A lot of organizations around autism are quite negative. They promote therapies or treatments that are actually harmful and sometimes abusive to the child. These organizations are really big and get a lot of support financially. In fact they can be some of the largest in the United States. Despite their size and money they are organizations that the autistic community has been begging people not to support. 

Negative Organizations

This organization promotes an incredibly bleak and depressive view of autism. Many of their ads that they have used for their organizations are fearmongering illustrates autism as an insurmountable and dangerous disease. It dramatizes autism as hopeless. Most of their message is about finding a "cure" for autism. A stance that is HIGHLY unappreciated and offensive to the autistic community. They also have a habit of making videos where parents talk about killing their children. This organization is also one of the first to start talking about vaccinations. This stance has spread a lot of misinformation on vaccinations that has continued to be harmful to this day.  Below are some videos from the organization. 

While this organization starts off with good intentions taking a larger focus on young adults and the resources for them. Unfortunately the funding this group has done have been in trying to eliminate autism through ABA therapy and eugenics. While this is in their past rather than acknowledging it and trying to rise above they instead try to pretend it never happened. This group also works quite closely with Autism Speaks. In doing so they have similar language around the topic and often come across as discriminatory. They are also famous for their Color The Spectrum fundraising event in 2021. An event that was meant to raise money in support of the autistic community that had many A-list celebrities and big social media influences in attendance. Yet they failed to have even a single autistic person in that group of people.

Judge Rotenberg Center

 (Matthew Israel)

One of the most infamous forms of therapy supported by Autism Speaks is referred to as ABA therapy. (Applied Behavior Analysis) Unfortunately this is anything but therapy. It has been considered torture by the United Nations. This identification was made due to their treatment of autism and other disabilities. This center is known for their electroshock therapy. This centers therapy however is not done properly. Firstly electroshock therapy is not a go to one size fits all kind of therapy. However, the Judge Rotenberg Center uses it for every single student. Not only that but this center has a no restrictions and no expulsion policy. This policy means that even if the therapy is not effective for the student the center will still continue to use it. 

The method of treatment in this center is the biggest reason it has been called torture. They use a treatment called aversive intervention. This is when a student is slapped, pinched, restrained for prolonged periods of time, or even deprived of food or sleep. This is used as a punishment for unwanted behaviors, which often are coerced out of the student. The idea is that pairing a painful stimulus with an unwanted behavior, the behavior will go away. These sessions of coerced behaviors are called "behavioral rehearsal lessons". This kind of treatment has not only been identified as torture but has also been responsible for the death of one of their students. This aversive therapy also includes their so called electroshock therapy, via a device called the "graduated electronic decelator". A powerful painful shock that is meant to be "more powerful than a police taser." 

This electroshock treatment involved attaching electrodes to the students body. Then whenever the student engaged in any of their "unwanted" behaviors the staff would trigger an electric shock. Some of the behaviors targeted were mostly harmless actions such as hand flapping, head-banging and even just getting up from their seat. This practice was considered barbaric by the state of Massachusetts but they were unable to put it to an end. They were instead sued by the founder Matthew Israel. The judge who oversaw this case and sided with Israel was named Ernest Rotenberg. He was then honored by having the facility renamed after him.

Judge Rotenberg Center

Color The Spectrum 

(Mark Rober)

When talking about NEXT for Autism we have to talk about Mark Rober and his donation campaign Color The Spectrum. Many people in the autistic community have spoken out about his choice to partner with the organization. They have also called him out on the video he made titled "The Truth About my Son". There are many reasons why this particular video has caught a lot of negative attention and controversy. The first being that a lot of the words and phrasing Mark chooses to use are generally considered offensive in the autistic community.

From using person first language (IE Person with autism) to terms like "severely autistic" and "special needs". He also states that "People with special needs might not fit the traditional criteria of success by benefiting GDP or getting a PHD to cure disease, but they have such a net positive effect on the people that get to interact with them." Sure on the surface this message seems to be stating that success isn't determined by things like money or educational status. However even if it is not intended the  message that this gives is that autistic individuals can not accomplish goals that are considered the "normal" lifestyle. The concept that autistic people will never accomplish anything of genuine greatness or value. He continues this point later in his video around his own son. "My son will never be the star of his little league team. He wont be the first person to step foot on mars nor will he invent the cure to cancer." This kind of statement is proven as untrue when we look to people that have been some of the most brilliant minds in history. Such as Stephen Hawking. The statement that disabled people can not give the same contributions as their neurotypical peers is untrue. 

While I will say that there is a lot of negative to his video and the way he words things , it is very clear that he loves his son and tries to give the right care and attention to him. It is very clear that his son deeply loves him. It is very important to acknowledge that this is not an attack on this person. None of what he has done was done in malice. It is just unfortunate that the organization that he chose to donate to was really one of the worst choices he could have made. 

Controversial Videos Around These Organizations

Positive Organizations

ASAN has a large focus on the rights of disabled people. This non-profit organization is run almost exclusively by autistic people. Almost every penny they get from donations does directly into the autistic community in many ways. From their scholarships for college students to educational resources and services for kids. Their goal is to make the world more inclusive for autistic people. Working to support people and encourage self advocacy and empower disabled people. 

Much like ASAN this organization is focused on empowering and providing support to the autistic community. They are more geared towards helping people of marginalized genders (or no gender). This organization specifically explores not only autism but the affirmations of peoples gender identity and expressions. Encouraging people to embrace their identity, gender and autism. One of their main goals is to try and dispel fears around an autism diagnosis and regulated misinformation. One of the big things this organization provides is Solidarity Aid. Helping autistic individuals with expenses like rent,groceries and healthcare in emergencies.