Thursday, October 20, 2016

Autism Speaks...for Change?? (Or Did We Somehow End Up In The Mirror Universe?)

About a week ago, something happened which, I believe, has the potential to rock the Autistic and Neurodiversity community to its core. No, society hasn't magically become a more accepting place, and no, people haven't magically become aware of the evils of ABA. What did happen, however, may be equally as big; Autism Speaks revoked their focus on cureism in their official mission statement.

For those who aren't aware, Autism Speaks is one of the biggest players in Autism advocacy. Unfortunately, they've also traditionally been one of the most damaging organizations in the public eye, promoting a dangerous vision of Autism as a defect and something to be both pitied and cured. They have run hurtful PR campaigns which have presented ASD as an epidemic and tragedy, and in so doing have alienated those of us on the spectrum in big ways. At best, many of us simply dislike AS for the things they have worst? Psychological damage has occurred. The average person has no real concept of how bad Autism Speaks is for Autistics, however, since they've basically become the de-facto Autism charity. Everything from "Lighting it up blue" to the puzzle piece have all been created by this organization...often without even consulting Autistics themselves.

And yet...last week things have shown signs of getting better. Autism Speaks reworked their mission statement and removed any trace of cureist language from it. Gone are messages promoting the elimination of autistics; in their place Autism Speaks has made a great fuss about providing the support Autistics need to live full lives. It's a really nice and inspiring thing to see, and I'm hopeful that this means real change is on the way.

Ultimately, do I trust that this organization will do the right thing? I'm sorry...but no. The damage has been done and all of us in the Neurodiversity community feel far too burned to ever give Autism Speaks an ounce of our trust. Even still, I do hope that this means clearer waters ahead for those of us who are Neurodivergent. Autism Speaks is made up of humans after all, (and neurotypical ones at that)...isn't change supposed to be something we are all capable of?

As always yours in diversity,

Adam Michael

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