What Is Autism Speaks? History,Activities And Views!

Autism Speaks Inc. (AS) is a nonprofit that works to raise awareness about autism and is also the largest organization in the United States dedicated to autism research.  Autism research is supported by this organization, as are awareness and communication efforts directed toward families, government agencies, and the general public.  It was established in February of 2005 by Bob Wright, who was the vice chairman of General Electric at the time, and his wife Suzanne, exactly one year after their grandson Christian was given a diagnosis of autism.

The autism rights movement and proponents for neurodiversity view autism not as a sickness that needs to be treated but rather as a difference that should be celebrated. and have voiced their disagreement with Autism Speaks’ mission to find a treatment for the condition.

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As a response to this, the former president of the organization, Liz Feld, has stated that one-third of autistic people also have a seizure disorder, that half of the autistic people have serious digestive complications, that 50% of autistic people wander, and that more than 30% of autistic people are nonverbal, and that these challenges can only be resolved through medical research.  In spite of this, in 2016, the word “cure” was removed from the organization’s mission statement.

Autism History

An initial $25 million investment came from The Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, who served on its board of directors for several years.  Geraldine Dawson, Ph .D, became Autism Speaks’ chief scientific officer in January 2008. As of April 2010, Yoko Ono was the organization’s first “Global Autism Ambassador.”  Autistic Speaks has amalgamated with three other autism groups since it was founded.

The “Wubbzy” character from Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! has been utilized as a mascot by Autism Speaks. Sesame Street’s Julia was used in PSAs by Autism Speaks in 2019 to encourage early autism screenings.

The organization’s chairman, Bob Wright, stepped down on May 1, 2015. He was replaced by Brian Kelly, a co-founder of Eastern Real Estate LLC and the organization’s Audit and Family Services Committee Chair. As a co-founder, Bob Wright continues to serve on the board.

Suzanne Wright, the company’s co-founder, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on November 2, 2015, and has since taken a leave of absence. She passed away on the 29th of July, 2016. 2016 brought approximately $47.5 million, an 18 percent drop from the previous year’s total. According to Disability Scoop, this shift resulted in a significant loss in revenue.

An Autism Speaks spokesperson attributed the fall to a shift in financing for MSSNG research and a decrease in revenue from the organization’s annual Autism Speaks Walks.  It received approximately $60 million in funding last year. While grant money declined by $3.1 million, however. The organization stated that writing scholarships for 2019 take a lot of effort.

What Is Autism Speaks? History,Activities And Views!
What Is Autism Speaks? History,Activities And Views!

Autism Activities

Autism Speaks is a nonprofit organization that, along with its predecessor organizations, has been a source of funding for research into the causes and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. In addition, Autism Speaks engages in awareness and outreach activities that are directed toward families, governments, and the general public.  However, in 2016, Autism Speaks removed the goal of finding a cure for autism from its statement of mission.

Research Autism Speaks and the organizations that came before it has worked to increase public awareness of the need for autism research, generated cash specifically for research and pushed Congress in an effort to supplement the privately donated money with significantly more funding from the public sector.

Their advocacy in the areas of treatment and environmental factors shifted research priorities in the United States from basic research to translational and clinical research between the years 1997 and 2006. This resulted in less emphasis being placed on the underlying biology and more emphasis being placed on putting what was known into practice.

Autism Views

Since its inception, Autism Speaks has advocated for autism as an illness: “It has claimed the lives of our children because of this condition. When they’re gone, they’re gone.” “Many but not all autism scientists would endorse” this point of view.  But autistic activists have pushed the social model of disability and the idea that persons with autism are “different but not diseased,” saying that “how we perceive such medical disorders” has to be questioned.

Autism Speaks website, “Getting the Word Out,” was criticized by an autistic blogger in January 2008, who established a critical parody website titled “Getting the Truth Out.”As a result of Autism Speaks’s legal demands, it was later removed from the internet. The spoof, according to Autism Speaks, may cause confusion among those trying to learn more about autism. Later, Gwen Nelson, a founder of the autism rights group Aspies for Freedom, developed a number of new spoof sites.

Autism Speaks screened Alfonso Cuarón and board member Billy Mann’s short film I Am Autism in September 2009 at its annual World Focus on Autism event. I Am Autism has been condemned by autism groups and researchers for its representation of autism as a kind of gloomy reaper figure reminiscent of the 1954 short Taming the Crippler.

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