I have been reading this gem from Sarah Pripas, ASAN board member, leader of ASAN's UCLA chapter and neurodiversity activist. One of the talking points that got my attention was:
In the public policy arena, pro-neurodiversity organizations are, with our limited budgets, doing our best to improve disability policy. Here I feel compelled to speak about Autism Speaks, an organization which is worth tens of billions of dollars, yet has done comparatively little to address the practical needs of autistic people.
A billion dollars seems like an unfathomable amount of money to me for a charitable organization to have let alone tens of billions of dollars. I realize that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have this much cash on hand. I realize there might be some huge corporations that have this kind of money, but not very many I would think. Of course, I realize this is a drop in the bucket for what the federal government spends every year, on defense, entitlement programs, government employee's salaries, etc. But it did seem farfetched to me that autism speaks could conceivably have this kind of dough.
In order to factcheck Ms. Pripas' assertion, I came across this webpage from the better business bureau which discusses the actual assets of AS as of the end of 2008. It would seem to contradict Ms. Pripas' bold statement. I will paste the figures from this webpage.
For the year ended December 31, 2008, AS's program expenses were:
Awareness and other services
Total Program Expenses:
$55,950,417 Back To Top
Chief Executive : Mark Roithmayr, President
Highest Paid Executive: Geri Dawson, Chief Science OfficerCompensation*: $669,751
The following information is based on AS's audited financial statements (consolidated) for the year ended December 31, 2008:
Walk program and retail partners
Major gifts and other contributions
Special and community events
Fund raising expenses
Expenses in Excess of Income
Beginning net assets
Ending net assets
We see that in the year 2008 autism speaks earned a bit over 70 million and spent nearly 75 million incurring more liabilities than assets in that year.
We see that at the end of 2008 they had nearly 30 million in assets against just under 20 million dollars in liabilities.
as of December 2008, their net assets were less than 10 million dollars.
Certainly a far cry from Pripas' tens of billions of dollars. Where Ms. Pripas obtains her figures I have not one iota. Ms. Pripas also neglects to take into account that her neurodiversity movement conned autism speaks into giving Laurent Mottron a grant that is worth approximately 5% of what were autism speaks' net assets as of about a year ago. Of course AS may have become more healthy in the past year financially, but that seems implausible. Certainly that they were ever worth tens of billions of dollars is a huge stretch to say the least.
Anyone who read this post can correct me in the comments section if I am mistaken but I believe Ms. Pripas is at least on the board of ASAN as well as the leader of their UCLA chapter. Though somewhat lower than Ari Ne'eman in stature, I think she does have a high executive position in the organization.
Yet, this organization who has on its board of directors a person who would make such a gross misstatement of fact, certainly reflects on Ne'eman himself. So perhaps the U.S. Senate could look at this and see just who Obama is proposing to the NDC. Someone who has an axe to grind against an organization that is admittedly far from perfect, yet does have as its goal the curation of autism and wanting to help persons on the spectrum lead better lives until a cure is available. Though I have bones of contention with their funding of Mottron, the autism in the workplace dog and pony show and other issues, they are certainly funding some scientific research that at some point will hopefully help handicapped persons with this condition better function in the world.
So far, ASAN had produced nothing of importance. Also, should an organization that would make such a huge clusterfuck in presenting their 'facts' be in control of disability policy in Washington? I think not.