Colgate has apologised to the father of an autistic girl after he complained about a TV advertisement that referred to people with autism as “troubled”.

The toothpaste company featured a teacher who works with children with autism. However, underneath the teacher’s name in the advert, the caption reads: “art teacher for troubled children”.

Duncan Casburn, whose 10-year-old daughter, Sienna May, has autism, raised concerns about the advertisement in a video that he shared on YouTube.

“Just because someone has special education needs, it doesn’t make them ‘troubled’,” Mr Casburn said in the video.

“The issue was around the word ‘troubled’ and its wider connotations,” he continued. “It is the wrong way to label special educational needs and disabled children.

“We are trying to dispel this impression. Just because you are different to the majority of society does not make you troubled. Autism is just a different way to viewing the world and processing it.”

Within a week, Colgate had removed the TV advertisement and issued an apology.

Mr Casburn was also invited to conduct an interview with Patricia Verduin, head of research and development for Colgate, which has been sent to all its offices across the globe.

He said: “I just copied them into my video where I highlighted why the word ‘troubled’ was wrong and shouldn’t have been used.

“They responded straight away and said they were looking into this. Within 48 hours the video was taken off the website and TV and has since been amended.”

Speaking about the interview, Mr Casburn added: “We set up an interview to discuss the ad and how they could address their side of it. It turned a negative into a really positive thing.

“They are now sending the interview around internally and say ‘this was a mistake we made that we don’t want to do again in future.’”

He went on to say how touched he was by Colgate’s handling of the situation.

“I was stunned, to be honest. This is how you can handle a situation and turn a negative into something positive.

Trustee Ben McBean raising funds for Autism Parents Together – Tees Valley

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