I am an autistic adult, diagnosed at age 34 with Asperger Syndrome.I support the boycott of Autism Speaks because they have made it harder to promote understanding and acceptance of autism with their lies and pity-based advertising/fundraising.
I consider myself fortunate. I have been surrounded by very open-minded and educated people since I “came out” as autistic, and I have felt free to explore Asperger’s through my poetry and prose. However, I know there are others who do not feel safe being “out” as autistic in life or on the job partially because of the harmful views of autism that A$ has crafted and promoted.
I choose to be openly autistic to help promote understanding and acceptance of autism. It offends and hurts me that this organization, on top of painting autistic people as freaks/financial drains/objects of pity/what have you, also promotes curing autism. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is laced with eugenics and can lead to dangerous outcomes — because in order to wipe out autism, one must wipe out autistic people. It is impossible to separate the brain wiring from the person — it is part of who we are.
I certainly don’t doubt that autism is not always a walk in the park. I call to mind a quote from Sharisa Joy Kochmeister: “Autism is a gift, disguised as a dilemma.” But autism has brought many gifts to me, including poetry — and I think my Asperger’s contributes to my ability to translate images into words. I would not trade any of it — even my sensory and social difficulties — for a “cure”.
Autism Speaks does very well speaking for itself, but it does not speak for me, my fiance, or anyone else I care about who is autistic. Organizations that support them will not be getting our money until they choose to support causes that actually support autistic people.