Autism Speaks, Will You Please Shut Up and Listen to Autistic People?

You’ve probably seen ads with sad slow piano music, listing statistics such as the chance of your child being a famous musician or a car racer. The chances are not very good. But the chance of your child being diagnosed with autism? 1 in 100 or 1 in 68? I’m not sure where they get these statistics but they’re designed to scare the beejeesus out of parents.

For ten years Autism Speaks has been scaring parents into thinking autism is the most terrifying thing ever. To them it’s as bad as cancer, AIDS, causes parents to divorce, devours your money, steals your child’s soul, causes parents to want to drive off a cliff with their autistic child.

This isn’t even close to the case, but they have the power to buy these scary, ominous ads or to have people like Alfonso Cuarón direct I am Autism, a video that portrays autism as some evil horrible thing that will destroy everything. Here is the entire poem. (Notice how this poem leaves out autistic people, because what do their feelings about autism matter?)

How does this help? Many autistic people see autism as something that is a part of them. When you portray it as a soul destroying demon of some sort it’s sending a message that being autistic is the worse thing ever. You already have parents using MMS, an industrial bleach in the hopes of destroying their child’s autism. But, instead it is destroying their intestines since they are forced to ingest it or have it inserted into their rectums. Children are forced to endure painful skin shocks at the JRC.

This nonsense is making people fear autism so much that less people are vaccinating, which means diseases like measles are coming back. Is autism really worse than dying of measles?

None of these folks even try to understand that when an autistic child is melting down in public it’s usually due to stress from nose, bright lights, smells. Most autistic people’s senses are tuned up to levels non-autistic people’s senses aren’t. So sounds you can ignore could be driving your child insane. Imagine listening to nails on a chalkboard for hours. It would be hell, wouldn’t it? This is how it’s like for most autistic children. Being overwhelmed by noises, smells and other sensory input. This is why a lot of autistic kids meltdown. No amount of ABA will help because it’s not a behaviour thing.

There are practical ways to help autistic children. Simple things like earplugs and sunglasses can help make things a lot easier. Warning a child several weeks before a big event can help avoid meltdowns. Preparing children for things like parties and events with practice can ease a lot of stress. And taking the child home when they are worn out from being social, or letting them have a quiet place to decompress. Even letting an autistic child stim instead of trying to stop them would do wonders.

But instead of offering practice solutions and simply listening to autistic people talk about how to cope, Autism Speaks would rather sell you doom and despair and then take the money you give them and spend most of it on more doom and despair and their salaries. Only 4% actually goes to the community. There’s so many things they could do with their money instead of promoting fear! Jobs for autistic adults, programs to help autistic adults help autistic kids.

But who gets to speak to the Pope? Not autistic people, Autism Speaks! They’re even ruining Grey’s Anatomy with their nonsense.

They need less power. The power should go to autistic people. The key to understanding autism isn’t in mice or rats or even genes, it’s listening to autistic people. Empowering non-verbal people with ways to communicate even if it’s not speech. The key is to realize, maybe we have been mislead about autism and need to learn more about it and learn not to fear it.


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