Once again, the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched their ad campaign entitled, "Got Autism?", misleadingly implying that the consumption of milk is associated with the cause of autism spectrum conditions.
In October 2008 the combined efforts of people on the autism spectrum, parents, professionals and other concerned individuals was successful in getting PETA to remove the highly offensive billboard from a site in New Jersey. 982 individuals signed the petition put out by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) at that time. (http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/autismPETA/)
We are once again urging people to sign on to this new petition, which will be sent to PETA and to major sponsors, since it seems apparent that PETA did not understand the message the first time.
- Whole Foods Market
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
We, individuals on the autism spectrum, family members, professionals and supporters, call on PETA to remove the “Got Autism” advertisements. They promote misinformation to the public about the nature of the autism spectrum, and they contribute to stigma and discrimination against autistic individuals. In addition we are calling on PETA's sponsors, including Whole Foods Market and VISA, to withdraw support for PETA due to its discriminatory practices in this advertisement.
The image of “tragedy” symbolized by the “frowny face” in the bowl of milk does an injustice to the entirety of our lives, which like the lives of most people, include both difficulties and successes.
Autism is a neurobiological disability of predominantly genetic origin affecting millions of Americans. Autism criteria include difficulties with social interaction and communication, executive functioning, sensory processing, and motor skills. While adults and children on the autism spectrum often require substantial supports, services and education across the lifespan, PETA’s misinformation and negative stereotyping of autism add to the difficulties autistic individuals, and our families and communities, face.
PETA’s ad campaign, utilizing negative stereotypes about autism, puts it in the company of a long line of unscrupulous groups that have sought to try and spread fear about autism and other disabilities as a means of pushing their particular agendas.
Misleading ad campaigns such as “Got Autism?” treat individuals with disabilities as pawns in the agendas of groups that are not linked in any way with promoting the rights or needs of people with those disabilities. By refusing to acknowledge the right of the autistic and disability communities to be referred to with respect instead of as the focus of public hysteria, PETA contributes to a state of affairs which marginalizes us. People with disabilities, our families and our supporters deserve better than the exploitation and fear-mongering that comes about when disability is used as a means of scaring the general populace.
For millions across the globe, the answer to PETA’s “Got Autism?” question is an unequivocal yes. By exploiting us, PETA becomes a culprit in the social forces that marginalize autistic people and people with other disabilities and lead to the discrimination and prejudice that are what truly disables us.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network started this petition with a single signature, and now has 157 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.