This is the most cynical, horrifying thing I've heard in ages. PETA has restarted a campaign to try and pretend there's some link between "autism and dairy products," in an attempt to scare people into going Vegan. Update: We have a response from PETA.
PETA put up a billboard similar to the image above in 2008, but it got pulled after the billboard company had a change of heart. But now, PETA appears to be doubling down on the autism-milk linkage. PETA doesn't seem to be claiming that milk causes autism, just that it makes the condition worse.
But if you google "dairy autism" right now, the first hit is a PETA site purporting to tell the truth about linkages between the two. The site isn't dated, but it's been making the rounds on the internet for the past day or so, and appears to be new.
As Emily Willingham writes over at Forbes:
In their fervor to protect cows from being milked and to make consumption of animal products look like the work of Lucifer instead of hungry, omnivorous primates, they failed to notice that they are campaigning on the backs of people. People with autism. Pro tip, PETA: It's not a good idea to demonize people with disabilities to further your cause.
There has to be a way to protect vulnerable animals without exploiting vulnerable people. This isn't even sincerely misled, like a lot of autism conspiracy theories — it just looks cynical and horrible. [via Steve Silberman]
Update: We received an email from PETA, which says this is not a new campaign, but that it was just "revived by the media." And they included this statement from PETA Excecutive Vice President Tracy Reiman:
PETA's website provides parents with the potentially valuable information that researchers have backed up many families' findings that a dairy-free diet can help kids with autism. Dumping dairy—the consumption of which has also been found to contribute to asthma, constipation, recurrent ear infections, iron deficiency, anemia, and even cancer—is a healthy choice that the late Dr. Benjamin Spock recommended for all families, and it also spares mother cows from being repeatedly impregnated and forced to produce milk for humans after their calves have been taken away from them so that they will endure the same fate. Cow's milk might be the perfect food for baby cows, but it might also be making kids sick.