Time for Autism terminology
There are many terms that are used to describe autism and we want to be clear about the choices we are making in the Time for Autism programme.
After careful consideration of available research and discussion with our Lived Experience Advisory Group, the following decisions have been made:
1. As some families prefer ‘person-first’ language (e.g. ‘child with autism’) and some prefer ‘identity-first’ language (e.g. ‘autistic person’) the medical students will be advised to ask families which terms they prefer to use, and to stick to these on their visits.
2. In our written communications to families, person-first language (e.g. ‘child with autism’) will be used as this was felt to be the stronger preference by our Lived Experience Advisory Group and least likely to cause offence.
3. When communicating more widely about Time for Autism, some identity-first language (e.g. ‘autistic person’) is felt to be acceptable particularly when referring to adults. This reflects research published in Autism in 2015* which showed a shift towards a preference for more positive and assertive language, particularly among autistic communities where autism is seen as integral to the person. Identity-first language has also been adopted by the recent Autism Capabilities Framework released by the Department of Health and Social Care (October 2019).
4. ‘On the autism spectrum’ will be used instead of ‘ASC’, ‘ASD’ or ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’.
5. Unless otherwise stated, ‘child or young person with autism’ refers to children and young people across the autism spectrum at all levels of intellectual ability.
*Kenny et al (2015). Which terms should be used to describe autism? Perspectives from the UK autism community. Autism, 20(4), 442-462.