Autism Speaks, largest autism advocacy organization with $57.4M in revenues in 2014, down from $69M in 2008, is under attack from critics who say it promotes fear of autistic people and spends little on them and their families.

“Autism Speaks’ fundraising strategies promote fear, stigma, and prejudice against autistic people,” says Autistic Advocacy.

autism speaksAS “uses damaging and offensive fundraising tactics which rely on fear, stereotypes and devaluing the lives of people on the autism spectrum,” it says. “Autism Speaks’ advertisements and ‘awareness’ campaigns portray autistic adults and children as not full human beings, but as burdens on society that must be eliminated as soon as possible.”

AS, based in New York with about 20 branches nationally, is supported by numerous major companies and institutions. Leading the list of 30+ supporters by donating more than $1M yearly are Alpha Xi Delta, women’s fraternal organization, Dollar General, and GameStop.

The AS financial report lists $115.1M in income for 2014 but this includes $51.2M in “in-kind” contributions mainly from ads, marketing and donated media. The ads are placed through the Advertising Council.

AS Uses “Harmful” Language

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network, whose slogan is, “Nothing About us Without Us,” says AS ads, fundraising and “awareness” campaigns use “profoundly harmful language and rhetoric.”

It notes that it was not until Dec. 7, 2015, that AS appointed two autistic people to its board.

Companies on the board of 31 include current and former CEOs of Viacom, CBS, NBC, PayPal, Volvo, Virgin Mobile,, and Sirius Satellite Radio, ASAN notes.

AS is also under attack by Wi-Fi health advocates who say it fails to mention pulsed electro-magnetic radiation as a cause of the “explosion” of autism from one in many hundreds to one in 68, according to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) has told Congress that the increase in autism is “worse than an epidemic, an absolute disaster.” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), told the same hearing she believes the numerous vaccinations given to children may be the cause. The AS website says, “Vaccines do not cause autism,” citing research “over the past two decades.”

Hickey Noted EMF/Autism Documentation

autismDiane Hickey, co-founder, National Association For Children and Safe Technology, said, “The growing rate of Autism diagnosis demands that organizations dedicated to the health and wellbeing of children immediately consider information that identifies wireless radiation as the cause.

“The EMF/Autism mechanism has been documented and I am dismayed by the lack of response and interest to knowledge that may turn the increasing rate of Autism around.” is urging Home Depot and 31 other companies and organizations to “terminate your financial support of Autism Speaks.”

Hickey also supports organizations including Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Autism Women’s Network.  

“Autism and wireless phone subscribers share virtually identical growth curves since the early 1980’s,” said Ed Friedman, Maine Coalition to Stop Smart Meters.  “If autism organizations are not investigating this strong correlation for possible causation, it begs the question why not?” he asked.

“It is a tragedy that radiation is invisible!” said healthcare advocate Jerry Flynn of Canada. “If people could see it, they would immediately side with scientists who say that, ‘If you could see it; you could not see your hand in front of your face!’ Then AS could no longer deny/ignore EMF as being the likely cause of autism. In the meantime, AS, like the Cancer Society, creates a lot of high paying jobs for people who obviously know nothing about EMF.”

Wrights Founded AS

AS was founded in 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. He was vice chairman, General Electric, and also chairman and CEO, NBC Universal Co.

Autism Speaks supporters

Donor honor role is one of several posted in the reception area of Autism Speaks. Philip Geier was chairman and CEO of The Interpublic Group of Companies from 1980-2000. Copies of this story, O'Dwyer magazines and newsletters were dropped off at the reception area. Photo by Sharlene Spingler.

The AS website says it has committed more than $570 million to its mission, the majority in science and medical research. It has partnerships in 70+ countries on five continents.

AS revenues were $69M+ in 2008, $669,751 going to chief science officer Geri Dawson, reports

Her compensation included $269,721 in relocation expenses to move her family from Washington to North Carolina.

Dawson’s base salary was $373,360, more than any of the organization’s 257 other employees, including Autism Speaks president Mark Roithmayr. Employee compensation accounted for more than a quarter of Autism Speaks’ income for the year.

Angela Geiger, formerly chief strategy officer for the Alzheimer’s Assn., joined Autism Speaks in February 2016 as president and CEO. She succeeded Elizabeth Feld who had remuneration of $415,065 in the year to Dec. 31, 2014. Geiger was previously with the American Cancer Society for eight years and has a B.A. and M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh.

C.J. Volpe is chief of media strategy and Aurelia Grayson is senior director of media strategy. Michael Rosen, who was executive VP, strategic communications, has left it. His package totaled $276,871 in 2014. Attempts to reach any staffers at Autism Speaks by phone or email since last week have been unsuccessful as of press time. AS offices are at 1 E. 33rd st.