Neurodiversity remains a controversial movement and people on both sides of the fence have made a variety of statements about it. To some it is about basic human rights and/or civil rights for people on the autism spectrum or who have related neurologic disabilities (or differences for those who prefer that term). Some have said it means an alternative form of brain wiring that is just a natural human variation the way eye color is. To some parents of autistic children it is people stating that they don't really love their children as these parents have not accepted their offspring. To those who oppose it, it's about not finding a cure or treatments that they desire. To others, it is a claim that with the correct accommodations autism would largely cease to be disabling to those who have it (as well as other brain differences). It can also be financially profitable, at least if your name is Ari Ne'eman.
As recently as 2009, ASAN supporter "the autistic bitch from hell" (who has been rumored to be an alter-ego for ASAN board member Meg Evans) stated in the comments section of this blog post that the board of directors of ASAN, including Ne'eman himself, worked entirely on a pro bono basis and received no compensation whatsoever.
This apparently changed just a couple of years later as of 2011. I've learned that ASAN recently posted their 2012 tax return online. They've also posted their 2011 return as well. I don't know if they've posted any tax returns of previous years anywhere on line, but if I find out they have I will write a new post or put an addendum on this one.
On reading the two returns, we see that while all of ASAN's board members, with the exception of Ne'eman, continued to be paid no compensation, Ne'eman drew a salary of $40,000 a year for serving as president of ASAN in 2011. In 2012, he raised his own pay to $65,000, a 62% annual salary increase which is as high an annual pay raise I suspect that most Americans would be glad to have, particularly in these recessionary times.
It could be argued that if Ne'eman's work had brought in a proportional increase of funding and donations then he would deserve this hefty pay increase. On perusal of ASAN's revenues for the years 2011 and 2012 we see there was an increase in ASAN's revenues of about $280,000 (rounded to the most even figures) to about $376,000. A 31% increase which is about half the percentage that Ne'eman raised his own salary.
Over the years, one of ASAN's main goals has been to attack the organization they loathe so much, Autism Speaks. One of their complaints about AS has been the high compensation that some of the executives of the organization receive at the expense of autistic people who are denied the appropriate services or supports. I don't have AS president Liz Field's current salary handy nor the revenue that autism speaks made in the year 2012. It seems far fetched to me that her salary would amount to more than one-sixth of autism speaks total revenue which is the case of Ne'eman's ASAN salary for 2012.
Over the years I've criticized Ne'eman for giving advice on how autistics can find and keep employment when he had never actually worked. Matt Carey of the Left Brain Right Brain blog disputed what I said, claiming that Ne'eman's presidency of ASAN constituted legitimate work. At the time, I believed this statement to be fallacious because of what ABH wrote in the comments section of her post on the whose planet is it anyway blog.
I stand by my statement that Ne'eman has never worked a conventional job where you actually do something in the for profit sector or even a regular job where you have to go in and do some sort of work, even if it is for the government. Of course, I do admire his ingenuity in being able to start a charitable organization and raise his own salary by an amount double the increase in the organization's revenue.
One can only hope this continues to be the case. If Ne'eman's salary increases continue to outpace ASAN's revenue increases by the same amount, in the next several years ASAN's liabilities will exceed their assets and they will become defunct. Then perhaps we can have sane commentary on autism from people who really want do to something to help people such as myself and have constructive ideas on how to do so.