The Conservative Case Against Autism Speaks


Few organizations hold the narrative on a topic like Autism Speaks holds it on autism advocacy and awareness. When most parents first hear the diagnosis, they are handed a pamphlet with information compiled by the organization. When fundraisers are held, when bumper stickers and magnets are made, they usually benefit just one organization: Autism Speaks. But the farther one delves into the world of autism awareness, the more that troubling information comes to the surface. This is a pamphlet put together by those opposed to Autism Speaks, with suggested alternatives:


I want to zero in on one part of the mission of Autism Speaks that is especially troubling for those in the pro-life world: that of prenatal testing. Thanks to prenatal tests for Down Syndrome, we know what prenatal tests for autism would do: Next to completely eliminate it from the gene pool.

In a gripping piece published late last year in the Atlantic, we can read about the “last children of Down Syndrome” and how parents are choosing which lives are worthy of bringing into the world.

Denmark became one of the first countries in the world to offer prenatal Down syndrome screening to every pregnant woman, regardless of age or other risk factors. Nearly all expecting mothers choose to take the test; of those who get a Down syndrome diagnosis, more than 95 percent choose to abort.

Imagine the combination of what Autism Speaks does: They message about the devastation of an autism diagnosis, while at the same time promoting a tool that would be used to eliminate anyone on the spectrum from society.

Outside of the moral and ethical concerns that this possibility brings, especially for those on the pro-life side of the aisle, this is a terrifying precedent for the future of our gene pool. In his groundbreaking book on Autism, Steve Silberman relates the long history of autism and autistic individuals in our society, elucidating how important “neurodiversity” is for the development of civilization. The ability of those on the spectrum to singularly focus on a task has made possible countless advances in medicine, technology, and more.

On this, Autism Awareness Day, please consider supporting another worthy autism organization instead (the flyer above has a few suggestions).

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  1. JennaStocker Member

    Thank you for this information @bethanymandel I work with a young autistic man, and he’s the co-worker I most look forward to working with. It’s so important to know the the truth and possibilities these bright, capable people being to the world, instead of treating an unborn baby with this condition as some sort of life sentence or ‘problem’ to be eradicated. While raising and living with an autistic person can bring difficult and unique challenges, we should never devalue they’d life because of such struggles. We shouldn’t do it to the very old and infirm, we shouldn’t do it here, especially with the endorsement and funding/lobbying power of such a group as Autism Speaks. ‘Tyler’ (my coworker) has a regular job, his own apartment, and his own independent life. A true success and a dear friend.

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  2. OmegaPaladin Moderator

      I can’t imagine someone thinking I would be better off dead.  Yeah I have a genetic defect, but it’s like saying deaf or blind people are better off dead.  People on the spectrum are not sociopaths or inherently unable to interact with society.  Heck, people who are mildly on the spectrum can be trained to interact like normal people – most people don’t notice it.

    To be honest, I have no idea what I would be like otherwise.

    I see nothing wrong with working to correct genetic defects using gene therapy or prenatal care, but the whole eugenic movement is twisted and evil.  My friend with Cleft Palate is always stunned that people think he would have been better off dead.

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  3. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds

    I was thinking about this recently because my job indirectly deals with families who have autistic children ( or children with autism as we’ve been advised to say now). So far they’re the one disability group that are able to demand a hearing that identity groups rather than disability groups get*
    Greta Thunberg doesn’t consider herself to have a disability, she considers herself to have super powers. Apparently in academia there’s a theory that autism is the next stage of evolution. So i think the opposition to screening for autism would look a lot different to that of Down syndrome.

    *I can only speak for my part of the world, I don’t know about the US

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