Home > Parenting > Child > News Updated 03 June 2013 Autism SA withdraws controversial campaign Autism South Africa will go back to the drawing board after its controversial awareness campaign was withdrawn last week. 0 iStock Related Age of autism diagnosis may depend on symptoms Girls with autism may need different treatment All about autism ASK The Paediatrician » Follow Health24 on Facebook » Quiz Are you ready for a baby? » Subscribe Parenting newsletter » 10 interesting Down syndrome facts Autistic savant 'reads minds' Autism South Africa will go back to the drawing board after its controversial awareness campaign was hastily withdrawn last week, ASA national director Jill Stacey said on Monday."I feel sick to the stomach about how this has gone," said Stacey.The organisation was rounded on by carers of people with autism and forced to completely withdraw its campaign last week.The first leg of the campaign featured lamp post posters with statements such as "Autism is for violent people", and caused an outcry. Now its website also features a special pop-up with "sincere apologies to all those who have been offended".Stacey said the myths they used to attract attention were based on information gleaned from research on how the "man in the street" sees autism. The next stage of the campaign would have been to move on to the positive side of the campaign, including a television advertisement, where these myths would be dispelled."So few people out there know what autism is. If it doesn't affect them they don't read about it," she said.‘Shock people into awareness’She explained that ASA's creative company believed that the organisation needed to shock people to make them read about autism, as previous softer campaigns had not been successful in raising awareness.She had had her doubts about the campaign, she said, believing that the message directing people to ASA's website should have been at least a third the size of the poster, so that people could see that the myth was wrong."The big mistake was that the 'no this is not the truth' message was out of proportion," said Stacey.Before the campaign started, ASA informed members of their intentions.They wanted to create awareness of the complex condition because it does not have external signs, like a hearing aid or a calliper, which shows the world that the person has a medical condition. Because people with autism have heightened senses, they may be for instance the children who drop to the ground screaming in a very noisy shopping centre. People around them then call them badly behaved, and complain that their parents cannot control them, said Stacey.People with autism ‘underestimated’ by the publicForty percent of people with autism cannot speak, because part of their brain's interpretation ability is missing, and people with autism also battle to understand other people's emotions. So, when people speak to them and they do not reply, they are interpreted as being rude.They are "totally underestimated" by the public and in films they are depicted either as highly intelligent people, as in "Rain Man", or as people who bang their heads, spin, and rock. The rocking, explains Stacey, is to focus on something in order to block out the heightened sensory input of the world.Withdrawing the advertisement did not cost the organisation money because the creative agency, House of Brave, and two other companies that assisted Mediacom and Wetpaint donated all their services, including billboards and artwork.Everything was withdrawn, except for one advertisement in a magazine that had already gone to print.Stacey said that besides the complaints, she had also received some messages of support for what the campaign was trying to achieve.In the meantime, ASA and the agency will regroup and plan the way ahead. SAPA More in Parenting 10 interesting Down syndrome facts More: ChildNews advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... From our sponsors Keep an eye on your vision Which skin products are better, ‘medical grade’ or ‘over-the-counter’? Win 1 of 6 R5000 cash prizes Win Skin Renewal voucher Live healthier Exercise benefits for seniors » Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them. No relief for MS » Drug shows promise against MS in mouse study Vitamin D may slow multiple sclerosis Obesity in girls tied to higher MS risk Exercise may not lower women's risk of MS A Harvard study showed no evidence to support the idea that exercise lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis.