RethinkingAutism.com is the brainchild of Dana Commandatore, a friend of one of my high school classmates. Dana is a former NYC advertising guru and the mother of Michaelangelo, a child with autism. His story inspired her to write the children’s book, Michaelangelo the Diver.
Dana has now taken her creativity and contacts in her new home of Los Angeles to produce a series of controversial public service announcements to combat misinformation about the causes and treatment of autism and the acceptance and celebration of neurodiversity. Here is the spirit in which they are presented:
All too often in the world of autism, celebrity and sex appeal are used to promote pseudo-science that exploits autistic people, their family members and the public. We decided to put those very same factors to work in service of the truth.
Just because a person with autism may not speak, it does not mean they have an inferior intellect.
Every reputable study has failed to find a link between vaccines and autism.
Aversives, seclusion and restraint are unacceptable ways to treat a person with autism.
No special diet has been proven to cure autism.
School districts need to support inclusive education.
Learn about the dangers of unnecessary chelation treatments.
We should be more concerned about an autistic individual’s quality of life instead of preventing them from being born.
Listen to self-advocates and learn about neurodiversity. Include the organized community of autistic adults when it comes to making legislation regarding their quality of life.
Positive behavioral supports aimed at stopping harmful behaviors while respecting natural differences are a great way to help autistic people achieve quality of life.
Here is the link to the five videos which, for the time being, are embed-disabled.
The following page explains clearly and concisely the messages in each of the five videos.
I hope to have Dana discuss with us her plans for marketing these PSAs and how she will capture data on how this approach might change thinking on misinformation on autism.
Discussions with many of you elsewhere ranged from displeasure with using sex and degradation of women yet again regardless of the message to a supportive “whatever works” sentiment.
For example, my wife, PharmGirl MD, contends that the message would have been more effective with a beefy male hunk since mothers usually make family decisions regarding vaccination. Paging Noah Gray, Toaster Sunshine, Ed Brayton, etc.
Now that the final products have been released, I’m sure that you won’t be bashful in providing your feedback here in the comments below.
[h/t to Patrick O'D for putting Dana in touch with me and megathanks to Dana for giving us and Terra Sig readers the early tip on this effort]