only I could bring myself to.

  17. Charlotte says

    I do not agree with this statement 100%. Autism is hard to diagnose and if someone has autism, you know. However, I do agree that ADD and ADHD are overdiagnosed and have some to do with bad parenting. Just an opinion, no doubt one I will be shouted at for.

  18. Eli says


    True, no one may have posted a question regarding Autism to this board, but it did spark a very imformative discussion about autism in our office and several of my employees and peers now know more about autism. Imagine that.

  19. Jade says

    To comment on Eli’s comments, ‘It forces people to discuss & hopefully learn more about autism.’ isnt true at all. Not one person here has asked about Autism, all people will do, is say he was wrong to say what he did. And that will be it. No one will really care, unless they are effected personally about Autism. I am a mother to a son and daughter both with Autism. And comments like his arent uncommon, as a parent I have heard them so many times. I should let them go over my head, but they do sink in and hurt, because will go out and buy his book and laugh at his jokes. When he should be made aware of what life is really like having a child with Autism.

  20. lisa says

    It is a good way to get the discussion going . . . I have a hard time listening to people say it’s caused by vaccines. I think we run a greater risk not having our children vaccinated. I don’t feel autism is a result of vaccinations, I just think it’s where poeple like to place blame.

  21. Dnice says

    His comments are appalling but that ‘s classic Leary. His goal in life is to be offensive and he usually succeeds.

  22. Eli says is learning about autism through open dialog offensive? I never advocated that negative comments were the best way to learn about autism. I am advocating that negative comments about autism offer the opportunity for dialog to be opened. If in the process of someone’s opinions being challenged that person is offered accurate information about autism that person has learned about autism.

  23. Analise says

    I’m sure he cares what people think. And I’m sure he’s more amused that people care what he thinks. Fans will buy his book because they like him. Detractors will buy the book to find more stupid comments he makes to use against him and he’ll laugh to the bank.

  24. Kay says

    What an insensitive man. I bet he wouldn’t be saying those things if his child was autistic. I hope no one buys his book. Why should he make money joking about other people’s pain.

  25. says

    Inattentive mothers? How about my sister in law who ran a beautiful daycare center for years and was and is the most attentive caring person in the world and now has her own son (my nephew)diagnosed with autism who can’t even speak at FOUR YEARS OLD!
    This woman and my wonderful wonderful amazing brother are the most caring parents in the world.They are to totally normal parents mentally and physically and there is NO way in the world any inattention caused what my nephew has.This is a big big epidemic and the world better take notice on what is going on.
    There is NO reason except for something going on in society eitehr with technology,vaccines or I don’t know what that is causing this epidemic but it certainly is not what this actor thinks.
    What kind of society will we have in future years if this keeps up at the rate it is? Like my sister in law says soon there wont’ be enough teachers to teach these kids.
    Its a sad fact.

  26. Jenna says

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. While Leary’s remarks are offensive to some, I agree with Eli in that it gets the dialog rolling. I am tired of hearing about how vaccines are to blame when we don’t know that.

    There are other schools of thought. Sascha Baron Cohen’s relative has a theory about the extreme male brain and I have my own thoughts about mothers who are smokers and who smoked while pregnant because every woman I know with a male child with autism smoked.

  27. nosoupforyou says

    This is not the way to “learn about autism.”

    It’s horrible. As a social worker who provides services to children with autism, this is not only inaccurate but offensive.

  28. Eli says

    Denis Leary…Mr. Controversy! He’s notorious for stiring the $#!+, but it does get dialog rolling about autism….At least it’s getting people to express opinions and it causes other’s opinions to be challenged which can be a good thing. It forces people to discuss & hopefully learn more about autism.

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