Sunday, April 6, 2014

Embarrassing mismatch: Sesame Workshop and Autism Speaks partnership to ‘reduce stigma’ of autism

Sesame Street’s Abby Cadabby.
Photo by Gil Vaknin for Sesame Workshop.
I read with concern a press release announcing that Sesame Workshop, in an admirable effort to reduce the stigma associated with autism, has partnered with the agency that is single-handedly most responsible for perpetuating harmful and dangerous stereotypes.

Talk about an embarrassing mismatch.

In an email message, I asked Sesame Workshop project representative Pam Hacker to reconsider any sort of partnership with Autism Speaks. Sesame Workshop needs to be aware that adults with autism do not accept it as the “leading autism science and advocacy organization.”

Instead, in the words of John Elder Robison, Autism Speaks is “the only major medical or mental health nonprofit whose legitimacy is constantly challenged by a large percentage of the people affected by the condition they target.”

I am among those adults on the spectrum who find Autism Speaks’ messages deeply offensive: specifically its constant emphasis that autistic people are burdens on the community and a source of despair to their families.

If Sesame Workshop is serious about eliminating stigma against autism, then Autism Speaks is the last organization it should have anything to do with.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Robust debate and even unusual opinions are encouraged, but please stay on-topic and be respectful. Comments are subject to review for personal attacks or insults, discriminatory statements, hyperlinks not directly related to the discussion and commercial spam.