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The Onion Reeks In Attempt to Use Autism as Part of Marriage Joke

Rotten onion Managing Editor's Note: I usually love the satirical news site, The Onion. This piece just made my stomach churn though. I know too many families who've headed into divorce or who are struggling to remain intact following an autism diagnosis. Would they have run this using cancer or leukemia? Maybe. You be the judge and let us now what you think in the comments. Read the full article HERE or below.

HOUSTON—With the challenges accompanying his developmental disorder widening the already vast gulf between his parents, autistic child Evan Thomas, 3, continued this week to destroy the failing marriage he was brought into this world to save.

Evan, who through the very act of being born was entrusted with the task of resolving lingering conflicts, soothing deep-seated contempt, and restoring intimacy to Mark and Sharon Thomas' long-strained relationship, has thus far utterly failed in his assigned duties, sources reported Monday.

"It's so much work taking care of Evan, and Mark just refuses to help out as much as he should," said Sharon Thomas, who endured a long, agonizing childbirth to put an end to the couple's constant bitter arguments. "It's so frustrating. I don't get any time to myself because Evan needs attention like 24 hours a day."

"I never asked for this," Sharon added.

According to sources, Mark Thomas, 32, had always wanted a healthy, happy, completely normal son to provide a quick and easy fix to all of his marital problems. However, rather than allaying their trust issues and instantly making everything all better, Evan has reportedly driven a deeper rift between his parents by prompting fights about who is to blame for his condition.

"The doctors are constantly telling us that it's not anyone's fault, but if you'd ever met Sharon's brothers, you'd know that something's not quite right on that side of the family," Mark said. "We probably shouldn't yell in front of him as much as we do, but he doesn't really pay much attention and it honestly doesn't seem to bother him."

"In fact, nothing seems to bother him," Mark continued.

Although Evan was only diagnosed with autism six months ago, Mark said it was clear right after bringing him home from the hospital that something was wrong with their son, since their lives did not take a dramatic 180-degree turn for the better, lingering disputes did not just melt away, and years of underlying tension were only brought into sharper focus.

The child, who according to his parents rarely smiles or acts cheerful, has left many in the household concerned that he's not committed to mending the broken relationship. Moreover, during the past three years, Evan has reportedly done almost nothing to curb Mark's controlling nature or Sharon's cruel emotional abuse.

Evan has also failed to utter the words "mama" or "dada," thereby ruining any chance his parents might have had at forging an instantaneous, all-healing bond.

"Nobody told me I'd be so exhausted and cranky all the time," said Mark, who had anticipated that a son would create the mutual respect that his marriage has always lacked as opposed to making him feel overwhelmed and trapped. "Now, I just get nagged about never dealing with Evan after I bust my ass at work all day."

Mark and Sharon also complained that the highly structured schedule they're forced to keep to prevent Evan from "acting up" has severely strained their social life, causing them to miss a recent Super Bowl party at a neighbor's house that all of their friends without special-needs children were at.

In 2006, before giving birth to Evan, the awful couple attempted to salvage their relationship by purchasing an American pit bull terrier puppy. But the dog, who was reportedly a real pain to take care of, lacked the discipline to put in any work on their miserable marriage and always demanded too much affection.

Family members told reporters they weren't surprised Evan has not yet managed to transform the couple's dysfunctional marriage into a healthy and loving one.

"Oh God, they should never have had a kid," Evan's grandmother Janet Harmon said. "She should have gotten her tubes tied like she threatened to do in the first place."

Mark and Sharon said they were currently trying to get pregnant again in hopes that a new baby would take off some of the pressure of raising Evan all alone.


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My son has autism. My husband and I thank God every day for him AND for our sense of humor. I thought this artichoke was hilarious. Have you checked out the autistic reporter on Onion News Network yet? Most spot-on portrayal of autism I have seen yet. Loved it! So sue me.

Fix Marriage

While I usually see the humor here, I had a hard time with this one, maybe because it was about a child, an autistic child at that.

Yes, I can see that they used the child to make fun of parents who do foolish things to "save their marriage", but that kind of thinking of not smart to start with. Why pick on the kids?

