Problematic Organizations: Next for Autism

Next for Autism, which was originally known as New York Collaborates for Autism was founded in 2003 by Laura Slatkin (an entrepreneur) and Ilene Lainer (a former law partner). They both have autistic sons. They created the organization to “advance the field of autism services and challenge the status quo.”

Laura Slatkin is one of the founding member of Autism Speaks. They had their son in 50 hours a week of ABA and other “treatments.”  When talk about curing her son,”It would mean the world to have my son back – not ‘back’ because I never had him, but to have David turn and say.’I love you, Mom’  or ‘I want chicken for dinner.'” Laura says,”We all share that hidden, dark thought.”
In a documentary called Autism: True Lives, Harry Slatkin, her husband and David’s father said,”We put locks on all the doors leading outside because we didn’t want David possibly going into the pond. But there were times when you hoped he did, because you wouldn’t want him to suffer like this all his life.”

They both consulted scientists, educator and “thought leaders.” They did not consult autistic people, because why would they?

They created a group of “like minded philanthropists to create and support exemplary, innovative programs” that would improve the lives of autistics and families.

Mission Statement

“NEXT for Autism transformed the national landscape of services for people with autism by strategically designing, launching, and supporting innovative programs. We believe that individuals with autism have the potential to live fulfilling, productive lives when supported by excellent services and connected to their communities. We continually ask, what’s next for people on the autism spectrum?”
This translates to autistic people need to live up to their neurotypical standards. As long as autistic people emulate them, we will be ok.


“While many organizations engage in advocacy or fund scientific research, NEXT for AUTISM addresses the needs of people with autism and their families across the country, right now. We create and support exceptional educational, clinical, and vocational programs, all cutting-edge, all with an eye towards affecting fundamental shifts in current approaches to autism services.”
They do all this to autistics without consulting autistics


  • To create and support high-quality programs that maximize the potential of people with autism through each life stage
  • To ensure that individuals and their families are successfully integrated into their communities
  • To expand system-wide capacity to serve people with autism by coordinating services across agencies and disciplines, and spreading expertise

Board of Directors

None of the numerous board members are autistic
Gillian Leek (CEO)- She is a lawyer who graduated from New York Law School and Elon University. She is not autistic. 
Amy Wallace (Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration)  is a former Executive Director of New York Times Life. She has an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Not autistic. 
Laura Slatkin (cofounder and board chair)
Patricia Wright, PhD (Senior VIce President, Strategic Initiatives) was a former advisor for the Organization for Autism Research Scientific Council, the Executive committee for the friends of the center for disease control and prevention, on the board of directors for for the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts and the Autism Society Panel of Professional Advisors. Not autistic and is a BCBA. 
Maggie Boyd (Associate, Development and Marketing) was an intern at the Montgomery County Department of Economic and Community Development. She has an older sister who is autistic. She is not autistic herself. 
John Bryson (Senior Manager, Strategic Workforce Initiatives) was a teacher for disabled. He has a bachelor of Arts, communication degree and master of science from the University of Akron. Not autistic. 
Alison Bush (Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives) is a supporter of an ABA based clinical therapy center where she oversaw day to day operations and supervised staff. She is a BCBA with a masters degree in Marriage and Family therapy and is a BCBA. She graduated from Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida. Her bachelors degree in Psychology was from the University of Tampa. Not autistic. 
Anjula Duggal (Vice President, Marketing) has worked 25 years in larger companies and starter non profits. She has her bachelor of arts in Political Science from NYU. 
Kelly Fleming (Senior Manager, Development and Events) was a part of a non government public health organization, Malaria No More. She developed initiatives, oversaw donor engagement and retention. She received her bachelors degree in childhood education from the College of Saint Rose. Not autistic. 
Coleif Holte (Associate, Finance and Administrative) was a bookkeeping assistant for a restaurant before interning in the finance department of a real estate firm. She holds an MBA in finance from Molloy College. Not autistic. 
Leah Spindell (Manager, Office and Administration) has started by working for the JCC in high school then was a registrar at Sunrise Day Camp. She has a bachelor of arts in Television and Radio Broadcasting from Queens College.  Not autistic. 
Lauren Todd Steinbacher (Director, Strategic Workforce Initiatives) has led the national, corporate consulting division, as well as the transition to employment teams in schools. She started as a direct support worker in group homes. She has a bachelors of arts in psychology degree from the University of Akron. 
Brad Walker (Vice President, Strategic Adult Initiatives) has worked with disabled people since 1990 around the United States. He has been direct support, management, behavior consultant, quality assurance and administration. He has a bachelors of science in organizational management and leadership from friends university i Wichita, KS. He is currently pursuing graduate studies in ABA at the University of Kansas.  Not autistic. 
Harry Slatkin (Co-Founder) has been called the “king” of home fragrance by the New York Times. He is recognized worldwide as a leading expert in the home fragrance industry. He co founded Next for Autism because he has children who are autistic. Not autistic. 
Michelle Smigel (board chair) is a screenwriter and producer. She has worked with her husband Robert Smigel in many productions. One of their children is autistic. Not autistic. 
Suzanne Aisenberg is a professional in the non profit sector and is on the board of NEXT for Autism. She is also a member of the New York State Commission on National and Community Service. Not autistic. 
Michael Auerbach has a MA in international relations from Columbia university and BA in Critical Theory. He works in the non profit sector. Not autistic. 
Sharon Cunningham (couldn’t find info on her)
Dr. Orrin Devinsky is a neurologist that specializes in epilepsy and pediatric epilepsy. He is the director of NYU’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. Not Autistic. 
Karen Siff Exkorn is the founder and CEO of KAS Consulting/Speak On. She is a speaker and author. She is the author of “The Autism Sourcebook: Everything You Need to KNow about Diagnosis, Treatment, Coping and Healing- From A Mother Whose Child Recovered.” Not autistic and sounds like a quack. More Research on her later. Not Autistic. 
Esther Fein is a New York Times reporter and graduate of Barnard College. Not Autistic. 
Rick Goldsmith has an autistic son. Not autistic
Doug Herzog  is a producer. He is the former president of Viacom Music and Entertainment group. Not autistic. 
Tommy Hilfiger is a fashion designer and has an adaptive fashion line for disabled people. He is not autistic. 
Yie-Hsin Hung is the Chief Executive Officer of New York Life Investment Management. She has a bachelor degree of science in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University and an MBA from Harvard University. Not autistic. 
Steven J. Kantor is the regional managing director of Hilltop Securities. Not autistic. 

