Ari Ne'eman is 21 years old, autistic, and sick of being portrayed as little more than a burden on society.
Some within the local Autism community say the organization that's supposed to be leading the charge for Autism awareness and advocacy needs to make some changes of its own.
Ari Ne'eman is 21 years old, autistic, and sick of being portrayed as little more than a burden on society. That's how he says the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, Autism Speaks, makes him feel.
"Many of their public service announcements and fundraising videos compare having an autistic child to having a child in a fatal car accident, and generally make the equation that being autistic is a fate worse than death," Ne'eman says.
This weekend Ne'eman led protest of the annual Autism Speaks D.C. Walk for Autism on the National Mall.
Peter Bell, talking from the Autism Speaks headquarters in New York says Autism Speaks wants to work out its differences with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the group Ne'eman founded.
"We're at a juncture now where it's very important that we come together," Bell says, "because we probably actually have more in common than we have in differences."
One of Ne'eman's major criticisms is that Autism Speaks excludes the people it represents there are currently no Autistic people on its board of directors or leadership. Bell says its something Autism Speaks is looking to correct.
Jonathan Wilson reports...