Last week, Autism Speaks released their new “Strategic Plan for Science 2018-2020.”
The new strategic plan follows a wording change to their mission statement and a 2017 stakeholder survey. The survey was primarily about Autism Speaks’ research funding. The kinds of research they fund impacts autistic people, since according to an IACC document,
they are the third largest funder of autism research.
According to many experts, it doesn’t appear that Autism Speaks significantly changed their strategic science planning. The survey results
, published in October 2017, have some important highlights. One question asked about research areas to avoid; of the responses, “most indicated opposition to research aimed at curing or preventing autism.” A specific response included “Researching a cure or genetic markers of autism. Preventing or curing autism is a form of eugenics, which is an abhorrent idea.” A further trend of the survey included: “Opposition to cure/prevention/ABA; more … Continue Reading ››
On September 1, Kiehl’s, a popular cosmetic company, launched a campaign with to raise money for Autism Speaks. In a video
some might describe as cringe-inducing, McConaughey implores viewers to share his video because, “children with autism need our support and they need it right now… They need access to services to give them a real chance at a better life.” For each share of the video, Kiehl’s has committed to contributing $1, up to $200,000. Additionally, Kiehl’s is selling “Ultra Facial Cream Limited Edition 2017,” which the Kiehl’s website
describes as, “a daily face moisturizer to promote autism awareness.” The site does not elaborate how exactly a face moisturizer would promote awareness of anything.
Ironically, money donated to Autism Speaks is unlikely to give autistic people a “real chance at a better life,” nor would it give anyone autistic access to services. As of 2017, only 3%
… Continue Reading ››
In Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Barton Fink,” there’s a scene where the title character (John Turturro), a pretentious playwright who’s moved to Hollywood, meets his new neighbor Charlie (John Goodman), an insurance salesman. Fink shares his ambition to tell stories about “the common man,” with Charlie piping up that he could “tell you some stories” several times. Fink doesn’t take the hint, simply steamrolling ahead instead of listening to the guy whose voice he’s supposedly out to capture.
It can be a frustratingly similar experience for a member of a marginalized group trying to get a word in edgewise with someone claiming to advocate for you, especially if they’re being less helpful than they imagine they are. It can be mortifying to be told you’re hindering rather than helping, but someone who sincerely cares about their advocacy will make time to listen to those affected by it.
And then there’s William Shatner, … Continue Reading ››
Chocoholics have reason to celebrate this April. The chocolate company Lindt is no longer supporting Autism Speaks.
On March 30, Lindt USA responded on Twitter to concerned activist @lechatsavant. When asked about supporting Autism Speaks, Lindt tweeted:
“Hi there. This year, Lindt USA has decided to move in a different direction with our Easter program. Thank you.”
The company has not otherwise commented on the shift. Its website
currently makes no mention of autism or Autism Speaks. While Autism Speaks’ official website still lists Lindt as a partner
, that possibly refers to the company’s past support of the organization.
This represents a welcome change from years past. Since 2009
, Lindt has partnered with Autism Speaks during the month of April through its Lindt Gold Bunny Celebrity Auction
. The coincidence of Autism Awareness Month with Easter enabled the fundraiser.
In previous years, between 60 and 90 celebrities signed Lindt’s signature GOLD … Continue Reading ››
Autism Speaks is anti-autistic. Autism Speaks spends too much money on cause and cure research rather than things that are actually helpful. Autism Speaks would like to ensure that future generations of autistic people are never born.
All of those things are true. But you know what else is true? Autism Speaks is not the only threat to autistic people’s well-being and autonomy right now. In fact, in the era of Donald Trump’s presidency, it is hard to make the case that Autism Speaks is even close to the biggest threat.
This is not a defense of Autism Speaks. Like most autistic people involved in the neurodiversity community, I am disgusted with Autism Speaks’ long history of ableism. However, I do question whether anti-Autism Speaks activism should be our number one priority as a community at this point.
When we focus all of our energies on Autism Speaks, it becomes easy to forget … Continue Reading ››