Emeritus Board

Deeda Blair is an advocate for biomedical research. She has had ad eep involvement in the Harvard School of Public Health. She is the Co chairman of the Harvard AIDS Initiative Advisory Council. She is the wife of an ambassador. Not autistic. 
Patricia Cayne, PhD
Ilene Lainer (Co Founder and President)- She is a former law partner from Grotta, Glassman and Hoffman, PA. She practiced labor and employment law. She is a neurotypical parent of autistic children. 
Ophelia Rudin is the wife of William Rudin. Not autistic. 
William Rudin is the president of the Rudin Management Company. Not autistic. 
Arlene Maidman has an autistic daughter. Not autistic. 
David Remnick is an editor for the New Yorker and a staff writer. Not autistic. 
Bellanca Smigel Rutter is the president of Robell Research. Not autistic. 
Robert Smigel is a writer for Saturday Night Live. Not autistic. 
Jon Stewart is a world renowned comedian. Not autistic. 
Tracey Stewart is originally from Australia and is a professional golfer. Not autistic. 

Programs offered by NEXT for Autism

Strategic Workforce Initiative

This program focuses on working aged autistic adults. They support employers to understand the value of being inclusive in the workplace. They want autistic people to be included and valued. This is not a bad thing but it does need to be covered to be completely transparent.
They partner with different companies to implement inclusive strategies to attract, support and retain autistic workers. They also connect with school, universities, colelges and local community services.
How they go about doing it:
Expanded diversity equality and inclusion efforts to promote the widespread measurement and reporting of disability employment data
Designing mentor to mentor programs for young professionals and college aged individuals
Expand DEI initiatives with corporate partners.
Supporting and disseminating the Project Search Autism Enhancement

NEXT for Neighbors

NEXT for NEIGHBORS is a community living model that provides support services to autistic adults and other adults who are developmentally disabled. This is a program of the ARC of Westchester. THis program was created by NEXT for Autism.  This is another program that isn’t bad.
This is a pilot program that stared in 2019. To meet eligibility, the person must live in New York State that is pre approved by the NY Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)
Program initiatives:
  • Individualized support services: clients of this program will live in specialized home settings within typical communities. Professional families live with them, guiding, and mentoring them. These professionals are mental health professionals and BCBAs. This program could be good if they can choose different mentors. BCBA’s do not have autistics best interest in mind.
  • Community Immersion: THis program has activities individualized and designed to encourage learning through community immersion and integration. This could be good, it depends HOW it is done.

Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement

Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement employment training addresses the need for training to young autistic adults can have meaningful employment. This program is also known as PSAE. This is a national program available to organizations across the United States.
  • PSAE is used to train job coaches and employers, as well as autistic adults
  • NEXT for Autism created SEARCH’s high school to work training curriculum for disabled people. It is combined with the TEACCH Autism program and developed this package.
  • There is a specialist position for project SEARCH that facilitates the program.
This program grew out of a vocational and internship program that NEXT for Autism founded from 2011 to 2016. This program was called SEARCH Collaborates for Autism (PSCA).

Hunter Autism Research, Practice & Policy Center

The Hunter Autism Research, Practice & Policy Center at City University of NY Hunter College has BCBA training and certification to teachers, service professionals and course work to undergraduates. NEXT for autism created the program in 2008 with Hunter College to meet the demand for educators. This teaches people to ABA future autistic generations and it needs to stop.

NYC Autism Charter School

The NYC Autism Charter School is a public charter school in NY for autistic children. It was created by NEXT for Autism in 2005. The school was to provide a model ABA based for autistic children.
  • Individualized programs for each student based on the principles of ABA
  • Emphasis on teaching “functional skills” in communication, socialization, work readiness, self care and daily living
  • Peer mentorship program that encourages students to interact and integrate with their typical peers.

