An Open Letter on the NYU Ransom Notes Campaign sign now

Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D.
The NYU Child Study Center
577 First Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Dr. Robert Grossman, M.D.
NYU School of Medicine
IRM 229
560 First Avenue
New York NY 10016

John Osborn
President and CEO of BBDO New York
BBDO New York
1285 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10019

Richard Schaps, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Van Wagner Communications, LLC.
800 Third Ave 28th Floor
New York, NY 10022

To the NYU Child Study Center and the supporters of the Ransom Notes advertising campaign:

We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to you regarding your new ad campaign for the NYU Child Study Center: Ransom Notes. Our organizations represent people with a wide range of disabilities, including those portrayed in your campaign, as well as family members, professionals and others whose lives are affected by disabilities. As people who live and work with disability, we cannot help but be concerned by the way your campaign depicts individuals with disabilities. By choosing to portray people on the autism spectrum as well as those living with OCD, ADHD and other disabilities as kidnapped or possessed children, you have inadvertently reinforced many of the worst stereotypes that have prevented children and adults with disabilities from gaining inclusion, equality and full access to the services and supports they require.

While the Ransom Notes campaign was no doubt a well-intentioned effort to increase awareness and thus support for the disabilities it describes, the means through which it attempts this have the opposite effect. When a child with ADHD is described as a detriment to himself and those around him, it hurts the efforts of individuals, parents and families to ensure inclusion and equal access throughout society for people with disabilities. When individuals with diagnoses of autism and Aspergers Syndrome are told that their capacities for social interaction and independent living are completely destroyed, it hurts their efforts for respect, inclusion, and necessary supports by spreading misleading and inaccurate information about these neurologies. While it is true that there are many difficulties associated with the disabilities you describe, individuals with those diagnostic categories do succeed not necessarily by becoming indistinguishable from their non-disabled peers but by finding ways to maximize their unique abilities and potential on their own terms.

The Ransom Notes campaign places a stigma on both parents and children, thus discouraging them from pursuing a diagnosis that might be helpful in gaining access to the appropriate services, supports, and educational tools. The autism spectrum should be recognized for what it is: a lifelong neurological condition not a kidnapper that steals children in the dead of the night. The devaluation of the lives of people with disabilities has led to public policies and funding decisions that have forced thousands of people with disabilities into nursing homes and other institutions. The unintended consequences of ad campaigns like yours give legitimacy to the taking away of the civil and human rights of people with disabilities.

It is true that diagnoses of ADHD, autism, Aspergers Syndrome, and OCD often accompany great hardships for families. It is true that depression and bulimia are terrible disorders that require treatment. Yet, the way you choose to convey those messages is inappropriate and counterproductive. Individuals with disabilities are not replacements for normal children that are stolen away by the disability in question. They are whole people, deserving of the same rights, respect, and dignity afforded their peers. Too often, the idea that children with disabilities are less than human lies at the heart of horrific crimes committed against them. The recent tragic instances of violence against children and adults on the autism spectrum and with other developmental disabilities are linked to the perception that these people are less than human. We the adults, families, professionals and others affected by these conditions - assert that nothing could be further from the truth.

We are also concerned that the negative stereotypes the Ransom Notes campaign depicts could make it harder for the many people with disabilities and their family members who are working to ensure that students with disabilities have the right to be included in their home schools while still receiving all necessary services. Federal law mandates that students with disabilities have the right to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Your advertising campaign claims that children with disabilities could be a detriment to those around them and as a result hurts the efforts of parents working to secure the opportunity for their children to be included with their peers.

While we recognize and applaud the good intentions intended by this effort, we must urge you to withdraw this campaign immediately, as it threatens to harm the very people whom it seeks to benefit: people with disabilities, their families, and their supporters. In the press release announcing this campaign, the Center gave as one of its goals eliminating the stigma of being or having a child with a psychiatric disorder. We are in full agreement with the goal of eliminating stigma against people with disabilities and their families. Yet, this campaign serves to increase that stigma rather than lessen it. We hope that you will heed our concerns and those of many other people with disabilities, family members, professionals, and countless others and end the Ransom Notes advertising campaign.

Please do not to hesitate to contact any of the organizations listed as signatories to this letter in order to better solicit the opinions of the disability community prior to your next advertising campaign. We would be more than glad to help the Center to develop better strategies to achieve its excellent goals. The NYU Child Study Center has the potential to do enormous good for children and families affected by disability. By showing that the Center respects the views of people with disabilities, families, and professionals, you can make that aspiration a reality.


Ari Neeman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
[email protected]

Bob Kafka
National Organizer

Diane Autin
Executive Co-Director
Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey

Jim Ward
ADA and the National Coalition for Disability Rights

Janette R. Vance
The Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect

Estee Klar-Wolfond
The Autism Acceptance Project

Barbara Trader, MS
Executive Director

Jim Sinclair
Autism Network International

Stephen Drake
Not Dead Yet

Stanley Soden
Director of Independent Living Services.
MOCEANS Center for Independent Living

Ethan B. Ellis, Executive Director
Executive Director
Alliance for Disabled in Action, Inc.
Next Step, Inc.

