An Open Letter to Suzanne Wright, Co-Founder, Autism Speaks

Over the years, though, we have learned that war is no longer a useful metaphor to invoke and apply in the disability community. People with autism, or for that matter other developmental disabilities, are not victims of the predations of some evil actor, nor are their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. Instead, we appreciate, as stated in the Developmental Disabilities Act, that “disability is a natural part of the human experience.”

Unfortunately, your description of children with autism and their families is polarizing and divisive, creating rifts within a community that can ill afford it in these perilous times. Characterizing people with autism and their families as victims suffering from a dreaded affliction ignores the diversity of the community of people with autism, as well as their creativity, perseverance, adaptability, resilience, and overall beauty of their human spirit. It belittles the many who, rather than seeking to be cured, are striving for their human rights to be accepted and respected. It is far from reality for many people with autism whom I know and who are involved in our work. All are deserving of dignity and respect.

– Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc

 

About the Author:

Ollibean is a dynamic community of parents, families and advocates in the disability community working together for a more socially just, accessible and inclusive world.

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