By Cathy Jameson
I was listening to a radio news station a few weeks ago when a story about pedestrian safety was being discussed. Citing an increase in outdoor activity, longer days and potential bicycle, pedestrian and traffic accidents, the Street Smart project
kicked off in early April. Images on the posters that would adorn bus stops, the sides of city busses and kiosks in the metro Washington, D.C. area is part of the in-your-face advertising. Literally.
Traffic safety with a hint of reality. It’s pretty clever.
What if we had our own autism-vaccine-injury smart campaign? Not that we have to ask permission to post the thoughts, images and documented proof of what our severely affected children deal with. But can the general public stomach the “smart” side of autism that the mainstream news doesn’t show? Could they tolerate looking at the poop smears? Would they be able to watch the seizures parents videotape to prove that their child seizes? Can the unaffected handle what affected parents work through, manage and battle day in and day out?
We‘re already outspoken. We’ve revealed the truth forthrightly. But our speaking truth to the public has not gotten us results we want.
Maybe ‘shock and awe’ would be more useful. The Street Smart campaign has taken common sense, added a side of powerful imagery and voila! Responsibility, accountability and compassion are evoked. Human lives are at stake with autism also; arousing images can put a human face on autism, the difficult, too often hidden devastation that strikes our kids.
I can’t count how many times some people new to autism tell me, “I had no idea it is as bleak as you describe…”
What if we attached hard-hitting visual reality to our already powerful words?
• Overhead shot of a mom wrestling her 10-year-old to the carpet so she could change his poopy diaper
• Close-in shot of a dad clutching his weepy daughter while her mom struggles to cut her hair
• Panning a medical exam room and zooming in on the sweaty faces of three beleaguered adults trying to draw blood from a screaming, sensory-overloaded toddler
• Camera swooping down to capture frantic mother and typical siblings chasing after a child who has gleefully escaped
Autism Smart. It’s raw. It’s real. I fear it would be too much for common folk to handle.
The pedestrian Street Smart advertising is pure genius in targeting drivers’ attention. Maybe if we are more direct about our children’s autism-related and clearly visible struggles, we too will get the attention we need. It could work. But only if we ask the public at large to picture this.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.