Advocates pull plug on autism campaign

NEW YORK: The New York University Child Study Center has ended the first phase of a public awareness effort after advocates who share the goals of the center united in protest against the advertisements at the center of the campaign.

NEW YORK: The New York University Child Study Center has ended the first phase of a public awareness effort after advocates who share the goals of the center united in protest against the advertisements at the center of the campaign.

Six attention-grabbing “ransom notes” made up the ads in question, which were scattered around New York City on billboards and appeared in print publications. The ads were intended to bring attention to autism, but quickly created controversy in the autism community.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) was offended by the implication that children were “kidnapped” by the disease and circulated a petition calling for the end of the campaign.

Scott Robertson, vice president of ASAN, said the organization coordinated with a number of advocacy groups, such as The Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect, and The Autism Acceptance Project. Over 20 groups aided in the effort.

“We had never organized an effort of this scale before,” Robertson said. “To have stopped an ad campaign that was supposed to run for 4 months is almost unprecedented. We are very happy they are now interested in working with us on designing ads that take into account the advocacy community.”

Rubenstein Communications, the agency advising the center, declined to talk about its work. The center provided a statement announcing the end of the ad campaign, but noted the public awareness campaign would continue via an online “town hall” meeting early next year.

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