Autism Speaks Doesn’t Speak For Us

I’ve talked about some real assmaggots–and maybe an assmaggot-ey organization or two (Nazis being the worst)–here on Socially Awkward Weirdo but I haven’t said anything about Autism Speaks. That changes today. I could just say they’re a bunch of fuckknuckles. While that’s true, it would make for a super-short blog entry. So instead, you’re getting this long-ass post. If you’re unaware, Autism Speaks is the best-known charity in the U.S. when it comes to Autism Spectrum Disorder. Their ads are ubiquitous and they even show up on beloved kids’ shows like Sesame Street. Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, that’s cool.” No, it’s really not. Among us autistic people, they have an absolutely shitty reputation. Why? Because, despite their name, they don’t speak for us. From our point of view, they don’t even try. Really, it’s hard for us to believe that they even give a fuck about autistic people. Aside from ways to hide us away and make neurotypical lives easier, that is. Like, I said, fuckknuckles.

Red Fucking Flags

Autism Speaks’ red flags were there from the very beginning. Early on, they got a big fucking boost from Bernie Marcus in the form of a $25 million donation. The name “Bernie Marcus” may be familiar to you. Probably because he was a co-founder of Home Depot. It may also be familiar because Bernie said young people were lazy, has engaged in union-busting, and is a Trump-supporting Republican who’s involved in derailing student loan forgiveness. He was also was an active member of Autism Speaks’ board of directors. And, Home Depot, the company that he helped found, provides benefits for its employees with autism in their families. And, by “provides benefits”, I mean, “pushes Applied Behavior Analysis therapy”. It occurs to me I could have saved a lot of words just now by saying, “MAGA-loving dickhead.” Fuckers of a feather flock together, I suppose. Which covers both Marcus’ political leanings and his views on autism.

Autism Speaks’ Constantly Shifting Sands

Autism Speaks has espoused some fucked up views in it’s history. Case in point: Juliette Dunn, in her blog Artfully Autistic, says that Autism Speaks once “supported the anti-vaxxer movement,” but they’ve tried in recent years “to wipe it from their image.” That’s not the only place they’ve done that. It appears to me that controversial shit disappears from their site on the regular. Dunn also said that, at one time, their “Our Work” page claimed that they had “One of the world’s largest open access autism genomic databases.” But, it’s not there anymore (I know that because I looked), which makes me wonder why they may have scrubbed it. It could because of info in an article the page linked to led Dunn to say that Autism Speaks’ work in this field did nothing to improve the lives of autistic people. Worse, it could be used for eugenics.

Some Eugenics Bullshit

Autism and eugenics have a long and sorry history. Hans Asperger, an early autism researcher–and a dude who was in bed with the fucking Nazis–used his work to determine which autistic people were useful to the fucking Nazis. Those who weren’t got sent to the Am Spiegelgrund facility, which was part of the Nazi’s child euthanasia program. Now, I’m not going to go so far as to say Autism Speaks wants to kill off all autistic people. But they have spent a fuck ton of money on mapping the autistic genome, hoping to enable prenatal screening for the condition. And, as Dunn states, “if pre-natal screening were available, it would trigger eugenics against autistic people.” As proof for her belief, she points out that, “In the U.S., 67% of pregnancies are terminated when the parent finds out the child has Down Syndrome. In France, that number is 77%. In Denmark, it’s 98%.”

The Only Cure I Want Is the Kind That Involves Ham

All of this abject shittiness is possible because Autism Speaks sees ASD as a disease to be “cured” and a cure is not what we’re looking for. Autistic people see ASD as a difference to be lived with and we could use some help with this. Instead of listening to us, Autism Speaks supports godawful shit like Applied Behavior Analysis. Y’all know how I feel about that shit (if not, check this out) but the short version is that ABA is really about erasing autistic people and making neurotypicals–especially neurotypical parents–comfortable. That it comes at the expense of the things that make an autist an interesting person is of little consequence to the shitweasels who push this therapy. I mean, the NTs are happy and that’s what counts. Right?

Autism Speaks an Ally? Hahahahahahahahahaha!

Autism Speaks likes to the claim the title of “ally”. But, here’s the thing: an ally to autistic folks wouldn’t focus is on making the lives of neurotypicals easier. Nor would their main concern be raising a fuck ton of money off of off the people with whom they claim to be allied. For the record, the organization raised $95 million last year (pg. 25). Unfortunately, not much of that money is spent on things that might benefit us as they budget somewhere around 1% of that on services that aid actual autistic people. And, as for speaking for autistic people? Only one member of their board of directors is autistic. One. Out of twenty-five. And they put that shit on their website like they’re fucking proud of it. The vast majority of board members are fucking bigwigs from the corporate and/or financial worlds. Because those people understand what we need so well.

Autism Speaks Doesn’t Speak For Us

I said at the beginning of this piece, Autism Speaks doesn’t speak for autistic people. And, that it’s hard for us to believe that they give a fuck about us since their mission seems to focused on making neurotypicals, especially neurotypical parents, comfortable. And, I stand by those statements. I’ll admit that’s what I thought when I started research for this post and nothing I saw caused to change that. And, I’ve shared it with you. Now, I’m not going to say that you shouldn’t to give money to Autism Speaks. You gotta do you. But just know that if an autistic person sees that little puzzle piece connected to you in any way, we’re judging the fuck out of you. Because it says you ain’t no ally.

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