We want to take a moment to acknowledge all the progress we have made since our grassroots efforts began. As one of our founding organizers has said:
“This is not just a boycott, this is a civil rights movement.”
It is important to see our progress but we must remember that it’s equally important to keep the pressure on Autism Speaks and their financial sponsors. We must continue to speak out against hate, ableism and fear. For over a decade, Autism Speaks has dominated the conversations about autism while ignoring the needs and wishes of the autistic community. They have created an environment where we are feared, where our civil rights and autonomy are ignored, where we are told that we are unable to speak for ourselves as Autistic people. They have made this common place. Is it any surprise that our current president has adopted so much of their hateful rhetoric?
The disability community is facing threats like never before under the current administration. The US now has a president endorsed by the founder of Autism Speaks and who has already made attacks on the rights that disabled people have fought so hard for. We are facing the next four years of an administration that is anti science, that champions the widely discredited belief that autism is a vaccine injury, that has proposed eliminating services that help autistic and other disabled people live, work and participate in our communities. This is an administration that seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which enables so many in our community to have access to health care. We now have a secretary of education who does not know what IDEA is and thinks that our federally protected civil rights should be “left to the states”.
This is a frightening time, but we are not powerless.
We must continue to challenge any organization that wants to speak for us, without us. We will challenge any administration that does the same. And it is vitally important to remember that the threats to those of us in multiply marginalized communities are ever present and cannot be underestimated. All of our movements are interconnected and we must keep working not just for disability rights, but for disability justice.
-Organizers of Boycott Autism Speaks