Saturday, February 21, 2015

Autism Speaks 10-year anniversary: Autistic people and allies answer back

A special hashtag, promoted by Autism Speaks to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, has been co-opted by autistic people and their allies to deliver stinging messages of rebuke.

Through its account on Twitter, the organization solicited followers to share how Autism Speaks has “touched your life.” It later used the #AutismSpeaks10 hashtag to share a few links to posts by guest authors on its blog.

But instead of taking up #AutismSpeaks10 to lavish it with celebration, Twitter account holders are challenging Autism Speaks’ depictions of autistic people as burdens on society, as “missing,” as soulless husks. And they’re drawing attention to the absence of autistic people among organizational leadership.

Many of these account holders refer to themselves as #ActuallyAutistic.

To understand the enmity that “Actually Autistic” people and their allies hold against Autism Speaks, you need to read some of these posts for yourself — and Alice Wong has compiled numerous examples through the Storify social-curation platform.

We’re talking and, Autism Speaks, YOU need to listen.

What most intrigues me is that it is so rare when a situation can genuinely be labeled irony. But this situation seems so clearly the opposite of what the hashtag creators envisioned.

Some of the posts dynamically mention the Autism Speaks account, so even if no one at Autism Speaks was actively monitoring the hashtag, these messages will still get through “loud and clear.”

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