Autism Speaks is probably the most well-known charity out there when it comes to autism. Just because they have the most media coverage and celebrity support does not mean they are a good organization.
- Autism Speaks does not have a single autistic member on their board.
- Autism Speaks only spends 4% of their budget on “family services”.
- The majority of Autism Speaks’ money goes toward research, and the majority of that research is to find a way to rid the world of autism, and thus, autistics.
- Autism Speaks produces advertisments, small films, etc. about what a burden autistic people are to society.
- Autism Speaks was responsible for “Autism Every Day”, which featured a member of their board talking about contemplating murder-suicide of her daughter in front of her daughter. This has now be removed from Autism Speaks’ Youtube channel but can still be found elsewhere.
- Autism Speaks is responsible for the atrocity known as “I am Autism”, a short film comparing autism to cancer, AIDS, and blaming autism as the reason why marriages break up.
In short, Autism Speaks makes it much harder for those of us who have autism to be taken seriously. Autism is considered to be a child’s disease (not that it’s even actually a disease at all), and you will often hear people say “where are all the adult autistics?” Well, we’re right here in front of you. We may have been misdiagnosed with learning disorders, mental retardation and other mental illnesses when the diagnoses of autism, PDD-NOS and Asperger’s weren’t as precise (or even existent) as they are now. We vary in where we fall on the spectrum. Don’t make assumptions about us because we can use a computer.
For further reading, here are a few resources about Autism Speaks:
Why Autism Speaks is No Good for Autistics.
Autism Speaks Does Not Speak for Me.
I’m Autistic, But Autism Speaks Doesn’t Speak for Me.
An Autistic Speaks about Autism Speaks.
A Chart Regarding Autism Speaks’ Allocation of Funds
Editing the original post so that I can include which Autism related charities to support. Let me say that besides the first one, all of them are very parent-oriented organizations, meaning that adult autistics may have issues with them. These are ones that I have either heard recommended highly by autistic parents (meaning autistic people who are parents, not “autism parents”) or that I’ve personally interacted with. None of them are perfect, but these are far better places to donate your money if you’re looking for a charity to support.
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism
The ARC (this is not autism specific, but our local one has a couple of autism-specific events, so was worth including).