I’m not going to mince words. I hate Autism Speaks. I hate their message, I hate their bad science, and I hate that they have so much power and reach.
It’s a good piece, and Perry cites three big-name autistic activists who sound like they could, someday, accept unity with Autism Speaks, providing it changed its ways.
I don’t share that sentiment. I cannot honestly see myself ever committing to unity with Autism Speaks.
But isn’t that harsh? Doesn’t that detract from Autism Speaks’s potential to improve?
Well, yes, it is harsh, and deservedly so. Autism Speaks has dominated the conversation about autistic people for a decade. They’ve valued non-autistic voices over autistic voices, told the world that autistic people are an epidemic that needs to be cured, and put more way money into trying to prevent us than trying to support us.
Autism Speaks has exploited actually autistic children for profit while spreading the message that those same children are a blight on humanity. They seem to not care that autistic kids get those same messages, too, and internalize them. They seem to not care that their message enables violence against autistic people of all ages.
Autism Speaks has exploited autistic kids — and ignored autistic adults who criticize their organization (when not ignoring our existence, full-stop). Only now that a non-autistic man’s book about neurodiversity (Neurotribes by Steve Silberman) and editorial criticizing Autism Speaks have gained attention do they seem to even acknowledge that there is a rift between them and autistic adults.
Autism Speaks is, in large part, the reason why I and other autistic activists face antagonism by so-called “autism parents.” They tell us we’re not autistic enough, they demand our diagnoses, they gaslight us and then mock us for not being “neurotypical” enough.
— Born on HalloweEb (@erabrand) February 22, 2015
So what would it take for me to be okay with Autism Speaks? For the entire organization to be run and staffed by actually autistic people. For the focus to be on understanding and supporting autistic people of all ages and from all marginalized groups. For real effort to be put into undoing the harmful messaging of the last 10 years. For the organization to be called “Autistic People Communicate (and non-autistic people don’t speak over us).”
In other words, I will never be okay with Autism Speaks.
Fellow autistic Twitter user Sam Harvey (@Antleader) wrote another response piece to Perry’s article here: It’s a Circle! It’s a Square! Wait, How Can It be Both and Neither at the Same Time?