The massive charity, Autism Speaks, was founded just over 2 years ago by Bob Wright (formerly chairman and CEO of NBC Universal) and his wife Suzanne. They have raised and spent millions, with charity walks and huge celebrity-soaked galas; the latter tending to cost more than they raise, but hey, it's all about awareness right(!) Their extravagant use of funds is evident on a 2006 tax return (pdf link). Autism Speaks are proud to have James Watson quoted on their web site saying, “Autism is the worst thing that can happen to a family.”
I will never understand that.
This organisation are also responsible for the infamous 'Autism every day' film, in which a group of mums whine on camera about how hard their lives are because they are raising autistic children. The film was staged, and deliberately set out to make things look as bad a s possible, yet it was selling itself as an honest look at the lives of everyday folk. One fabulously wealthy mum spoke on camera about how she considered murder/suicide with her daughter, while that daughter was in the room!
The mission of Autism Speaks is displayed on their web site;
At Autism Speaks, our goal is to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders.
We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.
Autism Speaks aims to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to listen to our concerns and take action to address this urgent global health crisis. It is our firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle.
Autism Speaks. It's time to listen.
It should be clear to anyone reading the above, that when they call themselves 'Autism Speaks' they really mean, 'anyone aside from autistic people speaks.' This extremely wealthy charity is concerned solely with the prevention and cure of autism and not with ways of helping people live with autism. Many people opposed to the aims and methods of this monstrous organisation have supported a petition, Autism Speaks: Don't Speak for Me. I would urge you to sign it.
Recently, a 14 year old created a low key parody web site called 'NT Speaks' lampooning the ridiculously mis-named objectives of Autism Speaks. How did this huge and powerful charity and lobby group react; why they sent the lawyers after her! Yes, the charity who want 'to bring the autism community together as one strong voice' have made it very clear they do not want to hear the voices of autistic children who disagree with them!
The bully tactics employed included a letter signed by 30 lawyers suing her for $90,000 for copyright infringement, funds lost and loss of supporters. This is how a multi-million dollar charity spend their income. When they realised her age, they dropped the monetary claim, but insisted that she destroy the source code and give up the domain name. The girl felt compelled to comply and the site has been destroyed.
What this child had done was entirely legal and Autism Speaks had no right to bully her in this way. Under US laws, parody is not considered a copyright violation. They have also threatened to sue anyone else who uses their logo or trade marked material; sites like this.
So anyone considering supporting this group in the future, or any celebrity thinking they're doing a good turn while getting themselves exposure and brownie points for doing some charity work, think about where the money may be going.