Autism Speaks is by far the most well-known charity that exists in the USA regarding autism. Just because they have the most media coverage and celebrity support does not mean they are a good organization.
- Autism Speaks does not have a single autistic member on their board.
- Autism Speaks only spends 4% of their budget on “family services”.
- The majority of Autism Speaks’ money goes toward research, and the majority of that research is to find a way to rid the world of autism, and thus, autistics.
- Autism Speaks produces advertisments, small films, etc. about what a burden autistic people are to society.
- Autism Speaks was responsible for “Autism Every Day”, which featured a member of their board talking about contemplating murder-suicide of her daughter in front of her daughter. This has now be removed from Autism Speaks’ Youtube channel but can still be found elsewhere.
- Autism Speaks is responsible for the atrocity known as “I am Autism”, a short film comparing autism to cancer, AIDS, and blaming autism as the reason why marriages break up.
In short, Autism Speaks makes it much harder for those of us who have autism to be taken seriously. Autism is considered to be a child’s “disease” (which isn’t really accurate at all, as a disorder and disease are two different things, but Autism Speaks treats it as a disease), and you will often hear people say “where are all the adult autistics?” Well, we’re right here in front of you. We may have been misdiagnosed with learning disorders, mental retardation (now referred to as intellectual disability) and other mental illnesses when the diagnoses of autism, PDD-NOS and Asperger’s weren’t as precise (or even existent) as they are now (there are also a few variants of autism or autism-like disorders that I don’t mention here, like Rett’s, but these are far less common). We vary in where we fall on the spectrum. Don’t make assumptions about us because we can use a computer.
For further reading, here are a few resources about Autism Speaks: