Now Reading: Why I’m Fine With The “Twizzler Challenge” For Autism #twizzlerchallenge

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
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

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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
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
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!

Written by

Frank Campagna

I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).

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3 People Replies to “Why I’m Fine With The “Twizzler Challenge” For Autism #twizzlerchallenge”

  1. 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!

  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, seriously…now 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. Cindy B

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