Lyrenhex: Blog

Autism doesn't 'Speak', Twitch

17 December 2022 5 minute read

But when autistic people are asking you to listen, you need to listen.

Recently, Twitch was petitioned via the official feedback platform to remove two so-called “charities” from their built-in Charity feature: the LGB Alliance and Autism Speaks.

At the very least, I’m pleased to see that they responded to the request regarding LGB Alliance appropriately: the transphobic hate group has been removed.

Autism Speaks, however, is another matter: Twitch has refused to remove the organisation, deferring to PayPal’s charity list as justification and arguing that they “do not violate [Twitch’s] Off-Service policy.” This is unconscionable avoidance of the topic, given they have already demonstrated a willingness to render their own judgement on charities as they did with the LGB Alliance. Choosing not to remove Autism Speaks is not a “neutral” act: it is an explicit act of hate.

I stream on Twitch semi-regularly, and this response has been - to say the least - profoundly disheartening, as an autistic person myself. Thus, I’d like to attempt to help educate on why Autism Speaks should not be supported (or, for that matter, regarded as a charity).

Vaccines do not cause autism

As recently as 2015, Autism Speaks was funding research into whether there was a link between vaccines and autism - a suggestion which has been overwhelmingly debunked, and causes irreperable harm to public health.1

The history of this claim can be easily traced back to Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 study which falsely claimed a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism: this study was so unethical and harmful to the autistic subjects, and caused such harm to the public health, trust, and understanding in vaccines, that Wakefield’s medical license was revoked. This study was not valid, and should always be dismissed immediately.

Countless subsequent studies have, instead, overwhelmingly found absolutely no link between vaccinations and autism: so why were (and potentially still are) Autism Speaks so interested in the topic? What possible benefit could ever be gained from keeping this discussion going? None. This interest serves only to continue to villify autistic people, and further the stigmas that render autism “awareness” so pointless an endeavour (we need acceptance, instead).

Eugenics and the search for a “cure”

Another field of research Autism Speaks has continuously funded is searches for a so-called “cure” to autism. If you’re unfamiliar with the #ActuallyAutistic community near you, this might seem sensible; it is not.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, or as many of us prefer it to be described, a neurotype. Put simply, it is a different way of thinking, viewing the world, and experiencing.

Is it sensible to search for a cure for something like this? It’s not a “disease” - rather, it would be more appropriate to liken it to a disability2.

Consider the fact that we’ve grown up autistic; we’ve learnt how to exist as autistic people. Most of us have learnt how to mask, and subsequently had to learn how to stop masking. Given this, it’s almost certainly an intrinsic facet of our personalities: would I be me if I weren’t autistic?

I think not.

And so, the eugenics behind Autism Speaks’ endeavours becomes clear: by seeking a “cure” for autism (as fruitless as I believe such an endeavour to be), they bely their intent to eradicate autistic people.

Imagine how many scientific breakthroughs, priceless works of art, and novel perspectives we might never have had from historical figures believed to be autistic, had this “charity” existed - and succeeded - before then?

To conclude…

Autism isn’t a “superpower”, and in no way is it a walk-in-the-park to be autistic today; society remains frustrating for autistic people and the countless things I struggle to do - that my peers do not - can be painful.

But it also completes me, and I appreciate it - and certainly my special interests (such as computer science, linguistics, and video game lore) - so much. At this point, I’d hate to not be autistic and, well: who would I be if I wasn’t…?

So I implore that people please listen to us, and do not support Autism Speaks. Rather, support any of the myriad charities who work to make life easier for us, and not to get rid of us, such as (to list just a few):

And yet again, we must call on Twitch to do better.


I’ve avoided providing too many specifics of Autism Speaks’ activities due to some of them being, frankly, horrific to read or listen to (a particularly bad advert from them springs to mind here…). If you would like evidence of their disdain for us, this call for a boycott on Twitch includes many links to such examples. I’ve opted to write this separately, as I feel that boycotting Twitch would likely make it easier for them to ignore us, so I’d rather try to continue streaming and calling this out there.

I appreciate the intent behind the boycott, however, and regardless of how your activism manifests: thank you for caring.



This is a disputed topic within the autistic community, with many people preferring not to view it as a disability, as they argue difficulties are caused by society - not autism itself. I personally regard this differently: autism is a disability because society does not support it. It does make life harder - in a variety of ways - because society is not built for it. I do not feel this makes it less of a disability for as long as this remains true, personally. That said, different people are different, so my view should not be held as gospel any more than another autistic person’s: respect people’s views.