Susan's Blog

Monday, December 10, 2007

Letter to NYU Child Study Center

Dear Readers,
You may not agree with all that is written here, but I advise that you craft your own letter in protest and send it to the following people listed below. I also have alerted different contacts I have in the national media; you should do the same, especially those of you in the New York area where this could be considered an interesting local story with a national hook: autism, ADHD, depression, and the treatment of children. We need to push back on these attitudes example-by-example in order to create change in the world.

Subject: Ransom Notes
Date: December 10, 2007 6:36:35 AM EST

Dear all,
I am the mother of an 18 year old boy with autism, and author of “Making Peace With Autism: One Family’s Story of Struggle, Discovery, and Unexpected Gifts” (Trumpeter, 2005).

I think you meant well in your ad campaign for autism and other psychiatric disorders, (“Ransom Notes”) but that you are actually way off the mark. Ultimately you will do harm with this ad, even as you do some good. Yes, it is true that people who suffer from disorders such as depression need appropriate help and treatment to save their lives. Yes, it is true on some level that autistic people, left uneducated, will probably deteriorate in their functioning levels. Yes, it is true that symptoms of ADHD can be ameliorated with different educational strategies and/or Ritalin.

What you do not realize are the other implications in your ad. Pain and suicide are horrible, horrible outcomes, but to use a ransom note ad to get people to understand is ridiculous and offensive. To act as if social difficulties (Asperger’s), or learning difficulties (ADHD) are keeping ones child from one implies that you have some kind of magical solution and that it is the parent’s fault if your recommended actions are not followed. And, finally, to equate autism or not being a fully independent adult with being kidnapped, is irresponsible at best and insulting and demeaning to those with this disorder at worst. You also purport to be able to change the autism with your interventions, and that all it takes is a phone call to your clinic. That is an outrageous claim on so many levels. Does this mean that the parents who called other specialists, tried other interventions, etc., and yet their child is still fairly severe, did not do the right thing? Does this mean that being unable to live independently is somehow shameful?

It is the fact that there is so much social stigma coupled with not enough supportive or educational resources that is the shame here. The lack of funding, resources, and understanding are what hold families hostage. And you have just added to that.

You should not shock, bully, or insult people into taking certain actions, not if you are responsible medical professionals. These are scare tactics and I think you ought to reconsider.

I am posting a link to my blog, where I explain my issues with your ad, through personal example.

Susan Senator


Once again, you nailed it, Susan. I’ve already e-mailed the Child Study Center a few days ago touching on those same points, but you’re expressed the same feelings I had in a more eloquent way.

I wish they’d change the campaign altogether, but who knows.

— added by Another Autism Mom on Monday, December 10, 2007 at 11:47 am

Hi, Susan. I also noticed that this is really an ad campaign for meds. Major psych meds, which the docs are pushing onto children at an alarming rate. 4 year olds on psych drugs for bi-polar? It’s a huge ad campaign for Pzifer and Merck and Lily. As far as using fear in advertising to motivate? As old as the hills. “What if you die and leave your family bereft?” “(Buy life insurance.) What if your koochie smells? (Buy FDS) And on it goes. I wonder how involved AS is with Child Study Center? It sounds like it’s up their alley with the psych focus. Might have to don my Sherlock Holmes hat…..


— added by Kim Rossi Stagliano on Thursday, December 13, 2007 at 5:23 pm

Yeah, I did sort of wonder how it was that a child study center would have the $$ to pay a big firm like BBDO to write an ad campaign??? Unless advertising agencies on Madison ave. are doing pro-bono these days? Hmm.

— added by Susan Senator on Thursday, December 13, 2007 at 5:27 pm

Go to:

Scroll down to the N’s to find the NYU center. Then why would BBDO run such a pricey campaign? “Ding! Ding! Ding!”

“Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research, today announced that three new members have been named to its board of directors:Andrew Robertson, President and CEO of BBDO Worldwide.

— added by Sherlock's sister..... :) on Friday, December 14, 2007 at 2:37 pm

Whoa, No – – – – Sherlock’s sister!!!

Kim S., did you see this???

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, December 14, 2007 at 2:39 pm

Um, yes. I did, actually. LOL! Got to run, Sherlock is waiting for me to iron his hat. He sure needs his sister. 😉

— added by Kim Rossi Stagliano on Friday, December 14, 2007 at 2:47 pm

Too little too late?
It took Harold Koplewicz too long to realize that hurting people you want to “help” is not acceptable collateral damage. We should write these officials to thank them for pulling the ads and request that they keep an eye on Dr. Koplewicz to make sure he doesn’t try anything this dirty again to drum up business in the name of public awareness:

Kenneth Langone, Board Chairman
New York University Medical Center

Martin Lipton, Board of Trustee Chairman
New York University

John Sexton, President
New York University

Robert Grossman, Dean & President
New York University Medical Center

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, December 23, 2007 at 5:44 pm

The NYU Child Study Center does more harm than good. Check out my blog for more details including links to others who have found their work disheartening, particularly in the ill-fated poorly planned ALL program, revealing how little these folks actually know about the children and the work that needs to be done.

As someone who has worked in education for years, it stuns me how they work and how they ignore the people who best know the children (the parents).

— added by Mark Statman on Sunday, June 29, 2008 at 10:51 pm

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