Autism Speaks Partner: NEST Fragrances | #NotAnAutisticAlly #BanABA

NEST Fragrances

NEST Fragrances has been a partner of Autism Speaks since 2009.

They’re known for the Blue Garden Autism Candle that was created for Autism Speaks’ “Light It Up Blue” campaign for World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month. These candles have been seen in Nieman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and many other niche boutiques across the States.

NEST Fragrances was founded by Laura Slatkin, a long-time board member of Autism Speaks and a co-founder of New York Center For Autism (NYCA), NYC Autism Charter School, and the NEXT For Autism organization.

Slatkin also worked with White Castle to create the Original Slider White Castle hamburger-scented candle – an effort that raised “awareness” and more than $350,000 for Autism Speaks.

In 2002, after her son was diagnosed with autism, Laura and her husband, Harry Slatkin, founded the New York Center for Autism (NYCA), a tripartite organization dedicated to autism education, community outreach and biomedical research. 

Laura Slatkin then co-founded the NYCA Charter School with Ilene Lainer. This was the first public charter school dedicated to serving Autistic children and was structured with Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) at it’s core. ABA is known as Autistic Conversion Therapy in the Autistic Community. ABA is proven and evidence-based to cause PTSD in Autistics.

Later on, Slatkin and Lainer teamed up with hedge-fund giant Jim Simons to become ’autism’s investors’ and launch the Institute for Brain Development in 2012. Simons is also a founder of the Simons Foundation and it’s project, the Simons Foundation Autism Research Iniative (SFARI), plus the hedge fund firm Renaissance Technologies. Simons wife, Marilyn, donated $5 million to get it off the ground, and  Autism Speaks added another $1 million.

Slatkin and Lainer recruited leading autism clinitian Dr. Catherine Lord from the University of Michigan. Lord is well-known for their work with ABA, and studied under Ivar Lovaas.

Lord said the center would offer “gap services” such as therapy sessions between the time a child is diagnosed as autistic and the time parents get ABA services.

“You know the clock is ticking,” said Slatkin, “and every day you aren’t engaging your child in therapy makes you think it’s an opportunity you lose.”

“We want to be leaders,” says Lainer. “In time it should be easier for others to do this.”

Interesting enough in this article, Lainer refers to the disability rights movement of the 80s and 90s.

“When people in wheelchairs couldn’t get into the building, they made curb cuts,” she said.

“You couldn’t push the elevator button because it was too high? They lowered the button. We need to figure out what the curb cuts are for people with autism because they deserve as much to be members of the community as people in a wheelchair.”

From this quote, what Lanier is failing to understand are the disability movement that forced accommodations like curb-cuts were led and powered by disabled people and their lived experiences. The disability movement was not led by non-disabled parents who spoke about the needs of the disability community while simultaneously excluding disabled people from having a meaningful place at the table.

Also, to be remembered is the controversy of a “documentary” that included the Slatkins, with Harry speaking to filicide ideation with his Autistic child that included a pond near their home. This narrative was included to push ABA as the only hope for Autistics born today, and lobby for legislation to force insurance companies to cover the cost, get it included in public schools, in regional services, Autistic mental health care and more.


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