NEW YORK — A national autism advocacy group is demanding an apology from CBS over a disparaging remark a contestant on the television reality show "Big Brother" made about people with the disorder.
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John Gilmore, executive director of Autism United, said Monday that his group has been trying to speak with CBS executives since last week's broadcast.
On that episode, a contestant named Adam, who claims to work for an autism foundation, said he would spend his winnings on a hair salon for people with developmental disabilities "so retards can get it together and get their hair done."
His partner, Sheila, told him: "Don't call them that."
Adam responded: "Disabled kids. I can call them whatever I want. I work with them all day, OK?"
The show's Web site describes him as a 29-year-old public relations manager from Delray Beach, Florida.
In a statement released Monday, CBS condemned Adam's comments, saying they do not represent opinions held by the network or the program's producers.
"We certainly find the statements made by Adam to be offensive but believe they were countered by the immediate reaction of shock and condemnation from a fellow houseguest, Sheila," the statement said. "Adam's remarks would not have been permitted to air unchallenged."
"Big Brother" also has been condemned for contestants' remarks on incest, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Some contestants have been removed following incidents that were deemed violent or racist.
The premise of the show is that contestants — or "houseguests" — are isolated from the outside world while under constant surveillance. Once a week, they vote to evict a member of the group.
When just two people remain, a jury of voted-off contestants picks the "Big Brother" winner of the $500,000 grand prize.
Autism is a complex disorder featuring poor social interaction and communication skills.
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