7 Reasons To Not Support Autism Speaks

7 Reasons To Not Support Autism Speaks

If you want to support autistic people, consider another organization.
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Autism Speaks was founded in 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright after their grandson was diagnosed with autism. Since its conception, it has been the leading organization for autism research and awareness. Unfortunately, the autistic community and supporters have expressed dissatisfaction with the organization because of how it spends its money and the way it represents people with autism. Here are some things you should consider before you donate your money or time to Autism Speaks.

1. Autistic individuals do not like Autism Speaks.

This is by far the most important item on the list. Before considering supporting any non-profit organization, it is most important to ensure they are effectively serving and supporting the community they seek to serve. If the majority of people with autism do not feel as though Autism Speaks adequately represents them or serves their needs , it means Autism Speaks does not adequately represent or serve the majority of them. Therefore, this organization does not fulfill its purpose. Period.

2. Autism Speaks caters to parents of children with autism rather than the children themselves.

Autism Speaks remains successful, despite the lack of support from people with autism because it caters to parents of children with autism. I am not saying helping families with autistic children is not necessary and important, but if Autism Speaks only focuses on programming for parents, it abandons the children who are certainly in equal if not in more need of Autism Speaks’ help. In addition, the children are not aware of the problematic nature of Autism Speaks for obvious reasons, but the parents are also not necessarily aware of the problematic nature of Autism Speaks because they are new to the community. This means those who are the most supportive of the organization are those who are not educated about the issues, which is quite disturbing, especially considering that Autism Speaks claims to increase education about autism. On top of that, many families turn to Autism Speaks for education and will only receive the problematic representation of what it is truly like to be autistic that the organization provides. Their scare tactics help keep families grateful for their services and encourage them to continue to use their services. This problematic representation will affect the way these families raise their children, which in turn, could increase stigma. I think anyone should be suspicious of an organization that takes in support from vulnerable families but can not keep the support of less vulnerable or more informed members of the community.

3. Autism Speaks does not allocate its funds to directly help people with autism.

In Autism Speaks' most recent budget report for the 2014 fiscal year, it spent 15.7 million dollars of the 57.5 million dollar total on family grants, which directly aide families and people with autism. They also spent 23 million dollars on employee compensation with many of their board members earning six figures. Moreover, most of Autism Speaks’ budget goes toward research rather than to direct care. Autism Speaks has a history of not allocating its funds to appropriate research. In fact, its symbol, the puzzle piece, was created as a symbol of its purpose; to find the missing pieces of genetic material to establish a connection with autism and genes. This sort of research is problematic because it is part of seeking a cure for autism and can be interpreted as an attempt at eugenics.

4. Autism Speaks seeks a cure for autism.

Autism Speaks declares in its mission statement that it seeks to find a cure for autism. Attempting to cure autism is problematic. At first, it might seem appropriate to find a cure for a disorder “that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges," but this perspective is ultimately rooted in ableism and does not embrace the entirety of the experience of autism. Suggesting that a community should be entirely ameliorated does not recognize the truly diverse social, communicative and behavioral circumstances within the community. Moreover, it suggests that the experience of autism is, inherently, a bad one, and people with autism are second-class citizens. That is not the reality. Since Autism Speaks' conception, prenatal testing has been developed for Down syndrome and has caused a decreasing rate of Down syndrome births, despite many families reflecting positively on the experience of raising a child with Down syndrome, proving that this research has the potential to have a dramatic negative impact on the autistic community. Ignoring the cries from the community to remove this from their mission statement, on top of the research surrounding Down syndrome, proves that Autism Speaks is, at worst, apathetic to the possibility of eliminating the community and at best, out of touch with the community's desires.

At the heart of the issue, this identity should be celebrated by most, or at the very least, by an organization that seeks to represent people with autism.

5. "Don’t speak about us without us.”

Every advocacy organization’s purpose is to serve the population it represents and ensure that this main goal is, in fact, executed. Many organizations will employ members of the population it serves. Autism Speaks does not do this, which means the organization is out of touch with the desires of the autism community. According to the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, “There are no autistics on their board of directors. There are no autistics in any of their major decision-making bodies.” If Autism Speaks does not even fulfill this base requirement of representation, how can we expect this organization to teach others to treat people with autism like equals if they are not even employable?

