Autism Speaks, But Not For Autistics

Autism Speaks, But Not For Autistics
Courtesy Photo The neurodiversity symbol is a much better option for Autism Awareness. The puzzle pieces that are floating around this month imply those with Autism are something to solve, to fix, to make whole. That’s why many with Autism despise it.

Courtesy Photo
The neurodiversity symbol is a much better option for Autism Awareness. The puzzle pieces that are floating around this month imply those with Autism are something to solve, to fix, to make whole. That’s why many with Autism despise it.

April is Autism Awareness Month, that lovely time of year when strangers post puzzle pieces on their profile pictures and the charity Autism Speaks is out in force. Ask anyone from the autistic community about Autism Speaks, and you’ll get a very different answer than you may have expected: We hate Autism Speaks.

For those of you not in the know, Autism Speaks is the world’s premiere Autism charity, raking in millions of dollars that goes toward finding a cure. This is the issue we have. We don’t need to be cured. We aren’t sick. We’re different, that’s all. Our brains are wired differently. Autism Speaks effectively practices eugenics, and is doing everything they can to get rid of us. They want nothing more than to find a genetic marker for autism in order to kill us before we can even be born, as they’ve done with Down’s Syndrome. It’s disgusting.

There is a push by the autistic community to have Autism Speaks classified as a hate group. The logic behind this is sound, as they meet the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center requirements for classifying a hate group. Personally, I’d be much happier if they would stop pushing their “Parents & Allies” agenda and listen to the actual autistic people of the world. Instead, they chalk their detractors up to “high-functioning kids that don’t understand.”

Do they think that turning 18 magically rewires our brains, creating a neurotypical person where once there was none? No. That’s not how it works. I was born autistic, and I will die autistic, and trying to re-write my identity and make me believe I am a burden to society, to my family and friends, to the government, is not only beyond ridiculous, it’s flat-out degradingly insulting.

Year after year autistic folks all over the country line up during the Autism Speaks “Walk[s] for Autism,” and year after year, they are met with either shouts of vitriol from the so-called allies, or ignored entirely. The one autistic person that was on their staff recently quit after years of pushing for changes that were never heard and never made. Autism Speaks has had every opportunity to change their damaging rhetoric and “charitable” practices.

Many parents with autistic kids (never “kids with autism,” as I’ve said, we’re not sick, we’re autistic. It’s part of our identity.) find autism speaks the first time they Google trying to find out information about autism in general. Many supporters are unaware that the money they give to this organization is going toward funding a way to get rid of us, that they are literally funding eugenics, which is definitely the most Nazi branch of science.

The Autism Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) is one of our many preferred networks and charities for Autism. They stress the importance of independence, and letting us advocate for ourselves. Even non-verbal autistic folks, the ones Autism Speaks seems determined to wipe out beyond us “higher functioning” cats who misunderstand their mission, tend to despise Autism Speaks. Non-verbals have for years been written off as totally mentally retarded. Their parents speak about them like they aren’t sitting right next to them, hearing every word about how Mommy “wanted to drive myself and my daughter into the lake and kill us both.” The pain that mother felt when her daughter started typing… More than typing, actually, because more and more we are learning that OVERSET FOLLOWS:non-verbals, for all the appearance of serious mental retardation, have brilliant minds trapped in uncooperative bodies. On another occasion, a non-verbal autistic girl named Carly showed her parents just how deeply she was capable of thinking, and you could see the parents pain as they spoke about talking about her for years as if she didn’t understand, now knowing she more than understood. She was hurt.

It’s called a spectrum because that’s exactly what it is. A vast spectrum. One of our favorite quotes to use as a community is “If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.” It’s a great way of saying that there is no map to guide you in dealing with every autistic person you meet. We’re different, true, but the cool thing is we are aware of that, and want nothing more than to be seen as just people. Autism is a part of us, but it’s far from the only thing. I’m a writer, a student, I have an intense love of comic books and television, I frequent the AV Club forums, I have the love of a wonderful woman who does everything she can to understand the complications dating someone like me brings. These are all pieces that make up a whole, complete person. I don’t need to be cured. I am not sick from any disease. I am autistic, and I am damn proud of that.

For more information on ASAN, please visit For non-verbal accounts, the best option is google “Non-verbal autistics respond to autism speaks” and prepare to be engrossed in an incredible world.

Categories: Commentary