This Is What They Think: Protesting Autism Speaks

The ASAN-Atlanta chapter recently protested an Autism Speaks GA 5K Run.

Would you like to hear what autistics have to say about Autism Speaks?”

They kept walking. They said no. They flipped us off. They told us to go home. One person told us they knew everything about autism already because they had autistic children and had “full acceptance for them.” If one is running or walking for an autism cure, it means you only have acceptance of what you want your children to be. You’re accepting of a vision, not the people right in front of you.

This was with the exception of about twenty folks. They took flyers, which I really hope they kept.

An Autism Speaks staff member approached us and started condescending to us about how much Autism Speaks *actually* helps autistic people. The person condescended and acted like we did not have a complete story about Autism Speaks. The person also completely forgot Autistic adults existed in their spiel. “It’s so great that you’re out here, Autistic voices are integral to the conversation about autism!” Sappy and dripping with fake admiration, forgetting advocacy is not cute. Autism Speaks also really is not that interested in autistic voices. They have no autistic leadership anywhere. Their only autistic member of prominence, John Elder Robison, resigned in 2013.

Finally: “I’ll keep on loving,” the person declared, as if we did not also want the best for their children. As if we did not love anyone or anything.

At least it showed that we made somewhat of an impact. They wanted to placate us, lower our guard, not come back next year.

***

The children broke my heart the most. One person’s child tried to look at our signs. The parent physically turned them away.

This is what many of them seem to think. Autistics cannot think for themselves. Autistics cannot possibly disagree. They do not seem to want their children to grow up with the hope for anything other than a cure and being “indistinguishable from peers.”

To look at our signs and have them realize there are autistic adults who share a neurotype and who are protesting the event that their parents are at would be heresy. To start accepting themselves would be treachery and, to many, the appearance of giving up (it’sreally not). Many of these parents think that a cure is what society needs to do to help autistic people. They appeared bewildered and angered at our presence.

I really think most of these people do want the best. But they’ve been told over and over again, by society and since 2005 by Autism Speaks: Cure autism. At the least, make them indistinguishable from peers. It’s a disease. A burden.

I flapped at their children. It was the only way to say, “I am like you and you are okay as you are.”

***

Other Sources on Autism Speaks

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