Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Autism Speaks Falsely Claims Video Removed

After numerous concerned people wrote to Autism Speaks stating their objections to the "I Am Autism" video, the organization's chief science officer, Geri Dawson, prepared a form reply in which she claims that Autism Speaks understands the criticism and has removed the video from its site in order to be more respectful toward autistics. But in fact, the video is still there.

Dear [name],

Thank you very much for sending me your letter and telling me about your perspective and feelings regarding the “I Am Autism” video. I understand and respect your perspective and I am truly sorry that the film offended you. The video was not intended to reflect Autism Speaks broader viewpoint or attitude toward persons with autism spectrum disorder. Rather, it was created by two fathers of children with autism – Billy Mann, a Grammy-nominated songwriter, music producer and Autism Speaks board member, and Alfonso Cuarón, an Academy award-nominated film director. It is based on a personal poem written by Mr. Mann. It is an intensely personal expression by these two fathers. It was their hope that the piece would inspire other voices and artists in the autism community. It has greatly offended some people, however, and we have removed it from our website.

Again, thank you for writing to me and sharing your thoughts. You can rest assured that I will continue to advocate for a respectful and compassionate attitude and support for persons with autism spectrum disorder.


Geri Dawson

Seems to me she'd be a lot more convincing if Autism Speaks hadn't been consistently describing autistic kids as horrible burdens for years, beginning with the Autism Every Day film in 2006. And what's more, the I Am Autism video was still on the Autism Speaks website when I looked just now, very prominently featured on a page that boasts of how it was created especially for a United Nations event that Autism Speaks' co-founder Suzanne Wright hosted.


If you're going to lie to us, Geri, you could at least try to get your story straight…

Edit, October 1: Autism Speaks finally wised up and removed the page mentioned above. Sure took them long enough...

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  • Admittedly, the page is no longer linked from the home page, so that's some progress-- but still, saying it's been 'removed from the site' when the HTML file is very much there is just plain disingenuous.

    In fact, the page with the video is still the first hit on Google for 'autism speaks united nations'. So yeah, not exactly a good job removing it from the site.

    By Blogger codeman38, at 10:40 AM  

  • Fortunately the I Am Autism video can be accessed on the Autism Speaks YouTube account.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 11:43 AM  

  • You know what, Harold, you're really not helping your friends at Autism Speaks by publicly confirming how deceitful they are. Yes, the video is indeed still featured on the Autism Speaks YouTube account. And it is currently # 10 in a Google video search for "I Am Autism," with the top nine spots occupied by pro-neurodiversity parody and response videos...

    By Blogger abfh, at 12:09 PM  

  • Yes, that is very good progress that "I Am Autism" has been knocked pretty low on the first page, but unfortunately, it hasn't been knocked off the first page altogether to removed from the site altogether. My next blog post is going to cover this.

    By Blogger TheWiredOne, at 12:13 PM  

  • How can they say it was a personal comment that does not reflect their attitude when they showcased it and allowed it to be filled with their own branding. When each and every person who signed off on the video resigns, I will be willing to consider the possibility that they are working towards being respectful. As it stands, they are just scared.

    By Blogger VAB, at 1:25 PM  

  • I know. I just put up my second blog post about it.

    By Blogger TheWiredOne, at 1:41 PM  

  • Maybe someday the persons with HFA and Aspergers Disorder who succeeded in intimidating Autism Speaks into removing the video will be successful in suppressing all mention of he severely austic the ones who were called autistic BEFORE the DSM III-R

    By Blogger Unknown, at 3:40 PM  

  • Harold, I was called autistic as a child in the 1960s, long before the DSM III-R. I suggest you take your trolling somewhere else; it's starting to get rather tiresome.

    By Blogger abfh, at 3:45 PM  

  • @abfh: Way to tell him off! Might I suggest that you ban him from your blog if this continues? It'll save a lot of mental energy in the form of telling him to stop trolling repeatedly, which can quickly turn into feeding the trolls in the form of repeated angry rants that the troll is actually enjoying.

    By Blogger TheWiredOne, at 4:08 PM  

  • Sadderbutwisergirl: He rarely comments on my blog, but I agree with your sentiment in general. I have better things to do with my time than rant at trolls.

    By Blogger abfh, at 4:19 PM  

  • Typical insincere apology and lie coming from Autism Speaks.

    By Blogger Jeremy Gallen, at 5:59 PM  

  • I can not stand their organization...it was one of the first that I came across when I first started looking on the internet. I was horrified thinking that this was the general attitude towards people with autism.
    It doesn't look as if much has changed...sure they moved the video..wouldn't it be nice if they retracted the whole thing-maybe made a different one? An inclusive one...one can hope..

    By Blogger kathleen, at 6:10 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger John Best, at 6:47 PM  

  • I just posted an open protest letter to Geri Dawson. Now I must go e-mail it.

    By Blogger TheWiredOne, at 6:54 PM  

  • I'm counting down the minutes until the comment above SBWG's hits the cutting room floor.

    Doherty, need you be reminded that LFA's back before the DSM-III were being DXed as mentally retarded and were NOT seen as Autistic?

    Do explain that to us (said with heavy sarcasm).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:17 PM  

  • @abfh: Here are two URLs to add to your list of anti-"I Am Autism" blog posts:
    I'm really wishing I included the one above my blog's in my latest post.

    By Blogger TheWiredOne, at 7:21 PM  

  • @SBWG: Thanks for the links, and I'm happy to report that the Autism Speaks video has been knocked off the first page.

    By Blogger abfh, at 11:09 AM  

  • I don't want the people at Autism Speaks to resign- I want at least one high functioning (Asperger's) and one low functioning (somebody who can only communicate by keyboard) on the board of directors. With veto. Then maybe, just maybe, we can begin to make some *REAL PROGRESS* into getting people the help they need without weird eugenics schemes such as prenatal detection or stupid videos like this one.

    By Blogger Theodore M. Seeber, at 11:48 AM  

  • How come they had to send their chief science officer, Geri Dawson, to do damage control? That's a little strange. Don't they have a PR person or something?

    The only thing the video had to with science was that it contained a couple of assertions that were scientifically unsupported, and Ms. Dawson certainly ought to be embarrassed about that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:08 PM  

  • he severely austic the ones who were called autistic BEFORE the DSM III-R

    @Harold: You mean like the ones from Kanner (1972)?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:13 PM  

  • @abfh: At first, I was hoping that it was true, that Autism Speaks finally atoned for their actions and took the video off their page, but alas, there it is still.
    When I checked YouTube, I couldn't have been happier. Let's keep it up!

    By Blogger TheWiredOne, at 5:05 PM  

  • http://www.nashobalearninggroup.org/events.htm

    Please give a shout out to the pathetic ABA center not only supporting A.S. but looking for money as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:53 PM  

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