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It’s been a long journey since I first discovered my son was autistic. Technically, he was only just diagnosed this year, but if you know anything about autism, you could see it in my son. Naturally, I want the best for him, so I did a lot of research. I assumed I could trust the biggest name in Autism, Autism Speaks. I was so very wrong.
Only 4% actually goes to help autistic people (Autism Speaks 990 Non-Profit Tax Exemption Form, 201). That means that if you donate $100, only $4 goes to the people who need it. This is LESS than they spend on their own salaries! According to charitynavigator.com (which just bumped them from a one star rating [out of four] up to a two), Autism Speaks actually overspent in 2012 – by $5,000,000. That’s right, five MILLION dollars.
Sadly, that’s not the worst of it, nor is it close. I further learned that Autism Speaks is the only organization that does not have anyone it claims to represent in any prominent position. The one person they did have quit over their practices (http://jerobison.blogspot.com/2013/11/i-resign-my-roles-at-autism-speaks.html)
This did nothing to alter the way Autism Speaks is run. This year, autistics took to social media in an attempt to be heard by the very organization that claims “It’s time to listen.” Autism Speaks chose to silence them. They deleted not just every negative review, but the review system altogether. (screenshots provided here: http://franklludwig.com/autismspeaks.html and people posting screenshots of their reviews and discussing it can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/adultswithaspergerssyndrome/permalink/10155609240830094) They deleted every negative comment and blocked many of the posters. When autistics took over the Twitter hashtag (#AutismSpeaks10 and also have used and are using #BoycottAutismSpeaks and #ActuallyAutistic ) for their ten-year anniversary, users there were silenced as well. MTV briefly covered the story, then quickly yanked it. http://raisingrebelsouls.blogspot.com/2015/03/why-mtv-stood-with-autismspeaks10.html
Now, about those things that caused the only autistic person to serve a major position to resign. One of those things was the horrible, fear-inducing ads that came out. Here is a transcript from one of them, comparing autistics to being kidnapped, dying of a natural disaster, and having a fatal disease: http://autisticadvocacy.org/2009/09/horrific-autism-speaks-i-am-autism-ad-transcript/ and the actual video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mycxSJ3-_Q . In one of its most prominent fundraising videos, an Autism Speaks executive stated that she had considered placing her child in the car and driving off the George Washington Bridge, going on to say that she did not do so only because she had a normal child as well. She said this with her autistic daughter RIGHT THERE. Here’s the video. The Autism Speaks executive is roughly 6min in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0vCz2KWMM0
I saved the worst for last, especially since I need to preclude it with a TRIGGER WARNING. Autism Speaks supports the torture of autistic people, including: they were slapped, forced inhalation of ammonia, food deprivation, sleep deprivation, prolonged restraint, deep-muscle pinches intended to inflict maximum pain, long-term seclusion, and even death. http://www.autistichoya.com/2013/11/an-unholy-alliance-autism-speaks-and.html Investigations have been done by the United Nations (page 84) http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A-HRC-22-53-Add4_EFS.pdf , The Department of Justice, http://www.justice.gov/crt/speeches/perez_disability_conf.php and the FDA http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2012/ucm331291.htm as well as Fox News *TRIGGER WARNING, video and epilepsy* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAj9W0ntUMI (for those of you who are anti-Fox News, here is a liberal site as well: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/08/school-shock) and ABC news (TRIGGER WARNING, pictures) http://abcnews.go.com/images/Nightline/HT_US_Report_4_30_10_100630.pdf . Here is a letter from someone detailing what it was like to be there (again, TRIGGER WARNING) http://www.autistichoya.com/2013/01/judge-rotenberg-center-survivors-letter.html
While support, awareness, and acceptance are great for people with autism, supporting Autism Speaks is not. I strongly urge you to consider another charity to support. If you wish to help take action, please contact the businesses still donating to Autism $peaks. https://www.autismspeaks.org/partners Thank you for your time and reading this far! ^^ v