I have to cite the hateful Op-Ed Autism Speaks’ co-founder Suzanne Wright wrote a coupe of months ago. It took me a while to process one of the many discussions I was part of and I was so tired after the whole thing, I did not talk much about it. Until now, I thought I was going to try to forget about this discussion. I can't.
It all began with some parents defending Suzanne Wright's words. Some tried to separate what she said from the rhetoric of Autism Speaks. This group of parents failed on this very basic assessment: Suzanne Wright and Autism Speaks are one and the same. She was speaking as the official voice of Autism Speaks. She was using her influence in Washington DC to gather support for Autism Speaks’ cause. Those parents said they dislike Autism Speaks, yet they agree with the hateful words directed at their own children.
This is even more disturbing and disheartening.
One parent even said that her children were a “life long tragedy”.
I was the only one showing outrage for the Op-Ed (later a couple of parents also indicated they were outraged, but they did not engage in the discussion). I said that I am the Autistic Autism Speaks considers “tragic” and “burden”, and that the hateful rhetoric hurts and even endangers us. I said that several times and each time parents still said “some” Autistics were, indeed, burdens on their families and that the ones who were offended were the “high-functioning” ones. No surprise there. This is the go-to excuse to silence us, even though I had just stated that I am what Autism Speaks calls “severely affected”. It was silencing and ignoring at the same time. I was asking them to consider my feelings and they were doubling down on their support for Suzanne Wright and all the hatred. Some parents and a "doctor" tried to give Ms. Wright some legitimacy, saying that she was absolutely not trying to hurt people, she was just trying to raise awareness of how inadequate the supports are and how the government is not doing anything to help the “tragic spread of autism”. They said that she was a grandmother of an autistic child, therefore she could say whatever she was saying because her words were coming from a place of “love”.
But how can it be love when the whole Op-Ed was fear, lies and hatred? The "doctor" tried to convince me of “all the good” Autism Speaks does. But his condescension did not hold up against facts.
I know that sometimes people refuse to hear and see the truth. They are comfortable in their roles, usually a role that puts them in a position of perceived superiority, at the same time of saviors and martyrs. But when autistics of all ages are being demonized by an organization that asks parents and friends for their support, I will speak up. What it is more appalling is that some people don’t even realize that the main mission of Autism Speaks is to eradicate the group of people it claims it wants to help.
Parents who accept those words written by Suzanne Wright as the truth, see themselves as victims and martyrs. They may love their children, but they are selfish. They are not thinking about a better future for their children. If they are, they should realize that their actions guarantee a very difficult life for the autistics they love.