6 Corporate Heroes of Autism Research | July 24, 2013 #AutisticHistory #NotAnAutisticAlly

Not An Autistic Ally

[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]

6 Corporate Heroes of Autism Research

By Sean Williams – Jul 24, 2013

In addition to helping fund research for this prevalent disease, these six companies remind consumers and investors that they care about their employees and the community.

Every week for the past year we’ve examined a CEO, or pair of co-CEOs, who’s done an exemplary job of managing the company and delivering for shareholders, providing a fun and fruitful work environment for employees, and who gave back in extraordinary ways to the community.

Today, we’re going to take a one-week detour from focusing on one specific CEO and instead highlight a group of six companies that have been significant donors in fighting one of the nation’s quickest growing diseases: autism.

Note: there was and has never been an ’autism epidemic’ – just a better counting of the Autistic population that was marketed as tragedy by autism organizations.

A disturbing trend
Autism spectrum disorders have been growing at an alarming rate since the new millennium. In 2000, ASDs affected about one in every 150 children, but as of 2008 this figure had narrowed to just one in every 88 children — nearly double in just eight years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The causes of autism — which is a complex brain development disorder that can cause children great difficulty in communicating and forging relationships — are still largely unknown, thus treatments and preventative measures to treat and/or cure the disease are either in the very early stages or nonexistent. It’s a disturbing trend that certainly needs research dollars thrown in its direction if we hope to make a difference.

Now I know what you might be thinking: “Sure, I support autism research, but what exactly does this have to do with investing?”

Why these donations matter
Keep a few of the following points in mind. First, public image is everything for some businesses — especially for retailers and food service companies. I’m not in any way saying that these businesses are putting on a show by donating to autism research, but it does point to a company that cares for the community it operates in and creates a rosier view of how a consumer might view a business. I know I personally haven’t shopped at certain stores based on their corporate actions, but I also know this pendulum swings both ways, and I’ve gone out of my way to shop at local and national chains that have given back to the community in the past.

Another consideration here is that a company that donates clearly has to be doing something right. Sure, a donation is a nice benefit comes tax time for businesses, but the chances of these companies donating to any cause is pretty slim if they weren’t making a hefty profit to begin with. In sum, big donations often equal big profits and a healthy company.

Finally, considering how prevalent an autism diagnosis has become, the chances of a company having an employee, or multiple employees, with a familial connection to a child with autism is growing. I believe this to be a strong gesture by these companies to their employees and the community that they do indeed care about this growing issue. Think of it in terms of providing specialized care through donations to instill loyalty and camaraderie among its workforce. And as we all know, a happy workforce is an incredibly productive workforce.

6 corporate heroes of autism research
Without further ado, here are six companies that have partnered with Autism Speaks and are deserving of a bow for their efforts to help fund the fight against autism.

Toys R Us
If we were handing out gold stars here, privately held toy retailer Toys R Us would take top honors. This year, Toys R Us raised more than $2 million for Autism Speaks. Its “Shine a Light for Autism” campaign in the U.S. generated in excess of $1.3 million, and $765,000 was donated from its Canadian operations. Best of all, 100% of the proceeds goes to Autism Speaks. This is the seventh such year that Toys R Us has partnered up with Autism Speaks, and it’s raised more than $18 million in cumulative donations over that time period.

Panera Bread ( PNRA )
Curious what they’re putting in the soup? Here’s a hint — in addition to healthy ingredients, it’s some good old-fashioned TLC. Panera Bread hasn’t been Autism Speaks’ biggest donor by any means, raising a little more than $170,000 since it first partnered with the organization in 2010. That might be a far cry from Toys R Us and its $18 million-plus in donations, but Panera has done an incredible job of spreading awareness through the sale of Autism awareness blue bracelets in select restaurants, and through community events designed to raise money for autism. The dollar amount may not be huge, but the social awareness impact certainly is! 

Build-a-Bear Workshop
From bread bowls we move on to furry stuffed animals! Build-a-Bear, a fixture in malls around the U.S., and a partner of Autism Speaks for nine years running, raised nearly $200,000 alone in 2013 thanks to the sale of a blue bear to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month in April. Having been partnered with Autism Speaks for such a long period of time, it isn’t surprising to find out that Build-a-Bear has raised more than $1 million for research.

Dollar General ( DG -0.13% )
Among discount stores, few have done their part to raise autism awareness and generate money for research than the nation’s largest discount retailer, Dollar General. In 2013, Dollar General helped raise more than $1.1 million through at-the-register donations, and even sported the Autism Speaks puzzle piece logo on its NASCAR-sponsored stock car throughout the month of April. Since it partnered with Autism Speaks in 2010, Dollar General has raised more than $3.4 million.

The Home Depot ( HD 1.61% )
One way to improve awareness of this disease is to partner with the largest chain of home improvement stores in the United States. This year, Home Depot sponsored a blue incandescent light bulb from March 1 through April 30 and donated a portion of all sales from its U.S. and Canadian locations to Autism Speaks. Cumulatively since it began its partnership with Autism Speaks back in 2011, Home Depot has donated close to $915,000. 

TJX Cos. TJX 1.08% )
Last, but certainly not least, is TJX Companies, the parent company behind discount name-brand clothing retailer TJ Maxx. For its 2013 campaign, TJ Maxx, in its 10th year of partnering with Autism Speaks, sold puzzle pieces in all of its 1,000-plus stores for $1 apiece. This year it raised a record $1.8 million, and over its 10-year partnership the clothing retailer is closing in on $11 million in donations.

These are actually just a handful of Autism Speaks’ partners, but I feel they are the most fitting of the group to receive my two thumbs up this week.




Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid. 

ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.

The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t workIn study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work. 

What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.

The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth. 

The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome. 

This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.

Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.

Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.

Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.

[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]

Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.

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