Today I am going to have a piece in the New York Times about Autism Speaks and a recent parenting dilemma. I thought it might be useful to have some resources here. I'll post the link to the piece when it's up.
- Here's the master post of resources on Autism Speaks from "The Caffeinated Autistic." It's the best places to start.
- Here's a letter to Autism Speaks signed by many disability rights organizations, and written by Ari Ne'eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. ASAN is my go-to place for information on autism.
- My posts: Say no to Blue-Washing and Disability is not War are both directly about Autism Speaks. I also reference them in my piece on London McCabe's murder.
From the letter:
We, the undersigned organizations representing the disability community, are writing to urge you to end your support for Autism Speaks. We profoundly appreciate your interest in supporting the autism and broader disability communities. Our work is about empowering and supporting people with all disabilities, including adults and children on the autism spectrum, to be recognized as equal citizens in our society and afforded all of the rights and opportunities that implies. Unfortunately, Autism Speaks’ statements and actions do damage to that work and to the lives of autistic people and those with other disabilities. It is our hope that we may work together in a spirit of partnership to find new and less controversial ways for you to show your commitment to our community.
There's lots more, but if you start on the master post, you'll find your way through the critiques. They do not speak for autistic people. They do not speak for many parents. I do not believe they do more harm than good.
One response to the Autism Speaks problem is to emphasize the concept of neurodiversity. Neurodiversity asks us to reframe our understanding of the many ways that peoples' minds work. Instead of thinking about disabled and normal, consider diversity.
It so happens there's a new project, NOS Magazine, that has just launched a kickstarter. NOS = not otherwise specified, for conditions that don't quite fit into clear diagnostic categories. This kind of journalism and representation is exactly what the disability community needs, and I'm asking you to support them if you can.