Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

‘Got Autism?’ Billboard Gets Pulled

Written by PETA | October 7, 2008

Say it ain’t so! Last week, we told you about our brand-new ‘Got Autism?’ billboard, which was intended to give the drivers of Newark, New Jersey, a little food for thought. The billboard drew a connection between milk consumption and autism in children. This week, the advertising company that was hosting our billboard has pulled the plug and the billboard has been removed.

Got Autism?

It’s pretty safe to assume that the ad is not being removed due to a lack of attention! Just the opposite—our message has garnered tons of feedback, including support from parents of autistic children who have seen noticeable improvements after removing dairy from their child’s diet.

We wanted to share the thoughts of a few individuals regarding this campaign:

My son at the age of 2 ½ had not talked or interacted with anyone for a year…right after his MMR shots that he had at 13 months. I took him off of milk last November (when he was 2 ½) to see if it did anything, and he is now talking and playing and catching back up to where he should be (he is 3 ½ now). … It may not have been overnight, but the progress started just weeks after taking him off cows milk …. —Jaimie
I have a child with autism and I love this ad. The “got milk” ads with the disgusting white upper lip make me sick. We have been GFCF for 12 years. Milk equals sleepless nights and stomach pain. —L Land
I am not personally a vegetarian, but last year when we took my 4 year old son off of milk, casein all dairy, we started to see amazing changes in his behavior and speech. He still has Autism, but is no longer in a black hole of darkness. And we are not done fighting yet. I think people who say this does not work, well how do you know everyone is different. And as a mother of a child with Autism, I do not at all find this offensive I find it truthful, at least for us. —Danielle Manglis

Thanks for the continued support of the campaign! Even though the billboard has come down, the message is still loud and clear.

Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky

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  • Dana says:

    A GFCF (gluten and dairy free) diet has done wonders for my 5 year old ASpie.

  • Tay Ribeiro says:

    I just saw this news about autistic people today i must say i am just astonished by how misleading and money centered PETA is, milk and autism spectrum? Oh my god! That was one the most offensive ads i have ever seen inn my life, not to say there are no studies that shows a link between the autism spectrum and milk consumption, but i guess PETA is just worried about their own egoistic pseudo-libertarian new age BULLSHIT, otherwise they should have seen with a simple Google search, what autism spectrum is all about, the evolutionary causes, Neanderthal crossbreeding and such others factor really relevant to autism. But noooo, you dope-heads just help to incentive prejudice against people on spectrum while airing misleading information for the sole purpose of gathering people to your bullshit vegan interest, maybe your intelligence would be better if you ate some MEAT.

  • Idris says:

    I wish people would stop hating on autistic spectrum people. Without the wonderful variety of different brain types and ways of thinking that go with them, we’d still be living in caves; so much innovation and scientific thought has come from AS people. Shame on you PETA, and anyone else who thinks the world should only have one type of personality.

  • Hard1569 says:

    This ad is stupid,I have baby sat an autistic child for years and one thing I know taking away milk from him would only make him act out more!!! He loves milk goes and gets the jug himself and a glass as long as someone pours it for him. Taking away milk would cause a huge tanturm for him!!!!!!!

  • robert says:

    why do this there are many other things milk can cause as you claim you peta don’t care about autistic people as long as everyone is how you want them to be so why should we care about what you want?

  • Shawna Flavell says:

    Kathleen Thanks for your comment. We will be responding to it via email shortly.

  • Susanne Liley says:

    As a vegan and an Aspie I am thoroughly disgusted at the lengths that Peta has gone to in using scare tactics to shove their agenda in the face of the world. Animal rights are important to me but HUMAN DECENCY matters more. Peta does more to hurt the cause of veganism than it does to help causing more conflict for nonextremist vegans like myself that have to deal with being badgered bullied and mistreated because of the Peta mindset that they continue to propagate. This ad was thoroughly despicable and entirely tactless based on a set of statistics that they found that makes them SOUND right even though it is as full of bull st as a factory farm.

