Hey, "Big Autism". This is what a PSA looks like.

28 Sep

This is a PSA from the National Down Syndrome Society.

Big Autism is a term coined by the blogger Prometheus.  I believe he had in mind “Autism Speaks” (which consumed Cure Autism Now, and National Alliance for Autism Research) and “Autism Society of America” (which is affliated on some level with “Defeat Autism Now!”/DAN! and the badly named “National Autism Association”of Nixa, Missouri).  Big Autism, unlike the National Down Syndrome Society, still needs to get a clue.  Big Autism has done a  horrendous job of representing autism to the public.  It’s shocking how bad they are at advocating for autistic people.  It can’t be a good sign when an organization picks a number to represent how many people they are supposed to be helping because it sounds good or looks good.  This is apparently what Autism Speaks has done in their choice of “1.5 million” which is supposed to be how many people in the US have autism.  Autism Speaks , when asked, refuses to say how they arrived at the magic “1.5 million,” probably because if they bother to explain it, the explanation would undo their autism epidemic story.  It doesn’t matter if it’s accurate, what matters is if it brings in the donations.

But back to how PSAs should be done. One of my favorite PSA videos ever is from the National Down Syndrome Society and is called “Dreams”. Click here to see it. If you’re like me you will become verklempt, so get a hanky first.

I love this one, too. It’s from Brazil.

Here’s another I just found.  It’s from the UK.

The (US based) National Down Syndrome Society has three more, new, advocacy videos, here featuring three celebrities, including Chris Burke, a Down syndrome adult and actor.  In my opinion, the NDSS knows how to do advocacy for DS people.

Why is it that autism can’t get some decent celebrity spokespeople? (OK, so we sort of have Sigourney Weaver). And Amanda Peet is great, of course, but she’s a spokesperson for vaccines, not especially for autism.  It’s like the US autistic community got stuck with the worst of the dregs for celebrities. I know, I know … “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!” If she and Jenny McIndigo will leave autism alone, I think we’ll all be relieved.

In the US, to my knowlege, the big autism orgs have never gotten it.  Their “outreach efforts” usually reach out and devalue autistic people; their “Public Service Announcements” are in reality “Public Disservice Announcements”.  The UC Davis MIND Institute put out a really awful set of PSA’s when they first moved into their fancy building. And let’s not forget the ransom notes campaign.

This is part of a longer video called “Living with Fragile X”-

In case you don’t actually watch that one.  At the end a mom of an adult son says,

“I wanted him to be normal.  And if I have any regrets it’s that I did not let myself love him at that moment.  Just say, ‘I love you just the way you are.’ And I hope he forgives me…for ever thinking I wanted him to be different.”

That! That is what a Public Service Announcement should look like.  It even features a researcher from the UC Davis MIND Institute who mentions autism, if you can believe that. It doesn’t candy-coat the problems of Fragile X people, but neither does it over-dramatize the problems and go out of it’s way to stigmatize anyone.

Belgium seems to have figured out how to do autism PSA’s already.

Setting a nice example for the English speaking world, this is amazing video showing what the NAS, the National Autistic Society, has been doing for some time now, that is, actually respecting and helping autistic people.

Here are four more PSA’s, professionally made ones, these from the NAS.  I don’t think they are perfect but they are so much better than anything that’s being done by “Big Autism” in the US.  See the videos, here, here, here, and here.  This one is good, too, the NAS President and individual Members of Parliament discussing the way autistic adults have been ignored to a huge extent.

The following ones are new to me.  They are fairly informal NAS interviews with autistic adults, here, here and here and an interview with a boy. The UK has been invaded by Autism Speaks, but the British version seems to be slightly less bombastic, so far, maybe not, though. “Treehouse” is having a conference in London next month and Bob Wright of Autism Speaks will be there to speak. I understand that autistic adults will attending and representing autism realistically, one can only hope that Bob Wright will take notice.

It’s amazing what can be accomplished when people in authority are tuned into reality and the long term, instead of being tuned into damaging illusions and distortions and short term pay-offs.

6 Responses to “Hey, "Big Autism". This is what a PSA looks like.”

  1. jypsy September 28, 2008 at 11:27 #

    Hope Bob takes notice of the short video “Something about us” while he’s there….

  2. Jen September 28, 2008 at 12:05 #

    Let’s hope that “Big Autism” grows up soon.

    I’m not sure why the Downs’ Syndrome associations seem to be such good advocates, but they really seem to have it together. The Canadian Downs’ Syndrome Society also has fantastic ads and does wonderful advocacy work (with the help and direction of people who actually have Downs Syndrome).

  3. Oldfart September 28, 2008 at 12:24 #

    In the US, the Discovery Health channel has a new series called “Autism x 6” which, I think, chronicles the trials of a family with 6 autistic kids. I have not watched it because the Discovery people do, shall we say, some “strange” things in the name of science. Have any of you watched this program and is it worth anything?

  4. Bunny September 28, 2008 at 14:09 #

    The Discovery Health show airs in the US on October 1st. I’m wary, because the parents of those six kids raise money by selling t-shirts that say “Autism Bites.” Not exactly embracing their children, if you ask me.

  5. Bunny September 28, 2008 at 14:28 #

    American actors Matthew Laborteaux and Darryl Hannah were supposedly both diagnosed with autism as children. Maybe they could come forward as spokespeople?

  6. Ms. Clark September 28, 2008 at 21:11 #

    jypsy, I hope the video you mentioned, “Something about us,” will be able to be seen online eventually. I think it will be.

    Jen, you are right, the Canadian Down syndrome society (association?) does incredibly positive and effective ads, too.

    I understand that at least one of the “evil ND” is supposed to be on a US national morning news program tomorrow spreading the idea of acceptance and other neurodiverse-type goals, if you can imagine!
    I believe video will be available online for that, too.

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