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Ask the Editor: What is the Most Appropriate Way to Talk About Individuals with a Diagnosis of Autism?

  • Giacomo VivantiEmail author
Ask the Expert

Question: What is the most appropriate way to talk about individuals with a diagnosis of Autism? Should we stop saying “person with autism”, and use “autistic person” instead?

Response: The terminology that should be used to describe individuals with a diagnosis of autism has been subject to increasing discussion in recent years. The question at the heart of the debate is whether identity-first language (i.e., “autistic person”) is preferable to person-first language (i.e., “person with autism”). Far from being mere semantics, this distinction has practical implications, as the words that we use to describe individuals with an autism diagnosis influence societal perceptions, public policy, clinical practice and research directions. An additional element to this debate is the uncertainty experienced by the growing number of JADD authors who are asked by reviewers to replace person-first language with identity-first language in their submitted manuscript, or the other way around.

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Notes

Acknowledgments

I wish to thank Dr Paul Shattuck and Dr Heather Nuske for their comments on the ideas expressed in this response.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.A.J. Drexel Autism InstituteDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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