  • joanna says:

    Derek MD….Just becuase a person studies medicine and even practices it for a life time does not mean they know everything about health or healing. My experience has been that at least half of the licensed health practicioners I have been treated by knew next to nothing about maintaining health. They just treat symptoms. They can rely too much on drugs and invasive proceedures to cure symtoms and over look obvious causes of disease like poor diet and exsposure to toxics. Someday we will know more about AD autism and other difficult or impossible to treat disorders and have remarkable new ways of preventing and treating them. It likly will take very special individuals in the medical research community to find these new ways. People who actively question the status quo and are not content with symptom reduction. Even the best unbiased medical studies are useless unless they are able to provide new insight.

  • joanna says:

    My mom tuaght me one thing with her struggle with cancer…there is always hope. Studies addressing this brain wasting disease as well as paralysis and other difficult to treat brain disability are encouraging. I have seen AD first hand and know how bad it is. I am not an exspurt on this in any way but find the brain studies and research interesting. Go ahead and dis me for my opinion or my lack of facts but try searching for ‘plastic brain’ there are alot of new books etc addressing this and other brain research. The brain can change and based on relatively new information is not what we have been taught to belive. Like SO MANY things in this world we should be skeptical of what is given to us as ‘normal’. Just like drinking milk…we cannot believe something just becuase somebody says its good for us. We should also question current thinking on how the brain works and is healed.

  • Derek, MD says:

    Faye Much like Autism CFS and Fibromyalgia are not caused by vaccines many MD’s are not convinced that CFS and Fibromylagia are even real physical disorders but rather fall more on the psychosocial end of the spectrum. Also CMV infections do not last for a person’s entire life unless their life is very short. Joanna In regards to your following statement about milk “It cuases interference in the development of the brain during critical development periods of childern.” You are incorrect. I won’t even blast you for relying on Google for your information but if you did then you would also see that there is no cure for AD. The current treatments are also woefully ineffective except in certain cases for a short period of time. I have a fair number of AD nursing home patients and their course is a sad unrelenting decline. I am a Family Physician who is completely opposed to animal vivisection and testing. Animals are poor models for simulating human disease or response to disease but represent a public relations tool for the FDA and medical researchpharmaceutical companies. Anyone remember the scene from Chris Farley’s movie “Tommy Boy” where he sells the brake pads that don’t have the warranty on the box? The stamp itself is meaningless in most cases.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Joanna There is currently no cure for AD so I’m a bit baffled by what you mean when you say the repair of a damaged brain of a person with AD.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Don Once humans are weaned they no longer require any kind of milk from any species. A lot of the world is in fact lactoseintolerant anyway.

  • joanna says:

    Milk can make autism and other disabilites like this worse. It cuases interference in the development of the brain during critical development periods of childern. When milk is removed some of the symtoms can also go away in some people. Unfortunately the damage to the brain’s structure and function can last long after the child is taken off milk. New science is emerging regarding the ‘Changing Brain’ to help these childern regain lost brain functions. Unfortunately much of what we have recently learned about brain function and the cuases of autism and alzheimer’s was by invasive brain studies of monkeys and other animals. The same scienctists PETA holds up for vivisector of the month are responsible for mapping brain functions and determining how to repair damaged brains in children with autism adults with alzheimers and anybody with paraylasis. I doubt PETA will ever support animal testing but it can sometimes result in the elimination of human suffering.

  • Don Janes says:

    A distinction must be made between pasteurized and unpasteurized milk. They are not the same with respect to nutritional and digestive impact upon the body. Raw milk is good. Pasteurized milk is not. Neither is soy milk.

  • Lily Alden says:

    As a therapist who works specifically with children with autism I actually do agree that food alergies can cause or intensify symptoms. But as a vegan I’m not a huge fan of this type of advertising. I think it’s more beneficial to focus on the issue itself factory farming is CRUEL. Nobody can dispute that. This type of advertising just causes people to argue over which scientist is right and loose sight of the real issue We need to stop supporting animal abuse. period.

  • Jessica says:

    This is not a matter of reader sensibility. It is equating the seriousness of autism with the silliness and light heartedness of the got milk commercials. I’d image to a parent that has struggled with their child’s autism for years especially severe autism for which there is no cure this is non amusing. It is another Peta shock commercial done with the knowledge that it will shock and ultimatlely be taken down. Makes sense. Still in vastly poor taste.

  • Faye Ferrall says:

    my daughter is 29 now. She has chronic fatigue syndrome as well fibromyalgia. I believe that this all came about from vaccines as a child. She first became ill enough to worry when she became ill lethargic swollen glands a funny little sore lymph node under her arm. I was told at the time that she needed to be careful the rest of her life because with the cytomegalo virus a slow stealth virus researchers call it Many innoculations are grown on the kidney tissues of African Green monkeys. Since then I have found reports from researchers about the connections between monkey viruses and CFS. Andshe was highly allergic to cows milk…some kinds don’t do well with strange animal tissues containing viruses. Calf serum and eggs are used also with varying degrees of sensitivities. Slow viruses have had the attention of the military for a number of years. Why?

  • Raina says:

    Imogen clark You said “I support PETA in a lot of their campaigns and the good they do by bringing awareness to the world. However I was surprised to see this campaign. I wasn’t aware of any inhumane ways of cultivating milk. So what CAN Peta members consume then?” To “cultivate” milk the cow must be inpregnated then the baby is born and ripped away from the mother causing the mother and baby cow to mourn for days or even weeks constantly mooing and looking for each other if they arent chained up or in tiny stalls already. The baby cow if female will be a dairy cow while the male baby cows will be sold as veal kept in a small crate as you know. Then the mother is constantly inpregananted about 3 times over 3 years WAY more then they would naturally breed and by the time she is “spent” at 3 years old she is sent to slaughter and often their bodies are so weak from constant pregnancy and milking they cannot even stand so are dragged to their deaths. “downer cows” as they are called. I am not saying this to attack you in any way quite the opposite some people just dont know this and i didnt know it at one time. Some people just think cows naturally produce milk for US they dont see or think of the process. Also milk usually has 2 pus in it yes pus and 2 is allowed. This is from the nipples always being pumped for milk infection happens. I used to love milk and i now love soymilk. Chocolate soymilk they even have soymilk creamer for coffee and soy ice cream soy yogurt soy everything! For people allergic to soy they have rice milk nut milk such as almond and cashew milk and even brown rice milk! It’s just getting better and better as more people are choosing compassion by what they eat. Just gibe it a try it’s reay gppd!

  • nicole phillips says:

    Although I am not fond of PETA for using the Autism community for it’s benefit I do think there is some truth in the msg. My son is 3 dx’ed 7 months ago we have not switched to a GFCF diet but we have cut milk and all dairy out for a month and saw huge changes in behavior. And it is fairly common for children w Autism to have sensitivity to milk lactose acts like a opiate to the brain. I like the hunter theory someone posted something to think about!

  • Mandy says:

    I will not agree nor disagree with any statements made here as I have no proper background knowledge concerning this topic but I would like to point out that PETA is concerned about dairy WORSENING autistic conditions. They do not state that people with autism will be cured if they do not consume dairy products. With that said all my respect to PETA for all the hard work they do for those who do not have voices and all my respect to people who have varying forms of autism.

  • Natalie Terry says:

    The billboard company I work for IN SLC UT DAC Signs is also running this ad for PETA. Despite the heat we are keepin the ad up!!! After all there is something called the 1st ammendment that we need to honor!!!!

  • Arla says:

    It is highly likely the billboard ads were removed because autistic adults ourselves contacted the owners to let them know that there is no scientific evidence linking autism and dairy produce consumption. I have been vegan for years and I am still autistic. PETA did no one any favours with this campaign except perhaps bringing to the public attention again how unscientific some parents who somehow cannot love their autistic child as heshe is are about seeking a “cure” at any cost. Not long ago the media hype was thimerosal in vaccines before that it was secretin children have suffered and even died from chelation due to parents believing heavy metals in the blood casues autism … what’s next? I believe strongly in animal rights but this kind of campaign only makes animal rights acitivists and vegans generallylook silly.

