For Immediate Release

A Documentary Investigation Into the Autistic Self Advocacy Movement
Coming to DVD October 14, 2014 with On Demand Platforms to Follow

LOS ANGELES, CA (October 5, 2014) In the last decade, awareness of autism has expanded broadly in large part due to the money raised and spent by the advocacy organization, Autism Speaks. For most people, Autism Speaks is their entry point into learning about autism spectrum disorder either through searches on the web or their wide reaching marketing efforts. However, earlier this year, a group of autism advocates started the Boycott Autism Speaks campaign in order to raise awareness about the inner workings and fear mongering tactics of the fundraising behemoth. CITIZEN AUTISTIC is a 60 minute documentary examination of the activists leading the charge for self-advocacy and their efforts to move the public discourse on autism away from a “causation and cure” mentality to one that allows autistic people to speak for themselves. The film will be out on DVD on October 14th followed by On Demand availability.

At the core of the debate is how monies are allocated by the Federal government or raised from within communities and how those funds are spent in general for people living on the spectrum. As the highest profile player, Autism Speaks pulls in the most in donations and grants. In assessing Autism Speaks’ 2010 Non-Profit Tax Exemption Form, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) determined that only 4% of Autism Speak’s budget goes towards the “Family Service” grants which are the organizations’ channel for funding services towards families while executives within the organization were receiving salaries exceeding $400,000 per year. In 2012, the numbers were more damaging. Based on a reported expenditure of over $62 million, Autism Speaks allocated funds as follows:

• 36% = Salaries, benefits, payroll taxes: $22, 861,019
• 25% = Science grants/awards: $15,790,797
• 5% = Travel, meals, lodging, entertainment, catering: $3,034,109
• 4% = Advertising & Marketing: $2,827,316
• 3% = Family Services grants & awards: $2,048,552

(Percentages are based on the total reported expenditures of $64,127,886) Source:

Autism Speaks’ has no autistic individuals on their board of directors, additionally, their tactics for raising funds have been called “fear mongering” and “dehumanizing” for portraying people on the spectrum as burdens on society and the condition as something that must be cured. The group has also promoted the controversial Judge Rotenberg Center, a Massachusetts special needs residential and day school facility which is under Department of Justice and FDA investigation, for the use of painful electric shock against its students.

CITIZEN AUTISTIC provides insights into the growing autism rights movement, where the goal is to move away from awareness of the disorder and shift the national dialogue towards more acceptance and channeling research and monetary support towards developing technologies and opportunities for autistic adults and families.

SYNOPSIS: CITIZEN AUTISTIC offers an inside look at the activists on the frontlines of the autism war—the fight for human rights and self-advocacy. Featuring interviews with: Ari Ne’eman, President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network; Landon Bryce, founder of the popular blog; artist and educator Robyn Steward; physician and parent, Clarissa Kripke, MD; blogger and mother Shannon Des Roches Rosa; founder of Autism Acceptance Day Paula Durbin-Westby; and activist Zoe Gross, who discuss how Autism Speaks, one of the largest organizations in America, relies on propaganda to raise funds for genetic research without considering families touched by autism. Directed by William Davenport (TOO SANE FOR THIS WORLD), CITIZEN AUTISTIC seeks to expose the controversies provoked by the organization’s so-called advocacy by giving voice to some of the most articulate members of the communities it claims to represent.

Davenport (TOO SANE FOR THIS WORLD) is a documentary filmmaker, musician, publisher, writer, teacher and autism activist. He has a Masters in Special Education with a certificate in autism studies and has served on the Marin Autism Taskforce. He was the Executive Director of the Autism Social Connection in Northern California, where he created a unique filmmaking program to teach skills to children, teens and adults on the spectrum. He has worked extensively with the San Francisco Bay Area autism organization AASCEND (Autism, Asperger’s Coalition for Education, Networking and Development), and the Washington D.C. based organization ASAN (Autistic Self Advocacy Network). In The United Kingdom, Davenport has collaborated with C.R.A.E (Centre for Research in Autism and Education) and the charity Ambitious about Autism. Says Davenport, “Having worked in this field for decades, I’m thrilled to see the evolution of the of the autism rights movement. But we have a lot of work to do yet since most people are ill-informed about autism until their life intersects with someone on the spectrum and they are given the opportunity to learn. We hope this film becomes a rallying cry for the millions who are disenfranchised. ”

Davenport has also produced and directed TOO SANE FOR THIS WORLD which takes viewers into the lives of twelve adults living on the autism spectrum. Camilla Bixler, co-Director of AASCEND says, “Davenport’s insightful interviews and arresting camerawork take us into the lives of these extraordinary and yet often misunderstood individuals. The film is a must-see for teachers, professionals and parents who work with Asperger’s and Autism spectrum.”

The 68 minute documentary will become available in North America on October 14 on DVD (at traditional DVD retails outlets including Amazon) and streaming platforms later this year.

DVD DETAILS: CLS 1198| 881394119826| SRP: $ 19.95 | Bonus features: Trailer and Interactive menus.

TECHNICAL DETAILS: USA | Documentary | Unrated | 68 minutes | Directed by William Davenport


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