Monday, October 12, 2009

Autistic Community Protests Autism Speaks Walk for Autism

On Sunday, October 11, ASAN-Ohio State/Central Ohio members and other disability rights advocates protested Autism Speaks' Walk for Autism, held on the Ohio State campus. Nineteen individuals protested the organization's harmful advertising, unrepresentative leadership, and eugenic aims. Among the protesters were autistic self-advocates, students, faculty, staff, parents, children, and other community members.

During the first half of the event, protesters faced incoming car traffic and displayed posters with slogans such as "Nothing about us without us" and "Autism Speaks does not speak for me." Some drivers slowed their cars and honked in anger, while others rolled down their windows and shouted profanities. Several parents stopped by on foot and asked about the protest, and these individuals were polite, seemed willing to listen, and took flyers with them.

The second half of the protest commenced with the actual one-mile walk, and ASAN protesters greeted walkers with chants of nothing about us without us, Autism Speaks needs to listen, and we're people, not puzzles. Protesters also waved signs and distributed flyers that highlighted why Autism Speaks does not speak for autistic individuals. While chanting nothing about us without us at the walk's start, one walk team began shouting O-H-I-O in order to drown out the protest. A couple mothers told the protesters to "get a life." Many individuals, however, were intrigued by the protest and asked for details. Several indicated surprise at the breakdown of Autism Speaks' funding (with only 4% going to services) and lack of autistic representation in the organization, while others insisted that Autism Speaks needs to speak for autistic individuals.

ASAN protesters were constrained to one side of the street, and many of the walkers deliberately avoided walking near the protest line. Several campus police officers stopped by the protest site to request information as well as confirm that ASAN's first amendment rights were not being violated.

ASAN-OSU/Central Ohio thanks those involved in the protest, from planning to attendance. Several graduate students affiliated with the Nisonger Center lent their time, advice, and expertise, and aided with advertising and information-gathering. Additionally, many students and faculty from the English Department and Disability Studies program were in attendance at the protest, and many more helped to make the event a success.

YouTube footage of the event (captioned):

Friday, October 9, 2009

Protest against Autism Speaks' walk for autism

Please join us as we protest the Autism Speaks walk for autism this Sunday, October 11 from 8:00am to 12:00pm. We'll be meeting at the corner of Fred Taylor Drive and Borror Drive, right by the 4-H Center, and this is where we'll carry out our protest. We are actively looking for volunteers and fellow protesters. Our protest has been sparked by, among other things, Autism Speaks' recent PSA, titled "I Am Autism," which presents autistic individuals as kidnap victims, burdens, and inhuman. In the video, autism is presented as a soul-stealing entity that ruins marriages, causes bankruptcy, triggers embarrassment, and erodes morality. Please join us (even if only for a short while) as we speak back to Autism Speaks and the discrimination that such a campaign perpetuates.

Campus map & driving directions:

Note on parking:
The OSU Event Parking Coordinator is advising ASAN to park behind the 4H Center building in their parking lot.  There are about 55-60 spaces available.  Fred Taylor Drive (the road in front of the parking lot) will be blocked off at 10 a.m. to prepare for the walk, so everyone will need to be there before that time if they choose to park there. Getting dropped off near by or walking from main campus are the other options for coming later than 10am.  Thanks!

Note on signs: We will have some signs on hand, but please feel free to bring your own. Slogans we've suggested include:
  • Nothing about us without us
  • Autism Speaks does not speak for me 
  • I am not a puzzle. I am a person.
  • Learn to listen, Autism Speaks 
Please contact us at with questions.