Below is a letter from ASAN ’ s Ari Ne’eman. Lindt Chocolates has a fundraising campaign to sponsor Autism Speaks and organization which has no autistics in prominent, decision-making positions.
Recently, Lindt Chocolates announced a fundraising campaign for Autism Speaks, an organization that excludes autistic people themselves from its decision-making, uses offensive and unethical advertising tactics based on fear and pity and raises funds for the eugenic elimination of the autism spectrum. Too often, money raised to improve our lives goes towards organizations that don’t speak for us and work against our interests. People with disabilities of all kinds have a right to be at the center of the decisions made about us, not standing at the sidelines. We’ve started an action alert to tell Lindt Chocolates that its money is better used elsewhere, with charities whose work will benefit the lives of autistic people rather than aim to eliminate us. Click here to go to our action alert or go to: http://www.change.org/autisticadvocacy/actions/view/tell_lindt_chocolates_that_a
The action alert allows you to write your own e-mail or use a form letter already available, however, for those of you who want to write your own e-mail or can’t use the action alert for whatever reason, here are some talking points on why Autism Speaks is bad for the autism and autistic communities. Lindt Chocolate’s e-mail is here: email@example.com
-Autism Speaks is an autism organization that claims to speak for autistic people, without a single autistic person on its board of directors or leadership. This is far out of line with the mainstream of the disability community, where individuals with disabilities work side by side with family members, professionals and others to achieve quality of life and equality of opportunity. Autism Speaks’ exclusionary policies are an embarrassment to itself and its funders.
-Autism Speaks advertising is highly offensive to autistic people and our families, with ads that compare a life on the autism spectrum to a car accident, being struck by lightning, a terminal illness and other fatal situations. Rather than work to decrease stigma and increase respect for autistic people, Autism Speaks’ advertising fosters pity, shame and fear, suggesting that our very lives are mistakes and burdens.
-Autism Speaks’ fundraising goes towards genetic research aimed at developing a prenatal test with potentially eugenic applications. Given the fact that 92% of fetuses that test positive for Down Syndrome are selectively aborted prior to birth, we are concerned by the prospect of a similar result in respect to the autism spectrum. This is an issue of discrimination, wholly separate from typical abortion politics. Money raised in the name of autistic people should go towards opportunities for quality of life, not towards our elimination. Autism Speaks research agenda is overwhelmingly focused on causation and prevention rather than research initiatives that might support quality of life for all autistic people. This drains support from initiatives that stand to improve the quality of life of autistic people, such as services, supports and education, which Autism Speaks supports in only a tiny fraction of its massive budget.
Thank you to those who alerted us of this situation and we urge your immediate support. Together, our voices cannot be ignored. Nothing About Us, Without Us!
Regards, Ari Ne’eman President The Autistic Self Advocacy Network 1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700 Washington, DC 20036 http://www.autisticadvocacy.org 732.763.5530
The Lindt fundraiser has already been blogged by abfh. If you know of any others, let me know and I’ll link to them here.