For the Record
In 2016, we refocused our mission to better serve the autism community and to reflect what Autism Speaks represents today. We approach each of our mission objectives with an eye toward making the most meaningful impact for the most people on the autism spectrum.
Your support is enhancing lives today and accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow. See below to learn more about our work and positions on key topics.
- What we fund
- Why we updated our mission
- Why “cure” has been removed from our mission statement
- We advocate with and for the collective autism community
- Impact of fundraising and awareness activities
- How Autism Speaks helps people with autism
- Our position on vaccines
- We oppose the use of aversion therapy
- We oppose eugenics
Eighty-five cents of every dollar Autism Speaks spends funds research, advocacy, programs and services, exceeding Better Business Bureau guidelines each year
We aim to do the most good for the most people on the spectrum.
We’ve listened carefully to our supporters as well as our critics.
In 2016, we refocused our mission to better serve the autism community and to reflect what Autism Speaks represents today. We’ve learned a lot and we’re continuing to learn. We approach each of our mission objectives with an eye toward making the most meaningful impact for the most people on the autism spectrum.
Today, Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Through partnership and collaboration, we are committed to:
- Increasing global understanding & acceptance of autistic people
- Being a catalyst for research breakthroughs
- Increasing early childhood screening & timely interventions
- Improving the transition to adulthood
- Ensuring access to reliable information & services throughout the life span
Since Autism Speaks was founded in 2005, research funded by our organization and others has shown that there is no single “autism.” Science also tells us there will be no single “cure.” Today, Autism Speaks is not looking for a cure, and in fact, in 2016, the word “cure” was removed from our mission statement.
What Autism Speaks is seeking is research advancements that improve the quality of life for autistic people today and appropriate personalized treatments in the future. We remain committed to understanding the causes of autism and accelerating progress toward personalized treatments. We are committed to funding research for people who would benefit from better treatments of conditions that often accompany autism, such as GI issues, sleep disorders, eating disorders, anxiety and seizures.
Autism Speaks supports everyone on the autism spectrum and recognizes the diverse viewpoints within our community. By fostering acceptance and understanding, our goal is for all people on spectrum, no matter how they self-identify, to be appreciated for who they are and the contributions they make to society.
That said, many aspects of autism can be significantly debilitating, and that is why efforts to deliver scientific breakthroughs are so important, with the goal of enabling those on the autism spectrum to be the best they can be.
Autistic people are directly involved in the work and mission of Autism Speaks every day: as employees, board members, volunteers and grant reviewers. In addition to autistic people being part of our advocacy network, we also work on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.
Together, we advocate for and champion the needs of the autism community – affecting meaningful, positive change in autism health benefits, research funding and discovery, safety laws, tax-free savings and driving global understanding and acceptance to enhance the lives of all people on the autism spectrum. We’re proud to say that through collaborative work with the autism community, we were able to help ensure that all 50 states offer autism coverage.
By raising funds and awareness, Autism Speaks is committed to promoting solutions, inclusion and opportunities for everyone impacted by autism. In 2018 alone, we aided more than 1 million people through Autism Speaks-funded programs and resources. Through our platforms, we’ve empowered thousands of people with autism, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, to share their stories.
Research confirms that each person on the autism spectrum is unique, and we aim to address diverse needs.
- Many autistic people have exceptional abilities or skills, such as unique perspectives on solving problems by thinking “outside of the box,” a deep understanding of subjects of personal interest, and the ability to focus on repetitive tasks for prolonged periods of time. Many learn to overcome their challenges by building on strengths or modifying their environment. About 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities.
- However, others have significant disability, require 24/7 care and cannot live independently. Autism is often accompanied by serious medical conditions. About one-third of people with autism are nonverbal or have limited verbal communication, but some learn to communicate by other means.
- Approximately 50 percent of children with autism attempt to wander or bolt from a safety, and for a significant number of people this tendency continues into adulthood. For some, aggressive behaviors and/or self-injury can occur, impeding independence and community life.
Our Autism Response Team (ART) is also available to help. ART members are trained to answer questions from families and to help to connect them with local resources. ART can be reached at 888-AUTISM2 or en Español at 888-772-9050.
Here are some of the other ways Autism Speaks is working to help people on the spectrum every day:
- Increasing global understanding and acceptance, through education, awareness and efforts to share stories of autistic people across the spectrum and throughout the life span in their own words.
- Being a catalyst for life-enhancing research breakthroughs, by investing in science that will allow more personalized treatments and therapies for those on the spectrum.
- Increasing early childhood screening and timely intervention, with the launch of a new public service campaign aiming to lower the age of diagnosis to help children with autism reach their fullest potential.
- Improving the transition to adulthood for the 50,000 autistic Americans who age out of school-based supports each year, by promoting resources for all.
- Ensuring access to reliable information and services throughout the life span, by continuing to expand our Autism Response Team’s reach and capabilities, providing more people access to resources and information from time of diagnosis through adult life.
To learn more, visit our “How We Help” fact sheet.
Each family has a unique experience with an autism diagnosis, and for some it corresponds with the timing of their child’s vaccinations. At the same time, over the last two decades there has been extensive research to determine whether there is a link between childhood vaccinations and autism.
The result of this research is that vaccines do not cause autism.
We are opposed to aversion therapy and do not support or endorse organizations that engage in its use as a form of treatment for autism.
Autism Speaks does not support eugenics.