The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is disappointed to learn that the White House is again participating in Autism Speaks’ “Light It Up Blue” campaign. While self-advocates work to promote autism acceptance, disability rights, and self-determination this April, the White House chooses to promote a stigmatizing and outdated view of autism that is out of touch with the voices of our community.
Light It Up Blue is a project of Autism Speaks, an organization whose agenda on research, advocacy and policy is set by and for non-autistic people. The Light It Up Blue campaign itself promotes shallow “awareness” without working towards meaningful progress for the autistic community. The White House’s participation in Light It Up Blue sends a clear signal that the Trump administration is not listening to the voices of self-advocates, and is more interested in photo opportunities than in policy solutions to the issues that disabled people face.
There are things that autistic people need from our government. We need better health care, better supports, and research that can meaningfully impact our lives. We need inclusive education and an end to the school-to-prison pipeline. We need to be kept safe from abuse, neglect, and police violence. We need robust funding for the Medicaid program in general, for Medicaid Home- and Community-Based Services in particular, and for the Affordable Care Act exchanges and subsidies. We need Federal guidance to ensure that teachers and service providers respect our rights. We need meaningful enforcement of the ADA, the Olmstead decision, and Section 504. Today, the Trump administration has chosen to respond to these needs by flipping a light switch and calling it a day.
Autistic people deserve better.