30 Jan 2009

Tony Attwood slams Action for Children ad

Mike Stanton has posted an email on his blog, which gives the response of Tony Attwood, a well known researcher on autism to the Action for Children ad. We have been given permission to share what he had to say:
“I am very concerned that the advert gives a message that children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome are dangerous and potentially disturbed.

When the child refers to “correct errors in my behaviour” this seems to imply ‘brain washing’ and a sense of guilt for how he behaved.

Many of the behaviours I consider as coping mechanisms for the lack of understanding and respect from other people.

He refers to reacting when people insult him. Those that insulted him need the treatment.”
There is no mistaking it.

There is no way Action for Children can wriggle out of this and try to fob off their damaging mistake by claiming that they were just letting Dan tell his story and saying that when we complain, we're being nasty to the poor autistic boy. This is precisely what they imply in their stock email, and what the few people who have tried to defend the ad on YouTube and on our Facebook group, have said.

I emailed the NAS last week about the ad, as did many other people. They have contacted Action for Children and explained how so many of their members are objecting to the ad, but unfortunately even they were sent the same pathetic excuses as all the rest of us.

I'm well aware that the ASA is receiving loads of complaints about the ad. There is also a Facebook group protesting Action for Children's MS ad. The ASA has been contacted by many about this too.

I hope that Action for Children will learn from all of this. They must commit to involving advocates from the groups they seek to represent. They must ensure that they are not misrepresenting people, or perpetuating dangerous stereotypes. As the slogan goes, nothing about us without us.


Socrates said...

If Action For Children have all gone home for the weekend and left this festering - they're going to come back to work on Monday with an unmanageable situation.

Dora Raymaker from Change.org is now calling for international action following Dr Attwood's statement.


Fleecy said...

These people are so full of... unpleasant stuff.

It's hardly being mean to the poor autistic boy, to disagree with this ad's misleading and harmful message. To say: Hey, Dan. Being autistic does not make you a monster, and "lashing out" at bullies doesn't make you bad or wrong. I have to agree with Mr. Attwood, it was the bullies who needed to be corrected here, not Dan.

The bullies were mean to the 'poor autistic boy' and now Action for Children is making it worse. They should not only take this stuff off the airwaves, but also apologize for the harmfully misinformative ad about autism and autistic people.

John Best said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lisa said...

This issue spells out what I have long suspected about the "cure-alls" - that they actually believe their children are bad, until they get all the autism out of them.

It reminds me of the cult of possession, of the movement in the 50's to treat women who had independent non conformist thoughts as "insane" and to try and "cure" gay men of their "gay" tendencies.

Tony's right, the bullies are wrong, but there are much bigger bullies than the ones in the playground.
Yes, we need to give our kids the education and therapy to make it possible for them to cope with our world - on their terms but as a world we need to be much more tolerant of difference.


The Biologista said...

Disturbing that AFC don't seem willing to take this seriously. Not surprising, mind you. I'd imagine the advert cost a fair bit.

Sharon McDaid said...

@Socrates, I agree with your assessment. And it's just got worse for AFC thanks to Prof Baron-Cohen's intervention.

@Fleecy, thanks for visiting and yes, it's just wrong and unfair of AFC to attempt to portray the protesters as the ones being nasty to an autistic child. They messed up with this ad in so many ways.

@the writers of obscene comments or personal attacks, your input is not welcome.

@Lisa, those are great comparisons. What the heck would they have thought about females like us in those times? The key would have been burned after our incarceration.
There's a balance to be found all right.

@Biologista, I'd agree it was pricey to make, which makes more of the lie that they were just giving voice to "Dan" himself. They must admit their mistake, well intention though they may have been. Their response to the criticism has been shockingly bad too. I've been disturbed by some of the comments on their YouTube page attacking the objectors. One wrote that I should be shot, AFC should remove comments like that and report the user but it's still there 3 days later.

The Biologista said...

I would not pay too much heed to that aggressive poster- a casual look at his profile reveals a 19 year old fella with no friends and nothing but videos of himself playing computer games to show for himself...

Troubling that AFC leave the post in tact though.