Despite the many worthwhile autism charities desperately in need of funding, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF) has chosen to fund one that:
1) opposes all efforts to cure or prevent autism, denies an increase in autism prevalence and now seeks to promote this form of “activism” among college students nationwide.
2) blatantly violates MEAF’s own stated guideline: “We do not fund organizations or programs connected with a controversial social or political issue.” MEAF is funding a “neurodiversity” initiative by ASAN (Autism Self Advocacy Network) – highy controversial in the autism community. According to ASAN, “The training is meant to prepare students to engage in self-advocacy and pro-neurodiversity activism on their college campuses.”
3) promotes “self-diagnosis” of autism, causing students who may have the disorder to not qualify for college disability support services and national testing service accommodations, thus diminishing, not “enhancing” chances for academic success and future employment. “Self-diagnosis” (without medical confirmation) of any disability, disease or disorder is an irresponsible practice and should not receive corporate funding.
4) does not promote “full inclusion of people with disabilities alongside their peers without disabilities,” as called for in Mitsubishi guidelines, but promotes segregation of people with disabilities in extracurricular activities.
Please see the Canary Party Action Alert below and participate! We’re all affected by the autism epidemic and by those who deny it exists and promote irresponsible practices.
Canary Party President Jennifer Larson contacted Mitsubishi to request the corporation rescind its funding for the Autism Campus Inclusion Summer (ACIS) Institute created by the Autism Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). She informed Mitsubishi of ASAN’s extremist and controversial “neurodiverse” ideology which denies overwhelming evidence that autism is on the rise and which views autism as part of the natural order – despite the steep increase in autism diagnoses in recent years. ASAN is led by Ari Ne’eman who vigorously opposed the Center for Disease Control’s “wandering code” – now in effect despite his efforts. Mr. Ne’man does not consider autism a tragedy, nor does he publicly acknowledge the suffering of profoundly disabled people with autism, many of whose life-long prognoses is institutionalization. ASAN is an organization comprised of the highest-functioning individuals who “identify as autistic” (including self-diagnosis) and who advocate for their own needs, often at the expense of others with autism, as evidenced by Ne’man’s opposition to the potentially life-saving wandering code.
Kevin R. Webb, the Director of MEAF, Mitsubishi’s foundation funding the initiative, was untroubled by ASAN’s views as described above, and even acknowledged the controversial nature of the program, responding to Larson: “We also recognize that you and The Canary Party disagree with certain positions taken by ASAN; however, we believe this project is very worthwhile and will provide benefits to autistic college students.”
Larson e-mailed Mitsubishi with the reasons for the Canary Party’s opposition to funding for the camp:
“While the Canary Party fully supports the acceptance of all people with diverse neurological conditions….it cautions that neurodiversity as promoted by ASAN is an ideology that runs counter to the primary goals of every major autism organization in the country.”
Larson described to Mr. Webb how ASAN expresses its “pro-neurodiversity activism” online: “Members of ASAN utilize the internet to aggressively target parents struggling with the exhaustive, daily needs of their children with autism. These parents often suffer from isolation and sleep deprivation due to their children’s intense challenges caused by the condition, and reach out for support online. What they often find is people who are trained by ASAN to frequent parent support websites, accuse parents of rejecting and not loving their children with autism, belittling parents as “curebies” if they seek treatments to mitigate their children’s autistic symptoms.”
Mr. Webb was unmoved. He wrote:
“MEAF and our advisors, leaders in the disability community, believe that this [ASAN’s camp program] will help to increase acceptance of people with disabilities and enhance employment opportunities. As you know, employment of people with disabilities is extremely low and increasing those opportunities needs to be a priority.”
However, no reference is made to “employment opportunities” or “acceptance” in ASAN’s literature about the program. In fact, its stated goal is for students “to return to their home college campuses and act as empowered systems change activists.” “… to advance the principles that are meaningful to our community.” “…to prepare students to engage in self-advocacy and pro-neurodiversity activism on their college campuses.” An essay about “neurodiversity” is required of the applicants.
ASAN explicitly states on the application that “self-diagnosis” is acceptable for participation in the camp. It is the position of the Canary Party that any student who believes he or she may be on the autism spectrum should make diagnosis a top priority – including a full psychological and academic evaluation as required by the college’s disabilities department. Without diagnosis, students cannot qualify for the academic and residential accommodations offered by colleges, nor can they qualify for accommodations when taking national tests (MCAT, LSAT, GRED, etc.) as well as workplace accommodations that employers are required by law to provide for people with disabilities.
For Mitsubishi to state that this program, which does not require a medical diagnosis of autism, can lead to enhanced employment opportunities for people with autism is patently false; without diagnosis, the disability support systems of colleges and testing services cannot be utilized, which diminishes, not enhances, chances for academic success and future employment. ASAN’s camp program is also detrimental to students who may incorrectly self-diagnose as having autism, leaving their correct diagnoses (if any) unidentified.
Would Mitsubishi fund a program for individuals self-diagnosed with cancer?
Mr. Webb also stated in his e-mail reply to the Canary Party: “MEAF does not provide grants to fund cures or prevent disabilities.”
However, Ms. Larson had provided multiple suggestions for funding initiatives that do not involve prevention or cure: “If Mitsubishi wishes to help the autism community, we’re happy to provide the names of dozens of autism organizations at the local and national level that fund research, provide direct assistance to families, help pay for unreimbursed medical expenses, provide respite, and are involved in any number of other worthwhile endeavors. Furthermore, the Canary Party supports the funding of any program that brings students with autism together on college campuses, but not for purposes that are detrimental to other members of the autism community.”
Mr. Webb inaccurately defended ASAN’s program as being pro-inclusion: “The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network’s (ASAN)
According to MEAF’s own guidelines for grant proposals, programs should “Promote the full-inclusion of youth with disabilities alongside their peers without disabilities.” However, ASAN’s camp program clearly violates this guideline, stating that participating students “will develop campus-based organizations run by and for autistic students and/or students with disabilities.” This is not “full inclusion.” This is exclusion and segregation of students with disabilities, which typifies ASAN activities.
The Canary Party calls on its membership to contact the two Mitsubishi executives listed below, to oppose the corporation’s funding of ASAN’s “Autism Camp Inclusion Summer Institute” as well as any future initiatives of ASAN.
We are in the midst of an autism epidemic. It is morally wrong to fund an organization that actively fights against prevention and cure while thousands of individuals suffer. Furthermore, funding an initiative that allows participants to be “self-diagnosed” with autism is irresponsible and potentially harmful to the students involved. The goal of this and other ASAN initiatives appears to be to maximize the number of individuals promoting the neurodiversity agenda, not to help individuals medically diagnosed with autism reach their full potential. Further, the ASAN program violates MEAF’s own “stringent criteria” for grant application, and the program’s goals have been misrepresented by MEAF’s Director.
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Katsuya Takamiya, President and CEO:
Kevin R. Webb, Director, MEAF:
Mitsubishi Electric Public Relations: