"The NAS is aware of a campaign video called "I Am Autism", produced by the US charity Autism Speaks.And this is what Hilary Gilfoy the Chief Exec of Autism Speaks UK has to say:
While we understand the huge pressure many families are under, we cannot support a campaign that is so negative in its portrayal of autism. We strongly believe that people with autism make a unique and valuable contribution to society.
Autism is a serious and lifelong condition. For many families and individuals affected by autism, we know that life can be extremely difficult, especially when they are not getting appropriate support. However, the right help at the right time can make an enormous difference. It is crucial that this support is available for all who need it."
Now whilst you will appreciate that I do have a connection with the NAS and it would be unwise for me at the current moment to comment further on the official statement, I do not have any connection with Autism Speaks whatever, however I did ask Hilary Gilfoy to make a statement on behalf of Autism Speaks UK distancing themselves from the video and she has obliged.
“Autism Speaks in the UK is a quite separate and independent entity from Autism Speaks in the United States and took no part in the preparation of I am Autism, which reflects a view of autism which is very different – and alien - to the feelings of the majority of people in the UK including ourselves. As an organisation therefore we do not share, endorse or advocate the views expressed in it. Indeed we expressed our dislike of the poem by Billy Mann directly to him when he was in London last May.
The best way for autistic advocates to help secure change in such attitudes is by putting their views directly to Autism Speaks in the United States – as we have done. We know that they are aware of the strength of feeling that the video has aroused and have responded to this. We think it would be a great pity if this one short film were used to widen divides within the autism community, when we all share a powerful and common interest in ensuring a better future for all those affected by autism. It is for this reason that we have not put any general statement about the video on our website because we have no wish to draw further attention to it.”
Ever since the demonstration outside Downing Street, which I took part in, against the failure to invite any autistic people to the "party" inside, I have heard rumours of what went on inside, which I am sure Dinah Murray, who was able to be on the inside would be able to substantiate, and that is that the Poem went down like the proverbial lead baloon.
Whatever we think of Autism Speaks UK, or the NAS for that matter I just wish to illustrate that even our "enemy" over here has a great deal more respect than Autism Speaks in the USA, and their kind of campaigning just does not go down well with anyone over here, even their friends. I hope that the USA learn that message as well, and that "I am Autism" is the last video of that genre that will ever be made.
I have not been able to make a video response myself, there are enough excellent ones out there already so here is an old one, it even features my favourite "whipping boy" professor "double barrel" himself being positive about autism.