Today October, 14th 2016 Autism $peaks has announced that they have updated their organizations mission statement for the first time in their 10 years of existence. Correctly removing the word cure from it’s content and adding in the words acceptance and understanding. Examining the calculated language further you see, that there truly isn’t the change Autistic activists have been seeking. You do not hear the language of heart and soul that speaks to Autistic people. You still hear the cold language of dehumanization and the “less than” mentality. People may say, “that they are making progress” and expect Autistic people that have been harmed by their 10 year media awareness and fundraising campaigns to agree. Well, they don’t agree and you can read about that DIRECTLY HERE.
People seem to credit Autism $peaks for bringing Autism to the forefront in media. I had heard of Autism and was well aware of it’s existence long before A$ came onto the scene. What Autism $peaks did was verbally bash and beat Autism up in the public domain through television, radio ads and even billboards. Giving Autism a kicked in gut and two black eyes then conveniently claiming to the world that they would take care of it all. Take care of it all with the millions of dollars they marketed, mined and removed from many of our local communities. For a decade executives have enjoyed their walk in the park “charity life” of fundraising with celebrities and shmoosing on television. Where was there any “understanding” or acceptance” for Autistic people? Where was there any real Autism understanding spread into society?
Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.
Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.
We hear the words, causes, solutions and BETTER interventions along with the word DISORDERED used twice to describe Autistic people. Heck, they couldn’t even use the phrase “Autistic people”. This from a statement that was said to be crafted over the better part of a year? Seriously, this is long thought out change?
This “change in mission” seems more in alignment with the quote from an A$ spokesman using the terminology that this change of mission is an “evolving strategic direction.” Everything A$ does is strategic. This much we know. Autism is big business to them. They seek to garner millions of dollars from the families they stoke with fear and misinformation. This has been their main strategy and with a new “mission” how will their fundraising change? Our guess is, it won’t.
Autism $peaks refuses to admit the error of their ways by making a public apology for the harm they have caused to an entire culture of people. Their mission continues to be based soley on what uninformed parents and professionals seek. Which seems to be from all language and appearances, to free themselves from the complications of Autistic life. Continuing to call “early identification and action” intervention is itself harmful. We intervene when we see something “wrong” and then seek to modify that something. We must support Autistic people without the goal of intervening against them. Autistic people need supports to become the best version of themselves NOT interventions to become an idea of who they should be for the sake of others. Listen to the language and tell us again Autism $peaks has “CHANGED.”
After many years of BOYCOTTING and BLOG WRITINGS Autistic people and their allies have turned the Autism tide. Autistic people have built their own infrastructures without the 25 million dollars that The Wright’s used to create the instant A$ platform. Autistic people have year after year stood for their rights to be seen, heard, respected and honored. In big ways with little to no money, let alone a platform! I recall a very heated political discussion that went on with A$ board members Ed Asner and his son Matthew verses countless Autistic and ally activists. In that hours long conversation Ed Asner finally admitted that “Yes, perhaps it was time for 1 (Autistic person) to be on the A$ board of directors” beside him and all of the other non Autistic members. WoW, You think? I actually asked Mr. Asner if he would like to be part of a show titled “Lou Grant Speaks”…only he would not actually get that opportunity because, the only scripted lines went to Mary and Rhoda!? It was quite the marathon conversation.
Shortly thereafter it was announced that there would be not ONE but, TWO Autistic board members joining Autism Speaks; Valerie Paradiz and Stephen Mark Shore. Two people that were not speaking out against Autism Speaks. How’s that for strategic?! In 2011 when John Elder Robison was “strategically” appointed to an A$ science board, it was noted that he was not an actual seated board member. He also urged Autism Speaks to change their mission and the language they used in order to create funding and his advise was dismissed. He left the organization with a terse resignation letter referencing the brutal language of the late Suzanne Wright’s 2013 “Call to Action” op-ed.
This strategic evolutional direction of Autism Speaks is transparent to those of us that accept and understand Autism and there’s a certain continuity of irony in that. Autism Speaks HAD TO change their mission statement just like Donald Trump HAD TO deny he was a sexual predator. When a culture of people who’s humanity has been willfully damaged and stigmatized by others… begin speaking out, the ripple effects become waves. Waves of authentic consciousness that build with connection to each and every soul in that alignment. Having just returned from one of the most rich Autistic created and driven experiences ever ** The 2016 ANCA World Autism Festival ** this Autism $peaks ‘press release’ feels like more of the same old stale breadcrumbs they scatter to optimize their marketing.
Autism $peaks is in the business of raising money to make Autism easier for non Autistic people. Listen to their language: THE WAY THEY SPEAK. They are not speaking the language of understanding and acceptance… of heart and of what will work best for Autistic people and their intensely beautiful emerging culture. Writing the words into a mission statement that still sees Autistic people of all ages and stages as DISORDERED doesn’t help. The value in Autistic people has so much to do with their difference. Their unique abilities and gifts are natural and valid and in need of recognitions and supports, not solutions and interventions. Best practice for Autistic people will be created by other Autistic people in conjunction with people that understand this simplistic reality. A$ talks the talk and only walks the money walk. We won’t be able to trust them until they acknowledge what they have done and completely honor what we are saying …