Is Autism Speaks the best autism charity or just the biggest?

I found this logo. I guess it fits.
The last series I started was originally going to take a deeper look at why the ASAN dislikes Autism Speaks so much. I thought it was a simple enough reason that could be explained by saying the Autism Self Advocacy Network feels like Autism Speaks does not acknowledge or respect them. I also thought the ASAN misunderstood the overall intentions of Autism Speaks. However, I started receiving more information that what I thought was needed and did some fact finding of my own.

Turns out things are waaaay more complicated than I realized - an occurrence that happens frequently in my life. Rather than pretend I'm an investigative journalist and BLOW THE ROOF off this story, I decided to just share what I've learned and how I feel about it. All the info I'm sharing, I took from the Better Business Bureau and my opinions are bases on a combination of those details and my gut feelings.

I have decided that I do not support Autism Speaks. I feel that they do not have my son's best interest in mind and that they are fiscally irresponsible. Here are some numbers:

Research 36,586,500
Awareness and other services 19,363,917
Total Program Expenses: $55,950,4

Above are the dollar amounts that Autism Speaks spends on Research, Awareness, and "other services." They seem like good amounts of money when compared to some other small number I could think up if I tried. Honestly, I didn't know if this was great or standard, so I also looked up The American Autism Society and The Susan G. Komen Foundation. It didn't help me. Then learned how much cheese (I think that's gangsta for money) board members are taking home at Autism Speaks.

Chief Executive : Mark Roithmayr, President

Highest Paid Executive: Geri Dawson, Chief Science Officer
Compensation*: $669,751

WHAT!? Maybe I'm way off base here but I just don't understand how these salaries are justified. There are 25 board members in all and I wouldn't be surprised if their salaries were in this range as well. I guess I basically feel like Autism Speaks is spending a great deal of money on PR ("awareness"), getting families to help collect money for walk campaigns, and then spend the bulk of it on administration expenses and "genetic research." My question is, how does this help my son today?

There is an increasingly growing number of adults with autism who feel Autism Speaks has alienated them and as far as I can tell, Autism Speaks hasn't done anything to reconcile things with that community. I want to back an organization that I know will do its best to help me raise my son in such a way that he can one day function well in society and become his own best advocate. I don't that organization is Autism Speaks.

Am I right or wrong? Who disagrees with me? Who agrees with me? Let the ultimate comment discussion begin!

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Squid said...

In addition to all that, only about 4% of their budget goes toward the "Family Service" grants that actually provide sorely-needed services. Out of every dollar they earn, less than a nickel is spent actually helping autistics and their families.

You're better off focusing your time, money, and attention on smaller autism groups in your local community- they're the ones who actually assist people.

Chase Roper said...

I think that is excellent advice Squid. Small autism groups in your local community seems like the best way to go. Thanks for reading and commenting too!