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January 2011



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First Published Tuesday, 10 February 2009

by Becky Wilkerson,
marketingmagazine. co.uk<http://www.marketin gmagazine. co.uk/>10-Feb-09,

LONDON – Action for Children’s high-profile TV ad campaign has been slammed
by a coalition of disability rights campaigners, people with autism, their
parents and specialists, who have called for its withdrawal.

The group claims the ad is an inaccurate and unethical portrayal of those
with autism and has demanded that the charity consult with disability
advocates before running future campaigns.

The ad features a young boy, Dan, talking about his experiences of living
with autism and how Action for Children helped him with behavioural
problems, in particular, his tendency to lash out at those who insulted him.
It uses an animation to portray him as trapped inside a rampaging monster
until the charity intervenes, after which he emerges as a vulnerable young

The coalition claims the ad implies that autistic children are monstrous and
lays the blame on the child for lashing out, rather than on the bullies.

More than 2000 people have joined a Facebook group to protest (see box) and
about 50 people have complained about the ad to the ASA.

The campaigners said they did not question Action for Children’s
motivations, but that its approach was liable to increase stigma around the
condition and be offensive.

Responding to the criticism, Action for Children said: ‘Dan approved the
concept and drawings, which depict how he saw himself and what he felt he
needed help with. The animation in the ad is a representation of Dan’s
feelings of anger and frustration, not of autism.

‘We do not believe that the experiences and perceptions articulated by Dan
in the ad present autism as the problem.Rather, they highlight the avoidable
confusion and difficulties experienced when the support that is needed – and
people are entitled to – is not forthcoming. It is aimed at reinforcing the
positive effect of timely support.’

Facebook comments

‘The ad shows autism as a monster that takes over children. This is wrong!’
Susan Wormald

‘This is discrimination of the highest order.’ Thomas MacCallum

‘I have no desire at all to string up Action For Children; my only aim is to
get them to under-stand what is wrong in their ad.’ Janine Dixon-Wilkinson

‘I am almost speechless. Thank you for bringing it to everyone’s attention’.
Tanya Hunt

Ari Ne’eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
http://www.autistic advocacy. org

NAS Response on Action for Autism Advert

We have received several complaints from parents and people affected by autism about an advert produced by children?s charity Action for Children.

In particular, people have written to the NAS expressing their concerns about the way the advert depicts autism with a monster cartoon. They fear that the advert could be interpreted as suggesting that autism is the fault of the individual and that behaviours associated with autism can and should be corrected.

We have contacted Action for Children to share your concerns and will continue to pass on any further comments we receive.

Autism is a serious, lifelong and disabling condition that affects an estimated half a million people in the UK. It is not the fault of the individual or the result of the way someone is brought up. Better public understanding is crucial in order to end discrimination and help people with autism enjoy the same rights and freedoms as the rest of society. The NAS is campaigning to improve public understanding and attitudes to autism. For more information, visit our campaign website at www.think-differently.org.uk

Tony Attwood Condemns Action for Children’s Monster Dan TV Adverts


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