A few minutes later I saw that Mike had already blogged about it and presented his reasoned objections to the ad. He has also transcribed the voice over:
"I used to lash out if something pushed my buttons or I wasn’t able to do something. Things that wound me up were if they’d insulted me I would physically hurt that young person. My parents sought out help with my autism because it was becoming a pain in the bum. I went to an Action for Children school. I started feeling a bit more friendlier with other people. Thanks to the carers I was able to correct a lot of errors in my behaviour and become a better person. Well I feel a lot more confident thanks to them. I feel at peace with myself."So there's a boy, an adolescent, who lashes out at people who insult him and push his buttons. People who harass disabled kids are bullies. Dan's would benefit from learning better ways to deal with the bullying but it's unfair that he's been taught to blame his autism which he says was, "becoming a pain in the bum." He was, he says, "able to correct a lot of errors in my behaviour and become a better person." What a great self image(!) Action for Children must be so proud to have a boy feel that he has defeated his nasty autism like that.
It sounds like a classic case of blaming the victim.
I dashed off a rather strident but heartfelt letter to the charity.
"I am the mother of an autistic child. I saw your new advertisement on TV a couple of minutes ago and was slack jawed with horror. It is just so very wrong. I am astonished that anyone thought it would be a good idea to demonise autistic children in such an overtly horrid way. The boy's (Dan's) autism is portrayed as the monster with the nice well behaved boy trapped inside, a reprise of a theme many of us are sick hearing. Who on earth did you consult with before unleashing this monstrosity on the world? How will autistic children feel after seeing themselves portrayed in such a way?There's more information about "Dan" here. It just gets worse.
Please think again about what message this portrays. Have you read any of the commentary about autism from the past few weeks when there was lots of media discussion about developing prenatal screening. It was unremittingly awful and biased against autistic people. Your terrible ad will further reinforce the view many have of autism as a miserable thief of children and destroyer of families. Families with autistic members face enough difficulties, discrimination and stress from the lack of understanding of society. Your organisation has just gone and
made our lives even harder."
Dan is said to have "a form of autism that is characterised by difficulties with social interaction" but was able to, "find peace with himself at Action for Children's Headlands project." But we also discover that he felt betrayed when his parents left him at this residential school and he sat alone, really upset, in his room for ages. He says it took him a year to feel a bit steadier.
I have to wonder how Headlands school treats autistic children. This is the image of themselves they choose to portray; a vulnerable and sad child, blaming himself for his problems, sitting around alone for a year before he accepts the friendship of his
I've had enough of this crap. It's bad enough when it's a contrarian old crone writing in the Daily Fail who is penning horrible portrayals of children like my son. It's a whole lot worse when it's a major UK children's charity. Action for Children say they are
"committed to helping the most vulnerable children and young people in the UK break through injustice, deprivation and inequality, so they can achieve their full potential."With this campaign they have failed the people they seek to help.
If you object to this ad, please email firstname.lastname@example.org