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An Autistics Guide To Corporate Social Responsibility

I want to reiterate that these are my own views and do not necessarily reflect the views of others.

You’ve probably noticed that my blog has critiqued certain sponsorships that I have found troublesome. I wanted to come up with something that would be a good, sharable reference point.

One :: Imagery & Colour Usage

If you want to create a favourable first impression, utilizing a puzzle piece and/or blue immediately raises red flags. Firstly, the image and colour combination evokes negative thoughts of Autism Speaks, which is known for their harmful PSAs, “Cure” culture and questionable distribution of funds. Secondly, The puzzle piece implies that there is something is missing or needs fixing.

Two :: Words/Terminology

When Autism is used as a negative or scare tactic, that is not considered to be favourable.

I  recently read the side of a case of beer and was appalled at the copy.

“Affected by Autism”, “have Autism” and my interaction with their social media team interjected the word awareness in to our conversation twice. I have also noticed that they switch from capitalizing Autism to not capitalizing it. There is no consistency. Other promotions have also used words like “hope” which is demeaning and not at all empowering.

Three :: Transparency

In reference to the case of beer, they mention things like “Autism now affects 1 in 68 children with boys being four times more likely to have autism than girls.  It is the fastest growing developmental disorder with 1% of the world’s population affected by Autism.” without citing any sources. They have also said “…remains dedicated to supporting Autism research in Canada.  Since 2012 more than $600,000 has been raised and donated towards better understanding Autism and how to effectively diagnose and treat the condition.” – this time they have left out exactly WHO is running this research. They have also failed to provide the information of what would be an effective way to diagnose and treat the condition.

Four :: Representation and consultation

When running a promotion: REPRESENTATION matters. Most of the companies I have reached out to have been individuals at the top of the business with an Autistic child. I have had some really negative interactions with affluent parents pledging money to Autism Speaks, business owners who run AUTISM AWARENESS promotions with a portion of the funds going to different organizations and companies running contests where they not only hire a non-Autistic artist, but they utilize the harmful imagery I mentioned in section 1.

If you want to do right by Autistic people, go on to twitter and search #ActuallyAutistic to see the voices of Autistics. You can also look up Neurodiversity and Neurodiversity consulting. You’ll find yourself someone who is incredibly qualified: an Autistic person.

It’s so important to embrace what Autistic people have to offer and this is the proper way of doing so – instead of creating a very offensive campaign.

Five :: Responding to Customer complains

If someone complains to you, instead of explaining yourself immediately, please listen. Please pledge to change and give ways you plan on improving the campaign if you choose to run it again. Understand that yes, if you have an Autistic child that they will grow in to an Autistic adult–We are some of your greatest resources. Don’t talk down to us. Don’t lessen our complaints with ableist speak. Listen. Commit to change.

Six :: Suggestions

A few things a business can do:

I was on the radio today!

A dream came true of mine. I was on the radio on my favourite network, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). I met Gloria Macarenko and she was so lovely! I am a HUGE CBC fan and I couldn’t believe I got to go in the part of the building where they broadcast the news, both television and radio.

The radio program was all about a Youth with Autism conference taking place tomorrow and I will be running an Art workshop. This will be the first of it’s kind for me and hopefully not the last.

If you’re interested in hearing me on the radio, the link is here.

If you happen to be outside of Canada, you can always download a free VPN like ProtonVPN and set your location to Canada to be able to listen!

Brand Awareness At Our Expense

When a brand like Mortgage Tree runs a contest and they utilize an Artist that is NOT AUTISTIC for a campaign, red flags are raised immediately.

There are SO MANY THINGS WRONG WITH THIS. Can you spot them all?

A contest is being run and prizes are available to those they choose. There’s not many restrictions as to who can enter.

When I say this has a lot to do with branding, Crystal Salamon deleted her original case study which revealed that only about $60 has been spent on paid ads when this campaign was run in 2017. That’s right: she’s been at it for years.

I have posted negative reviews on both Crystal’s facebook page and Mortgage Tree as well. With Mortgage tree, that lead to a very uncomfortable conversation through private messages which I try to avoid.

They’ve also VINYL WRAPPED A CAR (which was revealed after this conversation)

For more information on this campaign:

Of course, there’s plenty more links that include all the twitter and instagram pages as well as a search for their hashtags. They’ve got all their bases covered. The youtube videos are pretty bad too.

Acceptance, please?

I’m laying in bed right now, trying to desperately turn off my active mind. It’s nearly impossible to do.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As April 1st comes to a close, i’m already struggling to come to terms with this month and the ignorance i’ve already encountered. Twitter is the place to go when you desire controversy and i’m no stranger to that.

