April is Autism Awareness month.
The next few weeks should be a time of spreading awareness and advocacy of the disorder. What are the symptoms? How should we interact with autistic people? What can we do to help the families who need it most?
Numerous autism advocacy organizations exist. If you should choose to donate your time or money, find a local charity, but avoid Autism Speaks. It fails as an organization to help autistic people better their lives. It portrays these wonderful individuals as a stigma and induces fear. This organization makes me sick.
In two separate videos, both decorated with the Autism Speaks logo, autism is portrayed as a burden, as something that will ruin your life. The videos choose to paint the disorder in a negative light.
The first video features dark background music with an even more menacing voiceover. It depicts autism on the same level as cancer. At the end of the video, the script reads, “Autism, if you are not scared, you should be.”
In the other video, a mother said she contemplated putting her daughter Jodi in the car with her and driving off the Washington Bridge. Don’t worry. It gets better. The mother said the only reason she did not do it was because she had another child at home who needed her car. Excuse me?! That mother should be ashamed of herself.
On the organization’s website, it says they are “dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism…advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.”
What they do not show you is their budget. Less than five percent of it goes to helping the families with autistic people. Almost half of their money goes to research where they try to “prevent” and “cure” autism. They also do not have a single autistic individual on their board of directors. And they can’t say autistic people would not be able to handle the stress of the job. Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokemon, is doing just fine.
Autism Speaks fails as an organization to help autistic people grow. They practice fear to illustrate their message and are hypocritical when it actually comes to helping autistic people. Autism Speaks has failed to realize the true beauty of autism.
During World Autism Awareness Day, a family tweeted a picture of them and their autistic child. The tweet read, “#Autismis our uninvited guest, it will always have a home with us.” That, my friends, is what Autism Speaks should advertise. To welcome autistic people with open arms, open hearts and open minds.
“We’re not the ones who’ve been teaching Radio. Radio’s the one been teaching us. The way he treats us all the time is the way we wish we treated each other even part of the time.”
-Ed Harris as Coach Jones in the film Radio.