Warning: This post is likely to be upsetting or even offensive to some readers. I apologize for this. I hope that by writing frankly, I can stir up some feelings on this issue and perhaps even help some people to understand why this issue is important. It's a difficult line to walk, stirring up feeling without offending. Hopefully I won't cause too many issues.
There's an article out by the canary party which seeks to highlight issues in Mitsubishi's funding of a charity. It's well worth a read.
See: Mitsubishi Funds Group that Opposes Preventing or Curing Autism
It's a perfect example of what is wrong with so many of the autism campaigns out there.
First of all, the canary party complains that the charity being funded "opposes all efforts to cure or prevent autism, denies an increase in autism prevalence and now seeks to promote this form of “activism” among college students nationwide."
Let me be clear.
Any funding going towards assisting people with autism is worthwhile.
The exception I think, is when that funding is used to support top-heavy management or when it is used to fight other autism charities. I don't believe that ASAN qualifies under either of those. I'm happy for them to "oppose efforts to cure autism" but I'd hate to see them spending their money there. I hope they're spending it on helping people with autism instead.
It's the same reason that I don't support most cancer charities. They spend their money on research which I believe should be funded by government and private industry. After all, the inventors of a miracle cure for cancer are going to be rich - why do we need to fund their dream when we know that they're going to screw it out of us later in medication costs? They also spend quite a bit on handing out logo-emblazoned hats and on supporting the management of their charity. I'd rather they spend money to help people who already have cancer to feel better - or help those families left behind in the aftermath of cancer.
In that sense, I feel that ASAN is dealing with the here and now of autism - not miracle cures (snake oil), not prevention (murder) and not top-heavy management structures.
It seems a worthwhile charity.
To be insensitive for a second (sorry, please bear with me), there is already a cure for autism. It's the cure for life. It's the same cure that we use for down's syndrome babies and it's the same cure that many political organisations over the years have used to "cure" unwanted parts of their population.
It starts with exclusion and ends with extermination.
Today, there are plenty of babies about with Downs Syndrome. Not as many as before because many people are willing to be murderers in their search for perfection but still enough. Enough to make it clear that we don't consider this cure to be acceptable. Even worse, I have friends who were told that their baby would have downs syndrome. They elected to keep their child and seven years later, there is still no sign of the condition. How many of our baby murderers are murdering for nothing?
The second point in the complaint against Mitsubishi is that it "blatantly violates MEAF’s own stated guideline: “We do not fund organizations or programs connected with a controversial social or political issue.”
Wow... and this coming from an organisation which clearly states that they would prefer that money be spent on detection and on the afforementioned cure. No discussion necessary - it's much more political.
The next point complains that ASAN promotes “self-diagnosis” of autism, causing students who may have the disorder to not qualify for college disability support services"
Seriously, this doesn't even make any sense. If someone doesn't have a diagnosis they can go through a lengthy process to get one - or they can self diagnose - or they can go without.
If someone desperately needs support services, then a formal diagnosis is essential.
If someone simply wants to understand their place in the world, then self-diagnosis is appropriate. There's no need for funding and they're not missing out on anything. They can always seek a formal diagnosis if they want funding later. In the meantime however, there is no underestimating the value of understanding oneself.
The final point is bizarre. "ASAN promotes segregation of people with disabilities in extracurricular activities". For a start, I can't see how this is a major part of ASAN's mission. At the same time, I fully appreciate the need for people on the autism spectrum to have extracurricular outlets with each other (as well as with the main body of students). So many of the problems of autism are created by the expectations of society that interaction with like-minded and understanding peers is a major part of our coping strategy.
Well done Mitsubishi! It's great to see a commitment towards people rather than research -- and, shame on you Canary Party, leave your politics out of this.