Didn't like this one, but looking forward to the next one.


I have a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome. I know at least one of the former Onion writers was diagnosed as such also (actually, I wouldn't be surprised if a number have been).

I thought the article was hilarious. If people can't see the grains of truth to it or the humor....I don't know. It's well known that parents of autistic children have an especially high divorce rate, and it's also well known that many couples with relationship difficulties try to "fix" their relationship by having a baby (never a good idea). The Onion is simply playing off the latter fact by using the former. It's funny and some people could probably stand to lighten up.


I have a son with Autism and I think it was funny. I have seen disfunctional,unstable couples conceive a child thinking that it will help thier marriage... fortunately those families had regular kids. People have such self centered motives and don't concider what could happen. That story just depicts what could happen if that child is born with Autism.

Maurine Meleck

I actually think it's a stupid piece , but perhaps they picked autism as an example because it's so much in the news these days.
Anybody with any common sense knows that a child doesn't save a marriage-altho we know many try it. I once wrote a poem about the same subject-perhaps more interesting than this piece that really tells us nothing new.

Jenny Webster

I have the deepest darkest sense of humor --and enjoy satire. This didn't offend me at all.

And I have to wonder... if the writer doesn't already have an autistic child.


Didn't bother me. But not as funny as other onion articles. The one that was kinda funny re: special kids is about special olympians being investigated for performance-enhancing hugs. The best was an article about a woman getting cancer and her office mates basically ignoring her.

I love the onion!


I didn't think that the Onion's piece was broadly drawn enough to qualify as satire. It sounds too much like what some nasty people are writing as online propaganda. I found it vile.



Autism Grandma

Thanks to my father's example I am normally the kind of person who looks for the humor in anything and everything, but when it comes to autism I can't find any humor whatsoever, except for my grandson's quicky antics which continually makes me laugh. But as for the political and pharmaceutical corruptions and profit margin aspects of autism, the tragedies brought into marriages and families, including divorce and financial ruin, I can't see where any of this is the least bit funny.

Then again, I am progressively finding it harder to see "the sunny side of life" when I am continually faced with the reality of autism in the bigger picture. The entire scenario, especially the vaccine conspiracies, originates in a very evil place. Yes it is nothing short of EVIL.

I used to believe that drugs, both legal and illegal, were the greatest single cause of devestations to individuals and families, but now I see the origination of physical health and mental health devestation in the innocent babies and children being exposed to vaccines, antibiotics, Tylenol, psychiatric drugs, food additives, environmental chemicals virtually everywhere...taking these innocent children down into quicksand.... The health damages, and damages to the children's ability to learn, the behavioral effects, the stress all of this produces in families, often ending in divorce. JUST NOT FUNNY TO ME IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER. Because I do see all this as the direct work of SATAN. Yes indeed Satan and all of the angels from the dark side are very real, evidenced in so many ways in our world today...

Kathy Blanco thank you for stating these facts:

"...what better way can SATAN use, a tool if you will, than to make someone so sick in the family, it breaks families apart by simply distracting from their life missions, or simply making things so unbearable on a day to day basis?

Therefore, I conclude, the CDC's head honcho, chief exectutive officer, is satan himself. He, who is the liar of all, and who spews evil and misery and disease on all the earth. He who motivates mankind to be as miserable as he. He, who makes toxic poisonous crap and then calls it good and lifesaving (another satanic tool). See it for what it is people...a tool to explode families. Families are the root and design of why we are here. Nothing would make "HIM" more happy than the bust that up, make us swerve to the side of the road, and never get back on track again. Oh what a delicious way for him to reign over families? Next time you think of this image, think of how this is not of God, but of Satan. Next time we are confronted by his minions who tell us vaccines don't cause autism, or the environment, think of how mankind has done a wondeful job of listening to this CEO, performing evil designs, sins of ommission and commission, oft by the love of money and power...and how they are his slaves?"


"Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a wrestling not against flesh and blood, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces..." (Ephesians 6 11-12)


Spring time for Offit and Novella-- pretty snappy.

I don't think the following phony news bit is funny. I don't expect the Onion will either. Maybe some things... aren't funny?

