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Mental Health

I’m Autistic, but Autism Speaks will Never Speak for Me

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Ableism is a part of society and government now. No matter how many laws and documents are in place, there will always be a prejudice against something people with disabilities cannot control.

A good, and deeply discussed, example would be the autistic charity organization, Autism Speaks. Autism is a mental disorder that effects the corpus callosum (affects communications between both hemispheres of the brain), amygdala (affects emotion and social behavior), and cerebellum (affects motor activity, balance, and coordination) of the brain. Severity and range differing between each person who has it.

It is characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming social relationships. People with autism may also have obsessive interests, sensory issues, and repetitive behaviors. Other disorders stem from autism, such as ADHD, anxiety, OCD, and depression, to name a few. There is low functioning and high functioning autism as well. Low functioning means the individual tends to have severe difficulty interacting socially, are more impulsive, and stim much more often than high functioning people.

When one is high functioning, they can easily “blend in” with allistics (neurotypicals; people who don’t have autism), but still have tendencies that point toward them having autism, such as stimming and trouble interacting with others. With all of the basic information about autism out of the way, it’s time to address the organization Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks is a well-known autism charity. Many people know why they’re problematic, but it’s best to make a laundry list as to what they’ve done.

• Autism Speaks thinks they know what’s good for autistics when they do not even have a single autistic member on their board.

• Autism Speaks only spends 3% of their budget on “family services”

• The majority of their money goes toward researchers who aim to eliminate autism entirely, therefore eliminating autistics.

• Autism Speaks produces media that endorses how much of a burden autistic people are to society. They promote fear, stigma, and prejudice.

• Autism Speaks refers to autistic people as “children,” therefore making the immediate assumption that all autistics are essentially children, despite their age, functioning, etc.

• Autism Speaks has made a series of videos called “I Am Autism,” which, directly from the script says, “I am autism. I know where you live. I work faster than pediatric, AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined. I will make sure your marriage fails.” This shows that people are demonizing autistics because of something they cannot control.

• Autism Speaks involved meltdowns in most of their media, seeing it as an embarrassment rather than addressing why the meltdown is taking place.

• Autism Speaks supports the Judge Rotenberg Center, where they shock autistic students for doing something as simple as stimming. Some students even suffer burn marks from being shocked.

Autism Speaks literally supports torture against disabled people. Autism Speaks’ logo itself is a puzzle piece! Red flag. A puzzle piece represents something that is missing or incomplete, therefore seeing autistics as subhuman and need to be “fixed.” They believe there is an alleged “cure” for autism, which is untrue.

Autism is part of our personalities, our daily lives, and will always be a part of us. If someone were to take away such a huge part of ourselves, what are we? Pandering to their definition of “normal” is ableist, and a purebred form of prejudice.

Autistics have been born with something that we should be proud of, for it makes us genuinely unique and beautiful. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If you want to donate to an autistic charity that will actually support the cause, consider the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN), Autism Network International (ANI), and the Autism Society of America.

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