I have long been supportive of your movement’s efforts of highlighting the plight and conservation of animals across the world and your attempts to bring about justice for the voiceless. Even though at times, your efforts boarder on the side of fanaticism, I have still believed in your overall goal of bringing attention to the inhumane way we treat animals.
Today, however, I was angered, very angered to see that there is a report circulating on the internet that you are behind a campaign that draws and links to autism and dairy foods in children’s diets.
You might wonder why I am so angry, well, please, let me tell you why. I am actually disgusted in your attempt to draw the faintest of lines to the cause of autism being related – in any way – to diet, let alone one including dairy, which really only serves as propaganda to further your organisations lifestyle beliefs.
Firstly, I would like to draw your attention to the actual advertisement and the implication that is made by the simple image of a sad face made out of cereal in a bowl of milk and the words “Has your child got autism?”
OK. Take it from me; autism is not something to be sad about. Yes, the initial diagnosis is difficult and can be sad, but many, many, many hundreds of thousands of children and their families not only accept an ASD diagnosis, but go on to live full and happy lives. You imply, at the expense of helpless children and their parents (some of whom are looking for anything to “cure” their children and are innocently ignorant themselves). By using a sad face, you are saying that Autism is in fact something that is sad, very sad, and that the reason for that is because they ate dairy products.
I can’t tell you how wrong this is. How ignorant. How much it breaks my heart.
I wonder about this. One of the most “famous” Autism activists is
. Have you heard
of her? Have you seen that brilliant telemovie with Claire Danes? Well that
woman has helped to improve the slaughtering process of cattle. She said that
her autism helps her to see the way that animals do. Yes it’s still about the
slaughter of cattle (lets be honest, not everyone will be a vegan or vegetarian
– so cattle will always need to be slaughtered) which you’re opposed to, but
she created a process that allows cattle to move freely and humanely through the slaughterhouse.
Surely, as advocates for the humane treatment of animals you would congratulate
and support this? Do you think that she is sad because she is autistic? I
wonder how things would be if she didn’t have it. Would someone else have been
able to come up with this? Temple
When she was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, this was said bout her:““At CSU, we join in applauding Dr. Grandin’s contributions to our world. She has helped open minds and open doors for other people,” said Craig Beyrouty, dean of the
Then there is Einstein, Sylvester Stallone, Dan Ackroyd, Bill Gates and recently, Daryl Hannah who are all on the Autism spectrum. My question to you is, are these people sad?
Then there is the question, “Has your child got autism”, as if it was something that can be caught, like a common cold. Autism is not something you can catch, nor is it something that can be healed, cured, or eradicated. You cannot lose it, remove it with surgery, can’t hide from it or even hide it. By all accounts, autism can not be treated as if it is an illness like the common cold. After years and years of research, people in the neuropsychological, psychological – hell, the MEDICAL fields have only determined that behaviours can be managed with intervention and lots of hard work.
Asking if your child has “got” autism is like asking if they “got” lice. It is insensitive. You don’t GET autism, yet somehow, your ad suggests you can, simply by eating dairy. If people who saw this ad did not bother to follow through on your invite to review the research, then you really are saying that children who eat dairy can get autism or you can get autism because of dairy food.
What about adults? What about you? How many people that work for PETA have autism? Surely you all ate high dairy diets as children before you became Vegan? So then, how many of you have got autism?
The image and wording of this ad, just based on this alone, proves your ignorance in relation to autism spectrum disorders, but then, then we need to address the “research” (if you can even call it that) that you have used as the foundation of your campaign to stop people eating dairy food, because it can give you autism. What. The. Fuck?
The disgusting thing is that you are using research that is baseless and has been debunked. You are essentially lying just to promote your agenda of Veganism. Why would you do that? Why do you need everyone to follow a vegan lifestyle so much that you would use research that was actually proven to be false as the basis for your argument? Do you look down upon those who eat dairy so much that you would waste money, a lot of money to promote this fallacy and scare unwitting and confused people into thinking that by giving their children dairy, they could be giving them autism?
The research wouldn’t even qualify as standard research. A case study of 30plus people is surely not enough to base a case on? And what kind of science was it really? What were the parameters, what was included? What was not included? Was it all dairy or just milk? Where did these children sit on the spectrum? Were they verbal or non-verbal? What were their behaviours like before hand? How long did it go for? What was used to test the change in behaviours?
