ASAN applauds Build-A-Bear Workshop’s decision to end their partnership with Autism Speaks. For years, self-advocates and families have urged corporate donors to reconsider their funding to Autism Speaks, pointing out the organization’s lack of autistic leadership, offensive advertising and other unethical business practices. In making this decision, Build-A-Bear has demonstrated a willingness to listen to and engage with the Autistic community, hear our voices, and ultimately recognize that the people with the most to say about autism are Autistic people ourselves. In a time when much of the public conversation about autism still focuses on fear, pity, and damaging stereotypes, ASAN is encouraged to see Build-A-Bear Workshop reflecting a different picture.
It is heartening to see a company ensure that their philanthropic efforts ultimately align with and reinforce a message of inclusion and acceptance for all people. Charitable efforts should support the people they are designed to help, and be responsive to feedback and concerns from the community, and Build-A-Bear Workshop has done exactly that. ASAN is thrilled to see Build-A-Bear Workshop affirm their commitment to this vision, and we urge other corporations to look to their example. Over the course of the next several weeks, ASAN will be exploring a variety of options to highlight the efforts of companies who have heard the voices of the autistic community and aligned their philanthropic efforts accordingly.
Additionally, ASAN would like to communicate our sincere appreciation to all those in the autistic community who communicated their concerns to Build-A-Bear, most notably our colleagues at Boycott Autism Speaks, whose leadership in this campaign made this victory possible.