Dear Corporate Partners and Supporters of Autism Speaks:
We are a concerned group of people comprised of Autistic people, the families, friends and loved ones of Autistic people, and the professionals that support Autistic people. We are writing to urge you to reconsider your sponsorship and support of Autism Speaks.
Given that you are visible and trusted companies, we are appalled that you would continue to endow Autism Speaks given the nature of the atrocities that Autism Speaks has committed many times over against the very community it claims to represent. We consider your unceasing support of this organization as a poor reflection on your corporate values given that the information about the malfeasance of Autism Speaks is readily available. As trusted companies, it is your obligation to conduct due diligence prior to entering into a partnership. Further, when your partners commit verifiable cruelties, the onus is on you to sever your relationship or risk being associated with the perpetration of these acts. To date, you have disregarded the many attempts made by the Autistic community to bring the unethical behavior of Autism Speaks to your attention.
While Autism Speaks has a long and sordid history that we would be willing to discuss, we would like to focus your attention on the recent Policy Summit hosted by Autism Speaks in Washington D.C., November 12-14. It is, of course both notable and predictable, that Autism Speaks excluded Autistic people from leadership roles and fair representation in discussions about their own welfares.
As Autistic people and those that love and support them, we were especially outraged by co-founder of Autism Speaks, Suzanne Wright’s Op-Ed about the summit. We are Autistic people. We are people that love and support Autistic people. Ms. Wright’s characterization of Autism is hateful at best. While we acknowledge that Autism is a disability and that Autistic people and their families truly need supports which are meaningful in their lives, we condemn Ms. Wright’s use of revolting fear tactics to further the Autism Speaks agenda. We are repulsed that Autism Speaks, and you by virtue of your financial support, would condone Ms. Wright’s use of her position to incite fear and reinforce the bigotry and offensive stereotypes of Autistic people.
Characterizing Autistic children and adults in such abhorrent manner is intolerable. If you do not support Autism Speaks’ contention that Autistic children are “gravely ill”, “missing”, and “out of touch”, we compel you to terminate your financial support of Autism Speaks without further delay. If your company believes that Autistic lives are valuable, whole, and worthy of respect, you cannot, in good conscience, affiliate yourself with an organization which denigrate Autistic people by publishing these words about families of Autistic people:
“These families are not living.
They are existing. Breathing- yes. Eating-yes. Sleeping-maybe. Working most definitely- 24/7.
This is autism.
Life is lived moment-to-moment. In anticipation of the child’s next move. In despair. In fear of the future.
This is autism.”
This is not Autism. This is a disgusting abuse of power. This is a hate group spewing self-serving filth at the expense of the population it claims to serve. This is what you’re endorsing with your funds and support. You are funding hatred, bigotry, and oppression. We, the Autistic people and loving families & friends of Autistic people are the casualties of the war you are subsidizing against our vulnerable community. We invite you to learn about some of those you’ve sponsored Autism Speaks to hurt by reading the response to Ms. Wright’s Op-ed. This is Autism.
By now, you are aware of the joint statement, being prepared and directed at your establishments issued by several disability rights organizations. As individual people, we support this statement and encourage you to redirect your support towards any of the worthy organizations that have signed the letter. Organizations like ASAN and AWN are run for and by Autistic people and we are confident that the funds donated in their support will be allocated ethically and to the advantage of the Autistic community for which they are intended. We are hopeful that you will recognize that endorsing an organization which directly contributes roughly 4% of its earnings to the community it claims to serve is problematic to say the least.
Because we know that these issues have been brought to your attention countless times, we have already introduced an effort to encourage those that are able to boycott your company. We have several other initiatives being prepared to ensure that Autism Speaks and companies that knowledgeably unite with it are held publicly accountable.
Should you have any questions or wish to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialog, we can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Autistic community and those who love and support them