Michael John Carley and Autism Speaks: The Collaboration Thickens

Although (as far as I know) Michael John Carley of GRASP and Alison Tepper Singer of Autism Speaks are not literally in bed together, they have had such a cozy relationship over the past two years that the expression seems quite apropos. Most of us know Singer from her appearance in the Autism Every Day film, in which she attained worldwide infamy (and, if I recall correctly, a visit from child protective services) for saying, in front of her autistic daughter, that she had fantasized about driving off the George Washington Bridge with her daughter in the car.

Carley’s sordid history of kissing up to Autism Speaks began in 2006 when he and Singer wrote so-called articles of understanding, in which Singer argued in favor of Autism Speaks’ cure and prevention research by claiming that her daughter “does not have any areas of strengths that I fear squashing through medication, intervention or cure,” and Carley slavishly bleated that autistic adults should be more understanding of the suffering of such parents.

Read on for the details and links.

Thereafter, Autism Speaks’ president, Mark Roithmayr, rewarded Carley for his helpful propaganda services by providing a glowing endorsement to help with the marketing of a book by Carley that was published earlier this year.

Carley is now trying to do a favor for his old pal Singer, whom he apparently believes to be in jeopardy of losing her job at Autism Speaks, by urging GRASP members and others to write to Roithmayr supporting her. An e-mail widely circulated today by Carley first praises Singer for her opposition to anti-vaccine quackery and then suggests that she is in need of public support because Katie Wright publicly criticized her views. Here’s an excerpt:

Daughter Katie has recently gone public in an “Age of Autism” column in which she cites two Autism Speaks employees as having prevented the organization from giving the vaccine issue the attention or funding she feels it deserves. At the end of her self-incriminatory verbiage (seen unedited below) she calls upon vaccine theorists to email Autism Speaks’ Executive Director Mark Roithmayr urging him (at the very least) to push Autism Speaks towards becoming an organization that supports vaccine theory.

I am asking you to email Roithmayr as well-in support of Autism Speaks’ not having become a vaccine theory organization; and in support of the two employees daughter Katie clearly wants out. I know we’ve had disagreements with this org, but Autism Speaks becoming a vaccine theory outlet would be a very bad thing for the world.

The two employees are Andy Shih and Alison Tepper-Singer. Many people know Singer, and know of GRASP’s relationship with her. Whatever existing disagreements remain, she’s the one responsible for Autism Speaks eradicating language like “wiping out autism” or “making it a word in the history books.” Frankly, they don’t even use the word “cure” as much either. We need to keep Autism Speaks on this path. I might get called a “sap” for saying this, but they’re not just making these changes for better PR; they’re actually starting to get it. Please write in your emails that if these two employees are indeed against vaccine theories, that they should be supported, not denounced.

When I read this disgraceful piece of revisionist history by Carley, my jaw just about hit the floor. Here are the facts, which anyone who has been paying attention already knows: Autism Speaks never has come close to being an anti-vaccine organization and is highly unlikely to do so. From its inception, it always has viewed autism as a genetic condition, and it has provided vast amounts of money to fund genetic research studies with the express goal of developing a prenatal test for autism. As for Carley’s absurd claim that Singer has been eradicating pro-eugenics language at Autism Speaks, I would advise him to take a closer look at statements made by co-founder Suzanne Wright, who just this year gave a national magazine interview in which she specifically advocated eradicating autistic people.

I see no reasonable possibility of Autism Speaks ceasing to be a pro-eugenics hate group as long as Suzanne Wright is associated with the organization; and given Alison Tepper Singer’s past history, I find it ludicrous that Carley thinks he has even the slightest chance of persuading the autistic community that Singer has had a change of heart.



This editorial was written by Autistic blogger Autistic Bitch from Hell. Check out her blog for more info!