Last weekend, I took a trip over to TJ Maxx to look for some discount shampoo and conditioner and a new 9 x 11'' pan, having forgot that they are on the list of retailers which unfortunately support Autism Speaks every April. In the checkout line, I could hear clerks asking people if they wanted to donate to the organization. I probably should have gotten out of line and just left without buying my items, but I didn't. Instead when the clerk ringing me up asked if I wanted to make a "donation for autism," I said "not to Autism Speaks, no."
The clerk looked quite taken aback and only was able to let out a little "awwww" noise of awkward disappointment. I wanted to explain myself, but I'd already made the situation very awkward and didn't really want to make a checkout clerk's workday worse, and also I am a walking talking bag of awkward bad decision making. Later I wrote on the TJ Maxx Facebook page about some of the issues with Autism Speaks and asked them to support a different organization that actually helps autistic people, and now I'm writing a blog post.
Now that you're caught up, if you didn't already know, many autistic people are highly critical of Autism Speaks and even call it a hate group masquerading as a charity. And with good reason. Autism Speaks treats autistic people like shit and sympathizes with people who have literally murdered their autistic children because raising them was hard.
But don't take it from me, an allistic (non-autistic) person. There are many people who are both autistic and great writers, and they've written time and time again about the issues with Autism Speaks. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us allistics just don't care to listen to the people actually being affected by this problem.
If you want to learn more, I encourage you to literally Google "don't support Autism Speaks." You'll find loads of articles listing all of the many reasons why this organization is garbage.
I like this one in particular, by Amy Sequenzia.
Is Autism Speaks a Hate Group?
The author takes the legal definitions of a hate group and goes point by point, sourcing her arguments, and ends in a heartbreaking explanation of why the organization is not officially considered to be a hate group. Read the whole thing.
For a list of companies that support Autism Speaks as well as a list of alternatives to Autism Speaks, check out The Caffeinated Autistic. And spread the word. Autistic people are not burdens. Autistic people do not need to be "cured" out of existence. Autistic people are people. Autism Speaks is a hate group.