Five Years After Autism Parent Jibes, 30% Of Onion Staff Writers Have Children With Autism

Too distracted by editors' exhortations to poke fun at parents who can't accept the genetic lottery, once-twenty-something Onion staffers continued to get flu shots and then vaccinated their subsequent children on the CDC recommended schedule.

"My career in comedy has certainly taken a hit", says former staff writer, Mick Jorgensen, "now that I fail to find much humor in anything you know". Fired from the Onion for failure to attend mandatory Tuesday meetings due to his severely disabled twins' near fatal seizure disorders, Jorgensen attempted to go back to school for insurance underwriting but was forced to drop out when his wife developed a nerve disorder from swine flu shots. He now works for in an auto parts emporium part time and cares for his twins and ailing spouse. "I guess back then, everything was funny because I didn't have much experience. But autism isn't just inconvenient. It's hell in a bucket."

Moira Roberts, former student writer agrees. "I showed up at work smelling like puke and poop too much I guess. I mean, it's no the cleanest place so, like, it says a lot that they thought I was rank but you can't plan that stuff. And I started wanting to do all this satire on vaccines and Tylenol and mercury pollution and the editor was like 'That's not funny. Einstein had autism. Quit bawling and get with the program'". Moira, since diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder brought on by 3 years of sleep deprivation, filed suit against the school system when her autistic son was injured last year in a restraint incident. The school has counter sued and Ms. Roberts may lose her home...

michael framson

All I read was another cheap shot; no different than an Amy Wallace type article. Perhaps it my frame of mind, but it just seems to pile on more insulting, demeaning garbage to a can that is overflowing with an overwhelming amount of injustice.

On the other hand, I might get a laugh out of:
"Spring time for Offit and CDC".

Go ahead everyone; you know the melody, sing a little.

We could have some fun with the lyrics for that one.

Shirley......, Paul Offit, CDC, Merck, Gardiner Harris, NPR, GMC, AAP,Orac,Brian Deer, the Special Masters, Diane Simpson, Mary McCormack, NYT, Chicago Tribune, Nancy Snyderman,would all find some hilarious humor with some creative lyrics and story.


@ sonthamusic -

I can totally relate to the humor in the GFCF "diet"! My son's preschool teacher nearly fainted when the class was cooking and decorating sugar cookies for a teacher's birthday which they were supposed to be allowed to eat afterward. After he was done decorating, my son handed it to the teacher and said "I don't eat this."

Who's laughing now?



I have to admit I did find one thing in this that hit home and gave me a chuckle. When one of the parents claimed that the other side of the family did have something wrong going on.

I am so guility!!

BUT it is hard not to ---when my husband's brother calls and after he says hello, it is up to me to play 20 question game to see how he is, how is his family, how is work, what has he called for.

Then there is my husband's sister and her three of her four boys. Kim the Stag has nothing on her.

If I had not witnessed the reaction to the vaccines in my family - I would believe it was genetic. BUT anytime it takes an environmental trigger to give a kid a stroke well as far as I am concerned it is not genetic.

Still I could relate.


I used to like some stuff in the Onion but I have no real loyalty to comic books. Justifying it under the category of black humor-- hmmm. I'm a big fan of black humor. Here's a few samples:

The blacker the humor, the more important it is not to shoot fish in a barrel or attack the weak though. I particularly don't like the invitation by the "joke" article to engage in shadenfreude towards families who I might not think are committed enough to their injured kids. It's an ugly temptation. I may laugh at Alison Singer, for instance, but I don't find anything funny about her parenting-- as she drugs her daughter to kingdom come, uses the child as human shield to rake in cash as a pharma-friendly spin meister. It's ironic that she then attempts to block access to recovery methods for all children-- but the fact that she once said she thought about driving off the G. Washington bridge with her daugher in the car? Too many autism parents are committing suicide and/or killing their kids these days-- even the irony that most were taking antidepressants with black box warnings for suicide and violence doesn't make it "funny".

