Skylanders and Autism Speaks: An Unholy Union

Looks like I’m not gonna be playing Skylanders, or any game from Activision, anytime soon.

I found out yesterday–on Leap Day, no less–that the Activision brand has teamed up with Autism Speaks for the Light It Up Blue campaign during Autism Awareness Month in April by painting a new set of Skylanders SuperChargers toys in white and blue, the official colors of the infamous autism organization. The Light It Up Blue editions of Splat and Trigger Happy, along their respective vehicles, Splatter Splasher and Gold Rusher, are now available wherever Skylanders toys are sold as part of the campaign.

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A screenshot of the Autism Speaks: Light It Up Blue edition of Splat in Skylanders SuperChargers. Courtesy: IGN

I could care less about the Skylanders franchise because I do not have the console system on which to play the game, but to hear of an alliance between one of the most popular video game companies and an organization that does not support autistic gamers makes me feel like I got stabbed in the chest just inches close to the heart.

Josh Taub, senior vice president of product management at Activision, contradicted himself when announcing the company’s partnership with Autism Speaks on the controversial Light It Up Blue campaign. Taub called autistics superheroes in Activision’s blog post, writing, “Like so many superheroes before them, they are often misunderstood or teased because of their particular abilities. They see the world differently, and even though their surroundings can feel outright hostile to them at times, their very presence makes the world a better place to those special enough to know them and support them.” It’s true, we autistic people do make the world a better place by using the abilities autism gave us to our advantage, but to say something positive about us and then turn around and join a fear-mongering organization in their efforts to further raise awareness and enhance the stigma about our neurology and eliminate us from the face of the earth through eugenics, ABA, and propaganda by painting your Skylanders products in their hospital-esque colors and selling them is beyond my comprehension. I suggest you disassociate your company from Autism Speaks and work with other autism organizations that actually support and work for us.

Autism Speaks, how fucking dare you extend your toxic stronghold of discrimination to the gaming community? There are at least 50% of gamers who are autistic, if not more, and I am one of them. Activision may not be one of the companies I purchase games from, but you still had the audacity to force a gaming company to support your prejudicial campaign by creating “special edition” products in your name. God forbid you do this to SEGA, Square Enix or Nintendo–three major video game companies I love–if you have not done so already. I will raise a lot of hell if you implore them to discriminate against their autistic fans, such as myself, by working with you.

That is a gamer’s promise.

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Why I #BoycottAutismSpeaks

I’ve written about Autism Speaks twice in the two months I’ve been on WordPress, calling them the Nazi Party of the 21st century and ranting at my favorite magazine, PEOPLE, for secretly betraying me by interviewing Bob and Suzanne Wright for their Heroes Among Us panel in one of their recent issues (you know the one with the Kennedys on the cover?). Today, I’m gonna tell you exactly the reason why I boycott Autism Speaks.

It was my freshman year of college, and I was sitting outside of my campus library waiting for my mom to pick me up after I finished my Algebra tutoring session. It was Thursday, November 14, 2013.
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across John Elder Robison’s tweet with a link to his blog post regarding his resignation from Autism Speaks’s science board that he wrote the day before. His reason?
Two days earlier, Suzanne Wright published a damning op-ed piece in which she voiced her over-dramatic and hateful views on autism to Washington, D.C., saying that we autistic people are causing so much trouble for our families financially, physically, and emotionally .
After reading Robison’s resignation post, which included a letter to Autism Speaks president Liz Feld, my jaw dropped. Holy shit! No wonder I was verbally bullied constantly in grade school, I thought to myself. I guess I should’ve paid close attention to the sentence ‘Autism spreads faster than cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined’ in their advertisements.
In my purse, I carried two adjusting bracelets bearing the wooden light blue puzzle piece logo from the Autism Speaks walk I attended at Nova University with my stepdad when I was a Sophomore in high school, a walk I now regret attending to this very day. I held both of the bracelets in my hands–I was going to give one to my mom, because she loves me, and the other to my boyfriend (at the time) Jack, because I loved him. Now my view of the light blue puzzle piece shifted from a symbol of hope to a sigil of hatred and discrimination against me and everyone else on the autism spectrum. I had no choice but to throw the bracelets in the trash. I shouldn’t have gone to the Autism Speaks walk had I figured out earlier that the organization’s only goal is to drive me and my people to extinction.

Here’s a playlist of songs that best describes my anger towards Autism Speaks and how much I want them to go out of business for persecuting me and my autistic friends via their Nazi-esque propaganda brainwashing our neurotypical friends, families, and health care providers–not to mention some of our favorite celebrities–into believing that autism is a disease when it actually isn’t.

1. “Call Me When You’re Sober” by Evanescence

2. “The Phoenix” by Fall Out Boy

3. “Haunted” by Disturbed

4. “Oceans” by Evanescence

5. “Black Water” by Nobuo Uematsu [from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children]

6. “Edge Of A Revolution” by Nickelback

7. “Awake and Alive” by Skillet

8. “Colors of the Heart” by UVERworld

9. “Don’t Say Nuthin'” by The Roots

10. “Freak On a Leash (2006 MTV Unplugged version)” by KoRn ft. Amy Lee

11. “The Night” by Disturbed

12. “Headstrong” by Trapt

13. “His World (E3 2006 version)” by Crush 40 [from Sonic the Hedgehog 2006]

14. “This War Is Ours” by Escape the Fate

15. “Breakn’ a Sweat” by Skrillex and The Doors

16. “Numb” by Linkin Park

17. “Meant to Live” by Switchfoot

18. “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence

19. “Shadows” by Red

20. “Shatter Me” by Lindsey Stirling ft. Lzzy Hale)

21. “Scream” by Michael Jackson ft. Janet Jackson

22. “Massacre” by Escape the Fate

23. “All Hail Shadow” by Magna-Fi [from Shadow the Hedgehog]

24. “Simple and Clean (PLANITb Remix)” by Utada Hikaru [from the Kingdom Hearts series]

25. “Going Under” by Evanescence

26. “99 Problems” by Jay-Z

27. “Devil’s Cry (Shall Never Surrender)” by Bentley Jones [cover song from Devil May Cry 4]

28. “Faint” by Linkin Park

29. “Don’t Stay” by Linkin Park

30. “Tony’s Theme” by Giorgio Moroder [from Scarface]

31. “Stronger” by Kanye West

32. “From Yesterday” by 30 Seconds to Mars

33. “Question!” by System of a Down

34. “Vim and Vigor” by Yoko Shimomura [from Kingdom Hearts II]

35. “The Way I Am” by Eminem

These days, every time I think about Autism Speaks I fantasize about grabbing my Keyblade and fighting Suzanne and Bob Wright–especially Suzanne–for broadcasting such propaganda about autism and for researching ways to rid the world of us autistics, who have actually done a much better job at improving society than the Wrights ever did. They have no right to tell us that we’re broken, diseased, and unintelligent because we’re actually very gifted people. Autism Speaks has been spreading fear, hate, and injustice to us for the past decade, and they need to be stopped.

I hope my mom will understand what I’ve been trying to tell her about Autism Speaks’s wrongdoings against my kind when she reads this and other posts about my views on the organization in the foreseeable future. Or, rather, when I read them to her as the circumstance may warrant.