Sunday, March 22, 2015

Why I'm Fine With The "Twizzler Challenge" For Autism #twizzlerchallenge

So there's a new thing that's starting to take off.

It's autism's answer to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that took the world by storm in Aug-Sep of 2014.

The autism one is called the Twizzler Challenge and it started innocently enough on Comedy Central's Night of Too Many Stars Benefit a few weeks back. 

Then I'm not sure who did it next but the next I saw it Matt Lauer was lip locked with Kathy Lee.

Basically, challengers pair up to nibble both ends of a piece of licorice until they meet in the middle – Lady and the Tramp style – and kiss and clap hands.

And now there's an official hashtag #twizzlerchallenge

And lots of celebs are jumping on board

Here @aw and I are taking the #TwizzlerChallenge ❤️pass it on! #NightofTooManyStars #NYC4a

And in the 2 weeks prior to autism awareness month it seems to be picking up steam. 

And most people are tying it back to the original charity from the Noght of Too Many Stars benefit which is a fine NYC based charity called New York Collaborates for Autism

Their mission:

New York Collaborates for Autism (NYCA) is a non-profit organization that strategically designs and launches innovative, one-of-a-kind programs to improve the lives of people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). NYCA sees the possibilities for people with ASD and creates the path to achieve them.

And it appears that this thing has the potential to really take off. 

So yesterday I posted on my FB page this article from a Vancouver city website about how the twister challenge was going to be for autism awareness what the ice bucket challenge was for ALS awareness. 

And I wrote...

"Does autism finally have its ice bucket challenge?"

And overwhelmingly the autism moms and dads (well mostly moms) hated the idea and the hole campaign. 

I'd say 90% of the comments were negative. 

Most of the negativity came from 4 directions...

(1) Twizzlers are junk food with gluten and artificial colors in them that can be bad for some kids on the spectrum. 

(2) it has nothing to do with autism and teaches no one anything about autism. 

(3) nobody's gonna donate because of this...

(4) it makes people look stupid or silly. "Why should people have to do something stupid to raise awareness?"

And here's my opinion on all this...

Sometimes we autism parents just need to get the heck out of the way...

When the ice bucket challenge started out I felt the same way. I thought all the same things. 

I originally thought:
--What does it have to do with ALS?  I'm learning nothing about ALS by watching this.  (I know there was some soft connection to people with ALS not being able to feel extreme temperatures, but that was a real soft connection that most people didn't get. Plus the whole ice bucket challenge pre-dates the ALS thing anyway)

--Nobody's gonna be guilted into donating because of this ice bucket challenge. The whole "accept the challenge or donate $100 to the ALS foundation" seemed ludicrous to me. 

--People look so stupid and everybody's jumping on the bandwagon. 

But once it got bigger and bigger the funner and funnier it got. It was fun going on FB and Twitter each morning to find out which celebs did it and which of my fiends did it. 

And when a friend of mine nominated me I found myself googling ALS and learning more about it, and when the 24 hours passed I didn't donate $100, but i did donate $20. 

And then I did my own ice bucket challenge as myself and as AUTISM DADDY

When the dust settled the main ALS charities had raised $100 million more than they usually do in Aug & Sept. 

And back then I challenged people to come up with an autism version. Some people came up with the "pie in the face for autism" and they jumped right in and started to do it back in September. They asked me to spread the word but I didn't because the ice bucket challenge hadn't run its course yet and I said back then "let the ALS folks have their moment in the sun and in the spotlight. Let's not jump in now. Our time will come."

So now it's a few weeks before Autism Awareness Day and we have the Twizzler Challenge. 

Is it perfect?  No. Is it silly & stupid?  Yes  Does anybody learn anything about autism?  Not really. 

Will people donate to autism because of this?  TBD but if it takes off and celebs jump on the bandwagon it could raise hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Now with ALS there was maybe 2-3 main charities to push people to... 

With autism there's tons of organizations.  So the ball is in our court. The original charity from the Comedy Central show is a really good charity in my opinion but when I do the Twizzler challenge I may direct people to donate to some local autism organizations. 

The article I read from the Vancouver website ended their article by pushing people to more local autism organizations by saying...

If you are planning on taking part, don’t forget to use #TwizzlerChallenge and consider donating to any of these Vancouver or B.C.-based autism organizations:Autism Society of B.C.Canucks Autism NetworkPacific Autism Family Centre

So the ball is in our court autism parents! If the celebs and the general public think this is fun and funny let's not rain on their parade. Let's let them do it... let's join them in doing it... But let's point them towards the charities that we want.

And for those who say the "challenge" shouldn't have to make people look silly or stupid I would say that it absolutely must make people look stupid or silly.  That is why the ice bucket challenge was so successful. It was easy to do. But it was a little bit of a "challenge" and it made people look silly.  And it was short and easy to shoot on camera and share on social media.  

This has all the same elements.

What's missing right now seems to be the "do the challenge in 24 hours or donate $100 to ____" aspect. Let's make sure that gets in there as well as the "I nominate 3 people" and call them out. 

That's the other fun part. People like to be called out and hear their name on FB and Twitter....even if it's just from friends. Silly but true. 

So let's let everyone have their fun.  Let's not rain on their parade. Let's thank them for spreading awareness and let's point them towards the charities that we want them to support whether that be Autism Speaks, ASA, or some local charity in your community. 

And if some reason this doesn't take off the way the Ice Bucket Challenge did don't get mad or sad autism parents. 

And if it doesn't take off and you go trying to come up with a better version for autism remember the rules.   It doesn't have to have anything to do with autism.  However, it's got to be something that's fun and silly, but most importantly it's got to be short and easy to do and easy to shoot on video. 

That's it.  That's my 2 cents!  I really hope this takes off!


  1. Let's get the company that makes Twizzlers in on the fundraising, too... this is bound to be good for sales.

  2. No, No, NO!!!! And NO I am not OK with the Twizzler Challenge to represent Autism Awareness. For the obvious reasons: Its full of sugar, artificial color and gluten! HELLO!!! Not to mention to do the challenge it requires intimate interaction with another individual and physical contact...are u freaking kidding me!? In no way shape or form is this appropriate to represent autism awareness, in fact its polar opposite. The ALS ice bucket challenge served a purpose to mimic the pain associated with the illness...this twizzler challenge doesn't do that plus its promoting a product, if u want an Autism challenge idea how abt being spun on merry go round full speed all the while sirens are blaring and strobe lights flashing and your mouth is duct taped! Do that for 30 seconds then stop abruptly and have someone rip of the duct tape! Now you might feel like an "Autistic" person and suffer from fast heart rate, nervousness, loss of words to express how your feeling and start screaming from the dizziness and pain to emulate an "autistic meltdown" seriously we as parents of autistic children are more creative than what's currently being attempted. So sad!!

  3. Hasnt taken off in Ireland. A pity really, it would be nice to have something, anything for autism week in Ireland. For cancer we've had women in bras, women taking selfies with no make up and men taking selfies with make up to name a few. Hard to find a link between men in make up and cancer, but it worked. It was fun. It didnt last as long as the ice bucket challenge but every penny counts. If adults want to do a lady and the tramp with a "twizzler" so what? Kids have to ask permission before donating anyway. And who says you have to use a twizzler? A jelly snake, a carrot, or whatever healthy gluten free product you chose. If it raises money and even the smallest bit of awareness Im all for it!



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