Not that the Onion was coming from that critical perspective anyway. It's pretty clear with the propagandistic touch of "The doctors are constantly telling us that it's not anyone's fault"-- that's supposed to represent the one "voice of reason" to set off the parents' irrationality. But what if the epidemic isn't no-fault? Are thalidomide babies' parents on the chopping block as well?

Also, the premise is that autism parents are wrongly made PC-precious and untouchable, which would make the irreverence "fresh". But the truth is that it's open season on autism families and mischaracterizations or generalizations simply add to the fatwa-- as parents can't get services, insurance, respite, even the most basic safety protections for their kids. All the stereotypes simply feed into public and official rationalizations to leave our kids to rot.

Here's some not-so-rare examples of how autism parents are treated publically:

London Times reporter Brian Deer:
-"The festering nastiness, the creepy repetitiveness, the weasely, deceitful obsessiveness all signal pathology to me"
-"And they wonder (autism parents) why their children have problems with their brains"
-"Their [parents'] personal behavioral issues are indicative of a better explanation for their children's issues. Certainly a lot better explanation than MMR".

Gardiner Harris:
- "They want money, yes, but mostly they want you to listen to how hard their lives are."

Denis Leary:
-“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 could spend all day digging up the highly broadcast quotes.

Old moms:
Fat moms:
Insensitive moms:
Stressed moms:
Crazy parents:

ANYTHING but environment.

Then there's the hundreds of deaths of children from school abuse which Rep. Miller discusses here:
The abuse is allowed to continue-- as anyone who's ever sat in on a grossly slanted Due Process hearing knows-- because of basic contempt for parental reports of abuse of their nonverbal children in public and private schools.

So how is an attack on autism parents "irreverent" when it's in fact status quo?


I'm laughing. Guess I have a dark sense of humor. And I appreciate a little bit of our world with all its stresses being part of some humor, even in this way. But I do wonder about the child being named Evan. It seems to me that there has been some anti-biomed humor in the Onion at times.

I wish I could find an Onion article from a few years ago where a special ed troop was being deployed to fight in a war. Very funny, in a dark way, and you could tell that the author had experience with modified curriculum etc.

Kathy Blanco

Funny, autism has actually made our marriage stronger? We truly depend on one another to get through it, and with God's help we will. That said, I know it wears you down, it makes mothers less able to live a more than fruitful healthy longer life, and fathers are left to working their brains out all the days of his life trying to pay for biomed treatments. Sure, we don't experience the same things as our civilian non autism friends. But, we are making it, somehow, someway.

But the context is interesting...what better way can SATAN use, a tool if you will, than to make someone so sick in the family, it breaks families apart by simply distracting from their life missions, or simply making things so unbearable on a day to day basis?

Therefore, I conclude, the CDC's head honcho, chief exectutive officer, is satan himself. He, who is the liar of all, and who spews evil and misery and disease on all the earth. He who motivates mankind to be as miserable as he. He, who makes toxic poisonous crap and then calls it good and lifesaving (another satanic tool). See it for what it is people...a tool to explode families. Families are the root and design of why we are here. Nothing would make "HIM" more happy than the bust that up, make us swerve to the side of the road, and never get back on track again. Oh what a delicious way for him to reign over families? Next time you think of this image, think of how this is not of God, but of Satan. Next time we are confronted by his minions who tell us vaccines don't cause autism, or the environnment, think of how mankind has done a wondeful job of listening to this CEO, performing evil designs, sins of ommission and commission, oft by the love of money and power...and how they are his slaves?

Sorry to get so religious on you, after all, it is the sabbath...however...I just want to leave you with that image? Then when you see WHY this is such an impressive tool, turn to your husband or wife, and tell them you love them for staying with me and my child, and that we will fight against this adversary. Pray everyday for strength and courage, and debunk all the myths and lies you were told in the medical world.

That said, a weak marriage going into marriage is not going to be strengthened by autism. But it can be strengthened if you tackle it together as if it were your most evil common enemy. Your child and mine are not meant to be this way, it is by evil design of mankind, who listened to that evil influencer. Although, we love our kids as is, and their beautiful beautiful spirits, I am chagrined to say, that they would even be more beauitful, had they not had autism. I wouuld have seen their exact human potential, and they would have long healthy beautiful lives without it. Lives, with children of their own, lives without seizures, and pain in their guts, or inability to ask for what they want etc.