6. There are other organizations that help individuals with autism that you can support.

The Autism Self-Advocacy Network, according to their mission statement, “work(s) to empower autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community and seek(s) to organize the autistic community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation about us." The Self-Advocacy Network does not receive the same criticism as Autism Speaks because by putting people with autism in charge of the conversation, the community’s needs are actually being communicated and met.

Paul Robison was Autism Speaks' highest ranking autistic employee before he left the science advisory board. Paul Robinson left his post after Suzanne Wright published the op-ed “Autism Speaks Point of View,” which contained many messages highly offensive to the autistic community. Paul Robison describes in his letter of resignation that he choose to leave, not only because of Suzanne Wright's insulting speech, but also because no one would address his repeated concerns about seeking a cure and the lack of representation while he was employed at Autism Speaks. Robison perfectly summarizes the problems the autistic community has with Autism Speaks with these two quotes.

“There is a great diversity in our community, which means we have a very broad range of needs. Unfortunately, the majority of the research Autism Speaks has funded to date does not meet those needs, and the community services are too small a percentage of total budget to be truly meaningful. We have delivered very little value to autistic people, for the many millions raised.”

“Autism Speaks has done a lot of wonderful things. The organization has a lot of fundraising power and the capacity to do a lot of good, but when it destroys support within its own community, it’s the most counterproductive thing it can do. It’s unfortunate the leadership is out of touch with the community and the language of disability advocacy.”

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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9 Eligible Princes You Need To Know About Now That Prince Harry Is Off The Market

You too could have a Meghan Markle fairytale
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Prince Harry's royal wedding is officially over and there won't be another British royal wedding for quite some time now, as Prince George is way too young to start thinking about that. Fortunately, there are plenty of other countries with plenty of other princes that are still eligible bachelors at the moment. Lucky for you, I did my research and compiled a list of all the eligible princes you need to know about know that Prince Harry has tied the knot with Meghan Markle.

1. Prince Louis of Luxembourg (31)

Prince Louis is the third son of the Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg. He has recently become a bachelor again after his separation with his wife of 10 years, Princess Tessy.

Fun Fact: He graduated from Richmond, The American International University of London with a BA in Communications. He can also speak Luxembourgish (the fact that's even a language is fun fact by itself), French, German, and English fluently.

2. Prince Sebastien of Luxembourg (26)

Prince Sebastien is the youngest child of the Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg, so if you marry him, you'll probably never actually be queen because he's pretty far removed from the throne. However, he's relatively young and single, so best of luck.

Fun Fact: For some bizarre reason, this prince actually went to college in Ohio. He played rugby and graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2015. Now, he is back in his home country and is an officer in the Luxembourg Army.

3. Prince Phillipos of Greece and Denmark (34)

You read that correctly, Prince Phillipos is the prince of not one, but two countries. He is the youngest son of King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie of Greece and Denmark. Unfortunately, Greece abolished their monarchy, so he's a prince in name only there.

Fun Fact: Like Prince Sebastien, Prince Phillipos also went to college in the United States. He earned his B.A. in foreign relations from Georgetown University in 2008. Fortunately, for us American girls, he is actually still living in the US and he works in New York City as an analyst at Ortelius Capital.

4. Prince Albert of Thurn and Taxis (34)

Ever heard of Thurn and Taxis? No? Me neither. Anyways, Prince Albert is from the House of Thurn and Taxis, which is essentially a very old German aristocratic family. He is the son of Prince Johannes XI of Thurn and Taxis and Countess Gloria of Schonburg Glauchau. His family is well known for their breweries and castles, so unless you're gluten-free, you can't really complain.

Fun Fact: He's not just a prince. He's also a racecar driver and 10 years ago he was ranked 11th on Forbes Magazine's List of The 20 Hottest Young Royals.