Now that I know I can, I am moving my children from this type of environment. Not everyone is able to get them to stop using ABA tactic on their kids. Most are uninformed and this school would sound amazing. This is quite scary.

Center for Autism and the Developing Brain

The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB) is a clinical facility created by NEXT for Autism in partnership with the New York Presbyterian Hospital in affiliation with Columbia university and Cornell.
They provide diagnostic and therapeutic services, this includes ABA. They have speech therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, BCBA, behavior techs and psychiatrists. This could have been very helpful if the BCBA and behavior techs weren’t there.


New York Presbyterian Hospital
Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons
Weil Cornell School of Medicine
NYC Autism Charter School
CUNY Hunter
The University of North Carolina TEACCH Autism Program
Project SEARCH
The Arc of Westchester
JCC Manhattan
Poses Family Foundation
Have Dreams
Kessler Foundation

Color the Spectrum

Color the Spectrum was a 3 hour live stream event hosted by Youtube as a fundraiser for NEXT for Autism. It was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and Mark Rober. Jimmy Kimmel cannot be educated. He attacked diabetic kids and kids who were scared of an earthquake. It raised about $3 million dollars for their programs. They never consult autistic people. They insist on speaking over us.

The Controversy

Soon after this was announced, the autistic community spoke out loud and proud. The autistic community say Autism Speaks and NEXT by extension support ABA which is abuse and torture. NEXT told the autistic community that we are spreading “outrageous misinformation.”
Autistics on social media were emploring Jimmy Kimmel, Maya Randolph, Adam Sandler, Chris ROck and Mark Hamill to drop out of this event. This is because what NEXT stands for harms the autistic community.
The autistic community is being heard but the people who are the loudest continue to speak over us.

Celebrities that Pulled Out Because of the Controversy

We thank you for pulling out and listening to us.
The people who pulled out are:
Miranda Sings/Colleen
Jack Septic Eye
Karl Jacobs
Rhett and Link
Mark Hamill did not show up. We thank you for that.

Celebrities that Stayed in Regardless of How Autistics Feel About this

Most of these people need education. They do not realize how much harm Autism Speaks and NEXT does to the autistic community.
Mark Rober
Jimmy Kimmel
Andy Samberg
Adam Sandler
Casey Neistat
Chris Rock
Conan O’Brien
Jack Black
John Oliver
Marques Brownlee
Maya Rudolph
Merrell Twins
Paul Rudd
Sarah Silverman
Stephen Colbert
Terry Crews
Zach Galifianakis

NEXT for Autism’s Statement due to the Controversy

“NEXT for AUTISM is honored and grateful to partner in the upcoming #ColorTheSpectrum benefit. Since the benefit was announced, there have been some outrageous misinformation circulating about NEXT for AUTISM – its mission, methods, and partners.

Eighteen years ago, NEXT for AUTISM was founded with the distinct purpose of providing supports and services for autistic individuals across the country. Our mission has never been the cure or prevention of autism; in fact, NEXT was created to fill a void – at the time, most national autism organizations were focused primarily on biomedical research. As we stated in our “Night of Too Many Stars” benefit shows, NEXT was founded specifically to address the extreme lack of schools and services desperately needed to help people living with autism right now.

NEXT partners with and funds various organizations across the country to fulfill our mission of expanding access to programs and services. Our partnerships with groups such as Autism Speaks have been limited exclusively to that mission. Anyone using these partnerships to draw a line from NEXT to eugenics or anything related to the prevention and cure of Autism is doing an enormous disservice to the people we serve by spreading this gross untruth.

The programs we support use a range of methodologies designed to meet the individual needs of people with autism. A behavioral approach is one of those methodologies. Applied Behavior Analysis has been modified many times over since its inception in the 1960s, and its evolution has spawned multiple variations that bear no resemblance to the kinds of conversion therapy treatments some are falsely claiming NEXT supports.

We understand the responsibility that comes with the support and attention we receive. Recently, we launched an Advisory Board to include much more representation from the autism community and have committed to including more Autistic board members in the future. We welcome all individuals to question and critique any of the choices we make. We only ask for an honest exchange of ideas and opinions. NEXT will never support any group seeking to eliminate or prevent autism or cause individuals with autism to feel lesser for being on the spectrum. As we have for 18 years, we support those experiencing the triumphs and challenges of living with autism.”


TY Partnership

Shortly after the Color the Spectrum fundraiser, TY announced a partnership with NEXT for Autism. They are selling a dog called max. It is written in infantilizing font and all proceeds to to NEXT for autism. They are not listening. As a child who collected beanie babies, this saddens me. 
May be an image of toy and text
They are silencing us BUT AIM USA is going to try to reach out to work with them. Lets see what happens. Let’s hope they can be educated.

One thought on “Problematic Organizations: Next for Autism

  1. Pingback: Problematic Organization: Autism Speaks - Fierce Autie

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