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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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Body Image Lessons That I Didn't Learn From A Professor

What I realized about body image my freshman year of college

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Girls usually struggle with self image in general. But the game changes when it's time to go to college. When you are constantly surrounded by your peers, you begin to compare all of the little things they do to you. You compare their bodies to yours. You try to figure out what they are doing that you're not. Or vice versa, why they don't have to do anything to look the way they do. But by the end of my first year, I realized that I would never be happy with myself if I kept thinking this way. So I recorded some realizations I had throughout the year that helped me to improve my body image.

My body is, and never will be the same as any other girl... and that's okay

Different sized and shaped strawberries

https://picjumbo.com/strawberries-with-yellow-background/

It can be so easy in college to compare your body to the girls that surround you. Like the one's live with and you see on a daily basis. There is no point in comparing apples to oranges, so why would you compare your body to a girl who was made completely different? So what you can't fit into her party pants, you can rock another pair just as well.

What works for her, might not work for me

Daily Planner

https://kaboompics.com/photo/9447/planners-organizers-in-bed-women-s-home-office

With different body types, comes different food and exercise needs. Some girls don't need to work out or eat healthy to keep a slim frame. Some girls are naturally muscular. Your routine needs to be catered to you, and there is no need to analyze what someone else eats or does to try to attain their stature. You have to do what feels right for YOUR body to have a good self image.

Don't spend too much time on istagram

https://stocksnap.io/photo/JUC6R3PPLE

Obviously social media effects our body image because of how easily and frequently photos are edited and then presented for the most likes. So if there is a certain account that always makes you feel bad when you see their content, unfollow, and take that aspect out of your life. However, because social media is unavoidable you can't completely escape all the provoking images. So when scrolling, think positively about those who's pictures you see, don't compare, and be aware of the previous lessons.

It's okay for your body to fluctuate

https://pixabay.com/photos/scale-diet-fat-health-tape-weight-403585/

The weight and look of your body can easily fluctuate, It's just natural. And in the same way your life fluctuates, your body may follow along and thats not a big deal! In exam season, there might not be enough time to go to the gym everyday. Or during the holidays there might be an increase of indulgence in treats. But its all okay as long as your getting things done or enjoying life. The only time it becomes an issue if the fluctuations turn unhealthy.

Cut out the negativity

https://snap-photos.s3.amazonaws.com/img-thumbs/960w/4JS6X4XCW1.jpg

If a friend is constantly complaining to you about their body, it can trigger distress in you, and set you back. So if someone else's body image issues are interfering with you mentally, you need to call them out on their B.S. or stop allowing them say those things in front of you.

Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in

https://cdn.cliqueinc.com/cache/posts/216319/-2084176-1487185433.700x0c.jpg

If you wear things that you feel comfortable in, then you wont constantly be thinking about how your stomach, legs, or arms look throughout the day. Wear something that you are confident in, even if it means wearing leggings every day of the week!

I'm not a little kid anymore, therefore my body is not going to look like one

https://unsplash.com/photos/sGSBkfK1hJU

Curves and changes that come after high school can take anyone by surprise, but it's supposed to happen. You can't really be mad at biology...you can only find the beauty in it.

Everyone has their own insecurities

https://jimsomerville.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/girl-looking-in-mirror.jpg?w=640

Even if someone has your ideal body, odds are they still despise theirs. I have met friends in college that are stick skinny, yet are self conscious about it. I know curvy girls that are very insecure. And even an "average" body type has a thousand things that they nit-pick about themselves. No one has their dream body and never will, which is why I had to learn to love the little things about mine.

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