"It is unfortunate that, just as the public is beginning to be better informed about autism and related disorders, a prominent individual in the media with a wide audience should spread misinformation," said Katherine Loveland, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. "Although it's his right to believe and to say what he wishes, his statements should not go un-challenged by the medical, scientific and advocacy communities."
But, while those in the autism community overwhelmingly disagree with Savage's viewpoint, there is as yet no consensus as to what action, if any, should be taken.
Some say that ignoring the comments is the best approach.
"Mr. Savage is obviously a complete ignoramus, who knows not the first thing about autism," said Deborah Fein, autism researcher and professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut. "However, I doubt he believes what he said; he is obviously just trying to get media and public attention, which he has succeeded in doing."
"The less attention given to Mr. Savage, the better," agreed Marguerite Kirst Colston, spokeswoman for the Autism Society of America.
But, the nation's other major autism groups have suggested that a stronger response is needed. In a statement issued today, the National Autism Association said that representatives from the organization have agreed to be on a panel on Savage's show to respond.
"We've asked for an apology, a retraction, and a chance to get to our side on this issue," the statement read. "We don't want to respond with an attack, we want to educate him and his listeners."
The advocacy group Autism Speaks urged a response in the interest of further educating the public about the nature of autism.
"One important goal of increasing awareness about autism is to foster a greater level of acceptance and understanding of the very real and significant challenges it poses to individuals with the disorder and their families," read a statement issued today by Autism Speaks. "[T]here are those who are apparently incapable of feeling compassion. They deserve our pity, not our scorn."
Stagliano disagreed: "We don't need to 'pity' Mr. Savage, like Autism Speaks suggests; we need to educate him."
Lara Salahi contributed to this report.