Did you think to look into this?
Then you use anecdotal evidence to support your case. What, did you just ask around the office and gather some thoughts? Did you post a survey somewhere with surveymonkey? It’s almost an admission that the research was so flimsy that you needed to use anecdotal evidence to prop it up.
It is so hard for parents that have children on the spectrum. Not only are you spending time blaming yourself, you are looking at everything else there is in the environment that could be a mitigating factor or cause. And there is so much confusion. The information that is out there is both contradictory and ignorant. What I know first-hand is that what is right for my own autistic son is not right for the next person. Diet may work for some kids, but it won’t work for others. The fact that there are 127 different aspects of autism means that there is not one solution nor is there one specific reason for it.
And to prove my point, you only have to look as far as Jenny McCarthy and the anti-vacc bandwagon. We’ve seen how one person’s belief can change many hundreds of thousands of opinions regarding vaccinations causing autism. How a sometime celebrity was able to get traction on this considering she was not a doctor is beyond me, I suppose there was some heartfelt passionate bandwagon jumping and a pretty face to the cause and she even got a doctor got on board, but the reality has shown that there is in fact no direct correlation between vaccinations inducing autism. But it’s too late for all those who believed this myth. The fear-mongering has been detrimental to the health and well-being of so many children that now there is a rise of measles and mumps, illnesses that were practically wiped out. And this fear-mongering is perpetuating the belief in society that there is something very wrong with autism, or people who are on the spectrum. Which is simply discrimination and I ask the question, Is that how you want to be seen in 10 years’ time when they work out that changes in diet have no direct relationship to causing autism? I’m pretty sure you will regret publicising this lie and I hope, I sincerely hope you are held accountable.
Autism is a neurological disorder. The sooner people accept this and work on ways to improve early intervention, like speech therapy and occupational therapy the sooner children and their families can begin the journey of acceptance. We also need to promote change of societal opinion and generate acceptance towards autism and other neurological disorders. This way, a person who is on the autism spectrum can live life in the way they see as normal and not fear judgement from the ignorant.
Your site encourages people to live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle and the anecdote used mentions how a mother switched from soy to dairy and then back to soy once she thought she “had nothing to lose” to try and rid her child of ear infections (completely unrelated to autism, but you somehow imply it is an “effect of autism”). She goes on to describe the miraculous recovery her child had at the change in diet – at 11 months she eliminated diary entirely from her child’s diet. Seriously, this is drawing a very, very long bow, can you now please explain how, if this science is correct, the masses, the absolute billions of people on the planet, so many more have not succumbed to these “effects” of a diet high in dairy?
I am afraid your fundamentalist views would have all humanity eating a vegan diet. I am not saying it can’t be done, I lived a vegetarian lifestyle for nearly 10 years, however, I would never consider raising an infant or young child on it. It may be ignorant on my behalf, but I cannot see the benefits of imposing my adult choices upon a child and brainwashing them systematically about the reasons why they can’t eat meat, drink milk or have ice cream.
It has been well documented how dangerous it is for a young child to live on a vegan diet, hell, parents were sentenced to prison for doing so in 2007. Is this really the way you want people raising their children?
I am so bitterly disappointed at your weak argument. My son is on the spectrum, we have good days and bad days and then we have some very, very bad days. Guess what? He hates almost all dairy food except cheese and yogurt. Guess what? His behaviours are no different when he eats it as to when he doesn’t. In fact, we know that a diet high in sugar can in fact cause more behavioural extremes, yet not always.
I compel you to remove the billboard and any relating links, information and propaganda from your website. You also need to make an apology for spreading not only misinformation, but lies to further your cause of Veganism. You then should consider making a donation to a cause that helps parents and their children on the Autism spectrum. Perhaps you could ask P!nk, one of your staunch supporters how to do that.
Please, stick to what you do best, liberating animals, unless one of you is a neuroscientist, or doctor or someone who actually knows what they are talking about.
The world full of fundamentalists. You are entitled to your belief, opinion and you are entitled to speak freely, but I think you have an obligation to ensure that when you are talking about something you know little about, that you research the facts before rushing to spend money on a billboard that is downright offensive to the many people who live with autism.