Is Autism Speaks sending the wrong message?

I saw this post by Autism Speaks on Facebook today. They have started a James Durbin vote club on the Official Autism Speak blog. While I personally like the guy and think he’s EXTREMELY talented, I’m concerned Autism Speaks may be sending the wrong message. Perhaps I’m looking at this wrong but I just think we have to VERY careful with a situation like this. By Autism Speaks creating a voting club for James Durbin and throwing their EXCLUSIVE support behind the ONLY Autistic contestant on American Idol, they may be sending the message that we should vote for him because he’s Autistic. In my opinion that’s a very dangerous and even insulting approach to take. I think many people could easily perceive this as a call to vote for the Autistic person. As a father of 3 Autistic boys this is NOT the message I want my kids to hear. If James Durbin wins, which he may, and I honestly hope he does, how will that victory come?

If you want to vote for James Durbin do so because he is EXTREMELY talented and deserves your vote. Don’t vote for him because he was diagnosed Autistic. That’s patronizing and honestly a bit insulting.  I would think that James would want to win because of his talent and not because of his diagnosis.

This is just my opinion, what do I know, right?


-lost and tired

Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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Rob, i think it is the same thing as us here in alabama vote for the alabama people to win. I think we have had two or three win already. sometimes people want the “underdog” to win. Also, if people did vote for him just because of his autism, he will still have so many doors opened for him. if i voted (dont watch the show) i could see how i would vote for him because of autism because like i said it would open so many doors. just my 2 cents


thanks so much! He serves as a beacon of hope for folks like you. God bless you….3 kids! You must be superman! They are gifts just as they are, never forget that. I think any way they can be successful and with anyone's help it's all good!


While you have a very good point I don't believe that having AS behind him is going to cause massive voting one way or the other. We enjoy seeing our kids succeed. My son is a singer as well (he's 21), also on the spectrum. AS licensed one of his songs to use nationwide as their theme song for all their walks. We are making autism work for him for a change! And ultimately we don't want him known as the autistic singer (I'm sure James feels the same way) but rather a singer who just happens to have autism.

Lost and Tired

I agree as long as the focus is on the talent and not the diagnosis. It's awesome to hear about your sons success. I think James should viewed as a "person" with talent. The very fact that AS is so vocally supporting him calls attention to to the fact he has Autism as apposed to just that he's talent. I think it does make a difference in the voting whether it's a huge difference or remains to be seen. Honestly we may never know because he is just that good.

I only brought this up because I've seen comments here and there about how everyone with Autistic should support James Durbin. Not from AS mind you. But I wonder how their involvement impacts that. Just a thought. Again congrats on your sons success 🙂


Honestly, it seems to me like most things Autism Speaks posts are sending the wrong message.


But in this particular situation, I'm not sure. He didn't have to TELL anyone he has Autism, he threw out his diagnoses in the very beginning likely because he knew he'd get more attention because of them. He may be relishing "autism" votes… whatever it takes to get the attention… some people are like that.

Lost and Tired

American Idol has a history of "exploiting" (if that's the right word) situations like this. It pulls on heart strings and brings in ratings. James may have been asked to say what he said. Much of the dialog could easily be scripted. But who knows.


Please keep in mind that this is television. If you think for a second that American Idol does not take into consideration, a persons background and what makes "great television" I would venture to say you are mistaken. I would be more compelled to say that American Idol and it's producers requested James share his story and diagnosis, because they know it pulls on viewers heart strings and makes them tune in next week. I do not believe, in any way, that he was looking for "more attention" because his talent stands on it's own. He knows that, the judges know that and America knows it. The real issue, in my opinion, is the exploitation of people with Autism and/or other disabilities for television ratings.


I honestly have to say I agree with you Rob – a vote simply for the one person diagnosed with autism is totally unfair to the other contestants on the show. This is a contest, just like any other contest, and it should be based solely on his talent and not at all on his diagnosis. That sends the wrong message all the way around. I will be voting for James, but only because I think he's awesomely talented and I love him – and for no other reason!

Lost and Tired

Thank you. It just feels wrong. I posted a similar comment on the actual post and a ton of people supported it. So we must not be the only ones concerned.