Today is World Autism Day, that's great isn't it? I guess today I'm a little sad. I'm sad because I've watched the landscape of the autism community change so dramatically. I've watched Autism Speaks become the leading voice in the media, yet I am concerned about the organization.
For example, in 2008 out of $65,826,629 dollars raised, only $27,593,390 went to "grants." Another $17,756,876 went to salaries, did you know the Chief Science Officer Geri Dawson was paid $644,264 alone? You can read it for yourself here their tax forms are public knowledge. The president Mark Roithmayer was paid $365,575 (he also received another $34,838 in compensation from the organization). You can compare that to the president of the Autism Society of America Lee Grossman who was paid $183,750.
Meanwhile, we have parents walking across the world trying to raise money to help their kids. Is this the best place to funnel all of that money? When over half of the expenses go to salaries, administration costs, I have serious doubts. Did all those moms walking know over half the money they raised, $38,779,862 would go to fund Autism Speaks? I could write about what Autism Speaks is funding, but don't get me started. They are a well financed, media savvy group, but are they the best group? Should they be "speaking" for all of us? I'll tell you one thing, they don't speak for me.