  • Sasha says:

    I am HighFunctioning Autistic aka Asperger’s Syndrome. I am also a carnivore. I have not consumed milk in a very long time. However I would like to point out that it has nothing to do with being allergic to dairy. I also cannot stand the taste of soy. Soy is rather bland. As a person with Asperger’s I require taste to be noticeable. Bland is bad. My point is PETA seems to find it necessary to insult their target demographic with this clearly misinformed billboard. I applaud the billboard owner for taking down this offensive ad.

  • susan says:

    What does PETA think autism is? Does PETA think that autism can be cured? My son is autistic and is also extremely intelligent. And no that does not mean that he is like the Rain Man the character in the movie that remembers the weather of each day. My son is gifted when it comes to art math and science but still he cannot tie his shoes or make eye contact. My son’s autism is clearly the result of genetics not drinking milk. Like many autistics he is proud of his laserlike focus on topics he is interested in and he resents people who think that he needs to be “cured”. As his parent I have to watch out for wellintentioned but misinformed “experts” who misinterpret his behavior as being the result of bad parenting or willful misbehavior on his part. I have spent my life savings and many sleepless nights trying to figure out who or what will help my son reach his potential and if the advice from socalled experts will help or harm him. Some autistics have found that some relief in changing their diet or taking certain medications but many do not. Autism is extremely complex and in the future will probably be broken out into several medical conditions instead of just this generic term. Your billboard making the direct connection to autism and milk is painful for me to look at. The billboard contributes to the public’s ignorance and fear about autism. Autism is more than an allergic reaction to dairy products and many adults on the spectrum felt it was disrespectful.

  • Gerry says:

    I have worked with autistic children and adults for several years and this condition makes people extra sensitive to many things. Given what we already know about milk it is factual to say that if Peta is wrong about milk causing autism then they are 100 correct that milk will surely worsen an autistic persons condition by drinking it.

  • Imogen Clark says:

    I support PETA in a lot of their campaigns and the good they do by bringing awareness to the world. However I was surprised to see this campaign. I wasn’t aware of any inhumane ways of cultivating milk. So what CAN Peta members consume then?

  • Anna says:

    Yeah saw that one coming… my cousin actually has autism and he has never consumed milk and neither did his mom when she was pregnant with him lactoseintolerant. Too bad the ad was pulled though.

  • Derek, MD says:

    Jon “I wanted to bring a recent attack on people who have decided to become vegetarians because of the damage that meat eating does to the environment by the Yale Sustainable Food Project they recently published an article by a student called “Why I don’t like vegetarians” on their blog” Read the fine print…this is listed as a “RANT” not a published article.

  • Derek, MD says:

    “…nothing more than pseudoscience perpetuated by people who have no understanding of the scientific method whatsoever. If we all believed in that approach we would still believe in a flat earth and the earth as the center of the universe…” Why then does the autism community collectively support the incorrect belief that vaccines or soy in Amber’s case cause autism? Now that is true pseudoscience and lack of understanding of the scientific method.

  • Derek, MD says:

    Amber In regards to your assertion “Phytoestrogens are estrogen mimics and compete with natural estrogens to attach to estrogen receptors blocking intracellular messaging systems which impair brain growth and function.” This is simply not true. If you utilized more than a Google search and actually picked up a legitimate medical journal you would know there is no valid evidence to support this claim. Perhaps you should be the one doing the homework. Soy is one of my son’s favorite foods and before he was about 22 months old he was able to identify paintings saying the names of the artists without promptin by Monet Renoir Cassat Morisot Degas his favorite Van Gogh Cezanne Gauguin Seurat Matisse Picasso Seurat Rousseau Pizarro Boticelli Vermeer da Vinci Herring Pollock and Warhol. He also was able to identify the composer in a few songs by Mozart Beethoven Bizet and Pachelbel. Add in the alphabet numbers 010 colors advanced shapes learning to read a vocabulary of well over 500 words I am probably selling him short on that point 56 word sentences…need me to continue? The Autism Community is notorious for using anecdotal incidents rather than scientfic facts perhaps there is some common ground with PETA! so I am merely countering with my own personal experience to illustrate the fact that there are no valid scientific human studies in regards to phytoestrogens and many of the wild and untrue claims you listed prior to that statement. Having gone through 7 years of medical training a year of research and a little over a year in private practice I know slightly more about these issues than the googletrained medical experts. I also have a very good medical journal search to utilize…don’t tell anyone I don’t know everything.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Amber The soy you are referring to is genetically modified soy isolate. There are far better forms of soy organic fermented to consume. The site you are quoting from httpwww.autismcounselor.comsoy.html is also a bit suspect since they are promoting the beliefs of known soydetractor Sally Fallon. Nevertheless soy is one of the top food allergens along with dairy eggs wheat peanuts etc. and perhaps this has something to do with it. Is there a link between dairy and autism? In the case of my friends’ autistic child there was a definite improvement with the removal of dairy. It doesn’t hurt to give it a try if you’re the parent of an autistic child.

  • katrina says:

    Whatever happened to “We the People of the United Stares in order to form a more perfect Union establish Justice ensure domestic Tranquillity PROVIDE FOR THE COMMON DEFENCE PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE AND SECURE THE BLESSINGS OF LIBERTY…”? We provide these to the exploiters not to the individual. Sickening what our country has become.

  • Michele says:

    Jonas if you truly believe in the scientific method then what do you think of animal testing for medical research? If you believe that such animal testing is beneficial to humans please go to http://www.curedisease.com.

  • Eric says:

    Amber It’s funny I was just looking at the GFCF Web site and they talk about how it’s important to remove dairy and wheat from their diet. They do say that some people with autism may be allergic to soy but those who are not should take soy as a substitute to milk “Children between the ages of one and ten require 8001000 mg of calcium a day. If the child drinks three 8oz glasses of fortified rice soy or potato milk per day he would meet that requirement.” “People with autism tend to be highly allergic and soy is often near the top of the list. However if your child does not test positive on allergy tests IgG and IgE and seems to tolerate soy well when it is removed and reintroduced to the diet then gfcf soy products are a highprotein tasty substitute for dairy products.” They also talk about rice milk and potato milk as a substitute for soy “Some people like to use homemade rice or nut milks or coconut milk. For very allergic kids there is a pleasanttasting low sugar potatobased product called Vance’s DariFree.” The point here Amber is dairy can cause Autism and should be removed from their diet. Next time do your homework!

  • Kurt K says:

    Kelley you asked “what happened to freedom of speech?” I would guess this has nothing to do with freedom of speech. If PETA owned the billboards then they could keep them up as long as they wanted. As it turns out the billbaords are owned by a private firm and they can pull any advertisments they don’t want for any reason. Also if we talk about freedom of speech one must understand that there are consequnces that occompany this freedom. The consequence for this message was a whole lot of offended Americans that either suffer from autism are the parents of an autistic child or know somebody with autism. In this case the masses didn’t approve and there is nothing more demorcratic than that.

  • Emily Sudbrink says:

    This is not about the Dairy industry this is about the Autism Community not allowing PETA to take advantage of the Autism Community and use autism for PETA’s own profit. There are better ways to get PETA’s message out and still respect the Autism Community.

  • Jonas says:

    As an autistic person I find this connection between milk and the condition that affects most of us nothing more than pseudoscience perpetuated by people who have no understanding of the scientific method whatsoever. If we all believed in that approach we would still believe in a flat earth and the earth as the center of the universe and other things that were later dis proven by scientists like Copernicus and Newton some which by the way may have had the autistic condition based on observing their behavior from historians.

