Autism Speaks Does Not Speak For Autistic People

Tyler Albrecht, Reporter

Autism Speaks, an organization known for its advocacy of Autism, is well liked and endorsed by many people from celebrities to politicians as well as non-profit and for profit organizations alike. However, this large following does not make Autism Speaks a good organization, even for the one community it advocates for.

This association has been responsible for many pieces of media in which they use harmful stereotypes to dehumanize Autistic people; portraying them as burdens to society that must be “cured”. A lot of its fundraising rely on those things as well as using fear tactics and blatant misinformation which contributes to the unnecessary fear surrounding the diagnosis of Autism. An example of one of these problematic media pieces is a video called Autism Everyday. This video displays parents of Autistic children talking about what they can and cannot do because of their children. It seems to only focus on the parent’s experiences instead of showing what their child has to face and go through for being Autistic. Autism Speaks makes it clear that they don’t actually care about the lives of Autistic people with this. In fact, this video even shows one of the former members talking about her desire to drive her Autistic daughter, along with herself, off the George Washington Bridge right in front of said daughter. No wonder why it doesn’t have a single Autistic person on their board.

If it wasn’t clear enough that Autism Speaks doesn’t care about Autistic people, even its budget shows where its priorities lie. Only 4% of its budget goes to helping Autistic people and their families while the rest goes to fundraising, media “awareness”, and research. Only a small percentage of this research goes to actually improving the lives of Autistic People. The rest? Well, that goes to figuring out the causation and prevention of Autism of course.
You might be asking, “Why is it so bad that Autism Speaks is trying to find a cure? Isn’t having a cure a good thing?” Well the answer to that is no. Unlike other mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, Autism makes up a huge part of a person’s personality including how they act and feel. As stated from the site, “Autism is a neurological and developmental difference that cannot simply be cured with diets, drugs, or behavioral therapy. It is much too complex for that.” Even if there was a cure, many Autistic people wouldn’t want it. Sure, Autism is not sunshine and rainbows but again, Autism makes up a huge part of someone who has it. Most of the time when an Autistic person wants to cure their Autism, it’s because they are depressed due to the social inequalities and discrimination they face day to day that are constantly perpetrated by society as well as Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks isn’t the only organization who makes “fixing” Autistic people its number one priority, they also openly ally themselves with other damaging places such as the Judge Robert Center. If you don’t know what that is, it’s an institution that regularly uses electroshock therapy on Autistic people to punish them for things that are deemed as “un-normal”, even minor infractions. Speaking of dangerous therapy, Autism Speaks also supports something called ABA therapy. This kind of therapy uses strict and abusive tactics to punish Autistic children in an attempt to turn them “normal”. These tactics include, withholding food from Autistic children, keeping Autistic children from objects that give them a sense of safety, and repressing them from things such as certain movements and way of speaking.

In conclusion, Autism Speaks is an atrocity of an organization that you do not want to support. Its constant dispelling of misinformation, its blatant disregard to Autistic people’s wellbeing, Autism Speaks does not in any way help Autistic people.