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

Posted Oct 01 2008 5:08pm

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 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 thedregs 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 nevergotten it.  Their “outreach efforts” usually reach out and devalueautisticpeople; their “Public Service Announcements” are in reality “Public Disservice Announcements”.  The UC Davis MIND Institute put out a really awfulset of PSA ’s when they first moved into their fancy building. And let’s not forget the ransomnotes 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.

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