  • Peter, London UK says:

    While I do not usually agree with you on many topics I think your milk campaign has a lot going for it. I was diagnosed with Aspergers higher functioning autism two years ago at the age of 50. This was just after my son was diagnosed with the same. There is a growing theory that says that autism and ADHD are a “hunter syndrome”. This theory says that the spectrum was the human race’s way of creating restless impulsive risk takers. We needed to create people who were explorers and who could hunt or forage for food to feed the rest. But then we became a race of farmers. Therefore Aspergers and ADHD are not disabilities per se. They are simply hunters who find it hard to fit in with the regimented structure of the “farmers”. So where is the connection with milk? Most adult mammals have an intolerance to milk. It is thought that this was an evolutiionary survival development. In times of famine the last thing a species needs is for an adults to take milk from mothers to the detriment of the offspring. Therefore a gene that caused a milk intolerance would be favoured by evolution as it would give offspring a greater survival chance of survival. If there is any truth in the hunter theory this would all make sense. The hunters have possibly retained the more ancient gene for milk intolerance whereas the farmers who are able to guarantee a more stable supply of food and keep livestock have ditched this gene as it no longer had a purpose. At the age of eight I spontaneously stopped drinking milk and have never drank it since. I remember having this sudden strong mental aversion to it. The smell of it and taste of it made me violently sick. Knowing what I know now about myself this would seem to fit in with your research. I do not think milk causes autism but I believe that it can make the symptoms worse beyond weaning. If research was done into post weaning autistic children drinking their mother’s milk I suspect there would be the same aversion. It is pure commonsense that postweaned children and adults should not drink milk. It is a food designed for babies. It is hard to accept that evolution would have allowed a food reserved for babies to be palatable to an adult. It is also my view that autistic and ADHD “hunters” were primarily meat eaters and that our brains need certain fats to function at an optimum level. However today they do not need to eat meat. If my theory is right it would also explain why research shows that essential oils which can be produced from nonanimal sources produce an improvement. Certainly I think the genetic mutation that produces autism and ADHD is an ancient one. It is not a perfect mutation however hence the very wide nature of the autistic spectrum. Aspergers and ADHD are only a disability because the “Farmers” say it is!

  • lynda downie says:

    Geez we should all whine that “we’re offended” for being unfairly censored! Worked for your detractors! But it was a great effort and you’ve reached people who are open to your message. Go Peta! I hope you got your money back from the advertising company.

  • Jon says:

    I wanted to bring a recent attack on people who have decided to become vegetarians because of the damage that meat eating does to the environment by the Yale Sustainable Food Project they recently published an article by a student called “Why I don’t like vegetarians” on their blog

  • Savannah says:

    I have been a vegiterian for half a year and im almost a veagan….i dont drink milk at all i love cows so much they are just the best!donk eat drik or torture cows!!!!

  • Amber says:

    BTW The GFCF the people that don’t drink milk diet subscribers most of them don’t eat soy! Autistic children often have food aversion issues and don’t like veggies. Here is what that crowd thinks of soy. All of the conditions of autism are features of soybased toxicity. These include early sexual maturation behavioral problems learning difficulties poor development of the brain slowness of growth difficulties with breathing gastrointestinal issues violent behavior spatial and perception difficulties These conditions are created by an assortment of antinutrients contained in this socalled food that impair mineral absorption increase exposure to toxic heavy metals create imbalances in hormonal release and use Phytoestrogens are estrogen mimics and compete with natural estrogens to attach to estrogen receptors blocking intracellular messaging systems which impair brain growth and function. Toxic estrogen mimics such as dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls PCBs are persistent environmental chemicals that add to the body burden of very dangerous substances. I now argue for the first time that this food may be a major contributor to autism. It’s all over the net if you look. What do you think these people eat? Next time do your homework!

  • alyric says:

    Well maybe it was removed because it was false advertising celiac can be associated with autism but also is not and perhaps not more than in the general population. Also trying to scare people away from milk by invoking autism as the big scary bogeyman is hardly ethical is it? Couldn’t you find some nice normal people to demonise?

  • joanna says:

    I wonder if milk was a new food product and had to be tested for safety if it could even get FDA approval. I can see all the animals test results showing the health problems associated with milk hindering the legal distribution of this poison.

  • Antigone1000 says:

    It was great while it lasted……

  • vegancoin says:

    This is bad news that the ad was pulled. Still keep up the good work PETA.

  • Kelley says:

    Whatever happened to free speech? Do you only get that now if you have a big lobby group and lots of money???

  • kelly says:

    The Dairy Industry stomps its Nazi jackboots and controls we the people

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