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Issue a public apology for and official retraction of your “Heroes Among Us” article on the Wrights of Autism Speaks

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People Magazine,

Recently in one of your issues you had featured in one of your “Heroes Among Us” articles the Wrights, founders of the infamous Autism Speaks organization.  Many of us in the autistic community view this as at best a move made out of ignorance of the opinions of the autistic community.  I am not sure how aware you are of the neurodiversity movement, but Autism Speaks has been anathema to it for the entire ten years the organization has existed.

To begin, Autism Speaks uses fear in its means of obtaining donations, with videos such as the infamous “I am Autism,” which paints autism as a force out to destroy lives rather than an integral part of the autist’s neurology.  They have also posted a video by Alison Singer wherein Ms. Singer talks about having wanted to murder her autistic child while committing suicide (in front of the autistic child, no less,) but only decided against it because of the possibility of her neurotypical child being adversely affected.  When other parents of autistic children murdered or attempted to murder their children following this, the organization used “lack of services” as a means to excuse the murderers of their responsibility.

However, giving money to them would not help that lack of services, as donations being given to Autism Speaks are not well spent.  Most of the funds go to advertising and executive salaries, with a sizable chunk also going to research (Read: Prenatal screening,) with as little as 4% going towards services for the existing autistic population.  An organization this ineffective at serving the population it claims to advocate for is hardly heroic.

Not to mention that the organization has no autistic membership in any policy-making forms, such as boards of directors.  A great many autistic people are quite capable of serving in such positions, and would certainly be a better fit for creating policy than the neurotypical board members currently serving.

That would be bad enough on its own, but the organization also does not listen to any autistic outcry against its policies, choosing only to signal boost what few autistic voices already agree with it as a means to appear to listen to us.  Some subchapters have even gone so far as to block autistic activists on social media.

Finally, there are already many autism advocacy organizations that are far more heroic: The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network immediately comes to mind, an organization run by and for fellow autistic people which lobbies for autistic rights far more ethically than Autism Speaks ever could.

For more reasons that Autism Speaks is problematic, I refer to several sources written by autistic activists:

The Caffeinated Autistic: Autism Speaks Masterpost:

Boycott Autism Speaks: Why We Boycott:

Various Statements from ASAN on Autism Speaks:

Amy Sequenzia: Is Autism Speaks a Hate Group?

For a primer on Neurodiversity:

Neurocosmopolitanism: Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms and Definitions

Autism Organizations with Autistic Leadership:

Autistic Self-Advocacy Network:

Autism Women’s Network:

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism:

I hope that you will take our objections into account and issue a retraction of and apology for this article.

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