5. Prince Mateen of Brunei (26)

Prince Mateen is basically like all the guys you already know, except he's royalty. He's the prince of Brunei, which is a small country on the island of Borneo, south of Vietnam. He is one of the five sons of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and he also has seven sisters. Maybe that's a little different than the guys you know, but one thing he takes very seriously, just like most frat guys, is his Instagram.

Fun Fact: Mateen enjoys playing polo, flying in his private plane, cuddling cute wild animals, and keeping up his Insta game with 890k followers. You can follow him @tmski.

6. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai (35)

Sheikh Hamdan also has a killer Instagram with 6.3 million followers. Anyways, Sheikh Hamdan is the billionaire crown prince of Dubai and the second son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and essentially the king of Dubai (Emir). He's actually next in line for the throne because his older brother died in 2015.

Fun Fact: Hamdan's hobbies include skydiving, zip lining, and diving, just to name a few, so if you're an adrenaline junkie, Sheikh Hamdan is the prince for you.

7. Prince Hussein of Jordan (23)

Prince Hussain is the son of the extremely beautiful, Queen Rania and Abdullah II of Jordan and next in line for the Jordanian throne. At 23, he's already a second lieutenant in the Jordanian Armed Forces and he was the youngest person ever to chair a UN Security Council Meeting


Fun Fact: Like Prince Phillippos, Prince Hussain also graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.. Also, like Prince Mateen and Prince Hamdan, he's Insta famous with 1.3 million followers and you can follow him @alhusseinjo.

8. Prince Constantine-Alexios of Greece and Denmark (19)

Like Prince Phillipos, Prince Constantine-Alexios also has two countries. Lucky for us though, he is also living in the US right now attending Georgetown University in Washington D.C. (like pretty much every other prince, amirite?) He is the oldest son of Crown Princess Marie-Chantal and Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.

Fun Fact: He's Prince William's godson, so that's pretty neat. However, if that wasn't cool enough, you might like to know that this Greek/Danish prince was actually born in New York. Oh yeah, you can also follow him on Instagram @alexiosgreece where he has 88.7k followers.

9. Prince Joachim of Belgium (26)

Prince Joachim of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este is the third child of Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este and Princess Astrid of Belgium. Although he bears the title, "Prince of Belgium," he is also Archduke of Austria-Este, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, and Prince of Modena. Unfortunately, he'll probably never actually be king in any of these countries as he is ninth in line to the Belgian throne.

Fun Fact: Prince Joachim has degrees in economics, management, and finance, but he decided to join the Nautical School in Brugge after completing college and is currently an officer in the Belgian Navy.

Hope is not lost for all you girls dreaming of finding a Prince Charming that's literally a prince. After reviewing the data, my best advice is to transfer to Georgetown where princes are basically around every corner.

Cover Image Credit: @meghantheduchessofsussexstyle/Instagram

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Being A Preceptor Was The Most Rewarding Experience

"Students would come to the review sessions nervous and confused, then would leave thankful and confident"
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Over the course of the semester, I was a preceptor for statistics and it has been an absolutely priceless experience.

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This past semester in this course consisted on me hosting office hours three times a week where students would stop in to see me about questions on the homework they needed help on or for one-on-one clarifications to concepts and lessons taught in class. Beginning this experience all we wanted was for the students to grasp an understanding of this course, hopefully, take an interest and relate it to other areas in their lives.

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One very valuable thing I learned was how to teach students in various ways. Some students needed me to draw more diagrams and charts in order for them to understand the lessons while others needed to hear examples where they could plug the numbers in and understand where this would be applied in real life.

Sometimes it was a struggle meeting with new students and trying to figure out what the best way was to explain the information that they needed help with. After a week or so of working with students, I was able to adapt to different learning styles and personalities and teach them what they needed to learn.

I thought that would be a challenge during this semester and I am happy to say I overcame it fast during this experience.

I would never have thought I would learn so much from helping these students and it truly was a very rewarding experience when students would come to the review sessions nervous and confused, then would leave thankful and confident for their next exam.

After being a preceptor, I realize that I truly do have a passion for helping students succeed and understand given materials in classes.

I am thankful to have had this opportunity of being a peer mentor also being able to provide students with my own knowledge from taking the course and relating to them student to student.

Cover Image Credit: Talkpoint

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