Friday, July 27, 2012

School Supplies Our Autistic Children Should Not Have to See

NEW: Autism Speak's page whites-out cure-oriented language. But it's on the "school supplies" in the stores, as both Landon Bryce and I have photographed. See for yourself:

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:

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. 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 (which itself is built on ideas of people who came before me including Estee Klar at, which has been ongoing since 2005, the  Autistic Self Advocacy Network, 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:

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:


Elizabeth J. Grace said...


Kerima said...

Well it looks like we've been lax with Autism Acceptance Year school supplies and it may be time to step it up and talk to Target!

Nora Watts said...

Autism Speaks talks but they do not LISTEN

HoxtonPaul said...


Reality will catch up with them. Wait a few decades and their own laboratories and researchers will realize.

A generation of autistics will be used as lab rats and guinea pigs.

Then, it will all be over, and we will be left to make sense of it all and pick up the pieces of what they did to the minds of children.

Sonja said...

Bad enough it's at Walmart, an org hell-bent on destroying public education by funding charter orgs that discriminate against this very population. Now they're trying to make a buck with the help of one of the more despicable autism organizations. Autism Speaks wants to create a pregnancy test so we can "destroy" these kids. They've never been about support, acceptance or providing services for these kids. Stay away! Stay FAR away from Walmart, Autism Speaks and this disgusting marketing ploy.

Tamara said...

My son has Down syndrome. I totally get your point. Seeing items that suggested he needs to be fixed would be hurtful. I stay as far away from walmart as possible, but I will certainly spread the word and share your blog.

Nuha Shiblie said...

autism speaks doesn't speak for me or my family

usethebrains godgiveyou said...

Opportunism. That is all.

celia holmes said...

Sonja, I know what you mean by the pregnancy test. Unfortunately, March of Dimes, another large organization, also sees abortion as a means of reducing the number of people with birth defects. I don't know the statistics, but I believe the numbers for children born with Down Syndrome have gone down because of them being "destroyed" before they are born. I find this to be so sad. People with developmental differences add so much to this world. They may need help, but they are not defective.

Unknown said...

Only one generation...right.

I was born in 1984 so apparently I score as a Gen-Y. Wiki? 80 million people in Gen-Y. I'll be charitable and divide by 100 (rather than, say, 88): very approximately 800K autistics in the US in one generation.

I'll grant that those are very rough numbers. Nevertheless, it seems awfully generous of autistic lives to just wait for aut$peaks to realize its errors.

BiolArtist said...

Some of the big-box office supply retailers are focusing on employing people with disabilities, and the drugstore/general store Walgreens is particularly focused on ASDs because of a family member with Asperger's. If we could get Walgreens interested, that would be huge! Where I live, there are Walgreens every 2-3 miles on major streets. I don't know if they do a lot of back-to-school stuff, but they'd have enormous visibility.

Heather Leduc said...

Rather than acceptance this is breeding a new generation of intolerance, where differences aren't accepted and certainly aren't celebrated but instead weeded out.

PurpleMutant said...

I think many people don't realize how strongly some people react to the Autism Speaks logo. I react to it in much the same way that I would assume a Jew reacts to a swastika. It makes me think of genocide. It represents an organization that is of the opinion that the world would be a better place if people like me no longer existed. One of the Autism speaks youtube videos says "we want a world where autism is a word in the history books". Just thinking about this subject I am almost in tears.

I have been half tempted to make a tee shirt that says "Endangered Species".

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