Tell PETA to stop exploiting the autistic community
Recently, the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) launched a new ad campaign entitled, “Got Autism”, misleadingly implying that the consumption of milk is associated with the cause of the autism spectrum. We, individuals on the autism spectrum, family members, professionals and supporters, call on PETA to remove these advertisements as they provide poor information to the public about the nature of the autism spectrum and contribute to stigma and misinformation about our existences. Autism is a developmental disability of predominantly genetic origin affecting millions of Americans. It includes a series of impairments in social interaction and communication, executive functioning, sensory processing, and motor skills. Adults and children on the autism spectrum often require substantial supports, services and education across the lifespan. By misinforming the public about autism, PETA joins a long line of unscrupulous groups that have sought to try and spread fear about autism as a means of pushing their particular agendas. Attempts such as these treat individuals with disabilities as pawns in the efforts of other constituencies. By refusing to acknowledge the right of the autistic community to be referred to with respect instead of as the focus of public hysteria, PETA contributes to a state of affairs which marginalizes the disability community. People with disabilities, our families and our supporters deserve better than the exploitation and fear-mongering that comes about when disability is used as a means of scaring the general populace. For millions across the globe, the answer to PETA’s “Got Autism” question is an unequivocal yes. That should not spell the end of our lives or prevent us from being fully included throughout society. By exploiting us, PETA becomes a culprit in the social forces that marginalize people with disabilities and lead to the discrimination and prejudice that truly disable us.