I reside in British Columbia and we are synonymous with the NHL team, The Vancouver Canucks. Many people find them to be a source of pride and optimism, even to go so far as to say they represent Vancouver. I believed that for a long time until I became aware of the Canucks Autism Network.

It’s a great thing to want to support Autistic people but it’s another thing to utilize the puzzle piece and incorporate material sourced from Autism Speaks. They also use strange language like “families with autism” in their marketing materials. I feel like the #1 resource for those who organize these events and create the foundation for these networks and charities should be an Autistic person or even a group of Autistic people. To me, that simply is common sense.

The way these events are structured, there is a strong emphasis on family and children. A lot of the time Autistic adults are left out and not even considered. It’s as if they believe Autistic adults don’t exist. Hello! We’re here. We exist. We have opinions, thoughts, feelings that we would love to share with you. We’re human too!

I also saw that they are working with Microsoft’s Vancouver Office. For a while, I wanted to reach out and collaborate with Microsoft and I couldn’t even find a viable way to contact the right department. I was given a telephone number, I tried to exhaust internal contacts and I couldn’t get to the right person. I wonder if it’s purposely inaccessible? Microsoft has a program to hire Autistic people and yet the company is virtually unreachable.

Between Canucks Autism Network, Autism Support BC and Surf’s Up For Autism, amongst many others, we continue to be coloured blue and puzzled. I feel as though they don’t know the negative connotations or simply don’t care. If you want to help us, ask us. Put it out there on twitter. Have a focus group with Autistic people of different ages. ASK US FIRST. If you’re running a contest with a colouring page for Autism, hire an Autistic artist.

Autism Awareness Month SUCKS.

It’s ALMOST HERE GUYS, the time of the year I absolutely freakin’ hate. Did you know that Autism Speaks even has a whole guide of how to use their logo? (They took down the website but I linked a cached version because they can’t outsmart me!)

There’s mortgage companies running contests complete with puzzle pieces and artwork done by a non-autistic person.

It’s also the time of the year that my local car dealership puts up some heinous banner on the inside and outside of their building.

There’s also pretty crude donors, ignorant ambassadors, poorly thought out sponsorships and William Shatner’s gaslighting of Autistics on Twitter amongst all the things we already have to deal with.

Here’s what you can do instead:

Here are some pertinent links about why Autism Speaks & April is so bad:

Seeking Member Submissions

for the Made By Autistics Community! I am starting a website and may buy a domain name soon (if I can afford it!). I would love to feature more people.

https://madebyautistics.wordpress.com/members/

Join us on Facebook. The community page will have more information on how to submit.

Made By Autistics!

After being beaten down this week (see my last two posts) and feeling absolutely hellish, I wanted to do something good, something creative and something NICE!

I have found there to be a severe lack of opportunity for my Art locally and I can only imagine that other people have felt the same so I created the Made By Autistics Marketplace on facebook to give people the chance to sell their art, wares and other things they’ve created to anybody willing to join the group. I coined the phrase “By Autistic People For Everyone” to really outline what i’m going for.

I would love for you to join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/MadeByAutistics/

The unsavoury world of celebrity influence

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Celebrities – you know them. They can be kind, generous, and approachable. They can also be crude, negative and bigheaded. In this case, the latter applies.

Yesterday was an absolute firestorm on twitter and it all started with a joke: Someone posed the question of what they should wear when going to meet William Shatner. Someone else responded by saying “A Boycott Autism Speaks Shirt!”. William personally found this tweet and followed it up with the tweet you see here.

Victoria responded and Shatner viewed that as a threat – which is completely ironic due to the statement he made in the above tweet.

It also appears that this is not the first time he has become very hostile towards someone who was asking a very genuine question about their Autistic child.

I wonder where his publicist is and how his unprofessional behaviour has not reached the mainstream media. If you are going to attack a marginalized group of people, defend Autism Speaks and expect that the #ActuallyAutistic community is going to be quiet, you’ve got another thing coming. A lot of his fans are blindly following him and hanging on to his every word, without doing research on the subject. They are attacking us and creating an extremely stressful environment because of their perceived allyship to Mr. Shatner. I would only hope that asking for donations to ASAN would be welcomed, but sadly that is just not the case.

#Puppetgate

Please Support Autistic People and STOP misrepresenting us.

Our voices are so incredibly important and we should not be invalidated. If you are a Neurotypical representing Autistics, please consult with us first. Consider our voices. Don’t exploit us for profit or speak about us in an incorrect or disrespectful fashion. If we call you out, don’t utilize it for your own personal gain. Listen. Respect. Consider. Consult. There’s plenty of things you can do to show us that you care.