Monday, June 30, 2014

Major Concerns Regarding Your Partnership With Autism Speaks

I'm having some major concerns regarding your partnership with Autism Speaks.
I don't know if you are familiar with their campaigns and fundraising
tactics, but just in case you aren't, I highly suggest that you go onto
YouTube and look up the PSA video '' Autism Everyday''. There are a few
other PSA's as well, and frankly I find them very disturbing, downright
The PSA's describe autistic people as kidnapped, missing, empty shells, and the like. As an autistic adult, I personally find them extremly offensive. Being described as ''missing'' is dehumanizing to the experiences of actual autistic people. Autism Speaks has no people on the autism spectrum representing the intrests of autistic people in which we see fit. Why is an organization that calls themselves "Autism Speaks" have no actual autistic people in any of the organizations. There are some autistics in some poistions, though no with any real decision making power. In other words, you might have your " token autistic" write up a blog, but they're only onboard with Autism Speaks as a form of damage control. In other words, AS can say to the public that we include autistics, but really they don't. An organization who claims to speak on our behalf without any autistics leading the conversation doesn't sit well with me. Also, if you want to help autistics, that's great. Though in order for real dialogue to begin, don't you think you should listen to the experiences of autistic people themselves?  For far too long we we're marginalized, vilified, stigmatized, declared either too ''low functioning'' to advocate for ourselves or too ''high functioning'' to really know what having autism is like. Everyone experiences autism differently. It's not a cookie cutter diagnosis. So before I'm finished, I have one thing to ask of you, Is it possible that you can actually talk to actual autistic people and learn about what being autistic means to autistic people, rather than an organization that claims to speak on our behalf, but leaves us out of the conversation? After all, if an organisation calls themselves ''Autism Speaks'', shouldn't the autistics be speaking for ourselves and leading the conversation about autism? Please, Sesame Workshop don't help to stigmatize autistic people even more by partenring with AS. You've always been about supporting diversity. Don't make the mistake of teaching children who watch your show (whether they're autistic or not) that autistic people are less valued members of society and should be feared. Fear and misinformation solves nothing and only creates an endless cycle. Thank you for your time.

Written by Jenn Ramirez

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