Recently, Lindt Chocolates announced a fundraising campaign for Autism Speaks, an organization that excludes autistic people themselves from its decision-making, uses offensive and unethical advertising tactics based on fear and pity and raises funds for the eugenic elimination of the autism spectrum. This action alert is designed to encourage Lindt Chocolates to aim its support elsewhere, seeing as:
-Autism Speaks is an autism organization that claims to speak for autistic people, without a single autistic person on its board of directors or leadership. This is far out of line with the mainstream of the disability community, where individuals with disabilities work side by side with family members, professionals and others to achieve quality of life and equality of opportunity. Autism Speaks' exclusionary policies are an embarrassment to itself and its funders.
-Autism Speaks advertising is highly offensive to autistic people and our families, with ads that compare a life on the autism spectrum to a car accident, being struck by lightning, a terminal illness and other fatal situations. Rather than work to decrease stigma and increase respect for autistic people, Autism Speaks' advertising fosters pity, shame and fear, suggesting that our very lives are mistakesand burdens.
-Autism Speaks' fundraising goes towards genetic research aimed at developing a prenatal test with potentially eugenic applications. Given the fact that 92% of fetuses that test positive for Down Syndrome are selectively aborted prior to birth, we are concerned by the prospect of a similar result in respect to the autism spectrum. This is an issue of discrimination, wholly separate from typical abortion politics. Money raised in the name of autistic people should go towards opportunities for quality of life, not towards our elimination. Autism Speaks research agenda is overwhelmingly focused on causation and prevention rather than research initiatives that might support quality of life for all autistic people.