et tu, julia?

For many years, autistic people have been explaining that Autism Speaks is some bullshit that stigmatizes us. And the rest of the media in general. But then lo! Julia from Sesame Street was born.

Great idea. Teach children how to play with us instead of ostracize us. Autistic people were involved in the making of this character.

This morning I saw a statement from ASAN formally dissociating themselves from Sesame Street over the following new PSA:

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

We discussed with Sesame Street, repeatedly and in great detail, what this decision would mean for the autistic community. We explained to them how these ideas harm autistic children and our families, and reinforce societal prejudice against autistic people. Our contacts acknowledged that the Autism Speaks resources were harmful and portrayed autistic children in a negative light — yet they were unwilling to reverse course in their plans to promote them. As a result, we have formally ended our partnership with Sesame Street.

Too often, parents of autistic children are bombarded with terrifying messages. They are told that their autistic child will destroy their marriage and their nondisabled children’s lives. They are told that their child’s happiness — and their own — depends on the child “getting better” by hiding their autistic traits, and to work toward this goal above all else. They are told to grieve for the hypothetical nondisabled child they had imagined, rather than to love and connect to the autistic child in front of them. These messages hurt autistic people, scare our families, and encourage our communities to fear and exclude us. Autism Speaks has played a central role in developing them.

So basically, an alternative approach to autism appeared prominently in the media and Autism Speaks colonized it.

The infuriating thing is that this was not a misunderstanding. It’s conscious, deliberate backstabbing if the ASAN account is accurate.

The limits of neurotypical empathy strike again.