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Open letter: Temple Grandin should not be invited to speak at the Atlantic Abilities Conference

To whom it may concern,

My name is Alex Kronstein. I am an autistic adult, podcast host, freelance writer and filmmaker. I am also deeply involved in autistic rights activism and the neurodiversity community.

I am writing to express my concerns about Temple Grandin being the keynote speaker at the Atlantic Abilities Conference in September. In particular, I want to bring to your attention the fact that Dr. Grandin will be presenting at another conference in October that is highly offensive to the autistic community.

From October 19-21, 2018, the organization Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) will be holding its national conference in Costa Mesa, California. Temple Grandin is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at the event.

TACA is greatly despised by Actually Autistic people. It is a known anti-vaccination organization, and has been connected to discredited and potentially fatal “treatments” or “cures” for autism such as chelation, bleach enemas, and other things. Given the very name of the organization, it promotes mostly negative rhetoric about autism. Also, the fact that they so obviously support “cures” for autism, which at least 95% of the autistic community doesn’t want, is an obvious sign that they support eugenics.

In addition to the many issues with TACA, Temple Grandin herself is not well-liked among the neurodiversity movement. She has made several statements indicating she considers so-called “low-functioning” autistics, and non-speaking autistics, beneath her and other so-called “high-functioning” autistics. (The use of functioning labels is another thing that many in the autistic community greatly dislike.) Dr. Grandin has also made comments looking down on autistic people who are unable to hold a steady job or live 100% independently, as she believes that autistic people who cannot work or support themselves are simply lazy.

If you want proof of these statements, a Google search will pull up several results.

As a “comprehensive conference for families, educators and professionals focused on Mental Wellness, Physical Wellness and Learning Abilities”, I don’t think you want somebody like this as your keynote speaker. As an Autistic adult, Dr. Grandin’s presence at this conference is highly offensive to me and to my autistic peers.

I urge you to please rethink having Temple Grandin present at your September conference in such a prominent role. I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.


Alex Kronstein

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