ASAT Responds to PETA Billboard
Monday, October 13, 2008
December 5, 2008
Ms. Ingrid Newkirk, President
Ms. Tracy Reiman, Executive Vice-President
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
501 Front Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
Dear Ms. Newkirk and Ms. Reiman:
Thank you for your response to our letter. We would like the opportunity to provide further information on what has been learned from the scientific study into causes for autism.
While we appreciate your efforts to educate the public, it is important to point out there are no peer-reviewed studies showing that dairy consumption has any role in causing autism. Moreover, removing dairy products from the diet of individuals with autism was found to have no benefit at all in the only peer-reviewed study with an acceptable design, such as a double-blind, placebo-controlled study (Elder et al., 2006, JADD).
We suspect that the information you are using is based on pseudoscience, anecdotes and subjective testimonials. However, since you make these claims with such conviction, would you be so kind as to provide us with a list of research – not internet testimonials, not anecdotes, not self published “studies” by those who are trying to sell their treatments and interventions to a vulnerable public – but peer reviewed, credible, professionally vetted research – to support such claims?
The Board of ASAT, along with our Advisory Board, has studied these questions, and taken them very seriously, for years. We hope to persuade you to look closely at the assurance you place in the milk/autism connection and to avoid misleading parents of children with autism.
Board of Directors
Association for Science in Autism Treatment
September 13, 2008
Ms. Ingrid Newkirk
501 Front Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
Dear Ms. NewKirk:
We write in response to PETA's recent installation in Newark, New Jersey, of a billboard connecting the consumption of cow's milk to autism.
The third, fourth, and fifth prongs of the PETA credo declare that animals are not "ours" to experiment upon, to use for entertainment, or to abuse in any way. Presumably PETA's mission stems from a belief that humans and animals are members of a continuum of interdependent beings who are all deserving of "ethical" treatment. It would follow, then, that children with autism are also not "ours" – and certainly not PETA's– to use or abuse in any way.
Yet PETA's new "Got Autism" billboard blatantly exploits both children with autism and their families in service of PETA's opposition to the dairy industry. This is reprehensible abuse of the very sort your website and other public activism decries.
Ethical treatment of those affected by autism begins with responsible representation of the science supporting effective treatment. It also entails responsible education of the families who – while stalwart in their hope and love for their children – are vulnerable to junk science and opportunistic misinformation as they confront the challenges of a daunting disorder.
The studies PETA has cherry-picked from among the available science on autism and its treatment do not represent state-of-the-art research. Mass-marketing of such "studies" misrepresents the complexity of autism and undermines critical efforts to advance responsible scientific research into its causes and treatment.
Your billboard may serve scores of abused dairy animals, but it does so, shamelessly, at the expense of children who already face enough challenges.
Children and families with autism surely must deserve the same ethical treatment PETA demands for the animals on whose behalf it advocates. The
undersigned urge PETA to show its commitment to the ethical treatment of children affected by autism by removing the "Got Autism" billboard immediately. Surely PETA can find a way to advocate for its cause without turning children with autism into casualties along the way.
David Celiberti, PhD, BCBA
Jenna Glennon, MAT, BCBA
Elizabeth Dyer, MC, CC-SLP
Kathryn Dobel, JD
Megan Atthowe, MSN, RN, BCABA
Tamara Bannon, LMSW, BCBA
Jane Barbin, PhD, BCBA
Preeti Chojar, MCA
Joseph Forgione, MBA
Robert LaRue, PhD, BCBA
Sharon Reeve, PhD, BCBA
Tristram Smith, PhD
Bridget Taylor, PsyD, BCBA
Mary Beth Walsh, PhD
cc: Mayor Cory A. Booker (Newark, New Jersey)