Monday, December 10, 2007

Ransom Notes and love letters

I haven't been much of an autism activist lately. As I wrote during the summer, my activist energy has been focused on acting locally - it's been focused on Bud. But I just can't let this one pass without comment.

It's a new ad campaign called "Ransom Notes," sponsored by the NYU Child Study Center. Vicki Forman describes it well over at Speak Softly. So does Kristina Chew at Autism Vox.

The campaign purports to be a public service, designed to "create awareness and spark dialogue about childhood psychiatric disorders," though I have to say that, to me, it looks more like a campaign designed to inspire fear - a little "shock and awe" for the masses. The campaign is built around images designed to look like actual ransom notes, that say things like this:

We have your son.

We will make sure he will not be able to care for himself or interact socially as long as he lives.

This is only the beginning.
- Autism

Vicki and Kristina have already, very eloquently, explained why this "autism awareness" campaign is so very troubling.

Let me just add this:

Should Autism decide to send this letter to my house, I've got my reply ready to roll. Here's what it says:

Dear Autism,

You don't have my son; I do.

I will make sure that he is never defined by his autism alone, and I will help him to recognize that, although his autism makes some things incredibly challenging, it also brings with it remarkable gifts. I will make sure that we work on his challenges. I will make sure that we celebrate his gifts.

This is only the beginning.
- MOM-NOS

22 comments:

kristen said...

Amen!

Maddy said...

I just get miffed that this has such a huge impact on the general public, not the kind of impact that any of us would wish.
Cheers

This is my calling card or link"Whittereronautism"until blogger comments get themselves sorted out.

Jen said...

Oh I so love your reply :o)

kirsten said...

ugh. that's about all i can say to that ransom letter.

but your reply is PERFECT.

(http://kirstencan.typepad.com)

Anonymous said...

Dear NYU:

We have your ethics and your money. You'll never get either back.

Signed,
Madison Avenue Ad Firm

kristina said...

And so many more stories yet to follow!

Jordan said...

Well said!! Lovely.

Really? You should actually send that to them.

Daisy said...

Well said, Momnos. Very well said.

Krista said...

My son is not autistic, but has multiple disabilities, including emotional/behavioral ones. I saw the ransom notes through you and was not a happy camper and wrote my own response as well. Thank you.

Delilah said...

Love your reply. Maybe you should send it to NYU?

Anonymous said...

terrific. you've inspired me to write the ad campaign!

Special Needs Mama said...

Brilliant!!!

Marla said...

Beautiful! Well said!

Niffercoo said...

Oh my word. I really hope my son with Aspergers doesn't come across one of those 'ransom notes'. He will be devestated!

I will admit to feeling the way the notes describe about AS and autism (our daughter has it), especially when our children were first diagnosed. My husband and I are still far from acceptance and hope, but we're working on it.

And our son (while relieved to have a name for the quirks that were driving him to call himself "stupid", "a baby", and "weird") has had a hard time accepting his AS status as well. Sometimes he doesn't want me telling anyone, other times he will tell people himself.

I shudder to think of what would happen should he read one of those letters. He would probably be terrified.

Thanks for your post, and your blog in general. I read all the time, and it's very encouraging and inspiring!

kristi said...

Love the reply, I am keeping it close by!

drama mama said...

Brazilliant.

That campaign - just the kind of crap thinking that almost sent me down the toilet a few years ago.

mommy~dearest said...

Rock on, MOM-NOS!

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

Simply perfect! Thanks for saying what so many of us think.

tuesdaymom said...

It scares me not only to think about what vulnerable families with a loved one with any of those disorders would feel after reading those ads, but like you said, the the masses who are already uninformed or misinformed (ahemjennymccarthy)...how are they now going to feel about my son with ASD? That he is some sort of freak taken over by some disease? It makes me shudder.

Moi ;) said...

I have not seen this ad. This is disgusting.... great response, Mom!

I have to get over here more often. I've been a bad activist blogger, too....

~Miss Nelson said...

This is disgusting. I love your reply!

David said...

Been meaning to comment on this one for a while ... on the one hand you can appreciate their desire to try to get the masses to understand the reality of mental illness, but on the other hand they just perpetuate the dramatization with ill-conceived crap like Ransom Notes. The disorder is magnified over the people who are afflicted. Fine for drama, but not real useful or practical.