Build-A-Bear Workshop Ends Partnership with Autism Speaks

Build-a-bear-logoBuild-A-Bear Workshop has confirmed via Twitter that they are no longer partnering with Autism Speaks. The company has previously supported Autism Speaks by donating a percentage of sales on special bears created for Autism Awareness Month.

The official tweet read, “Hello to all! Yes, we have ended our partnership with Autism Speaks . – Cindy.”

Build-A-Bear Workshop did not elaborate on why they’ve chosen to end the partnership, but members of the group Boycott Autism Speaks expressed their approval via social media sites.

Recorded August 9, 2014

Taken from Twitter August 9, 2014

Boycott Autism Speaks is a group of autistic adults and other advocates who believe that Autism Speaks is a harmful organization. They object to the portrayal of autism as a disease that needs to be cured, that destroys lives and families. They dislike the way Autism Speaks appropriates the funds they raise, using them to research a “cure,” instead of supporting programs that could help individuals with autism live and work in their homes and communities.

They also object to the fact that Autism Speaks does not include any adults with autism on their board of directors. Author John Elder Robison was a member of the board, but he resigned after the release of a PSA describing autism as a thief who will “rob you of your child and your dreams.” Autism Daily Newscast’s report on this story can be found here.

Boycott Autism Speaks also objects to research that furthers the theory that vaccines cause autism, and to their support of the Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts, a facility that is currently under investigation by the FDA for using electric shocks as aversive therapy on individuals with autism.

The Boycott Autism Speaks website has a link to an online petition asking corporate partners to stop supporting Autism Speaks http://www.change.org/petitions/terminate-your-financial-support-of-autism-speaks. They have also encouraged other sponsors to end their partnerships with the organization, most recently Sesame Street Workshop.

CC BY-NC-ND by iFireDesign

CC BY-NC-ND by iFireDesign

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), is another organization who actively encourages members to boycott companies that partner with Autism Speaks. Their website contains a 2014 Joint Letter to the Sponsors of Autism Speaks, which can be used as a template for those who wish to contact these companies. You can find the full letter here http://autisticadvocacy.org/2014/01/2013-joint-letter-to-the-sponsors-of-autism-speaks/.

Build-A-Bear Workshop is just one of many companies who have partnered with Autism Speaks, and they have not officially given a reason for ending their relationship. Whether other sponsors will follow suit remains to be seen. What is clear is that there are strong feelings on both sides of this debate.

Autism Daily Newscast welcomes comments on this topic, particularly those who may support Autism Speaks and we encourage a healthy discussion.

 

6 Comments

  1. Amy August 20, 2014
    • Jessica August 30, 2014
    • Autistic Avenger October 16, 2014
    • Leslie Fish October 22, 2014
  2. Amy August 21, 2014
  3. Kim August 30, 2014