Autism Speaks is the organization behind the “Autism Every Day” public service announcement in which their former vice president stated that she considered driving off of a bridge with her Autistic daughter, and only refrained from doing so because she would also have had a non-Autistic child waiting at home; she made this statement on camera with her Autistic daughter in earshot in the room on screen. Autism Speaks is the organization behind the “I Am Autism” public service announcement in which an insidious voiceover claiming to be “autism” detailed all of the tragedy and horror and bad consequences of autism.
Autism Speaks regularly issues propaganda in which they say, “The rate of autism is higher than the rate of cancer, childhood diabetes, and AIDS combined,” which compares a developmental disability to diseases. Their propaganda states that “1 in every 88 children will be diagnosed with autism.” When we turn eighteen, we don’t magically become non-Autistic. 1 in 88 people are Autistic. Autism Speaks would have you believe that we are living tragedies waiting for the day when we can be cured, when nearly every Autistic person I know does not want to be cured and does not believe in this concept of a cure. Curing me of autism conjures the same mentality as the idea of curing me of femininity; it’s so fundamentally perverted and disturbing that words fail to describe how appalling and horrific the idea of severing an essential part of our humanity is to us. No, being Autistic is not sunshine and rainbows. But it is as much a part of who we are as our other attributes.
Among the Autistics who oppose Autism Speaks’s anti-Autistic agenda are people who experience significant disability, people who have been institutionalized, people who have been educated in segregated “special needs” classrooms, people who have their own Autistic children, people who do not speak, people with multiple disabilities, and people who have faced extreme discrimination and prejudice against the disabled. Yet we are precisely the people whom Autism Speaks fallaciously claims to represent, and there is a large and growing number of us, Autistic people, who are vocal and adamant about our contempt for Autism Speaks.