The new iteration is shorter and strikes a markedly different tone. Gone are terms like “struggle,” “hardship” and “crisis.” Also absent is any mention of seeking a cure for the developmental disorder.
“Our mission statement was updated to reflect the evolving strategic direction of Autism Speaks and current needs in the autism community,” C.J. Volpe, the group’s spokesman, tells Disability Scoop.
The approval of a revamped mission statement caps a year in which the nonprofit saw significant leadership turnover, bringing on a new president, saying goodbye to its chief science officer and the death of co-founder Suzanne Wright this summer.
Stephen Mark Shore, a member of the Autism Speaks board, said the revision reflects a broader shift for the nonprofit.
Autism Speaks was established more than a decade ago in part by merging with existing advocacy groups including one known as Cure Autism Now. For years, critics blasted Autism Speaks for lacking representation from people with autism themselves. But last year the group invited Shore and Valerie Paradiz, who are both on the spectrum, to join its board.
“Autism Speaks was founded on the goal of curing autism as one of its objectives,” Shore said. “However, similar to many experiences of parents of children with autism, the organization grew to believe that autism is something to be worked with for promoting fulfilling and productive lives of people on the spectrum — rather than something that has to be done to.”