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How to Talk about Autism

The language used to describe and differentiate between Special Educational Needs is very important to the individual, family members and public, as the language used can determine the attitudes and connotations of such needs.

A piece of research published in the Autism Journal 2015 looked into what words people preferred to use when describing their own educational needs. It found that there was no single term that everyone preferred, however that individuals tended to lean towards more positive language.

Primary school child

The research surveyed 3,470 people, including 502 autistic adults, 2,207 parents of children and adults on the autism spectrum, 1,109 professionals, and 380 extended family members and friends.

Terms that family members and friends preferred to use:

  • ‘on the Autism spectrum’ 
  • Asperger's syndrome

Individuals with these needs preferred owning terms such as ‘Autistic’ and ‘Aspie’

Language is an integral part of our society and can bring about change and deeper understanding especially when the connotations are positive, confident and assertive. The research showed how adults and children on the Autism spectrum were taking control and ownership of their Special Educational Needs and deeming their additional needs are as an integral part of their individuality. 

In conclusion the National Autism Society is going to increase the use of the term ‘autistic’ and ‘on the Autism spectrum’ when discussing individual’s needs and describing Autism.