This is going to be rather short, because upcoming blogs will go into far more detail on that title.
The straight answer: I will not support an organization where a vocal majority of the demographic that it claims to help and support abhor the organization.
Yes, I’m talking about Autism Speaks, the organization that started this campaign.
One of my biggest goals over the past several years was to listen to autistic voices more, because I noticed that there was a huge lack of this in the provider/treatment side of things. Full disclosure: I supported Autism Speaks at one point. I even participated in two of their walks.
That was then. I educated myself and, most importantly, started listening to autistic people. The result was that my viewpoints on a lot of assumptions about autism (specifically autism and treatment) drastically changed. The biggest change was my view on Autism Speaks, which continued its history of problematic behavior by being tied to singer Sia’s universally panned movie, Music. Sia admitted this on her Twitter before she left the platform after being pretty nasty to autistic people who pointed out the laundry list of offensive messages in her work.
Good lord, don’t get me started on Music. We’ll be here all day.
All of this being said, I don’t believe that the phrase “autism awareness” needs to be tossed. Hardly. I work with and meet people from all walks of life everyday who still do not know exactly what autism is. So, awareness is still needed.
We also need acceptance, though. Autism Acceptance is the phrase preferred by many in the autistic community. It is the view that rather than focusing on “curing” autism or masking characteristics, autism is to be accepted as part of who a person is. This viewpoint is represented by the color red (the awareness side is represented by blue).
I will be posting fully about why I am not in favor of Autism Speaks, by way of autistic creators and allies who have gone into great detail explaining their track record (Spoiler alert: It’s not good). I will also go into more detail on how I feel autism awareness can be respectfully built upon.
This month, please look into other autism-related organizations to donate, fundraise, or walk for.