Child Magazine Honors Wrights
Autism Speaks Co-founders Receive “Children’s Champion Award”
Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright were honored by The Meredith Corporation with the “Children’s Champion Award” on May 9 in New York City. Actor and autism advocate Bradley Whitford presented the award to the Wrights. Award recipients are recognized for improving the lives of children. Click here to read more about the award from Child Magazine (PDF).
Child’s Fourth Annual Children’s Champion Awards
They come from diverse backgrounds- advocacy, the arts, education, medicine, and philanthropy — but the six remarkable individuals we honor here have much in common: all are working to improve the lives of the next generation through their passion, dedication and inspiring refusal to accept the status quo.
By Erin Quinlan
Bob and Suzanne Wright
- Honored For: Founding Autism Speaks, a national nonprofit dedicated to raising public awareness of autism, assisting families, and marshaling resources for research. In its first year alone, the organization raised $40 million.
- How And Why They Got Started: In 2004, when their grandson, Christian, was diagnosed with autism at age 2, the Wrights were shocked to find that despite the prevalence of the disorder – it affects one in 150 children according to the latest research — there was little understanding of autism in the medical community. “It wasn’t clear what causes autism and there was no agreement on the therapies,” says Bob, the former chairman and CEO of NBC Universal. To make matters worse, many families were living under a veil of secrecy. The Wrights, who had the resources to get the best possible care for their grandson, could have also kept it a private matter. But in their hearts they felt that going public with their family’s story would benefit others. Says Suzanne, “People were saying, I don’t want my child to know he has autism. I don’t want others to know.’ We wanted to get autism into the national vocabulary. “
- Their Biggest Hurdle: Staying strong despite the emotional demands of speaking out on behalf of children with autism. “It kills you. To see a child slipping away, and it’s heartbreaking to hear the families’ stories.” Says Suzanne, who with her husband, travels around the country, making speeches and raising money. “Our challenge is to stay focused on getting the word out there and making sure every child has access to interventions.”
- Their Greatest Triumph: The ratification, in December 2006, of the Combating Autism Act, a law that increases federal support for this legislation,” says Bob. “We were able to bring together many organizations on this issue.”
- The Next Step: Getting grandparents involved in the fight against autism. “Grandparents have a difficult time with this because they’re grieving for both their children and their grandchildren,” says Suzanne. “But grandparents can provide invaluable support and be a big part of these children’s lives, so they need to be galvanized.”
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.