By Morénike Onaiwu
Originally published HERE
There are many people who truly believe that Autism Speaks is a benevolent organization that is working on behalf of people on autism spectrum and their loved ones. They might have received Autism Speaks’ “100 Day Kit” from their physician upon diagnosis, or maybe they came across Autism Speaks’ website while searching about autism online.
Or perhaps they saw a magazine ad, billboard, or a well-meaning friend told them about an Autism Speaks annual walk or other event. Autism Speaks is everywhere, so there are any number of ways that they could have learned about them.
Over time, some of these individuals learn the truth about Autism Speaks – that there is nothing benevolent about them. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has blatantly refused to meaningfully include the very population is purports to serve in its decision-making or leadership and have in fact repeatedly thwarted the efforts of those attempting to reform them from within. They promote a very dehumanizing view of autism and despite the huge amount of money they raise annually, they spend very little of their money on family services (only 4% of their annual budget).
These facts have influenced many people to withdraw their support of Autism Speaks, choosing to instead support organizations that are committed to positive change and acceptance. Awareness that Autism Speaks is not what is appears to be is growing. This is due in part to the numerous organizations, Autistic advocates and parent advocates whom are working diligently to inform the public about how damaging and destructive Autism Speaks is; they have been instrumental in helping families to discover the truth and have also engaged in activism surrounding this issue. However, although there are a number of people who are grateful to learn the truth and subsequently denounce Autism Speaks, there are also hoards of people who reject the truth. Some deny the easily verifiable factsand choose to believe a lie despite the evidence. These people are in (deliberate) denial.
But there are others who acknowledge that there are the problems with Autism Speaks, but state that they still choose to remain affiliated with them anyway. Often they cite the widespread “awareness” campaigns, but they also might mention how Autism Speaks has “helped my child to get in-home ABA.”
They maintain that despite all of Autism Speaks’ flaws, because they have benefitted in some way from being associated with them, they will disregard Autism Speaks’ egregious antics. Basically, they are saying, “I know they’re really bad, but since they’ve helped ME and MY family, I’m still going to support Autism Speaks.”
And to that, I say this:
That is your choice, but I believe that it’s a terrible one.
There are warlords and dictators who terrorize millions and destroy entire societies. But they are extremely generous to those in their elite inner circles; providing them with financial security, privileges, and other “in-group” perks. Do those singular acts of kindness compensate for all of the bad that they have done? Absolutely not.
As a teen, my father, who grew up under colonial rule in Africa and earned extremely high grades in school, turned down a full college scholarship offered to him by his oppressors because he would not be bought. He instead worked his butt off to get to America and put himself through college with his integrity intact.
If you can sleep at night knowing all of these things about Autism Speaks and still choosing to support them despite the many problems for your own selfish reasons, then I feel very, very sorry for you.
I am far from wealthy, but I wouldn’t take a freaking dime of Autism Speaks’ tainted blood money for any services my children need. Ever. I can look my autistic children in the eyes and know that I didn’t sell them out to a company that is trying to ensure that people like them, and like me, were never born.
I don’t judge the people who support Autism Speaks simply because they don’t know any better. They aren’t aware of what Autism Speaks is really about and they cannot be faulted for their ignorance (I was once equally ignorant). That is different than having accurate information and making an informed choice to do the wrong thing.
But to knowingly, willingly align oneself with an entity that isorchestrating the potential destruction of an entire group of people simply because that organization shelled out a few dollars for some therapy? Heck to the no.
My dignity as a person, a parent, and as an autistic woman and that of my family has a much higher price tag than that.
Yours should be too.
|Photo credit: alacat-acosta|
Image description: textured gray and white square with the text: People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed – Friedrich Nietzsche