Video Released By Autism Speaks Outrages Autistics

September 27, 2009

If this video does anything, it makes the autistic child look like a lost victim of a plague that wasn’t caught in time, the parents failures for not ‘catching it in time’ and the autistic community a group of pariahs. It uses scare tactics and I feel veiled threats that feel to me more like a marketing campaign than a personal expression of the creators (the spin that I’ve read AS has put on this). Sure. Express yourself… your anger and pain as a parent… but don’t post it on “Autism Speaks” because if you’re not on the autistic spectrum, you aren’t speaking as part of the broad diversity of autistics… you’re speaking as a parent of autistic children (according to AS), and your voice shouting loud, full of fear and negativity, merely silences us, victimizes us in the eyes of society, marginalizes our potential contribution to society, and creates a culture that can seek to further exclude us for our difference. Watch the video… do you want the child, as portrayed, playing with your children? That child is portrayed as tainted.

Autism Speaks presents us as puzzles and broken children… not the puzzle solving remarkable individuals history suggests we are.

Groups Outraged Over Video Released By Autism Speaks

A group of leading disability organizations is calling on Autism Speaks’ benefactors to end their support for the organization. The move comes in response to a video distributed by Autism Speaks which critics say depicts people with autism as less than human and burdens on society.

The video, which aired at Autism Speaks’ World Focus on Autism event earlier this week in New York, features two parts.

The first part shows young people with autism as a voice-over declares, “I am autism.” The man’s voice continues by describing autism as a disorder that works “faster than pediatric AIDS, cancer and diabetes combined,” will ensure that your marriage fails, will bankrupt you, cause you not to sleep and make it “virtually impossible” to go out in public without experiencing embarrassment or pain.

The second portion of the video features more hopeful images. The voice-overs declare that through love for their children, parents and others will work tirelessly to overcome the challenges autism presents.

In response, disability advocates are now coming together to condemn the video, which they say is part of a pattern of behavior by the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization.

In a letter being prepared for open circulation next week, the group of advocates say the video is a “fundraising tool” that relies on “fear, stigma, misinformation and prejudice against autistic people.” The letter will be sent to Autism Speaks donors, sponsors and supporters and it will be posted publicly, organizers say.

Already the American Association of People with Disabilities, ADAPT and TASH are among the organizations that have signed on to the letter organized by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. Other organizations are now reviewing the document….

The group of advocates go on to ask the public to no longer support Autism Speaks and instead find new ways to support people with autism and other disabilities.

“Autism Speaks believes that its bottom line will be helped by portraying autistic people as less than human,” says Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. “This is really damaging if you’re trying to get your child included in school or if you’re an autistic person trying to find a job or get included in society more broadly.”

When asked about the video, Autism Speaks representatives tried to distance the organization from the short film, which appears on the group’s Web site and includes home videos solicited through the organization….

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