Autism Speaks is undoubtedly one of, if not the largest and most well-known autism charities in the entire world. They have done good work for the cause. For example, they’ve raised autism awareness to an unprecedented level; the popularity of their “Light It Up Blue” campaign is proof of that. However, it is a very contentious organization among the autism community, particularly due to its mission to find a “cure” for autism—an extremely controversial goal that the organization was founded on.
However, Autism Speaks has recently changed their mission, removing all traces of curing autism from their statement. It now reads:
“Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.
Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.”
What has caused the change? As Stephen Mark Shore, a new board member with autism, says, “Similar to many experiences of parents of children with autism, the organization grew to believe that autism is something to be worked with for promoting fulfilling and productive lives of people on the spectrum—rather than something that has to be done to.”
The news has naturally been met with mixed feelings—some praising the organization’s decision, some remaining skeptical, and some mourning the loss of focus on a cure. We at The Autism Site hope that this new, balanced viewpoint coming from a significant autism charity will help us put the “unity” in autism community. Because—though the autism spectrum features a wide range of symptoms, severities, and needs for support—we are ultimately on the same team and need to work together to achieve our goals.