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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Is ANY publicity "good" publicity?

I am sorry I haven't been around to write about the the New York Child Study Center "Ransom Notes" Campaign until today. Here is some more reference to it. The Autism Acceptance Project has signed in support against this campaign with The Autistic Self Advocacy Network . The Gimp Parade , Not Dead Yet, Whose Planet Is It Anyway, Susan Senator, Autism Vox, Alex Bain, and others have written on this and I urge you to read, if you have not already, or click on Autism Hub to read more from other excellent bloggers.

I was even more stunned when one of our friends, upon stating her disappointment over the campaign received this letter from its board of directors:

Dean Robert Grossman, Michael Recanati, and Ira Statfeld forwarded your email to me, and I am responding on their behalf.

The NYU Child Study Center's "Ransom Notes" public service campaign is designed as a provocative wake up to create awareness and spark dialogue about childhood psychiatric disorders, one of America's last remaining silent public health epidemics. Twelve million American children and adolescents face daily battles with psychiatric disorders. Untreated, these children are at risk for academic failure, school dropout, substance abuse, suicide, unemployment, and imprisonment. Children who do receive appropriate treatment, however, can learn to function and thrive.

"Ransom Notes" may be shocking to some, but so are the statistics: suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24, and serious emotional problems affect one out of 10 young people, most of whom do not get help. The strong response to this campaign is evidence that our approach is working. We acknowledge the challenges faced by individuals with these disorders and their families. We hope to both generate a national dialogue that will end the stigma surrounding childhood psychiatric disorders and advance the science, giving children the help they need and deserve. We want this campaign to be a wake up call. Please join the dialogue.

Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D.
Director, NYU Child Study Center;
Arnold and Debbie Simon Professor and Chair,
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry;
Sr. Vice President and Vice Dean for External Affairs,

As the ASAN letter says,

While the “Ransom Notes” campaign was no doubt a well-intentioned effort to increase awareness and thus support for the disabilities it describes, the means through which it attempts this have the opposite effect. When a child with ADHD is described as “a detriment to himself and those around him,” it hurts the efforts of individuals, parents and families to ensure inclusion and equal access throughout society for people with disabilities. When individuals with diagnoses of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are told that their capacities for social interaction and independent living are completely destroyed, it hurts their efforts for respect, inclusion, and necessary supports by spreading misleading and inaccurate information about these neurologies. While it is true that there are many difficulties associated with the disabilities you describe, individuals with those diagnostic categories do succeed – not necessarily by becoming indistinguishable from their non-disabled peers – but by finding ways to maximize their unique abilities and potential on their own terms.

Individuals with disabilities are not replacements for normal children that are stolen away by the disability in question. They are whole people, deserving of the same rights, respect, and dignity afforded their peers. Too often, the idea that children with disabilities are less than human lies at the heart of horrific crimes committed against them.

I urge everyone to sign the petition against this very dangerous campaign. Not all publicity is good publicity. All we have to remember are the recent mall, church and university shootings to know that. I also think that most of us agree when the rampage of negative campaigning does not reduce stigma -- it only increases ignorance and fear.



Anonymous CS said...

His reply was like a corporate press statement full of kool-aid for all to digest. I can't help but think its a purposeful passive-aggressive response. Is he giving everyone the finger? He asks for diaglog but just vomits up the initial press release.

6:06 PM  
Anonymous -Brian- said...

In the New York Daily News, as of December 14th, there is a strong condemnation of the campaign in the article "PSYCH GROUPS FURY OVER RANSOM ADS", although the article still gives Dr. Koplewicz another chance to rebuke his critics. Even the Autism Acceptance Project is mentioned in the article.

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Aspiegirl said...

""suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24, and serious emotional problems affect one out of 10 young people, most of whom do not get help""

I never had a suicidal thought at all until I was asked - almost told - I was suicidal by others. I was asked daily if I felt like hurting myself. Even though I am autistic negative thoughts like that never crossed my mind. Even this year when seeing a therapist the first thing she asked is "are you suicidal?" Its as if they want us that way.

As far as getting help. I would not have had the problems I had if the "help" DID NOT HAPPEN. My entire family agrees that the system caused me to decline. It was therapist and DRs that told me I would never function in the world. I was sent home by them ---- They said I was to high functioning for them to help me but to low functioning to be is society. My mom asked them what they meant and they said that it meant I slipped through the cracks and nothing could be done at all. I was in my 20s and that was one of the worst days in my life. I felt like I was being told that I was nothing. No one.

20 years later and they say the same thing. Oh wait I forgot..... they will help me if I am suicidal though. Go figure.

Sorry for such a blunt comment but I had to leave therapy because of it making me worse and I worry that the so call "help" they offer only causes a person to think less of themselves. Sorry if it bothers anyone that is not my intent.


9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aspiegirl - your post made my sigh.. and roll my eyes... I am at the point too that the fewer "professionals" in my son's lives they happier and better educated and even "more normal" they are becoming (what is normal?? :) ) The SLP's, OT's and tutors, have done an amazing job.. the one's that claim they know all about ASD.. they are the most dangerous.

I've passed it on Estee. Not only to other ASD parents but those with ADHD as well.

Ready for the snowstorm??


10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too little too late?
It took Harold Koplewicz too long to realize that hurting people you want to “help” is not acceptable collateral damage. We should write these officials to thank them for pulling the ads and request that they keep an eye on Dr. Koplewicz to make sure he doesn’t try anything this dirty again to drum up business in the name of public awareness:

Kenneth Langone, Board Chairman
New York University Medical Center

Martin Lipton, Board of Trustee Chairman
New York University

John Sexton, President
New York University

Robert Grossman, Dean & President
New York University Medical Center

5:42 PM  

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