Although I enjoy the parodies and sattires on the ONION, this one doesn't strike me as funny. More like tragic. Shame on them.


My son will soon be turning 4 so maybe Im not at this struggle long enough to have the sensitivities many of you have regarding this. Ive been a big fan of the Onion for years. Of course some of the humor embarrasses me that I laugh at it. Im not saying Im offended, Im not saying I found it funny, but I will say I find it much less offensive than President Obama's Special Olympics joke.


As I deal with my toddler, I often look for comic relief. While this article may be on the edge of being offensive, there are a lot of points that made me smile and blush; like the part about having a "highly structured schedule." I can relate that!

Who doesn't know couples who have tried to save their marriage by having a kid, or practiced with a dog before the kid arrived? Who hasn't heard of relatives cringing when they hear a couple is pregnant? Who hasn't observed parents who place their unfair expectations or pressure on their children, and later voice their disappointment and frustration? What this article says to me is "Beware of having an attitude of resentment...” Savor what you got. Yes, dealing with autism is extremely painful and hard, but don’t be impaired by resentment. Furthermore, this article did not say anything derogatory about autism itself.

What's amusing to people in my circle is my toddler's GFCF diet. They are left speechless when they see my two year old eat healthy salads or organic apples while they snack on Cheetos. When they see my child eat potato chips, they justify what they eat by saying, "You see? Everybody's gotta have something:)" I can either choose to be offended or I can see the humor in our situation.


I love The Onion. I actually don't think this is very funny - not because it deals with autism, but it's just not very clever. I wouldn't spend too much time being offended by this.

I bought a reusable water bottle from them that says "My other water bottle is 50,000 styrofoam cups" and a guy at my office said he thought that was disrespectful to the Green Our Earth movement. Good grief.


I don't find this offensive. Perhaps because I have witnessed too many relationships in pursuit of a child to actually fix their marriage and because I am one the parenting team of a child with Autism- I see the satire they are going for here. I know I'm not heartless or cold. I DO know that I have a whacked, dark sense of humor. But like a previous poster, I see this as a dig at the idiots who think that a child will save a marriage, not at Autism or parents of Autism.


I thought the fact they called the child "Evan" was a tip off that this was a political attack. Even if it was out of ignorance, the world needs a fucking wet blanket thrown over the urgency of the crisis like AIDS needs condom factory fires. Children are dying and rates are rising. Ha ha.

Here's my email to the Onion editors:

"You guys are just geniuses. Your bit on selfish autism parents was hilarious. Naming the kid "Evan" was such a cute detail. I have some suggestions for headlines that are right up the same alley and should appeal to the same audience:

911 Widower Whose Wife And Infant Daughter Perished Aboard Flight 93 Admits The Pity Parties at Singles Clubs Have Been a 'Sexy Silver Lining'

Church Sex Abuse Victims Come Together To Publically Announce That They "Liked It"

Parents Of Iraqi Toddler Killed In June Raid Ask UN For Donations Of Oxyclean; Child's Severed Head Left Such A Mess

Holocaust Survivor Confesses To Turning Himself In To Auschwitz SS, Thinking It Would Get Him Sympathy And A Book Deal

Wonderful stuff. Keep it coming. Parents of disabled kids deserve all the abuse you can dish out".


A child born to fix a marriage? Talk about being born with the world on your shoulders.


this is awful- not funny in the least


I'm really surprised how many people are offended by this. People need to get a sense of humor. Just yesterday my wife & I who are proud parents of a 4 year old boy with autism, had kind of a rough morning with him, came across this article and thought it was funny. And yes, the Onion makes fun of everything including Cancer. Just type Cancer into their search box and there's way more stuff than autism. Like this one...

I think we all deserve a good laugh from time to time.


As the mother of an Autistic child, I am not personally offended by this. It is clearly poking at people who have a child as some sort last ditch effort to give meaning to their marriage and their lives, then end up with more than they bargained for. I don't get the impression that it is lampooning ALL families living with Autism.

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