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Autistic vs. People with Autism

 

People are constantly hashing out the debate of whether to call those with a diagnosis of autism “autistics” or “people with autism.”  Many psychological sources report that it is best to use the first person when talking about a person that has a disability, disease, etc. For example, by saying “people with autism,” you are putting the person before the disorder, indicating that they are a real person that deserves the same respect as someone who is “normal”.  This same theory is used with schizophrenia, cancer, and many other diagnoses. This word choice seems greatly preferred by society and by people with disorders other than autism.   However, autistics have a different theory and preference.  Many of these individuals emphasize the fact that autism is part of them.  It is who they are and who they will always be.  If you took away their Autism, they would not be the same person. There is no separating the person from their autism as there might be with a person being cured of a disease.  Therefore, they prefer to be called “autistics” in order to identify that this diagnosis and way of being is a secure part of their personality.  However, some neurotypicals still feel morally adverse about using this term.  As a type of rule, we suggest that each individual use whatever term they feel most comfortable with, but that they attempt to either use “autistic” when talking with those diagnosed or that they attempt to ask each individual what term they prefer.  Although this is not a perfect solution, it opens the doors to optimistic understanding and can even be a conversation starter!

 

 

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