By J.B. Handley
As a child living in Tokyo, I remember my fascination in seeing a copy of a black market World Book Encyclopedia my Dad bought in Beijing, with the pages where Taiwan should have been left completely blank. Just white paper in the middle of the book, as if the country did not even exist.
Go to the website of Autism Speaks, and you encounter a similar phenomenon.
It is as if the world of DAN!, SafeMinds, Generation Rescue, TACA, and recovered children never happened. “Mercury and Autism” receives a single mention, shrouded in pseudo-science babble and qualified statements. Helpful for a parent with questions? Not in the least.
The parallels between Autism Speaks and China don’t stop there. A quick review of their now-public Form 990 reveals that of the $13.98 million in fellowship awards given in 2006, a full $2.3 million was allocated to a single project at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, a nonprofit organization run by the Chair of Autism Speaks’ Scientific Advisory Committee, Gary Goldstein. This represents an incomprehensible conflict of interest, dwarfs all other awards made in 2006 by a factor of 10-20x, and would never be permitted in an ethically-minded public company. (It is also worth noting that Dr. Goldstein’s compensation from Kennedy Krieger in 2006 was $873,400 – a princely sum for a non-profit CEO.) As in China, cronyism appears to be alive and well at Autism Speaks.
Autism Speaks is also more than happy to rip-off one of the most widely used words in our community – “biomedical” – and use it for their own propaganda purposes, like in this sentence from their 2006 annual report:
"Autism Speaks is committed to aggressively funding biomedical research that will uncover the causes of autism."
At first blush, you’d think Autism Speaks was finally recognizing Taiwan, when in fact they are using OUR word to mean ALL funded research, including genetic research (which is where almost all their money went in 2006).
As perhaps one saving grace, Autism Speaks does still have some democracy in their ranks. It’s their walks. In 2006, walks represented almost 50% of their total revenue. Clearly, there are parents organizing and participating in the walks of Autism Speaks who still believe in what Autism Speaks stands for. I don’t know these parents, I’ve never met anyone who walked for Autism Speaks, so I will pose a simple question: Do you know what you are walking for?
So, here I sit, a proud citizen of our Taiwan, a world where the truth about the risks of vaccines is well-known, and stories of recovered children abound. We’ve been joined in this great country by Autism’s highest profile leading-ladies: Jenny McCarthy, Deirdre Imus, and Katie Wright. Our Taiwan is thriving, our ranks growing, our mission clear, our future certain, and, most importantly, our children recovering.
J.B. Handley is the co-founder of Generation Rescue. Mr. Handley and the other officers of Generation Rescue are volunteers and have never received any income from autism and never will.