27 March 2013

Autism Wars - Why are autistic people protesting Autism Speaks?

They call themselves 'Autism Speaks', but it's certainly not autism doing the talking. 

You may be too busy running your family, or your classroom, or just getting through the morass of your sensory day, to have noticed what's happening with Autism Speaks.

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So here's a quick rundown - Autism Speaks is possibly the most powerful and most wealthy of all the non-profits associated with Autism. They raise vast amounts of money to put into autism research. They claim to know what families need, but they focus only on finding a cure, instead of providing supports to families and autistic people to help them through the experience of living.

They consider autism a disease to be eradicated.

They are a campaigning machine, and push hard for autism awareness - and more people are aware of autism than ever before. But their videos make regular people afraid of autism, exploit autistic children and their families, show only negative views of autistic children screaming and tantruming, even once showed a mother saying she had thought about murdering her son. These ads effectively erase the possibility of acceptance. After all, they are searching for a cure, their goal is to eradicate, so of course they will do what they must to prevent acceptance.

Autism Speaks also refuses to employ people with autism. In one famous situation they almost employed a woman in an administrative role, and she went through several interviews, but when they found out she had an autistic child, they dropped her from their list of candidates for the position. The board deciding what is best for autistics, and influencing the rest of the autism community's direction, refuses to allow in any autistic voice. Sadly, because of Autism Speaks, autistic people are more ostracised than ever before. They are seen as "less than". They are seen as something to fear. They are seen as an epidemic, a disease.

Autism Speaks are definitely not interested in hearing the real voices of autism. They are not interested in hearing what autistic adults are saying all across the world now, which is essentially this: "See me for who I am. My brain is different to yours, not diseased. Accept me, and help me with the things I find difficult. Stop trying to eradicate me, because frankly, that's hurtful and cruel."


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Check out this response to the current ad campaign, written by the mother of an autistic person:

Autism Speaks, I Want to Say....
"Families placed their nonspeaking children before your cameras, trusted you to present their families fairly and your organization again went and turned them into "Jerry's Kids"."
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