An apology for unintentional misinformation (2022)

Royalty-free image is the word “Sorry…” and a sad face emoji written in black marker on a yellow notepad.

Per Lewicki, Lount, and Polin (2016), an effective apology has the following components: 

An expression of regret; an explanation of what went wrong; an acknowledgment of responsibility; a declaration of repentance; an offer of repair; and a request for forgiveness

Below I am offering my heartfelt apology according to these six elements.


In the spirit of transparency, I am publicly apologizing for mischaracterizing the actions of Autism Speaks (AS) in my tweets yesterday.1 

At the time, I was expressing what I felt and believed to be true, but I have examined things more carefully, and I realize that I stated something that was categorically false. I did not realize until today that for this meeting, the committee had a specialized way of categorizing their public comments. The committee separated all of the public comments that were “in support” of the bill in one section, but they merged the “neutral” and “opposed” public comments into a second section. This confused me, and as such yesterday when AS made their public comment, I was under the impression that AS was testifying “against” the bill, but that is not the case.2 

(More detail/context for #2 below if desired; if not, please skip to the next bolded section.)

After reading Meghan Ashburn’s summary of a committee meeting that decided the fate of a bill related to nonspeaking students that had been proposed by in the Virginia legislative session by Delegate Tran, I made the assumption that AS and the Council of Autism Service Providers (CASP) “killed a no-cost bill in Virginia that would have provided adequate training and support for nonspeaking autistic and disabled public school students.” I then challenged the oft-mentioned notion that “…the problems with Autism Speaks are in the past; people should evaluate and judge them by what they’re doing now, not what happened years ago.” 

*Please note: Meghan’s post did not, IIRC, state that AS had formally indicated being opposed to the bill; you can read for yourself in her posts. She did share her (displeased) reaction to their presence and their comments at the hearing, as well as that of CASP. I read her thread and then watched part of the hearing, and I made the aforementioned incorrect assumption on my own.

Specifically, I said this:

Angry at MYSELF for my recent, obviously illogical efforts to try to “reach across the aisle” only to get backstabbed. Just this month, Autism Speaks & the Council for Autism Service Providers essentially KILLED legislation intended to better support nonspeaking autistic students. 😞

I’m up here like, “Despite a problematic past, let’s give some orgs support/the benefit of the doubt; let’s all try to find common ground; they’re gradually making positive changes.” Meanwhile, said orgs are actively harming the most vulnerable individuals in the community.

When you do problematic things in the past & neither openly acknowledge nor publicly apologize for them; fail to make restitution for your dastardly deeds, & continue to cause harm, that’s not simply you having a “history” of bad behavior-not when you’re being that way RIGHT NOW.

It’s disingenuous to portray oneself to others as gentle rain when you know you’re actually a rancid stream of urine. I was truly starting to believe in that, “Let’s meet each other halfway,” stuff. Hoped people/orgs were genuine & that the infighting could end. How naive of me.

I took part in some efforts to “extend an olive branch” only to learn that unbeknownst to me, the whole d@mn forest was soon gonna be engulfed in a raging wildfire by ruthless arsonists? Review the hearing for yourself (Idk if there’s a transcript).”

However, after reviewing all 45 written public comments as well as the video and transcript of the hearing itself, I discovered that I had made, and shared, an incorrect assumption. The  statement I made implies that Autism Speaks opposed HB 1047, which is untrue. Formally/on record, Autism Speaks explicitly noted in their public comment that they took a “neutral” stance toward the bill, not a stance of opposition. While I question why they chose not to support the bill, the fact remains that:

An apology is in order because my statement implies that Autism Speaks opposed the bill when in actuality they did not do so.3  

By implying that AS had opposed the bill, I communicated something that is untrue, and I am sorry for that, which is why I am publicly addressing my actions now.4 

I will not delete the tweets because I believe a record should be retained of what happened. I will, however, link this explanation and apology to those remarks.5 

(More detail/context for #5 below if desired; if not, please skip to the next bolded section.)

I don’t agree with the rationale for why Autism Speaks didn’t support the bill nor with the coded language/terminology that was used and what it implies. But I also don’t see any clear indication that Autism Speaks “killed” the bill. They did not help the bill pass, no, but IMO from what I read, they weren’t the ones who raised strong opposition to the bill. CASP did oppose the bill, but AS made comments that were mostly neutral, and they also made some positive remarks about the intent of the bill and they explicitly stated that they hoped to be able to support a future revision of the bill. 

And while I do concur with Bishop Tutu’s quote about neutrality re the elephant with its foot on the tail of a mouse and wonder if it applies here, there’s still a difference between that and openly, overtly opposing. And this needs to be acknowledged as such. Whether people like or dislike AS is their prerogative, but it isn’t right to spread falsehoods about any person or org. 

No one is required to accept anyone’s apology, but humbly I ask for it nonetheless.6

(Should you desire additional context on this matter, please review an longer, more detailed statement [previously entitled “Accountability”, now renamed] “Support > neutrality.”)


1. Expression of regret

2. Explanation of what went wrong

3. Acknowledgment of responsibility

4. Declaration of repentance

5. Offer of repair

6. Request for forgiveness

Recommended citation: Giwa Onaiwu, Morénike. (2022). An apology for unintentional misinformation. Just Being Me...Who Needs "Normalcy," Anyway? [Personal essay.]