Having an autistic child is not the end of the world--far from it. It is my hope that through this blog, at least a handful of people will get to understand that. My child is amazing, she brings us tremendous joy. We have good days & bad days, but we CHOOSE to focus on the good. Our belief is that by loving our daughter, giving her the most comfortable environment we can, and by most of all accepting her differences, she will continue to blossom--in her OWN way.

3/18/08

Would I like to "help Autism?"

PhotobucketGood question. Not one I expected to hear at the toy store. Would I like to help autistics gain acceptance and reach their individual potential? Absolutely. Is Autism Speaks doing that? Not at all.

After surviving a trip to Toys R Us with my two kiddos, we were checking out. I heard the word "autism" uttered while I shopped, and wondered why. I was oblivious, walking through the store with my girls, of all the signs like the one above. I wonder why? Hmm..two girls, tons of toys for them to rummage through, and the occasional meltdown. Perhaps that was it? Or maybe I just never expected to see Autism Speaks' propaganda displayed throughout a toy store.

So, we are paying and the checkout associate says to me, "Would you like to donate a dollar to..."

And I am thinking, "sure!" I often give a dollar or two upon checkout--for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and the local children's hospitals. The woman continues,

"...to help Autism?"

I actually let out a "hah!" It was just a funny question to be asked, given the company I was in. It took a second for the question to really set in. The woman looked at me oddly. I looked around, and then asked "where does the money go?"

"Autism Speaks" and as she said that, I saw the big puzzle poster above the register.

I say to her "no, thanks, we have other..." and I trailed off, realizing two things:

a. this woman was only doing her job & I got the idea she didn't care if I donated one way or the other
b. how much time do I really have to explain why I don't agree with Autism Speaks?

My older daughter looked up at me, and I knew what she was thinking (why don't you want to "help Autism" mom?). I bent down and whispered in her ear that we prefer to help in other ways. I think she too was amazed that "autism" came up while we checked out at Toys R Us.

As I finished paying, I saw a big roll of stickers by the register. They had the infamous puzzle piece, with the words "Autism" and "I helped solve the puzzle," along with the Autism Speaks and Toys R Us logos. It was at once surreal and all rather humorous to me (I have a sick sense of humor at times). The posters, the stickers, all of it.

So, we left with our bags. I paused in the exit area, and snapped the picture above with my cell phone. I'm not quite sure what to think of the poster. I suppose I should be glad that these pictures were not used:

Photobucket or Photobucket

Those two often pop up if you Google "autism" in images. The first was used in an ad campaign by NAAR (now merged with, guess who, Autism Speaks). It's disturbing, actually, when you search for autism images. The majority are dark and depressing, others shout that mercury is poisoning our children. Pictures really are worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, from Autism Speaks,' TACA,'s and other similar groups' perspective, pictures are worth thousands of dollars and that is all they are concerned with.

The cute little boy, covering his face and all the puzzle pieces, plastered throughout Toys R Us? I honestly don't know what to make of it. I suppose I'm glad this image is different from the many others. The child is making eye contact, for one. I think having him cover his face was an attempt to make him look embarrassed, trying to hide (his autism?). But, as a parent, I saw a playful look, perhaps peek-a-boo or peeking while playing hide-and-seek?

6 comments:

qw88nb88 said...

It's not just Autism Speaks that drives me nuts. There's also the annual United Way campaigns that seem to happen at every employer. "Well, who wouldn't want to have an automatic payroll donation to help charitible organisations?"

Me. It's not that I don't want to help people. I do. But I want my money (if money is what I'm giving) to go directly to the places where it's needed, rather than to support a fundraising company with a large overhead.

andrea

Marla said...

So it was at all the Toys R Us stores huh? Glad you were able to check it out. I too tire of being asked to donate money to the cause. And where does the money go? We have been on the Autism Waiver list for years for respite. We qualify for nothing, never have. We pay out of pocket for therapies. I am just so curious where the money goes. If it goes to research I have little interest in supporting that. There are too many kids and adults that could use help in the here and now.

Maddy said...

I just wish [amongst other things I suppose] that it wasn't always the 'negative' that's promoted / the message that 'everyone' hears.
Best wishes

Kassiane said...

I'm one of those obnoxious people who actually tells them why. But I offer to tell their manager exactly why not first, and make suggestions (like, "Well, there are other organizations like ASAN and ANI that can't afford to do massive fundraising like this that actually help autistic people, and autistic people don't nearly universally hate them"). They can't do what's right if they don't know.

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