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National Autism Network


'Individuals with Autism' or 'Autistic Individuals'?

Posted by National Autism Network , in Autism Awareness 31 January 2013 · 989 views

person first language
There is some debate within the autism community about the correct term for describing individuals on the autism spectrum. Some feel it is more appropriate to use “person first” language, which means describing an individual on the autism spectrum as “a person with autism”, as oppose to describing them as an “autistic person/individual.” Many stress the use of “person with autism” since it puts the person before the disability and illustrates that the individual is not defined solely on where they happen to lie on the autism spectrum.

Others believe it is more appropriate to say the he or she is an “autistic person” because autism is a central feature of that person and an unchangeable part of that individual’s identity. These people also argue that negative implications tend to be associated with a “person with _______” because something described in a negative light is usually separated from the person.

At the National Autism Network we have heard both positive and negative connotations associated with each usage and have decided, purely for consistency sake, to use "person first" language when describing individuals on the autism spectrum as “individuals with autism.”