By Clara H
Autism Speaks is the world's largest autism science advocacy organization. It was founded by Bob and Suzanne Wright in February 2005 one year after their grandson was diagnosed on the spectrum. It received more than $180 million as of 2012. The majority of their budget goes to advertising, funding, and research about finding prevention.
Zero people on the autism spectrum are involved in deciding how to spend the money because they had no people with ASD on their board of directors for over 12 years. As a result of this, less than 2% of what they earn gets donated to family service which actually went down from 4% since 2010.
Other people with autism who attend the Autism Speaks walks seem to think the same thing. "Why would you have an event to help people on the autistic spectrum when it's so un-autism friendly?" asks Robyn Steward, an autism advocate and speaker in the Citizen Autistic documentary as she was at the 2012 Autism Speaks walk in Washington DC. I have never been to any of the occasions myself but videos are shown that they are very loud and crowded which is the opposite of what makes those on the spectrum comfortable.
It is proven that those who support Autism Speaks have been brainwashed into believing that they need to put all their time into a cure and cause. They think about getting help without considering who it is and how they are doing it. People don't seem to realize that the company talks negatively about us by creating stereotypes saying that we are frightening and mysterious.
In 2009 they released a highly offensive commercial called "I am Autism" which is really how people started to question if the organization was actually good. It had scary music and claimed to be using our own voices to talk about us. The video states things like, "If you are happily married I will make sure that your marriage fails" and other things that make it sound as if the condition should be cured like "I work faster than pediatric AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined". You cannot watch this video without shaking your head the whole time because of disagreement.
When making this advertisement Autism Speaks sent out a message calling for clips of people's autistic children. This came to my concern by asking the question, "Why did they ask for children and not adults?" Well, Autism Speaks believes that by the time an autistic child turns 18 the condition vanishes. This is far from the truth. Autism can occur in anybody no matter one's age.
The nonprofit designed a ribbon representing a cure for autism. The ribbon has blue, yellow, and red puzzle pieces on it. Some think that they could have chosen to use these colors because primary colors are associated with kids.
Obviously, Autism Speaks does not speak for autistic people because they talk about us without us. I and many others with an Autism Spectrum disorder want to be seen as a group of individuals who need civil rights and not a cure. To us, Autism Speaks is a hate group.
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