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Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Words of Autism

 From the preface to The Politics of Autism.

A major theme of this book is that just about everything concerning autism is subject to argument. There is not even any consensus on what one should call people who have autism and other disabilities. “In the autism community, many self-advocates and their allies prefer terms such as `Autistic,’ `Autistic person,’ or `Autistic individual’ because we understand autism as an inherent part of an individual’s identity,” writes blogger Lydia Brown.[i] Other writers prefer “people-first” language (e.g., “persons with autism”) since it puts the persons ahead of the disability and describes what they have, not who they are.[ii] For the sake of stylistic variety, this book uses both kinds of language, even though this approach will satisfy neither side. I can only say that I mean no offense.
At Disability Scoop, Michelle Diamaent reports that IACC is considering changing some of the language in its strategic plan.
Sam Crane, legal director at the Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities and a member of the IACC, said that the current draft the committee is considering contains “significant changes,” many of which are “for the purpose of reducing stigma and reflecting the community’s prioritization of well-being over a ‘cure.'” She noted that the changes are in line with efforts to refocus research on improving quality of life.
Alison Singer, Amy Lutz, Jill Escher, Alycia Halladay have an article at Autism Research titled "A full semantic toolbox is essential for autism research and practice to thrive,"
Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with a highly diverse set of challenges, disabilities, impairments and strengths. Recently, it has been suggested that researchers and practitioners avoid using certain words to describe the difficulties and impairments experienced by individuals with ASD to reduce stigma. The proposed limitations on terminology were developed by only a subset of the autism community, and the recommendations are already causing negative consequences that may be harmful to future scientific and clinical endeavors and, ultimately, to people with ASD. No one should have the power to censor language to exclude the observable realities of autism. Scientists and clinicians must be able to use any scientifically accurate terms necessary to describe the wide range of autistic people they study and support, without fear of censure or retribution.