Advertising Autism

Since I’ll be reading Roy Richard Grinker’s Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism over the next week or so, here’s a kinda pre-post on some related things on my mind.

The first is a series of 30-second tv ads that have sprung up over the past year or so focused ostensibly on raising awareness about autism (but implicitly on donations for research on it). Below is one of them, featuring some pretty tired-looking rock legends that forms a part of VH1’s “Rock Autism” campaign; I also saw my first one on Canadian tv the other day –probably a function of the fact that I don’t watch enough tv to have caught it earlier. This one just rolled a bunch of 1 in x stats sequentially, starting with the chance that a child (your child) will be abducted by a stranger, and ending with the 1 in 150 stat that has become the current mantra about autism. Some of these cross the line from awareness-raising to paranoia-inducing, and they leave me with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach; in this respect, they contrast with most of the longer (2-5 minute) autism awareness videos you can find on YouTube by searching under that title. Don’t know if I’m alone on that one.

The second is a series of posts over at Autism Vox by Kristina Chew, the latest of which you can link to right here. These raise questions about talk of an “autism epidemic” and sub-topics under that general heading, such as the putative link between autism and vaccines. Chews posts on this go back 18 months to one called “What if there is no autism epidemic?“, which offered a commentary on a Huffington Post article by journalist David Kirby. Chew is worth reading on this and other autism-related issues.

2 thoughts on “Advertising Autism

  1. Thanks so much for the mention and for the analysis of the ads—-you may have already seen these, but over at Autism Neighborhood ( are a series of short online movies (Prof. Grinker is interviewed on one), on a much more helpful and hopeful note.

    Very best—-

    kristina chew

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s