Normal Is Overrated

Musings and meanderings on the autistic spectrum

October 26, 2010

A quick link

Don’t really have enough thoughts yet to make this into a full-fledged post, but I just had to share the link here. Blogger/author Stephanie Allen Crist (who’s commented here before, in fact!) just posted a wonderful blog post titled Offending Autism Speaks about why she’s boycotting a fiction anthology that’s sponsored by Autism Speaks. Do read it; I think it lays out the issues with that organization even better than I’ve done here.

Filed under: Autism Speaks — codeman38 @ 10:16 pm

September 23, 2009

Autism Speaks Hits A New Low

If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know my stance toward Autism Speaks by now. It’s an organization I’ve always had my share of issues with; see my past posts on the subject for some idea of why.

But this time, they’ve really outdone themselves.

Before I explain what they’ve done to make me say that, I have to provide a bit of background information. You see, back in early August, Autism Speaks sent out this press release encouraging people to submit videos of autistic individuals for use in an upcoming film project. This project had huge names behind it— most notably, award-winning movie director Alfonso Cuarón, the man behind both Children of Men and the third Harry Potter movie— and was to be titled “I Am Autism.” According to Autism Speaks co-founder Suzanne Wright, this project was intended to “shine a bright spotlight on autism,” and was to be unveiled at the United Nations World focus on Autism on September 22.

Seems pretty harmless, right? “I Am Autism.” Sounds like it might be some sort of “We Are The World”-type production, about how we’re all affected by autism in some way. And “shining a bright spotlight”? I actually had a small gleam of hope that Autism Speaks was finally shedding their doom-and-gloom message for something more positive.

Well…

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Filed under: Autism Speaks,Controversies — codeman38 @ 2:04 pm

April 7, 2009

A bit late, but still a worthy link…

I’m a day late with this, but I just can’t go without linking Cara from The Curvature‘s post “Things That Pain Me“. It’s about Yoko Ono’s partnership with Autism Speaks, and it links to my own post about said organization.

I’m glad to see that those of us on the autism spectrum aren’t the only ones who have issues with Autism Speaks’ tactics and approaches. Thanks, Cara, for getting this out to an even wider audience.

Filed under: Autism Speaks,Controversies — codeman38 @ 8:27 pm

June 27, 2008

Mea culpa

As it turns out, those skeptical of the latest Autism Speaks controversy may have actually been right.

Zach Lassiter of AspieWeb has been in contact with Zazzle, and it’s been revealed that though there was an Autism Speaks complaint, it didn’t involve that particular shirt. In other words, this removal was just a Zazzle employee’s attempt to cover the company’s posterior, so to speak, despite what was claimed in earlier e-mails.

So— and this is probably one of the very few times I’ll ever say this— my apologies to Autism Speaks for claiming they did something that they didn’t.

(Now if only they would involve autistics in their organization and issue an apology for Alison Singer’s statements in Autism Every Daythose complaints, unfortunately, still stand.)

Filed under: Autism Speaks,Controversies — codeman38 @ 11:14 pm

June 22, 2008

Autism Speaks Against Autistic Free Speech and Fair-Use Parody

CORRECTION — 27 June 2008: The designer of the shirt described in this post has been in contact with Zazzle, and it turns out that the shirt was not directly removed because of an Autism Speaks complaint. Instead, it was in fact a proactive action taken by a Zazzle employee; see my post from tonight for further details. In the interest of correctness, I have struck out the portion of this post containing that accusation. The NT Speaks takedown, however, still does appear to be Autism Speaks’ doing, so that section of this post will remain intact.

(Cross-posted, in slightly modified form, from DailyKos.)

You might recall that a while back, I posted an entry criticizing some of the tactics of the autism charity Autism Speaks, which I originally posted at DailyKos.

Well, let’s all be thankful that they haven’t (yet) forced DailyKos to take that post down— or, worse yet, sent a cease-and-desist notice to the hosting provider for my personal blog— because of alleged intellectual property infringement. As utterly absurd as that may sound, it is precisely what they’ve done to not one but two autistic bloggers an autistic parodist who have has dared to criticize that organization.

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Filed under: Autism Speaks,Controversies — codeman38 @ 4:22 pm

April 11, 2008

Do You Know What You’re Supporting?

So tomorrow’s the big Walk for Autism in Atlanta.

And this Georgian isn’t going.

I’ve already written in the past about Autism Speaks, the organization sponsoring this walk, in a good bit of depth, but I’ll just reiterate things in a shorter fashion to drive the point home:

I refuse to support an organization whose idea of treatment isn’t to try to find a way for autistics to function in a hostile world, but rather to “ultimately eradicate autism for the sake of future generations”, in the words of its founder.

I refuse to support an organization which talks all the time about the peril of autistic children, while seeming to forget about us autistic adults, or at most, giving us only a passing mention.

I refuse to support an organization which falsely appears to speak for autistics, when not a single person on the autistic spectrum can be found amongst its board of directors or anywhere else in its leadership.

I refuse to support an organization with a vice president who openly admits to having wanted to drive off a bridge with her autistic daughter in frustration, in front of that very daughter, while cameras are running to record the moment for posterity in a fund-raising documentary.

And in this repudiation, I’m not claiming autistics don’t need support, services, or any other help. Even though I’m on the higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum, I’ve had many moments where I could easily have used a helping hand…or several. I, too, go into meltdowns when I’m feeling stressed or overloaded; I, too, would very much benefit from accommodations that allowed me to actually meet halfway, rather than exerting even more effort than most people dream of just to maintain an appearance of normality.

But this help should be provided with respect. Respect for who we are, for the fact that autism is a pervasive developmental disorder and not just something that can be taken out of us like a tumor. Respect for the fact that our brains work differently, and that methods of teaching which may work perfectly well for a typical child (or adult!) may not work at all for us. Respect for the fact that we may still be aware of what’s going on around us, what’s being said about us, even when it doesn’t look like we understand a word.

Strangely enough, organizations for other neurological disorders—disorders with even more of a popular stigma than autism—get it. See, for instance, Joel Smith’s comparison of Autism Speaks’ rhetoric with that of the National Down Syndrome Society for just one example.

But unfortunately, even with plenty of protest by autistics all around the country, the world, and the Internet, Autism Speaks just doesn’t seem to grasp this idea.

And that is why I cannot honestly support them.

Filed under: Autism Speaks,Controversies — codeman38 @ 7:20 pm

June 3, 2007

An Autistic Speaks about Autism Speaks

[Note: This entry was originally posted at DailyKos; the original version of the post, with its comments, can be found here. I'm reposting it on my own blog, with some slight modifications so as to make it more timely and to reach an even wider audience.]

Imagine, if you will, that an organization existed by the name of “Womanhood Speaks,” which, on the surface, appeared to be in support of women’s rights.

Now imagine that the governing body of this organization only included members of the male gender, with not one female represented in its ranks. Imagine that its actual aim was to create a registry of all females and force them to become more masculine, completely disregarding the fact that a majority of females were perfectly content with their womanhood and even found it to be advantageous. Imagine that members of its leadership appeared on popular TV programs talking about the epidemic of womanhood and how it needed to be eradicated.

Doesn’t sound too appealing, does it?

This hypothetical situation may seem utterly absurd, but for one segment of the population— albeit a much smaller subset than that identifying as female*— it isn’t all too far from reality.

I’m speaking of autistics, and more specifically, of the organization known as “Autism Speaks.”

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Filed under: Autism Speaks,Controversies — codeman38 @ 12:39 pm

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