No Stereotypes Here

Protesting Autism Speaks

Posted on: November 17, 2009

ASAN is protesting Autism Speaks in New York right now at 6pm. They are meeting at Seventh Avenue and 57th Street, 154 West 57th Street in New York City at 6 PM to hold up signs and hand out flyers to Autism Speaks sponsors going in to their New York City concert with Bruce Springsteen and Jerry Seinfeld.

Given that it’s nearly 5pm my time, it’s a little late to advertise the protest. However, I realize that not everyone, even if they are available to go to the protest, are able to go, stand on a sidewalk and confront, even non-verbally, complete strangers.

So, what I’m thinking is this; letter campaigning, to celebrities and officials, emails to Autism Speaks itself (since it states that they would LOVE to hear from autistic individuals, email them at, bookmark campaigns, and meme-ing.

The letter campaigning and it’s digital offshoot, emailing, are fairly traditional ways to protest, as well as signing petitions. (which reminds me, the ASAN petition is still available HERE

But what are bookmark campaigns? Well, it’s kind of like handing out flyers, except indirectly. You create/download cards, as in business cards, that can contain a slogan, some information, and a website URL. You print out the cards and then go to either libraries and bookstores, and slip them into books. I recommend related-topic books, such as the autism books, as well as some of the current bestsellers, recommended, new arrivals and speed-reading books. These are books which are most likely to get picked up, and concern the most relevant readers.

EDIT: Here’s a card that I made up as an example. I fully give permission for people to use it for bookmark activism 😀

As for Meme-ing, well, that’s the continuous re-posting of information, whether it’ll be quizes, questionnaires, or the chunk of information I’m about to post below, the reasons why ASAN is protesting Autism Speaks.

These are just a FEW of the ways in which we can protest. These aren’t the ONLY ways to protest, and no one has to do them all, or any of them. People are certainly able to come with new ideas to protest that accommodates their abilities and what they feel comfortable doing.

If you have any of those ideas, feel free to comment with them. I’d LOVE to hear new ways of protesting.

Finishing up, here’s my meme-ing protest, the reasons why ASAN is protesting Autism Speaks (bold is mine).


1. Autism Speaks talks about us without us. Not a single Autistic person is on Autism Speaks’ Board of Directors or in their leadership. Autism Speaks is one of an increasingly few number of major disability advocacy organizations that refuse to include any individual with the disability they purport to serve on their board of directors or at any point in their leadership and decision-making processes. In large part due to Autism Speaks’ public relations strategy of presenting Autistic people as silent burdens on society rather than human beings with thoughts, feelings and opinions.

2. They use fear and stigma to try and raise money off the backs of our people. Autism Speaks uses damaging and offensive fundraising tactics which rely on fear, stereotypes and devaluing the lives of people on the autism spectrum. Autism Speaks’ advertising claims that Autistic people are stolen from our own bodies. Its television Public Service Announcements compare having a child on the autism spectrum to having a child caught in a fatal car accident or struck by lightning. In fact, the idea of autism as a fate worse than death is a frequent theme in their fundraising and awareness efforts, going back to their “Autism Every Day” film in 2005. Indeed, throughout Autism Speaks’ fundraising is a consistent and unfortunate theme of fear, pity and prejudice, presenting Autistic adults and children not as full human beings but as burdens on society that must be eliminated as soon as possible.

3. Very little money donated to Autism Speaks goes toward helping Autistic people and families: According to their 2008 annual report, only 4% of Autism Speaks’ budget goes towards the “Family Service” grants that are the organization’s means of funding services. Given the huge sums of money Autism Speaks raises from local communities as compared to the miniscule sums it gives back, it is not an exaggeration to say that Autism Speaks is a tremendous drain on the ability of communities to fund autism service-provision and education initiatives Furthermore, while the bulk of Autism Speaks’ budget (65%) goes toward genetic and biomedical research, only a small minority of Autism Speaks’ research budget goes towards research oriented around improving services, supports, treatments and educational methodologies, with most funding going towards basic research oriented around causation and genetic research, including the prospect of prenatal testing. Although Autism Speaks has not prioritized services with a practical impact for families and individuals in its budget, its rates of executive pay are the highest in the autism world, with annual salaries as high as $600,000 a year.



4 Responses to "Protesting Autism Speaks"

Hi Corina, Because I travel around running errands with my herd-I am highly visible in my very very small town. Everyone knows everyone. Most people know that my kids have autism-so when we are out at the library, or walking in town, I take every opportunity that arises to educate people. They see me with my kids-how we wonderful they all are. I have had a number of people ask me about autspeaks,walking for them etc.-I am MORE THAN HAPPY to educate people on the kind of organization autspeaks is. The theory is-that if you tell one person…they will tell ten..and on and on..speaking out does work. Even in tiny towns.:)

Hi kathleen!That is awesome. And it's true, the grapevine works. generally, when I go out and do awareness work, I try to interact as many as possible, with the hope that I reach at least one person. I'd like to reach a lot of people, but if I can reach just one, then it's worth it.

Well hey Miss Corina! I do so enjoy yer writin an such! You is a fine writer-thats for damn true! Me an my gal Thelma thinks you is a champion dumbass hhunter! Boy howdy an a side a whup ass ya is!

Hello there Louise!! Glad to see you here and enjoying my writing.Awww, thank you kindly, ladies.

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  • Corina Becker: Hi Anonymous person who apparently doesn't feel like giving me a name to address, and thus hides behind anonymity!!! I never said the federal gov
  • Anonymous: I think that it is about time something is being done federally to help those with ASD to get much needed therapies for their disability and YES I do
  • Corina Becker: Hi Janine! Melody reads here? Awesome. I honestly had no idea she was aware of this blog.And thank you so much, I'm glad both of you like the bl


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