UK Advertising Standards Authority Rules on Options Institute

3 Mar

The Kaufmans ran an Ad in the regional press over here which read:

AUTISM RECOVERY 2 Hours to change your child’s life With American Autism expert Raun K. Kaufman, himself fully recovered from Autism. Free Public Lectures

ASA recieved 2 complaints on the adverts (no, neither were me) and investigated based on the following:

1. Two readers believed the ad was misleading because it implied that autism was a temporary condition, which was curable.

2. One of the readers also believed the ad was misleading because it implied The Autism Treatment Center of America’s programme would be effective within two hours.

3. The ASA challenged whether the testimonials were genuine.

Points 2 and 3 were not upheld which meant ASA were satisfied that point 2 referred to the length of time the lectures went on for and that the testimonials in point 3 were genuine.

However, point 1 was upheld:

The ASA noted the ad referred to “AUTISM RECOVERY” and considered that the word recovery was likely to be understood by readers to mean that OIF were offering a treatment or “cure” for autism. We also noted OIF’s acknowledgment that results of the programme varied.

We noted we had not seen full copies of the three earlier studies on The Son-Rise Program to which OIF had referred. However, we understood from the summaries provided that none of those studies assessed whether the programme could cure Autism. We noted the discussion paper described how the principles of The Son-Rise Program were compatible with a more general understanding of autism and autistic behaviour, established through research carried out over the last 50 years. We also noted, however, that that paper did not assess the efficacy of The Son-Rise Program itself, but suggested that further independent research into the programme was needed. We therefore considered that the studies and discussion paper were not sufficient to support the efficacy claim made for The Son-Rise Program.

We noted two studies were currently being conducted on The Son-Rise Program, but considered that, whatever the initial observations might be, because the results of the studies were as yet unknown, unpublished research did not substantiate the claim. Because we had not seen robust scientific evidence to support the claim of recovery from autism, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Health and beauty products and therapies – general).

2 Responses to “UK Advertising Standards Authority Rules on Options Institute”

  1. Adelaide March 4, 2010 at 00:51 #

    I remember being excited, clear back in September 2001, about some of the first lectures to come to Britain of Kaufman and the Option Institute.

    I’m glad the present ad played the ball (The Option Institute) and not the man (Raun Kaufman).

    Of course the best argument against the Option Institute is still “Autistic and Proud” (first time I heard/read those words in the same phrase/sentence).

    “Robust scientific evidence” would be a randomised clinical trial or the next step down, done on a large amount of children.

  2. Susan March 4, 2010 at 02:48 #

    Hear hear…in the interest of full disclosure, I have been watching/reading about the Options Institute with interest for years here in Massachusetts. We all know how ads are often ‘hype’; programs for kids should not succumb to this hype. Sure, I believe the Kaufmans believe they cured their son Raun, but this has not been replicated in how many other children have they worked with? I also believe they do give parents another way of ‘being with’ their child or children, and perhaps remind them to love their children as they are, but this does not amount to a cure. We all know that working with and on behalf of children with autism is long, hard work…so good for the ASA for checking on this ad!

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