Got Autism? (asks PETA)

Apparently PETA is going to run a billboard with that very phrase around Newark, New Jersey. Reports that dairy consumption might be linked to autism have spurred this ad campaign, according to The Peta Files:

Testimonials suggest that some people with this devastating disease may be able to find relief by simply removing milk from their diet.

There’s a whole world of information out there for parents and for women who are pregnant or nursing about how to raise their kids dairy-free. Be an informed consumer and check it out!

*The Newark area had the highest rates of autism occurrence among 14 states studied in one report.

Aside from the “devastating disease” phrase which reinforces the view of autism as some dreadful disease, PETA should note that Newark is one among a few places in New Jersey which autism rates were studied by the CDC; four other counties were also studied. Will there be billboards going up across the state of New Jersey too?

I drive through Newark everyday as I go to and from work so I may well see this billboard. We do avoid giving my son milk—I avoid it myself—-but “yes” will be my very affirmative answer to the question “got autism.” Yes, and very fine about it, thank you.

But I also have to say “yes” about PETA’s ad campaign providing misinformation about autism and oversimplifying what autism is, and what can be done to help a child.

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    • Regan

      Is there anyone who doesn’t want to use autism as the whipping boy for their particular cause?

      [Sorry about so many posts--(I'm working on IACC reply and obviously am looking for distraction.)]
      Try to restrain myself :-/.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      So you’re working down to the 11th hour too—-mine will be finished late tonight/early this morning…….. Comment away, always welcome!

      If I see the billboard from the interstate I will try to get a photo (so long as Jim is driving, of course).

    • Bonnie Sayers

      Not sure if you also subscribe to your site, I do to mine, but funny to see after this post the ad for jenny and generation rescue saying autism is reversable.

      I am not using google adsense for that main reason. Hoping to see a pic if you are able to get one.

    • hj

      Got Bigotry?


    • Synesthesia

      Dang. I thought their telling Ben and Jerry to use Breast Milk instead of Cow’s Milk was annoying.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      They’ve put the billboard right in downtown Newark: “PETA says it chose to put the billboard by Newark’s Prudential Center because a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the city’s metropolitan area has one of the highest rates of autism in the country”—they’ve really misread the CDC study (1010 WINS).

    • Justthisguy

      Animals are yummy. Humans are heterotrophs, and have to eat things which were previously alive in order to live. Plants are autotrophs, and can live on minerals.

      This is why we say grace at meals, asking forgiveness for the necessary killing of our food.

      Humans are animals which evolved to live on roots, fruits, and whatever critters we could kill. That’s the “caveman diet”, still considered the optimum for us. The mutation which allowed a lot of grownups in Northern Europe to digest lactose may well have accounted for a large part of our important position in world affairs.

      In my considered opinion, the PETA folks are batshit insane.

      I betcha they’re all planning to vote for Obama, too

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      They won’t be too happy to read your first sentence…….

    • http://mayfly mayfly

      Autism can indeed be a devastating disability when it leaves its victims unable to function in society. This is not bigotry. This is fact.

      What religion teaches one must says grace to ask for forgiveness for killing an animal for food? I’m just curious. I suppose Janeism, but this is not part of the Judaeo-Christian ethos. Proper treatment of animals is.

    • Regan

      This is not bigotry. This is fact.

      I think it could be argued that it is exploitative…unless someone can point out the long-standing tradition of PETA having an active interest and positive contribution in either the civil liberties of the those with disability or autism. Otherwise, the way that I see it is that they see a “receptive” audience and they are going after it.

    • Regan

      Sidebar/OT to the billboard
      2004 PETA proggy award
      Winner: Dr. Temple Grandin
      Renowned animal scientist Dr. Temple Grandin doesn’t seem like the sort of person who would receive PETA’s Proggy Award. An associate professor of animal science at Colorado State University, Dr. Grandin consults with the livestock industry and the American Meat Institute on the design of slaughterhouses! However, Dr. Grandin’s improvements to animal-handling systems found in slaughterhouses have decreased the amount of fear and pain that animals experience in their final hours, and she is widely considered the world’s leading expert on the welfare of cattle and pigs.

      Recently, following a PETA undercover investigation, Dr. Grandin’s expertise was instrumental in securing significant improvements in the treatment of animals at AgriProcessors, the world’s largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse. Noting that incompetent kosher slaughterers and shoddy quality control at AgriProcessors are giving shechitah a bad name, Dr. Grandin said about the abuses at AgriProcessors, “I thought it was the most disgusting thing I’d ever seen. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been in at least 30 other kosher slaughter plants, and I had never ever seen that kind of procedure done before.”

    • My Autism Insights

      Wow – the general theme these days seems to be irresponsibility and fear mongering. I always thought PETA was extreme, but never had a huge issue with them. But this is a bit much. Stick to your own cause, people.

      The world is giving me a headache.

      Incidently, we avoid milk 98% of the time. Whether or not it does anything for Gus’s ability to focus has never been clear, but my husband and daughter hate it, and it makes me sick, so even if it doesn’t have an effect on him, he’s okay without it.

    • sharon

      We went off dairy for a while. #1 son does not drink and we saw no difference. #2 sons drink milks 98% of the time and is in a regular classroom.

      I believe there are other reasons to avoid milk, autism is not one of them.

