I checked out the press release and watched the videos on the Ad Council's site. Of course, being Ad Council videos, they're nicely put together - and there are quite a few versions on the same theme.
The ads are intended to shock parents into action by comparing the chances of a child becoming a great star or athlete with the chances of their being autistic. Unfortunately, the numbers they use are out of date: the ads use the number 1:166, while the new CDC number is actually 1:150. This is a bit of a bummer, since the higher number is certainly more of a shocker (but it looks like the ads were actually made in 2006, which would explain the error). The ads end by telling parents to "learn the signs" of autism, and to visit the Autism Speaks website.
As with the Oprah show, during which Suzanna Wright cited an apparently unfounded "statistic" that 80% of parents with autistic children divorce, this press release makes the following surprising statement:
With appropriate early-intervention services, from ages 3-5, between 20% and 50% of children diagnosed with autism will be able to attend mainstream kindergarten.I have no idea where this piece of information comes from - there's no citation. It doesn't clarify what "appropriate early intervention" services might be, whether these children are diagnosed because of severe or mild symptoms, or whether they are successful in their mainstream settings. To be honest, while I'd like to believe that this citation is correct - and that the message is "treat your child early and he'll be cured," I have to say that it sounds like a bad case of irrational exuberance based on wishful thinking.
But that's my opinion. Take a look at the ads and the press release yourself - and add your comments to the conversation!