Age of Autism started nine years ago this month, a combined effort with Generation Rescue. So it’s fair to say we’re starting our tenth anniversary year. And that is really saying something in this day of rocky media ventures that are born, die, pop up in different forms and then mutate into disappearing photographs (this is my limited understanding of Snapchat). There is even secret writing on my IPhone message system, I found out this week.
We try to keep up, but we also aim to keep our mission focused, as the faded newspaper font of our logo suggests, on traditional bedrock reporting. We have an archive of thousands of articles, images and videos, and just about all of them have held up as accurate, important, useful, funny, controversial, newsy – take your pick. We are advocates for vaccine safety and the community of people who have been drawn into it; we aim to be part of the movement to help sick kids and find the truth about autism. But within that advocacy and aim we play it straight. I’ve called us the pirate radio station of the autism epidemic, in that we try to remain a reliable and widely available source of news and inspiration to like-minded individuals battling the Death Star in so many different ways. But we also reach well beyond ourselves, because we are listed on Google News (and give vaccine injury deniers fodder for what seems like more than half their content!). As I’ve said before, if you Google vaccines and autism you get the usual blarney from the CDC at the top, and there is us, whaling on the flu vaccine.
Lasting this long requires hard work and dedication and different skills contributed by a lot of people. It also requires luck – Kim, Mark and I work well together, each doing our thing but coming together when big topics are at hand. We pretty much operate on consensus – if any of us is adamantly opposed to something, I can’t recall ever going ahead with it without major revisions at the least. You would be surprised at the number of things we do NOT run, including at least a couple of overheated columns of mine in recent months.
Kim, John, Teresa and I are an ad hoc comment-moderating crew, and again I think readers might be surprised by the lively conversations we have about whether a comment is unfair, irrelevant, out of bounds, etcetera. We end up running most but we don't apologize for looking at them carefully in order to create a thoughtful response to the articles and not the flame fests you sometimes see on Web sites..
Of course we have our flubs and frustrations, but to be part of this movement in this way has been incredibly gratifying to all of us. And having so many wonderful Contributing Edtiors, frequent writers and smart and passionate commentators continues to amaze me.
All of which is a long windup for a quick pitch – we keep going based on contributions, and we went to a nonprofit model last year to reflect the changing base of those contributions: fewer organizations, more individuals.
It turned out to be a good choice (though don’t talk to me about paperwork and taxes for a 501(c) 3). By little and little we cobble together enough to keep doing this at what I believe is a pretty high level.
For the past three years we’ve had Anonymous Reader, as this person (no gender clues here) prefers to be known, put up $5,000 in November as a matching grant. If our readers contribute in kind, she donates it, doubling your money. The first two years we exceeded the match, even though it wasn’t tax-deductible the first time around.
This year we have raised a goodly amount, around $3,000 from dozens of donations ranging from $10 to $250, but if memory serves we are a bit behind previous years coming up on the last part of the month, when distractions start to multiply.
I always feel more than a little uncomfortable asking for money from families dealing with autism and its relentless financial burden, but I’ve been persuaded that a), some people do want to contribute and b) this is the biggest bang for their buck – deductible and matched. So $100 (just to pick a nice round figure) would get you a tax deduction – let’s say 20 percent – and be doubled. So I’m thinking $80 from you nets $200 for Age of Autism. But for a short time only! Donate now! (There, I’ve done my carnival barker bit.)
In keeping with the season, let me invoke the gods of thanks and giving and renew our request to make a tax-deductible donation either with the PayPal button (www.paypal.me/AutismAge) or sending a check to Autism Age (our corporate name) to
102 Whittier Circle
Falls Church VA 22046.
Finally, please know – professional fund-raisers, cover your ears – that whether you ever give a dime, you’re the heart of the AOA community which, unlike self-perpetuating shape-shifting quislings like Autism Speaks, has one goal in mind: Put an end to the Age of Autism.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.