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Build-a-Bear ends partnership with Autism Speaks

Upon hearing complaints about the Autism Speaks organization, Build-A-Bear decided to end their fundraising partnership.
Upon hearing complaints about the Autism Speaks organization, Build-A-Bear decided to end their fundraising partnership.
Photo by Gustavo Caballero

As evidenced by the "Ice Bucket Challenge," finding creative ways to raise money for charity is a favorite American pastime.

Most people prefer to take an easier route, such as patronizing a favorite store that is donating a portion of their profits to a particular charity.

Recently, Build-a-Bear, an innovative toy store which allows children (and adults) to create their own one-of-a-kind, stuffed animals, partnered with Autism Speaks to raise money for the organization.

Autistics and parents of autistic children, took to the Internet to express their views about Autism Speaks.

A large part of the movement was a group called Boycott Autism Speaks.

While they support raising money for services to autistics and their families, they feel that not enough of the funds raised by the organization go to provide these services.

They object to the negative stereotypes that are presented in Autism Speaks promotional videos.

The biggest complaint that most autistic people have with the organization is the fact that there are no board members or representatives within the organization that have autism.

Unlike their struggles to get their message across to Autism Speaks, Build-a-Bear listened and took action. Upon hearing the complaints, some expressing disappointment and others referring to the organization as a hate group, the company decided to end its partnership with Autism Speaks.

In appreciation for this action, autistic children and adults have been actively supporting Build-a-Bear by purchasing and designing their own stuffed animals and, publicly, thanking the company on the Internet.

Build-A-Bear was recently praised for their actions by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network: "It is heartening to see a company ensure that their philanthropic efforts ultimately align with and reinforce a message of inclusion and acceptance for all people. Charitable efforts should support the people they are designed to help, and be responsive to feedback and concerns from the community, and Build-A-Bear Workshop has done exactly that."

In a world where autistic voices are often ignored, in this instance, they truly did speak and were heard.