Below is the letter that I just e-mailed to Bruce Springsteen's publicist at firstname.lastname@example.org . I encourage others to also write him and express your opinions.
Dear Mr. Springsteen,
I am writing you regarding your upcoming concert that you are doing in conjunction with Autism Speaks.
I have been a great fan of yours for years, and must admit that I got a little teary eyed when I read a story of how your music helped an autistic child learn to talk. My own son (who is autistic) also went through a stage where he sang a lot of songs (and bits from songs) instead of talking in the usual fashion. I would have much preferred that he used “Born to Run” instead of songs he heard on “Barney”.
I am sure that by now you are aware of the controversy regarding the organization Autism Speaks within the autism community. Not only do many parents of autistic children object to the way that Autism Speaks portrays those with autism, but more importantly those who are actually on the autism spectrum object to how they are portrayed.
Although I don’t know you, I sense from your music that you understand the underdog and the downtrodden in life. Unfortunately, many autistics in society are bullied and abused, sometimes by the very people that are supposed to be helping them.
The objections to the way Autism Speaks treats autistic individuals most recently revolve around a video that they released, but go deeper than that. Autism Speaks, in attempting to “raise awareness”, as well as funds for research on autism, has been consistent in using language that is not only disrespectful towards autistic individuals, but also absolutely false in many instances. Those with autism have not been kidnapped or stolen, and are not monsters. Autism is not a fatal disease, and thus should not be compared to cancer or AIDS. Finally, Autism Speaks is perhaps the only major organization that purports to represent disabled individuals that refuses to include those with the disability on their board.
This is not to say that those with autism don’t have challenges, or that parenting those on the autism spectrum is a piece of cake. But much of the challenge comes from living in a society that discriminates against those with disabilities, and lacks a true understanding of what those individuals actually require in regards to accommodations.
I ask that you reconsider your association with Autism Speaks, as that organization neither represents either autistic individuals themselves nor contributes to their welfare. Instead, this organization denigrates those on the spectrum. I just don’t see you as the type of person that would want to be associated with such an organization.
Edit-If there is one post that Mr. Springsteen should read, it is the one put up by Bev over at Asperger Square 8. Go read it here. Bev's post is the most elegant and powerful one I've seen on this thus far.
Me- Joe, husband of a great wife, and dad to two great kids, who were both adopted at birth.
Liz- My ever understanding wife, who manages to wear many hats (mom, advocate, therapist, teacher) for our kids.
Buddy Boy- Born in 2000. Funny, intelligent, inventive, and autistic. Loves machines.
Sweet Pea- Born in 2002. Typical little sister. Competitive, outgoing, and smart. Loves anything pink.