I have recently read a number of articles and comments on Facebook and various blogs about Autism Speaks and have been questioned myself as to our selling of "Light it up Blue" apparel In what some people believe is our support of Autism Speaks. Let me start by saying I do not support Autism Speaks but I do support any organization that in their own way brings awareness and conversation to people who would otherwise have no idea about something that is so important to myself, my family, and a number of friends families.
Aidaninspired sells autism related apparel. A portion of every sale gets donated to Blooming with Autism and as of today we are also donating a portion of every sale to POAC. Blooming with Autism is based out of Florida and POAC is based here in New Jersey. Both organizations help families directly who have been affected by autism including my own family. each has their own agenda but clearly they are insync in the fact their their purpose is to educate, bring awareness to their communities and beyond, and to help individuals and families who struggle with autism and it's affects on a families every day life.
My personal opinion on many organizations including Autism Speaks is that they become so big they forget what they were started for to begin with. They lose touch with people and their needs as they become much like major corporations with layers of management and high paid corporate officers who get to decide what they spend the money on that they raise. Instead of helping many more individuals and families who are in need, they have think tanks, expensive meetings and individuals paid to figure out who should get what. Most people need to work to survive and I am not suggesting that someone dedicating full time hours should not be compensated, but look at the level of salary some of these people earn compared to the rest of the world. Since this is supposed to be about helping others, perhaps they should be taking less?
As for Autism Speaks itself, I have read some articles and see some of the numbers and here is a slightly different point of view. They spend a lot of money on advertising in order to continue to raise money. Unfortunately this is a necessity. We advertise to continue to sell a product to raise money. Its part of business and raising money is a business all on its own. There is no way around it. I personally believe based on the numbers i have read there are probably a few people at the least that earn way more than is needed for working for an organization who's goal, to bring help to families touched by autism and provide research dollars in hopes of finding what causes autism and how to prevent it. I am just not sure I believe they are the enemy of autistic children or adults.
I think as a parent I want to believe that there is a way to find out what causes autism, how it can be prevented, and can the learning disabilities it has caused Aidan and my nephew Brayden be fixed or repaired much like a cure might be. Again, I understand you can not cure a disability and that autism is not a disease. That does not change the fact that many parents like myself would like to hear their child speak, they want to hear the words, I love you, i don't feel well, i want to do something, or any number of other things. We as parents don't want our kids to be picked on, struggle with basic things such as going to the bathroom, learning to read, to count, later on in life to get a job, and live a decent life including having families of their own. Life is difficult enough without having autism. to deal with.
So to Blue or not to Blue? I say if Autism Speaks has a campaign that grabs peoples attention for a moment or more, and the more people who participate the better the affect on the rest of the world, then really, whats the harm. If people on my block now know we have an autistic child, if friends who have disappeared from our lives find their way back because they are now better educated about autism and what we deal with, if just one more person becomes more understanding and acceptant of autism, then I believe the campaign and Autism Speaks served its purpose. I don't have to agree with their approach or their philosophy, or even their mission, but i can accept the idea that they are for this month if nothing else, trying just like I am to bring some awareness, some education, some understanding, and some acceptance to the world where autism is concerned. Because of Aidan and Brayden, I am sure Lisa will be lighting our house up blue this month and our company will continue to sell the Light it up shirts we do as that money will help people who may or may not be a fan of Autism Speaks.