Autism Speaks made me buy pens at Walmart.
When my friend Paula C. Durbin-Westby posted about "school supplies" with Autism Speaks branding being sold at Walmart, I had a reaction that could be described as both stereotypically gay and snobbish.
That's tacky and sort of pathetic. How come Autism Speaks always gets down scale partners like Walmart and White Castle? It's like they want to be Komen for the Cure's lowbrow baby brother. Well, at least it's better than the meat-and-grease scented candle.
I posted Paula's picture on the thAutcast Facebook page because I thought the items were an interesting curiosity. Without comment because I thought she had an interesting point of view on it, although one which I did not especially share:
Acceptance? Really? You have to be kidding. Autism $peaks is now in the "acceptance" business. Autism $peaks' marketing slogan for this is "Acceptance and Awareness just got a little easier in our schools.. Autism Speaks school supplies available at WALMART!"These are available in the *school supplies* section of Walmart. This photo is from my local Walmart. These are being sold in the school supplies section because, you know... children and autism are totally related. Lots of children will probably want cool school supplies with blue puzzle pieces on them. Puzzles are fun, right? Kids like puzzles. For those kids who don't like Autism Speaks, or don't want "autism awareness" shoved in their faces at school, this is going to be a problem.
And all hell broke loose. Lots of anger. One person asked if Paula was human. People are still leaving comments and we're approaching 300 of them.
I guess I should not have been surprised, but I was. I posted a link to this video of GRASP's Michael John Carley explaining "The Comic/Tragic Politics of the Autism/Aspergers World" because I think it provides the best explanation of why there is a longstanding conflict between Autism Speaks and autistic self-advocates.
I signed Paula's petition.
And then I was ready to move on.
My friend Jennifer is very excited by some of the things that she saw and heard at the recent Autism Speaks conference in Chicago. I'm hoping that she will write about it here, because I think there is genuine positive movement within AS that I want to recognize and encourage. That's what I was thinking regarding Autism Speaks yesterday.
And then Paula posted something else about these "school supplies" (which really look more like "office supplies" to me, but Autism Speaks is calling them "school supplies"). They all prominently display this message:
Every purchase supports Autism Speaks, the largest research & advocacy organization.
6% of the net proceeds will be donated to Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for Autism.
Them's fighting words.
Autistic people have been asking Autism Speaks to stop using the cure language since long before there was an Autism Speaks.