Thursday, February 28, 2013

Every time I see an Autism Speaks commercial, a little piece of my head explodes

(Originally posted on my tumblr account on April 9, 2012)

I am not autistic, but as a PWD, I see the commercials and the complete avoidance of the people (most often children) who are actually autistic. Most notable is the Tommy Hilfiger ad, where he says “I’m Tommy Hilfiger, and my family is affected by autism.”

He doesn’t even mention which member of his family is autistic like the others do. If they wanted to advertise and actually acknowledge the autistic people, they should let them star in the commercials (or at least give the opportunity to do so). If they completely reversed their strategy, they might be a slightly better organization. Of course, the true solution is to fund research more than these ridiculous commercials, the organization might be more credible that way. What they need to do is get someone like this “nameless” autistic member of Hilfiger’s family to star in the commercial….let them communicate “I am autistic and this is how it affects me: …”(I’m choosing not to be specific here because I don’t want to mislead or offend anyone). Only after they have done that should they even consider having a famous person jump in and tell you who they are and that it’s their child ACTUALLY IN THE COMMERCIAL.

I’m not autistic, as I said, but avoidance of PWDs and the whole “focus on the family” idea just drive me insane. Focusing on families means giving the parents and caregivers the aid that should actually be directly in the hands of the PWDs who need it. Focusing on the families means giving those parents and caregivers the opportunity to control and abuse us. It’s more than opportunity though, it’s somewhere between an opportunity and a command. All disability-related organizations need to realize that donating to the families will not help us, it will kill us. If the money, equipment, or services are in the hands of the PWDs, it will make independence more possible for us. If you donate to organizations like Autism Speaks, all you’re essentially doing is making yourself feel good while perpetuating many negative stereotypes, including the one that says PWDs can’t be independent.