There is a trend to boycott Autism Speaks. The question is why? Why boycott Autism Speaks when it seems to at least on the surface provide support for such a heart touching issue?
The group identified as Boycott Autism Speaks is made up of autistic adults. Joined by other advocates, they believe –they know that Autism Speaks is doing more harm to the cause of autism than good. Beyond the issue of how Autism Speaks allocates funds raised under the guise of finding a cure for autism, Boycott Autism Speaks disdains the idea of needing to raise funds for finding a cure instead of what these autistic adults feel they really need; financial support of programs that help autistic people live and work as they desire.
Boycott Autism Speaks claims that Autism Speaks consists of a Board of Directors that is entirely void of a single autistic member.
The Massachusetts-based Judge Rotenburg Center is a treatment center for Autism. As of August, 2014, this center was under investigation for using electric shock as aversion therapy on autistic individuals by the FDA. Along with the fact that Autism Speaks supports the Judge Rotenburg Center, Boycott Autism Speaks strongly refutes the research that says autism is a result of vaccine use.
First of all, to get a real clear picture of what’s happening at Autism Speaks, you would have to read John Elder Robison. He’s an author of a few books on the subject. He is someone who is himself autistic (although on the higher spectrum of function ability). He has written as to why he resigned after four years of holding a position on the Science and Treatment boards of Autism Speaks back in late 2013.
The Boycott Autism Speaks website has posted an audited financial report for 2012. This audit reveals expenditures of slightly over $64 million. Most noteworthy, Autism Speaks passed along only one-third of these expenditures toward actual program expenses. Only about 4% ($2.05 million) actually went toward supporting autistic individuals and affected families. The largest expenditure of $22,861,019 (36%) was allocated for salaries, benefits, and payroll taxes. Science grants and awards grabbed another $15,790,797 (25%) of the total expenditures. Yes, you read these figures right! MILLIONS!
Furthermore, Autism Parenting Magazine published a very strong article written by a mother of an autistic child. She addressed the issue as to what drove her to boycott Autism Speaks. It’s worth the read for those who are hedging as to what the correct action for themselves should be.
Furthermore, Boycott Autism Speaks claims 7 of 10 charities evaluated spend about 75% on the programs those charitable organizations support. Some of these autism charities are:
Charity Navigator rates the financial health of charities. With some Autism Speaks executive salaries reaching over $400,000 a year, on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being best, Autism Speaks’ financial health comes in at a 2-star rating. Autism Speaks rated an over-all of 82.54 score which translates into a 3-star rating.
Finally, a strong argument can be made in defense of Autism Speaks. The organization was founded in 2005 by grandparents of an autistic child. Today they claim to be the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since there’s an increasing number of autistic people and family members, there lies the problem they have with Autism Speaks. The science treats them as anything other than a valued human life!
Using “autism” as a lure for raising tens of millions of dollars without using the bulk of those contributions to directly impact autistic individuals and families of autism is a crime! Without autistic people, we wouldn’t have the likes of Microsoft, Apple, and the many legacies (too many to list here) left by autistic people like Temple Grandin!