At the end of every year, I receive dozens of emails from autism advocacy groups. The higher-end email newsletters from Generation Rescue and Autism Speaks offer "hope" for a cure… someday. Other emails promise recovery through "treatments" ranging from fad diets to pressure chambers. Sure, autism is just like recovering from a deep sea dive.
It is almost impossible to judge these organizations and determine which are worth money or time. I don't send money to these groups and I'm not as involved locally as I was when we lived in Minnesota. I'm on a single board and volunteer to speak from time to time. I'm not convinced even the more serious organizations are accomplishing much, beyond "awareness" of autism.
We're aware. Thank you. Now what?
I'm not sure what should be next. I've written before that I'm not opposed to epidemiological surveys, genetic screening, and other basic research. But, that research takes years and won't benefit autistic children and adults today. The range of services needed is as broad as the "types" of autistics you might encounter. Organizations, however, like to focus on children and cures.
If you give money, research the organization. Does the money go to research and supports or to administrative overhead? Does the organization focus too narrowly on "curing" autism instead of supporting autistics today? What would you like to see for the autistic in your life or yourself? Find groups that support what you might need.
Don't send money without knowing something about any group. If you support what you discover, then give. Remember, volunteers are often harder to locate than funding, especially for any events.