Why I Am Against Autism Speaks, and Why It Matters

Trigger Warning: Autism Speaks, ableism, exclusion of autistic people, strong language, various hot-button topics

In light of the latest tactic by the bigoted and hypocritical for-profit hate group known as Autism Speaks, I would like to reiterate why the issue concerning this organization matters to everybody, specifically to the autism community in the Philippines, a growing community to where I am proud of belonging. And also, I would like to educate the Filipino autism community on the fact that they should dissociate themselves from the ableist, discriminatory, and eugenic agenda of this pathetic excuse of a group pretending to be a “charity.”

What is Autism Speaks?

If you may have known me in person or are a frequent reader of my blog, you probably have already known what that group is, and the fact that I loathe that group to the core. As a matter of fact, I wrote an article or two that simply echo every autistic self-advocate’s sentiment against the hate group, and have held an online campaign countering their freeloading money-hoarding drive known as “Light It Up Blue.”

But if you may have stumbled upon this blog (and therefore this post) for the first time, or for whatever reason have no idea what I am talking about, Autism Speaks is the biggest autism “charity” in the United States claiming to speak for autistic people. It has been taking flak (and still is) from a diversity of sectors, but mostly from autistics themselves, for its series of campaigns that portray autism as a “disease” that must be “cured,” and it has been implicated in inciting parents and caretakers into putting autistics to death. Here’s a compendium on the various shenanigans they have done in the past (and is still doing these today).

Not a few autism advocates (parents, siblings, and autistics alike) have stood up to this group’s nonsense. The biggest autistic self-advocates’ organization in the US, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, has spoken against the bigotry of Autism Speaks for a long time since its inception. And I knew of many parent and self-advocate bloggers who vehemently speak against Autism Speaks, saying that the hate group has no right to claim to speak on their behalf.

The Local Setting

Whatever happens to the American autism community impacts their counterparts in the Philippines. The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, is used as a reference by every physician, educator, therapist, and every person dealing or working with an autistic child, teenager, or adult. The latest trends on behavior management, education, and caring for individuals on the spectrum being applied in and emulated by the Philippines is derived from what is being applied in America.

In fact, I have stumbled upon multiple proposals and implementations by some local autism advocates on such concepts and facilities as group homes, community-based rehabilitation, and novel therapies, many of which are gleaned from the US. The thing is, though, whether these practices apply to a Filipino autistic individual whose family is below the poverty line and is in need of aid has yet to be determined.

Either way, whatever agenda is being implemented in the US is significant to the Philippine autism community, because the American autism community usually sets a precedent to other communities on dealing with autism, and therefore, autistic individuals as a whole.

The Top Autism Groups in the Philippines

So far, there are three known autism organizations in the Philippines, namely: the Autism Society Philippines (ASP), the Association for Adults with Autism in the Philippines (AAAP), and the Autism Hearts Foundation Philippines (AHP).

ASP (the group with which I am associated), as far as I have confirmed, focuses on providing services for autistic individuals and their families, something Autism Speaks hasn’t done to date. (Disclaimer: I am writing this on my own behalf as a self-advocate, not as a member or on behalf of said organization.) (Update, 3 April 2013: I have chosen to distance myself from this group over their elitist and bigoted attitudes toward autistic people who speak against them. I am writing a formal statement shortly over this matter, so please expect one in the next few days.)

I haven’t heard AAAP’s agenda in depth, but according to its Web site, it aims at providing “sustained enrichment opportunities and long-term care to individuals on the spectrum.” So far, I have heard the group conducting seminars and stuff, but any project impacting adults on the spectrum has yet to be realized.

I have no idea what the group is and whatever it is doing, but seems to me that AHP is in cahoots with (and I suspect it as a arm of) the hypocrites at Autism Speaks, proofs being: their close association with the hate group in various activities; their organization of the most loathed event by autistic self-advocates, known as “Light It Up Blue”; and their constant reference to the bigots in their Web site. Prove me wrong, but that’s what I see. (Update: They are in cahoots with the bigots. I just confirmed it from a trusted source. Therefore, I advise you don’t listen to them. And avoid them at all costs!)

What a Filipino Autism Advocate Can Do

Now that you may have known all about the bigotry, hypocrisy, and corruption of Autism Speaks, here’s what you can do to prevent their eugenic, hate-filled, and ableist agenda from ever entering Philippine soil (Update: Their agents are on our soil) and influence the minds of others.

For everyone:

  • Read. Read. Read. Read about what is happening locally and abroad, specifically issues pertaining to autism.
  • Be conscientious. Know whether the information you have stumbled upon will benefit the autism community or harm it.
  • Discussions play a very important role in deciding the agenda of autism in your local reach.
  • Support organizations providing genuine awareness and services for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.
  • Inform those who promote the agenda of Autism Speaks to reconsider changing their agenda, on pain of them losing your support.
  • Word of mouth really helps.

For parents and professionals:

  • While listening to other parents and professionals, consider listening to autistic adults as well. We’ve been where your child is now.
  • Support real autism awareness: inclusion, support, and genuine acceptance for autistic individuals.
  • Don’t lose hope amid negative press. There is always something great in something, and that includes in being autistic.
  • Love your children. After all, even if they’re autistic, they’re still your children.

For my fellow autistics:

  • In the words of fellow self-advocate Lydia Brown, do not be complicit in your own oppression. You are in control.
  • Take ownership of your autism, and look at what you can do instead of believing others telling you otherwise.
  • Support your fellows in the best way you can.
  • Connect with your fellow autistics, be it in person or online.
  • Form a support group among yourselves. (Don’t worry, BigBro’s on it! And I’m working on one. Hah.)

There are plenty of ways you can help. If you have anything else you want to suggest, feel free to comment!

Autistic BigBro

10 thoughts on “Why I Am Against Autism Speaks, and Why It Matters

  1. Thanks for this post. I travelled here from your comments on John Elder Robison’s blog. I have always wondered about the state of autistics outside the US and yours is the first blog to address that topic. I have a son with Aspergers and probably have it myself.

    1. Always my pleasure! The autism community here in the Philippines is a growing one, and I am glad to be part of it. 😀

      I usually tune in to issues on autism in the US, as well as the voice of my counterparts in America, because as what I have said in my post, the trends in autism in the US usually set a precedent to other autism communities around the world, particularly here in the Philippines.

      My regards to your son, and on behalf of every autistic alive, welcome to the club! 😀

  2. I have a cunning plan: why don’t we address the hated puzzle piece by wearing T-shirts that say, “Every person is a puzzle to those without sufficient knowledge of them?” The most subtle yet pointed pro-Autistic slogan I ever thought of!

  3. umm, bigbro I am making a research study about autism, and I relied heavily on the info’s that in the autism speaks because it’s always on the top section of results in google when I did search something about autism, but after I read this and your other blog posts about them……. I think I need to go back to square one O.o

    1. By all means, go back to square one; while you’re at it, it is best to listen to and know from those who have experienced autism, specifically from Autistic people themselves. 😉

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