The other day, while on twitter, someone began to tweet to me about how I needed to boycott Autism Speaks. I replied that I don’t outwardly support them, nor do I decry them. That person went on to try to “teach” me about Autism Speaks and how detrimental they were to those on the spectrum. I replied that I didn’t agree with the way their message is being communicated, but that they have the funding and national recognition to be able to get some much needed research done. This person then suggested several other autism groups which were much more deserving of my time (didn’t I already explain that I neither support nor boycott Autism Speaks? What time is it that I am giving to them?) and insisted that these groups also do research.
The following is a list of groups that this person suggested. I was already familiar with some, in fact already support and follow several on twitter and FaceBook. There are others on this list that seem a little less organized, and some that I don’t necessarily support. Not one of them, however, does the type of scientific research that Autism Speaks sponsors.
Let me be plain. I do not support the notion that autism is a disease. I do not support the notion that it needs to be cured in any way. I do not support the notion that autism is a bad thing. I think Autism Speaks muddies their own message, vision, purpose and intent with some of the inflammatory statements that their founders have made. For these reasons, I do not raise money for Autism Speaks, nor do I publicly support them in any way, other than to follow them on twitter and FaceBook. I do share certain articles posted by Autism Speaks that I think are helpful to those on the spectrum, and to families affected by autism. And I do not “boycott” or publicly denounce them because I feel that the types of research that they sponsor are necessary, and no one else can even come close to the scope of that research. In short, I think they serve a purpose, but I will not actively support them until they get clear on their message, vision, purpose, and intent.
I respect those with opinions differing from mine until you give me a reason not to. I don’t enjoy being needled by someone who assumes I have made an uneducated decision. I don’t enjoy it when someone assumes I support Autism Speaks because I respond to someone else’s tweet to Autism Speaks.
Feel free to check out any of these groups, as suggested by @imwithduke and see what conclusions you come up with.
It never hurts to do your own research and figure out just where you stand. No nonprofit can serve the needs of all members of the community it purports to serve. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad for a time, and see what shakes out. Do the research, and make an informed decision. Respect those with differing views until they give you a good reason not to.