By Maeve O’Brien, ’16

Autism Speaks, founded in 2005, is the leading organization for autism advocacy in the world. It funds research for identifying causes, treatments, and a cure for autism.

While this organization has garnered popularity for its dedication to autism awareness, Autism Speaks has come under some harsh criticism for how it executes its advertising, allocates its money and characterizes those who are affected by autism.

Other charities such as Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and Autism Society of America find issue with how Autism Speaks spends the money that is donated to them; only four percent of the budget is given to families with autism. 44 percent of the money is funneled towards research, but the majority of the research is to find autism causation and prevention, not improving the quality of families affected by autism.

Meanwhile, Autism Speaks is still backed by an abundance of families with children who have autism who believe that the work that the organization does is beneficial for those affected by autism.

Autism Speaks is especially prominent in April, as it is Autism Awareness Month. They are hosting walks and events across the nation, and having different locations light up in the color blue, the color for autism awareness.

On Twitter, there is a blue border that people can utilize for their profile picture to show support for Autism Speaks’ cause.

The organization has a significant presence in Columbus as well, hosting the Walk Now for Autism Speaks walk every fall, in which thousands of marchers participate.

Autism Speaks raises awareness about autism through advertising, social media stints, and event-hosting. However, the organization is under criticism for how it treats autism itself: as a preventable disease, not the lifelong developmental disorder that it is.