Autistic people can speak for themselves

                                                                           Illustration by Cheyanne Abel

Fearmongering, the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue, has always been a powerful tactic.
Fear mongering and hatred are what stirred the images of separation in the MCCC library. 
Racist public campaigns depict black children as law breakers. Fat people are often cruelly viewed as stupid and without dignity. The KKK, White Nationalists, and other groups have used fearmongering as a way to demonize minorities. 
These examples of extreme hatred reminded me of another eugenic group.
Autism Speaks (AS) plans to “cure” the world of autism. Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism, founded AS in February 2005.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders, people with ASD have: difficulty with communication and interaction with other people, restricted interests and repetitive behaviors, and symptoms that hurt the person’s ability to function properly in school, work, and other areas of life.
AS may fool others with its words of concerns for those affected by ASD but its intent is to remove children with ASD from existing.
When I was in high school, I created a presentation about ASD.
For this presentation I used several providers of information, including Autism Speaks. 
I later discovered how unsafe and dishonest AS is, and in the name of Autism Awareness Month I thought I would share my findings.
When you google ‘Autism,’ Autism Speaks is the first thing which pops up and leads internet users to a collection of lies. AS portrays autism as something to eradicate and those who have it as helpless and uncaring.
To include those with autism in the discussion I spoke with my younger sister, Isabelle Younglove, 17, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s in elementary school.
Asperger’s is a developmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
Isabelle discussed her views and thoughts on ASD.
“Imagine an ice cream parlor in which the person making the ice cream (a person’s brain) picks out toppings (symptoms of neurodivergency) at random,” Younglove said.
“Some toppings might be more flavorful than others. People might mistake cones with certain other toppings as ‘topping-free.’
“Some people are jerks who deny that an ice cream cone is ice cream at all because of the toppings. Sometimes a topping is detrimental to the overall taste of the cone, or sometimes it makes it taste even better. Sometimes a cone has no toppings at all.”
AS regards those on the spectrum as inflicting suffering, based on the organization’s commercials and the site’s own words.
One example of AS twisting and lying about autism can be seen in their advertising. The commercial “I Am Autism” was removed from AS’ Youtube account but can still be viewed through other postings of the cruel, fearmongering commercial which paints autism as a disease.
The commercial shows videos of children who apparently have autism. Viewers know they have autism because of a deep voice speaking over ominous music.
“I am visible to your children, but I am invisible to you until it’s too late,” the commercial says.
“If you are happily married I will make sure that your marriage fails. Your money will fall into my hands and I will bankrupt you for my own self gain.
“I don’t sleep so I make sure you don’t either. I will make it virtually impossible for your family to easily attend a temple, a birthday party, a public park without a struggle, without embarrassment, without pain.
“You have no cure for me.”
This is just one example of AS portraying autism as something to fear, and those who have it are infected and are not really your children.
“Autism Speaks is not a safe organization,” Younglove said. “It does not care about accepting autistic people, and its messages inspire fear and hatred of them.”
In November 2014, Suzanne Wright spoke at the Vatican and further showed her views on ASD.
“Let us all be honest: autism is like nothing we have ever experienced before,” she said. “And there are a tremendous amount of suffering in our autism families.”
Wright even compared those on the spectrum to lepers in the Bible, the outcasts of society infected by a chronic, infectious disease.
“Autism is forcing parents and caregivers to slow down the frenetic pace of our modern world and look into the eyes of our loved ones, as Saint Francis did with the leper.”
It is this attitude which deters those with ASD from the organization. Those are the voices we should be listening to, those who have ASD, not those who demonize it.
Autistic Advocacy is an honest organization assisting and representing those on the spectrum– because members of the organization actually have ASD.
According to Autism Advocacy only 1.6% of Autism Speaks’ budget goes toward the “Family Service” grants. This is the organization’s means of funding services.
“Autism Speaks spends 10x as much—16%—on fundraising,” the website says. 
“Although Autism Speaks has not prioritized services with a practical impact for families and individuals in its budget, its rates of executive pay are the highest in the autism world: some salaries exceed $500,000 a year.”
One of AS’s biggest criticisms has been the lack of board of directors or any members of the organization who actually have autism. 
There have been a few members in the organization who has autism such as John Elder Robinson. According to Robinson’s personal bog, the author resigned his role at AS in 2013, after a series of outrageous comments from the company’s founders.
AS views autism as something to cure, something deadly which needs to be eradicated from the gene pool. 
Searching for a cure to autism not only hurts the autistic community but it is a personal attack on their very existence.