York, PA ASA’s Billboard Blunder

Some of you might remember the Ransom Note Campaign that NYU Child Study Center ran briefly in December of 2007. Briefly because the disability community, 22 Organizations including ASAN, objected to conditions ranging from Autism to ADHD to Depression being depicted as kidnapping or possessing children. They were swiftly removed.

And it got a good amount of publicity, both within the disability community and in the MSM. A victory won, and after such coverage It should be obvious that this sort of analogy is inappropriate at best, damaging at worse.

I’d like you to meet York county, PA’s ASA chapter. Or rather, thanks to Club 166’s post,(and subsequent letter), their most recent billboard:

want a clearer image? well, it’s up on their website, too, with the oh-so-descriptive note of “Several new billboards can be seen around York….”:

Hm. Okay, so it’s a parent quote, but why would this seem like a good idea in light of recent events? Even if this is something the parent said out of desperation at a support group meeting, why would it be okay to plaster on a billboard where everyone could see- including the children whose lives it is speaking so derisively about? (I’m leaving alone the larger question of why any parent dealing with ANY child with a disability feels so alienated as to feel this desperate for now.)

Right now, I’m working with ASAN to gather more information and organize a PA reaction to this. We are hoping to get them to take these billboards down- and hopefully to understand why they weren’t appropriate in the first place.

Right now, we are in the first part of this process- ASAN has sent a letter to ASA about their York chapter and we’re working on one to ASA-York to be sent in the next few hours.

If you, as an individual or as part of an organization, would like to contact ASA York to let them know how you feel about the bill board, here’s their contact info:

e-mail: pa-york@autismsocietyofamerica.org
e-mail 2: info@autismyork.org
Phone Number: 717-801-1272

Please remember to be polite when contacting them. If you choose to call, make sure it’s in normal business hours EST (New York Time) and be polite- no foul language, etc. Just a straight forward statement of complaint, short and sweet.

I’ll keep you updated if I discover any more information, and on any further actions we attempt.

EDIT: Since posting this entry, the announcement on the launch of the billboards has been purged from the ASA-York site. If I obtain further info, I will post it tomorrow in a new entry.

3 thoughts on “York, PA ASA’s Billboard Blunder

  1. Dear Friends in the Autism Community,Regretfully it has been brought to the attention of the Autism Society of America – York Chapter – that our recent billboard campaign has caused undesirable confusion within the community. The intention of the billboard campaign was aimed at generating awareness to the general public and was in no way created to cause a malicious stir within the community. As a parent of a severely affected nine year old with Autism I can truly understand your passion regarding advocacy and respect for our children.We thank you for your thoughts and concerns. I apologize for the misunderstanding and want you to know we will promptly remove the billboard posting. Respectfully yours,Amy WallacePresident ASA York

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