Monday, May 31, 2010

The Autism Speaks Stigma

It's a bit of a paradox as to why an organization that is supposed to profoundly help the autism community is looked down upon with scorn by other groups.  Autism Speaks is the most recognized organization for autism research and awareness.  Many a celebrity (I won't list all of them) has donated and appeared at benefits sponsored by Autism Speaks.  They have a tightly run organization, even with psychologists pointing out signs of behavior and new about autism activism that are linked to the main site.

Of course, there are many folks connected to the spectrum who have major issues with Autism Speaks.  The reasons behind this are that autism is looked at as a "regressive disease" per most language and events by the organization.  Many of those who are high-functioning believe that autism should be treated as a form of neurodiversity.  The videos produced in conjunction with Autism Speaks (look up "I Am Autism") are overblown and make it seem like autism is an end-all type of dysfunction.  They also employ psychologists but are rumored to have no employees actually on the spectrum to provide a crucial viewpoint that would be expected from most non-profit companies with this sort of specialty.

If the last paragraph was any indication, I'm among the latter group who does take issue with the campaigns of Autism Speaks.  There have been a couple moments where I ask myself why I do.  In my own observation, it seems like the focus of Autism Speaks is misunderstood yet not overblown.  My issue with them is that they put so much focus on those with low-functioning autism, which I can understand to a degree, but they appear ignorant to the fact that there are many autistics (meaning we the Aspies) who have blended in with society and have fine traits that would be lost if we were among the NTs.  I think it's a point that doesn't get driven home quite enough behind all of the name calling and protests of Autism Speaks.  I don't necessarily want to see Autism Speaks die a painful death, but I do not like the current way they operate and fail to take the perspectives of the entire spectrum into account.

I apologize for a lack of citations.  It is really meant to be a short opinion.  If there is more to post on this organization or others, which I'm sure there will be, I will have that when there is more time permitting.  It's been a busy Memorial Day weekend.  Cheers.

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