    • ASDmomNC

      “Is there anyone who doesn’t want to use autism as the whipping boy for their particular cause? ”

      -No kidding. Barf.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      I’m just not sure that “autism awareness” was the number one reason behind this ad—-awareness about cruelty to animals, yes, but there are other ways to get that message out.

    • Sarah

      Very true. Of course, from the people who compared killing chickens to lynching and the Holocaust, asking for a little sensitivity is probably too much.

    • http://mayfly mayfly

      I’m no fan of PETA, and yes autism has nothing to do what so ever with their cause.

      I was reacting to the notion tht stating autism is any other than Panglossian is bigotry. The last statement is hyperbole. But I do what what qualifiers one can put before the word disorder and not run afoul.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      My thought is that PETA ought perhaps to have tended its own garden (mayfly, thanks for the Pangloss reference) or at least put out a more properly informative ad about autism.

    • MT/hellokittiemama

      If you find the billboard will you let me know where it is??? We are down in Brick but hubby and best friend always in that area. I’m curious about it… and if it will be around NJ.


    • hj


      PETA is stepping on autistics individuals to get press for themselves. They’re using autistics. They are being narrow-minded and intolerant of _people_ different from them.

    • Regan

      Maybe for an idea of what some PSAs/ad campaigns look like that doesn’t try to exploit fear of developmental disabilites and autism…
      Hey, “Big Autism”. This is what a PSA looks like
      LB/RB Sept. 28, 2008

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      The billboard sounds like it is right in downtown Newark by the Prudential Center—–if I were taking the PATH train, I’d see it, which I think we’ll try to do soon…..

      Also to read: One Dad’s Opinion and, of course, Orac.

    • Paula

      info @ peta . org

      I think I’ll write to them.

    • Emily

      PETA has no shame. They are beyond stupid. They used to send me pennies in the mail having to do with some campaign against animal testing…and I would always tear the inserts into little pieces and send them back in PETA’s postage-prepaid envelopes. I cannot stand them. They waste everything…energy, mental energy, paper, time, money…completely useless. I don’t think they’ve ever had one single workable idea.

    • Leanne

      PETA are way oversimplifying autism.

      HOWEVER, we noticed a HUGE difference and improvement in my son (mild ASD) when we removed all dairy products from his diet. His speech improved, tantrums were reduced, his eye contact improved out of sight (pardon the pun!) and he was so much better in just about every respect. To say I was thrilled with the difference is an understatement.

      We’re now in the second phase and jhave removed all gluten, as well as reducing flavours, colours and additives.

      Autism isn’t simple – if it were, we wouldn’t have any more autistic kids. But PETA are spot on if they were saying that dairy elimination can make a difference in *some* cases.

    • jypsy

      I posted the reply I got from PETA here but it never appeared

    • Regan
    • Regan

      After having some time to further think about what I feel is the hijacking of autism for this billboard, I feel that this is on par with the Ransom Notes campaign with even less sincere intent. PETA would probably welcome controversy and public fanfare over reaction to this billboard, because it would give another opportunity to expound on the reason for its placement…which I would wager would have more to do with PETA and milk than autism. These are the same folks who tried to capitalize on the tragedy of the young man killed on the Greyhound bus by describing his death in detail and then segueing into a message on chickens (apparently the outcry on that ad was sufficient that they did not air it, but with a lengthy statement about why they chose to create such a graphic and shocking ad–yada-yada.)

      [PETA Co-founder and President] Newkirk has said, “Probably everything we do is a publicity stunt … we are not here to gather members, to please, to placate, to make friends. We’re here to hold the radical line.”

      Animal Rights Uncompromised:
      PETA’s Tactics (From their own sponsored website)
      “PETA’s aim is to stop animal suffering, and we use every available opportunity to reach people with our messages”

      I think any belief that this is being done out of the goodness of their hearts to help our kids, as opposed to promulgating a vegan agenda misunderstands their motives. I’m not even sure that our children or children who really affected (vs. afflicted) by devastating diseases, are necessarily on an equal footing with the animals that PETA states as their first priority, given their record on animal research and philosophy as stated by the President and Co-Founder…“ Even if animal tests produced a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it.”

      I spent some time looking through their websites, and found some other PETA billboard templates from their website,
      got sick kids?
      got breast cancer?
      got prostate cancer?
      got zits?

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      And now the billboard is heading to Salt Lake City, per the PETA media center.

    • hj

      Just now looking at pics of billboard….

      PETA =
      Propaganda to Exploit and Torment Autistics

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      I think that’s it—-

    • Justthisguy

      I must declare that I own an autographed (to me) first edition copy of “The Monkey Handlers”, by G. Gordon Liddy. He has had Ingrid Newkirk on his talk show a few times, and her insights on animal testing informed the very creepy premise of the novel, which I’ll not spoil for y’all.

      Gordon’s a bit strange, himself.

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    • TomsMom

      Exploitation is exploitation. . . PETA got the uptick in media mention they were goin for so on to the next thing for them. It must be nice to be so gosh darn SURE of the righteousness of your cause. On to the next thing for them!

      What would happen to all the poor cows, bred for milking, if everybody stopped drinking milk tomorrow??? Would PETA milk them??

      If staying off milk and milk products proves efficacious then of course ido it. (Didn’t work for Tom–but the meds he takes now don’t work for everybody either.)

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