The Problem(s) With 'Autism Speaks'

The Problem(s) With 'Autism Speaks'

As much as I would like to believe that this organization means well, I have to face the facts.

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Just about everyone has heard of Autism Speaks, a supposed "autism advocacy organization." Their familiar blue puzzle piece icon is often recalled by many. Just by looking at the name, you can tell it's a fantastic company with a great mission. Or is it?

I never really knew that much about Autism Speaks until I read an article one of my Facebook friends had shared. I was alarmed to see all the ways that they don't practice what they preach. OK, so yes, they do donate to the families of those with autism. However, the amount donated is less than two to four percent. A whopping 40-plus percent of the budget goes to advertising.

Another issue that really sparked my attention was the type of people they employ. A while back, Autism Speaks was run by a board that contained exactly zero individuals with autism or disability. They recently received a lot of criticism for this. One man, John Elder Robinson, who has autism, joined the board but quickly resigned because he discovered that the board had no respect for those with autism.

Another big red flag I discovered was the way they use that big profit to advertise autism: they don't really promote awareness, they promote fear. One mom labeled their marketing techniques as "disgusting," and I couldn't agree more. One commercial titled "I Am Autism" explains it all. It shows like a horror movie including lines like "I know where you live," and "If you're happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails," and "You are scared, and you should be." There are also many other commercials and clips by Autism Speaks that solidify this opinion. One that really ices the cake is one where a mother states "she contemplated driving off a bridge with her child with autism, but only didn't because she also had a neurotypical child." Sickening.

As much as I love to support those with disorders such as autism, I will never support Autism Speaks. Their mission is definitely not one I could get behind. They are looking for a cure, which is not what the world needs. We need to better the lives of those who have autism instead of trying to "fix" them. Autistic individuals are still human beings, so @AutismSpeaks, please stop treating and advertising them like anything less.

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10 Everyday Thoughts From My Autistic Brain

If you're looking for your run of the mill inspirational article, turn back while you can.

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Yes, I'm Autistic. I guess if you're a regular reader of mine, or else someone in my life who's incredibly observant, wow, big shocker, isn't it? I figured since it's April, I may as well write something relating to my eccentric little mind. If you're looking for something incredibly sappy, saying I'm someone else's "world" or "little angel", or something where I finally display a sense of activism, I suggest you click out of this immediately. That's not me. Nothing's changed, I'm still going to be my usual sardonic self here. Still, I'll make a disclaimer: This is my own experience, we autistics are incredibly varied people, so I can't speak for every single one.

1. Everyone else likes this thing I don't? Everyone else is going out to do that thing that bores me to death? Let me have my peer pressure reflex kick in...

Gfycat

Yeah, it can vary among individuals, but since I lack the innate ability to simply "get" socialization, peer pressure for the most part doesn't really affect me.

2. This song is good... must... stim...

Gfycat

Emotions and enjoyment are weird things, not something that can really be described... So wouldn't it only be logical to show it in a way that seems weird to normal people with the explanation that it feels good? This is why it can also happen in distress.

3. So... We have to go do a thing in five minutes? And you're only telling me this now? Just... Why?

Tenor

The world is a very scary and unpredictable place. Routine gives me a sense of serenity in a said unstable world, and when people make mandatory last minute changes, then we'll have a ball of both anxiety and rage. It's so easy to just announce a change in advance, why not just do it?

4. Anti Vaxxers are the scum of the Earth, I swear...

Giphy

If it's not enough they don't believe in science, it's just insulting either way. So you'd rather spread measles and polio than have a kid with a brain that works differently than yours? Um... How about no?

5. I wish people would stop complaining about social media, it's a godsend for someone like me.

Giphy

It's not that I can't talk to people, it's that I don't like it most of the time... Mainly because I'm not that verbally articulate, especially when describing stuff. With social media, I can communicate with people without having to actually talk to them, plus I can post pictures instead of trying to describe the thing. So, maybe next time someone's on their phone, instead of complaining about it, consider whether or not that person sucks at normal communication instead of pushing them into your "tech-free" la la land and have them not communicate at all?

6. Why are people complaining about the whole "what's your superpower" thing? To be honest, it's not completely wrong.

Giphy

Think about it. Not every autistic is a savant, but they do exist. The higher curiosity drive when it comes to special interests. Attention to detail. Strong hearing. Strong taste buds. Ability to spend more time alone without going crazy. Herd immunity (see number 1). Okay, maybe not all of these seem that super, but trust me, not just anyone has most of these at once... And if I had the time and space to list more... And more.

7. Why are you hugging me? I didn't say you can hug me.

Giphy

Dude. Seriously. I don't hate hugs. I just don't like that being touchy-feely is a social norm. If you hug me too early or when I simply don't want to be hugged, then I'm going to be uncomfortable regardless of whether I like you or not. And suddenly I'm the rude one? You can hug me when I decide you can hug me.

8. Sure, I'll eat raw fruit... Once my body stops thinking it's poison.

Tenor

Sometimes the heightened senses can be a curse as well as a superpower. Like, for instance, I can't ingest most fruits simply because of the texture. It doesn't matter whether it tastes good or not, if I try, my body's all like "abort, abort, must get rid of food." I know it's better to just eat the fruit, I know, I've heard all the lectures in real life and on the internet, but it's not really possible when the only way I can consume it is through juice... And not the pulpy kind. I can tell it's there!

9. Why is small talk a thing?

Giphy

How am I? Meh, whatever? How are you? Honestly, I don't care that much. I don't think you really care either. I think I've expressed MANY TIMES how much I hate being asked how school's going. Honestly, why do we ask about things nobody really cares about? Let's not talk about how lovely the weather is, let's talk what happened on Supernatural, or rank the London Underground lines from magical train to heaven to commuter hell, or better yet the meaning of life. There are millions of more interesting things to talk about!

10. I'm still the same person!

Gifer

I usually keep the autism thing under wraps unless it becomes relevant (like now, in doing this April article) or someone figures it out on their own. Believe me, I'm not ashamed, but people don't seem to get it. I'm not a different person just because you know I'm autistic now, there's no need to be overly cautious or feel overly sorry for me. I'm a human being like you, my brain just doesn't work the same as yours, but believe me, it works. I haven't changed.

If you've made it this far, thank you for reading me dumping out the contents of my brain. Although really, isn't just what I do for Odyssey bi-weekly anyway? If you need to find a heartwarming article after this, I feel you, I won't personally be offended. But hey, I like the idea of writing honestly about myself than someone else writing about how "angelic" I am. I mean, it's perfectly okay, but I'm more into honesty. Oh, look at that... Another trait of "eccentricity, hehe!

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