Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Most Offensive Thing in the World

I want to like Autism Speaks - I really do.  I like the idea of a large autism-advocacy organization with national reach, a recognizable logo, and the money and power to do good.  But they keep putting evil crap out there that makes me want to round up their leaders and smack each and every one of them in the face.  I'm at the point where I've made the conscious choice not to buy Lindt chocolate bunnies because they donate a portion of proceeds to Autism Speaks - when I avoid chocolate, you know the situation has gotten serious. 

Here's a video they have up on YouTube.  It's been up since September, but I only just stumbled across it today.  And it disgusts me.  I watched with my mouth hanging open.  Clearly others in the autism community find it as disgusting as I do, because it's currently rated ONE STAR, and followed by over 3000 mostly angry comments.  So go watch it, I'll wait.

[edited 3/1/15: Autism Speaks had taken down that awful video, so the link was broken for a long time. I just discovered that an anti-AS individual re-posted the video in December 2013. Read the comments (just this once) to see what autistic individuals really think of Autism Speaks.]

Now scrape your jaw off the floor...

Autism is not a disease.  When the scary narrator says, "I work faster than pediatric AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined," I have no idea what the hell he means.

There's enough misinformation and stigma out there already without a group that supposedly exists to support families on the spectrum throwing terrifying images into the wind, like, "if you are happily married, I will make sure your marriage fails," or  "I don't sleep, so I make sure you don't either," or even "I am still winning, and you are still scared, and you should be."

Shut the hell up, Autism Speaks.  You do not speak for my family.  You do not speak for my son.  And I'm pretty sure you don't speak for anyone else with autism, either.  You don't even have a single autistic person on your staff (though I am pleased to hear that John Elder Robison has just joined your scientific advisory board.  So now you have one Aspie on board.)

Did you read any of the blistering comments that followed that hateful video?  Most appear to be written by individuals with autism who can speak perfectly well for themselves:
- You Guys are jerks! My autism is a GIFT! You want to take away WHO I AM... All I have to say to you lot is: YOU WILL NOT DESTROY ME!!!!

Autism Speaks hates our guts they would rather see us vilified and dehumanized than actually succeed in life.

Hmmm, brain damage? This brain damage has gotten me a 1500 on the SAT, a 4.0 in high school, a 3.75 in college, and I can do calculus in my head. But if my parents had fixed this brain damage, I could have been just like you! Man, I sure missed out!

As an Autistic, I am SO infuriated by this video. We are not evil problems, we are not pain-oriented psychopaths. We are not evil diseases who want to ruin peoples lives. WE ARE HUMAN.
Etc, etc.  Here is a terrific response video made by someone I've never met, but who I hope gets noticed by Autism Speaks.  Nicely done, Belinda.

And Autism Speaks does not speak for the medical or financial interests of spectrum families, either.  Here in New York the state senate is considering two distinct health insurance reform bills about autism-related care.  The Community Bill (Senate Bill S6123) is supported by every national and statewide autism advocacy organization, including the AMA; American Academy of Pediatrics; NYS School Board Association; NYS Speech, Hearing and Language Association; NYS Occupational Therapy Association; Autism Action Network; Autism Action NY; Autism United; Autism Society Of America (national and local chapters); Foundation for Autism Information and Research; Generation Rescue; Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Project; National Autism Association; New York Families for Autistic Children; Project Link; SAFEMINDS; Schafer Autism Report; Talking About Curing Autism; Upstate NY Families For Effective Autism Treatment; Upstate NY Autism Awareness; United States Autism and Asperger Association; and YAI.

The competing bill (S7000) is supported only by Autism Speaks.  It was written by their lobbying firm, which also happens to represent many of the health insurance companies that would be inconvenienced by the Community Bill.

I think that speaks volumes about Autism Speaks.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, another mother of an autistic here, and let me tell you I co-sign everything you wrote. (Except more vehemently. Any time the words "Autism Speaks" get used around me, obscenity tends to follow.) I wanted to drop you a note and let you know that Toys'R'Us has started to support Autism Speaks by fundraising for them during April. This is the first year they're doing it, and it's planned to be a yearly event. I talked to the manager of my local Toys'R'Us today and explained why I would be boycotting Toys'R'Us until they withdrew their support for Autism Speaks. She was rather shocked to hear about Autism Speaks and the way they describe autism, and she told me that I needed to write in to Corporate and get everyone I know to write to Corporate as well. We need to make it clear that supporting Autism Speaks is going to hurt TRS's bottom line, and there's plenty of other charities they can support that won't cost them customers.

    I would love it if everyone dropped Toys'R'Us a note - for those in the U.S., there's an email form here: and that also has their guest services number. For those in Canada, their contact info is here: .

    Also, if you can, please boost the signal and repost; the more people we can get to call/email/write, the more likely they are to listen. Since this is the first year they're running this campaign, right now is the best chance we have to get it cancelled for next year.

    And now to go hit more blogs and try to get this out there. ;) I hope Toys'R'Us gets enough letters that they decide to listen!


Keep it civil, people.