A statement from The Mighty’s editorial staff (last updated September 2022)
Why does this page exist?
There has been a persistent narrative in various online communities that The Mighty maintains an ongoing affiliation with the nonprofit organization Autism Speaks. That narrative is untrue and deeply concerning to our current editorial staff, prompting this clarifying statement: Autism Speaks has no place on The Mighty.
To refute the claims to the contrary that are found in various online discussions, it is the aim of this page to provide factual context and state our position moving forward in no uncertain terms.
Providing background information
In 2017, after Autism Speaks made changes to their mission and moved away from “finding a cure” for autism, The Mighty did explore a brief nonprofit partnership with them, which involved Autism Speaks sharing some Mighty articles on their social media accounts. It was one of dozens of nonprofit partnerships of its kind tested by The Mighty at the time; these types of resource-sharing partnerships were — and continue to be — a common industry practice.
During this limited period, The Mighty did not receive any funding from Autism Speaks, nor did we provide any funding to them.
Shortly after the partnership was initiated, many of our autistic community members spoke up to let us know about the harm Autism Speaks has done to and in the autism community, and we leaned into what we learned. The Mighty ended its social media link-sharing partnership with Autism Speaks, and we do not engage with, follow, or otherwise affiliate with them.
This has remained the case for nearly 5 years. No employees who were in contact with Autism Speaks remain at The Mighty today; a search of our email records show there has not been a single message exchanged between organizations since February 2018.
We have done our best to remove any mention that lends credibility to the Autism Speaks mission from our platform and social accounts, but if you see something we have missed, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We will rectify it within two business days.
How The Mighty has since responded
Between the end of the short-tenured Autism Speaks partnership and 2022, the editorial team at The Mighty has experienced a near-complete staffing turnover. The vast majority of our employees are longtime members of The Mighty who have entered the organization with the aim of improving company practices and policies.
In 2019, The Mighty updated our partnership program requirements to add better vetting and safeguards before partnering with other organizations. This includes a requirement that all nonprofit partners center the voices of the people with the conditions they represent, and potential partners are screened to ensure they are affirming of disability rights, autonomy, and inclusion.
Like many companies — and the world in general — The Mighty has evolved in how we think and talk about disability and health. We are committed to centering autistic voices in conversations about autism. We have established strict editorial standards to limit people writing about other people’s conditions in an exploitative way, inspiration porn, or other types of stories that may have been accepted in the early days of The Mighty, but which we now know to be harmful to our community.
Most of our current staff and paid contributors are disabled, with various life experiences and intersections across disability, chronic illness, and mental health. Each writes and creates content from their lived experience, and we center the voices of the people impacted in our internal discussions about content and direction.
We do not, have not, and will not block community members who raise concerns or speak against us on social media. Our social media editor is tasked with double-checking if advocates and community members have been blocked by our social accounts. If you believe you have been blocked by any of our social accounts, please email email@example.com and we will help you troubleshoot.
No matter how short-lived or well-intentioned, The Mighty’s past partnership with Autism Speaks was a mistake, and harmful to our community. And while we did make changes internally, we did not publicly announce them, which we realize caused continued harm to community members who were not aware we had listened to them.
The past partnership, and lack of public acknowledgment about the changes to that partnership, do not reflect the personal values of our staffers, nor do they reflect the current operating values of our company. We are sorry.
In addition to creating this page to address an ongoing community concern, we are more broadly seeking to improve transparency. You can read more about our practices and principles here: https://themighty.com/our-practices-and-principles/
If you have questions or concerns, our inbox is open: firstname.lastname@example.org