Image Description: A boy is kneeling and has blue masking tape and wears a necklace with the autism neurodiversity symbol on it. Next to him is Suzanne Wright, the head of Autism Speaks. She has an unkind expression and is saying “They’re voiceless, the poor things.” Credit is Idrawhumans.
To Whom it May Concern,
First of all, I never read your magazine. Celebrity gossip doesn’t interest me. However, when I saw one of your articles for your July 1, 2015 issue, I had to respond.
Autism Speaks is “Crusading” Against autism? How dare you? Do you realize what you are implying? A crusade is a holy war. You are implying that autism is akin to cancer. Like Suzanne Wright, the head of Autism Speaks–who you interviewed, you are saying that autistic people like myself are better off dead. Do you seriously believe that a person who is diagnosed with autism is in worse state than someone diagnosed with cancer?
Before the article, did you even consider talking to an autistic person? Like maybe John Elder Robinson, writer of Look Me in the Eye? He was the sole autistic person Autism Speaks ever employed. He quit in 2013 when Suzanne Wright addressed the White House with her “Call to Action” in 2013. Autism Speaks has never listened to autistic people, despite their slogan being “It’s time to listen.” They didn’t even listen to the one autistic person they employed! He was only there as a way of saying “See? We’re good for autistic people. We have one working for us.”
Image Description: A group of autistic children are huddled underneath a blue light with the letters “A$” on it. Hovering over them are puzzle pieces hurling insults and demoralizing comments such as “Worse than AIDS and Cancer combined!”, “Anyone who takes care of you must be a saint!” One of the children is holding a sign saying “And you think we are the scary ones.” Credit is Ink And Daggers https://www.facebook.com/Inkanddaggersillustration
Autism Speaks only gives 4% of their income to families of autistic children. The rest of their money they receive is used for either self-promotion or research to “cure” autism. This research is not designed to help autistic people who already exist. It is to eliminate them from the population.
Are you aware how much we have benefitted from autistic people? People like Steve Jobs, founder of Apple? People like Satoshi Tajiri, who created Pokémon? There’s even speculation that historical figures like Sir Isaac Newton, Andy Warhol, and Albert Einstein were autistic. Do you want a world without them? No, you’d rather parrot the same stories that Autism Speaks is always sharing–parents who would rather kill their autistic children than help them cope with the challenges they face. Do you realize how many children have died because of these stories?
If you really wanted to talk about autism, you should’ve talked to Ari Ne’eman, a council member at the National Council on Disability, and president of the Autism Self-Advocacy Network, also known as ASAN. Their slogan is “Nothing about us without us.” This slogan means you will not do anything about or for autistic people without inviting them to be involved. Every member of ASAN is autistic and they have offices worldwide.
As an autistic person, I am appalled that you gave Autism Speaks another platform. You disappoint me with your ignorance of the true scope of the autism spectrum. We are not a puzzle to be solved. We are not interested in a cure. Autism is not a disease. Ignorance and hatred are a disease. Autistic people are a diverse conglomerate of all races, genders, creeds, and more. They are the people you should be listening to. I have not heard one advocate for autism support Autism Speaks. To us, they are the enemy.
I am going to continue to ignore your magazine. And so will the other autistic people who are proud to be autistic. If you will not listen to me, you are not worth my time.