Phil Schwarz
Vice President
Asperger Association of New England
Member, Board of Directors
Autism National Committee

Sign The Petition


If you already have an account please sign in, otherwise register an account for free then sign the petition filling the fields below.
Email and the password will be your account data, you will be able to sign other petitions after logging in.

Privacy in the search engines? You can use a nickname:

Attention, the email address you supply must be valid in order to validate the signature, otherwise it will be deleted.

I confirm registration and I agree to Usage and Limitations of Services

I confirm that I have read the Privacy Policy

I agree to the Personal Data Processing


Who signed this petition saw these petitions too:

Sign The Petition


If you already have an account please sign in


I confirm registration and I agree to Usage and Limitations of Services

I confirm that I have read the Privacy Policy

I agree to the Personal Data Processing

1000 / 5000

Latest Signatures

  • 14 February 20161000. Lori L
    I support this petition
  • 14 February 2016999. Matthew T
    these ads are doing serious damage to those who you claim to be helping.
  • 13 February 2016998. Tao G
    I support this petition
  • 12 February 2016997. Becky H
    mother to child with Aspergers, wife of man with Aspergers
  • 11 February 2016996. Rhonda E
    As a parent of a son with Fragile X Syndrome, Social Worker, and Disabled Population Advocate please reconsider your actions on labeling individual syndromes.
  • 11 February 2016995. Loans Butonedaypaydayl
    ujostqfujujpopomjof, <a href="">extenze</a>, AdBIUra, [url=]extenze[/url], ErCRByP, extenze, HLTcHLO, <a href="">Shoot vicodin m3
  • 11 February 2016994. Nadina L
    As a Disabled & Proud person and disability rights acrtivist, I am outraged. As an academic, I am ashamed of the gross insensitivity of my colleagues at NYU. FREE OUR PEOPLE not from disability (which is a normal part of the human experience) but from
  • 11 February 2016993. Rachel E
    I support this petition
  • 10 February 2016992. Jill Buchanan
    As a graphic designer, I am appalled at the lack of compassion and understanding in this campaign.
  • 10 February 2016991. Brett C
    These people should be locked up!
  • 10 February 2016990. Dale L
    and I think I can speak for others when I say the the problem lies within
  • 10 February 2016989. Vicodin Hopkins
    gnbzhqfujujpopomjof, <a href="">Buy Vicodin</a>, jcpAcsr, [url=]What is vicodin 5 given for[/url], WRqBQXx, Vicodin half life
  • 09 February 2016988. Penny Lrichardsp
  • 08 February 2016987. Dale Luttrelll
    disabled people deserve to be treatmed better
  • 07 February 2016986. Linda J
    I support this petition
  • 07 February 2016985. Gordon C
    I support this petition
  • 06 February 2016984. Serenity Figueroa
    I support this petition
  • 06 February 2016983. Web Onlineb
    hrwsgqfujujpopomjof, <a href="">Web online blackjack</a>, NllcHHo, [url=]Online blackjack betting[/url], yCLEBAX, Online blackjack download, WtBzalz.
  • 05 February 2016982. Louise W
    My son is living with AS; he has not been taken hostage by any disease. Please change your ransom notes campaign to adequately address the needs of those with mental health issues.
  • 05 February 2016981. Viagra Onlineu
    fwutdqfujujpopomjof, <a href="">Hgh canadian pharmacy</a>, tdQvIEd, [url=]Hgh replacement therapy[/url], LMVYJRV, Is hgh a steroid, qCZnQCx, <a href="http://www.vasuccess
  • 04 February 2016980. Christy P
    I support this petition
  • 04 February 2016979. Maurice F
    I support this petition
  • 04 February 2016978. Priligy Buyo
    bucyuqfujujpopomjof, <a href="">Hgh side effects</a>, wuMsixX, [url=]HGH[/url], uLDbfeT, Hgh supplements independent reviews, pDHbFqo, <a href="">Cialis
  • 04 February 2016977. Viagra O
    klgmsqfujujpopomjof, <a href="">Cash pay day loans</a>, vmaGzym, [url=]Instant faxless payday loans[/url], tfMEyEh, Second chance pay day loans, LcBgnrG, <
  • 04 February 2016976. Green Smokeelectronicc
    dcfhjqfujujpopomjof, <a href="">Volumepill</a>, NWmlgQr, [url=]VolumePills[/url], gCTYVRE, VolumePills, JqfObBu, <a href="">Electro
  • 03 February 2016975. Propecia Canadac
    ixsueqfujujpopomjof, <a href="">Lamina propecia</a>, BmFQuzS, [url=]Hair loss medication propecia[/url], NYexzlC, Baldness propecia research, vdms
  • 02 February 2016974. Eugenia F

browse all the signatures

Benita BowmanBy:
Petition target:
NYU Medical Center


No tags


Invite friends from your address book

Embed Codes

direct link

link for html

link for forum without title

link for forum with title