Autism a target for ‘cereal box diagnosis’

rice_krispies_autism.jpgIn 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.

Link to info on campaign from Autism Speaks.
Link to critical view from Autism Diva blog.

4 Comments

  1. Posted July 24, 2006 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow…I’m really surprised that Kellog’s did that. While I applaud their civic minded activities, I’m surprised they didn’t do more research about Autism Speaks. The affiliation could go poorly for them. Autism Speaks does not speak for autistics (don’t even have one on their board); they’re a fringe group stubbornly clinging to the archaic mercury causes autism thing.
    And yes, it’s true. The incidence of autism diagnosis has gone through the roof but it has nothing to do with vaccines and mercury. It’s due to much broader diagnostic criteria. The vast majority of autistic people are not the little kids you seen in the Autism Speaks shock videos. Rather, it’s people like me. We’re functioning, intelligent and contributing adults. We are the constituency of the “epidemic” they speak of -oh-, I mean FOR – because Autism Speaks for me!
    Or rather, they will. As soon as pigs fly.

  2. Posted July 25, 2006 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Autism Speaks has no doubt got onto Kellog’s packaging because the organisation’s founders, Suzanne and Bob Wright. Bob is the vice chairman of GE and chairman and CEO of NBC Universal, the parent company of NBC News.
    It is also worth noting that Autism Speaks do not support the mercury / autism link.
    More details: http://www.myomancy.com/2006/07/autism_speaks.html
    Chris

  3. alikhan
    Posted October 11, 2006 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    But Autims in young children and especiall in the preschoolers is a different matter. Study Explains Crucial Deficit In Children With Autism. Young children with autism lag behind peers in distinguishing between animate, inanimate objects. The research is from the Carnegie Mellon University and appears at http://www.emaxhealth.com/37/7830.html

  4. Posted January 1, 2007 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    There is nothing wrong with raising awareness any way possible. While I agree that the autism diagnosing criteria has widened, there has also been a sharp spike in children not just with autism, but other developmental and neurological disorders in the last 20 years….this is a statistical fact. I think parties on both sides of the autism debate have strong arguments, which is why the controversy continues to rage on. Thanks for the info!


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