In a somewhat bizarre turn of events, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies have agreed to print ‘autism awareness’ messages on the side of their US breakfast cereal packets in partnership with American lobbying group Autism Speaks.
Autism Speaks is a controversial group in some areas, as they claim to speak for people with autism and tend to use emotional messages (compare with the UK’s National Autistic Society) to promote the idea that autism is a “neurological disorder” and “the nation’s fastest-growing serious developmental disorder”.
Although autism is associated with serious learning disabilities in some, many with autism are quite functional and happy to be autistic, and resent the idea that everyone with autism has a ‘neurological disorder’.
Along these lines, a recent edition of NPR radio show All Things Considered looked at the views of people with autism who argue that we should be aiming to accept people with autism, rather than ‘cure’ them.
Furthermore, the idea that cases of autism are on the increase is controversial, largely owing to the fact that the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders has significantly widened in the last 30 years (as discussed recently on Mind Hacks) and the knowledge of autistic-like traits has become more common.
The cereal packets contain a list of “a few of the possible early signs” of autism and then encourages people to consult their doctor if they have concerns about their child.