Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Autism Speaks, We Need Answers

Autism Speaks, which still hasn't learned its lesson about fear-mongering advertising and seems incapable of doing so, has decided to exploit a recent study of autism prevalence in the United States to incite even more false epidemic hysteria by way of a new fundraising campaign called "We Need Answers."


The study found a parent-reported autism prevalence rate higher than previous US estimates, although not significantly different from the figures found in studies from the UK and other countries. Notwithstanding the fact that this new study merely brings autism prevalence estimates in the United States more in line with those from other parts of the world, Autism Speaks howls on its web page, "These new findings reinforce that autism is an urgent and growing public health crisis…"

Well, no, these findings don't prove anything of the sort. About all that's being reinforced here is Autism Speaks' penchant for unethical advertising based on distorting the facts, which isn't anything new either. But I have to agree with them on one point: We need answers. No, not to the question of why there are so many autistic people in the world, which is a question that I consider just as obnoxious as if it had been asked about any other minority group. Here are just a few of the questions I'd like to see them answer:

(1) Autism Speaks, how long do you think you're going to be able to keep large numbers of parents obediently marching in your fundraising walks to pay your executives' hefty salaries and to fund your eugenics-loving researchers, when it's increasingly obvious that almost none of the money raised goes back to communities for family services?

(2) When large numbers of disability groups take the almost unprecedented step of publicly condemning an advocacy organization's harmful advertising and unrepresentative practices, doesn't that suggest it might be a good idea for said organization to rethink its approach?

(3) Do you really expect that nobody is going to notice when, instead of encouraging meaningful participation in decision-making by those on whose behalf you pretend to speak, you curse self-advocates and claim that they don't exist?

We're never going to see any responses to these questions, of course—but Autism Speaks' stonewalling doesn't change the fact that we need answers.



  • From their web page)

    "In the NSCH study, more than 78,000 parents of children aged 3 to 17 years were asked whether their child currently had an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis – including autism, Asperger's syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder, or another ASD~"

    78,000 is a pretty good sample size, and is probably correct, but you can be sure they'll leave out the small detail that everyone on the spectrum is included in that figure, and portray us all as non-verbal, and needing them to speak for us. They use the figures when it suits them, ignore us when it doesn't. They've built their foundation on a huge LIE!

    By Blogger Clay, at 3:42 PM  

  • Don't Forget:

    "Autism is more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined".

    It's also more common than deaths caused by exploding cats, heterosexual men able to maintain the same standard of personal grooming as homosexual men, and 7-11's with British owners.

    By Blogger Socrates, at 4:31 PM  

  • With respect to Clay's comment, I particularly find it telling that Autism Speaks is perfectly willing to include HFA/AS when calculating statistics, but aren't willing to count the same individuals as autistic when they're protesting...

    By Blogger codeman38, at 6:25 PM  

  • I tried to look for any references to the recent adult prevalence study from the UK in the Autism Speaks US site. I didn't find any. The only reaction seems to be this one from a Time Magazine article:

    Michael Rosanoff, an epidemiology specialist with Autism Speaks, emphasizes that "the small sample size for estimating prevalence requires caution about interpreting this finding on a population-based scale."

    That's fair enough, but they apparently have no problem at all with prevalence estimates based on phone surveys and other passive methods, which can obviously be quite inaccurate.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 11:40 PM  

  • You make me laugh, Socrates.

    Clay's observation is most important, I thought. There is a great deal of deceptive manipulation of the facts in the hype put out by these curebie groups.

    By Blogger Lili Marlene, at 11:52 PM  

  • I'm actually on their mailing list (chiefly because I just couldn't be bothered unsubscribing) and I got the email about this campaign. And I responded by giving them an answer - sensory overload caused by the pace of today's society. It's too fast and needs to slow down.

    That's not the whole answer of course - because that would just be the sixth sense (instinct) and not the other five which would also have issues of their own over a wide range and a wide variety. But that was the gist of what I told them.

    And of course - I got no reply.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:43 AM  

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