NEW: Sign the petition here! Walmart: Don't target Autistic Children- Remove Autism Speaks "school supplies" from your stores
A post about the "cleaned-up" look of the items on Autism Speaks' page: http://paulacdurbinwestbyautisticblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/autism-speaks-school-supplies-they.html
Acceptance? Really? You have to be kidding. Autism $peaks is now in the "acceptance" business. Autism $peaks' marketing slogan for this is "Acceptance and Awareness just got a little easier in our schools.. Autism Speaks school supplies available at WALMART!"
These are available in the *school supplies* section of Walmart. This photo is from my local Walmart. These are being sold in the school supplies section because, you know... children and autism are totally related. Lots of children will probably want cool school supplies with blue puzzle pieces on them. Puzzles are fun, right? Kids like puzzles.
These "awareness," (NOT ACCEPTANCE) school supplies are:
1. a way to raise funds for Autism Speaks research programs, which many of us do not like, what with the focus on finding causes and cures. From Autism Speaks' own page, a bit of a contradiction: This is from TODAY's (July 27, 2012) "About Us" page on Autism Speaks' website: Autism Speaks has grown into the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism. http://www.autismspeaks.org/about-us This is what Acceptance is NOT. Causes, prevention, treatments, and a cure is NOT ACCEPTANCE. Schoolchildren all over America can feel proud about contributing to... the prevention of their classmates (or the treatment and cure of their classmates), except most children won't be aware of this goal and will be contributing their (that is their parents' dollars) toward this questionable mission. It's not clear that their parents know about this goal either, a goal which flies in the face of the Developmental Disabilities Act, which states that disability is a natural part of the human experience.
2. It's a way to add to the inflated salaries of people who continue to talk about autism (and all disabilities and diseases) in alarmist ways that contribute to discrimination against all individuals with those disabilities and diseases. This is from the "facts about autism" section of their website, which, as I have noted elsewhere, is not really facts about autism but a litany of statistics, many of which are not about autism at all: "More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined."
3. It co-opts the language of Autistics, our parents and family members, who came up with autism ACCEPTANCE specifically to counter groups like Autism Speaks, in fact, particularly Autism Speaks. Throughout history, more powerful (in the sense of funds available, access to media and people in positions of power) have co-opted the words and ideas of the very people who opposed them. There is nothing new about this. I have 1623 Facebook friends, some of whom are directly linked to Autism Speaks and who apparently really like some of my ideas, like http://autismacceptanceday.blogspot.com/ (which itself is built on ideas of people who came before me including Estee Klar at http://joyofautism.blogspot.com/, which has been ongoing since 2005, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, http://autreat.com/, and others. The idea of Autism Speaks having anything to do with real "acceptance" is a farce.
For those kids who don't like Autism Speaks, or don't want "autism awareness" shoved in their faces at school, this is going to be a problem. There actually are kids who will be REALLY sensitive to this. Too bad Autism Speaks, with all their so-called expertise, and presumably, their empathy for people on the autism spectrum, doesn't know this.
You can contact Walmart's Global Ethics Office to voice your own concerns. For parents, please consider the impact your purchase of these items might have on children and teens on the autism spectrum, who will see them at school, before buying. Direct email for the Ethics Office is: firstname.lastname@example.org
I wrote to Walmart Corporate and said, in part, this: I am writing to request that you remove the Autism Speaks "school supplies" from the children's and school section of your stores. Children who are on the autism spectrum have to walk past the kiosks and see merchandise being sold that is about "curing" and "treating" them. Autistic children in school will have to see lots of kids with puzzle pieces and stuff about autism when maybe they want to just go to school and not see autism-related stuff everywhere. If Autism Speaks had any knowledge about the feelings of actual Autistic children and adults, they would not market *school supplies.* This is not fair to Autistic children who attend school. Some Autistic children will not understand, but MANY do, and will feel uncomfortable being in school with schoolmates using pens, pencils, notepads, locker magnets, etc. that are all about "fixing" them. Please reconsider this decision and make school, and shopping for school supplies in Walmart, safe and welcoming for children on the autism spectrum.
Autism Speaks and their "causes, prevention, treatment, and a cure" for autism: