Like a lot of autistic people, I really like Pokemon. I was planning on writing a long post about my love of Pokemon. This is not that post. This post is about Pokemon Go and an upsetting development I just found out about.
Autism Speaks is an “autism charity” that is hated by most autistics. A recent online poll found that 98% of the autistic respondents agreed that it’s actually a hate group. They are a gigantic charity that raises millions of dollars annually, yet only 4% of this money goes towards directly supporting autistic people and their families. The rest goes towards their wages, admin costs, and research into cures and genetics.
They have also had some awful campaigns, basically wanting to rid the world of autism, and therefore autistics. They have condoned the murder of autistic children by their parents. There are so many other examples of how bad they are that actually listing everything would take up this whole blog post. Instead, if you want to know more, I suggest you Google “boycott Autism Speaks”. (Update: This is a great resource explaining the issues.)
What has this to do with Pokemon Go? Well, Niantic, one of the lead developers of the game, are taking part in an event to raise money for Autism Speaks. They will even have a “Niantic Kids” area at it, with activities such as face painting and a climbing wall. Sounds like a great time for any kids that go along. But it’s ruined due to the Autism Speaks connection.
Naturally, a lot of autistics are furious about the whole thing. So many of us are big fans of the game. We are the hardcore fans who have stayed playing the game after all the hype died down. It’s a game that gets us out of the house, gets us exercise and helps us socialize. And it’s Pokemon. Need I say more?
A lot of autistic advocates and their allies seem to have taken to twitter to voice their ire. Some have written emails to Niantic and also to the PR company in charge of the whole thing. Some have called for a complete boycott of the game. Others, myself included, have decided that they will still play game but no longer make in-app purchases.
I really hope this gets sorted out. So many companies, in their efforts to be seen to be supporting the autism community, support Autism Speaks because they have not done their research and don’t realise it’s a hate group. They initially mean well and their only crime is one of ignorance. How they react when they are called out on it is what I will judge them on. Some companies have doubled down, spoken over autistic people and crossed the line from ignorance to meanness. And they get added to the list of companies to boycott. I really really hope Niantic doesn’t get added to that list. I suppose I’ll know soon enough if they do.