Let’s be honest; is anyone surprised at this article?
I mean, yes, it wasn’t expected, but was the content at all surprising to anyone who has autism or is one of our allies?
Bob & Suzanne Wright have, both personally and through their organization, pushed a narrative that posits a view of autism as some sort of debilitating, dehumanizing disease that not only destroys the individual, but also their family. We have witnessed this brutal message time and time again over the past 10 years; even when someone with autism joined one of their boards, the message stayed the same.
For example, Suzanne Wright wrote blog post a couple years ago (http://www.autismspeaks.org/news/news-item/autism-speaks-washington-call-action) defining autism as not a neurological difference, but some sort of cold-blooded enemy after our nation’s children in some sort of war.
Turns out she not only ignored Autistic professionals, advocates and others not connected with her organization, but board members as well (as the resignation of John Elder Robison showed later that year). The ignorant, disturbingly out-of-touch message sparked a lot of anger and rage among those of us with autism – but two years later, it’s all but forgotten, especially by People Magazine.
Apparently, being a polarizing, dehumanizing force that doesn’t really help people with autism but claims to do so by trying to ‘rescue’ children seems to be the norm for Autism Speaks.
The issues brought up in both articles (lack of proper services, waiting lists, accessibility issues at schools and workplaces) are not caused by autism; they are caused by our society, which has been influenced by an organization bent on developing a cure so its founders can have a ‘normal’ grandchild.
Too harsh, too soon?
Therapies, treatments, specialists, insurance and school services are not under the control of autism – they are under the control of school districts, governments, private corporations and companies, and professional organizations. Aim your angst, sadness and despair at them, not at autism.
One of the more prominent fears described in both articles is a false future where apparently all autistic children will grow up and be non-functioning adults – which if People magazine, Bob & Suzanne Wright took five minutes to look around, will find to absolutely not be the case. Yes, there will be some autistics who may need more accommodations than others; however, with the right technology and supports, all will be able to lead an individualized, quality life of their own choosing. But by pushing a narrative that causes many autistics to believe that something is seriously WRONG with them, Autism Speaks tears down and artificially limits any goals, ambitions and dreams they may hold for themselves.
How do we tell them that they’re NOT broken, and they can achieve their dreams? How do we fix the damage caused on a national level by Autism Speaks?
Most – if not all – questions asked by Bob & Suzanne should be discussed with Autistics. After all, we have the best perspective, experience and knowledge when it comes to questions about treatments and what works – and what doesn’t. Yet we’re continually ignored, and limited to playing a token role for an organization that has worked consistently to harm our path to independent living and a successful life.
Unfortunately, despite our constant and very loud voices collectively speaking about this harm over the past ten years, it hasn’t stopped Suzanne nor her husband from sending a clear message through Autism Speaks – a message we have all heard very loud and very clear.
Well, Bob, Suzanne, and everyone at Autism Speaks – we have a very profound, clear message for you:
Nothing About Us Without Us.