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Andrew, Emma and Autism Speaks

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone recently outwitted paparazzi by holding signs in front of their faces. Autism self-advocates are not happy.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield turned a pointless encounter with paparazzi into something more meaningful by holding signs in front of their faces, encouraging people to donate to various charities.

Among them, to the dismay of autism self-advocates, was Autism Speaks.

Why would autistic people be upset about an organization that calls attention to autism?

Self-advocates have been complaining about Autism Speaks for years. Ironically, the autistics who are “speaking," they say, are not being listened to.

Potential donors complain that too much money goes into advertising and employee salaries. Autism self-advocates would agree.

They are also unhappy that no person with autism is employed by Autism Speaks or represented on their boards. One exception for a time, was John Elder Robison who served as a member of the “Science and Treatment” board of the organization.

Robison resigned from Autism Speaks stating, “Recent public statements from Autism Speaks have shown that my ideas have not taken hold among top leaders, despite my best efforts“.

The biggest complaint among self-advocates is the way Autism Speaks presents autism.

It has been compared to a monster, a plague and a national disaster. They state that it will take away your children, destroy your marriage and steal your money.

They want to destroy and eradicate autism.

What autistics hear, according to self-advocates is “you want to destroy me.”

People with autism have difficulty processing social encounters, but they can hear. Many do not like what they are hearing from Autism Speaks.

Emma and Andrew did a kind thing. Certainly, they meant well.

Perhaps, in future paparazzi encounters they might consider The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network or The Autism Society of America. Both are recommended for autistics, by autistics.

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