Well, well, well. I never thought I’d be writing about Autism Speaks again at this point. The good news is, they have dropped the word “cure” from their mission statement–something the autistic community has been begging the organization to do since its inception in 2005. Their statement is now written like this:
Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder, and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.
Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.
The bad news: the words “intervention” and “research into causes” remain.
While it’s good that Autism Speaks has somewhat turned over a new leaf to understand us better, it’s 11 years too late. All they did was change their words around, but what about their actions? Are they still going to spread ableist propaganda about us on TV and billboards? Are they still going to exclude us from discussions on how to help us cope with a neurotypical world? Are they still going to encourage our parents to kill us simply because we don’t see things or act the same way that they and other neurotypical family members do? Or are they actually going to buck up and start listening to us, start including our input in their media projects, and start respecting our right to live, work, and play with our neurotypical peers?
Until I see actual changes in their treatment of autistic people like myself, my distrust of Autism Speaks will stay.