Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that can affect a person’s language, behaviors, and social interactions. There’s no known cure for this condition, and many autistic people agree that it doesn’t need one — that it forms part of their identity.
That’s not to say that the condition isn’t sometimes challenging to live with.
Our content gives space to a spectrum of perspectives and experiences of living with autism. Our articles on this topic are honest and educational, and they emphasize self-advocacy.
We choose our language around autism carefully. We know that many people don’t consider autism a “disorder” or a “disability,” and we don’t suggest that it needs to be cured or eliminated. We also know that many people in the autistic community prefer identity-first language (“autistic person”) to person-first language (“person with autism”). Our content typically honors this preference, but if someone describes themself using person-first language, we’ll honor that as well. Also, when sourcing information about autism, we refer to organizations in which autistic people advocate for themselves rather than organizations that attempt to speak on behalf of autistic people.
Person with autism
It’s common for people with autism to fidget → Autistic people may be more likely than others to fidget
People struggling with autism may have a lower quality of life → Autistic people may experience things that negatively influence their quality of life
Unlike normal people, those with autism may find it hard to concentrate → Autistic people may find it harder to concentrate than neurotypical people
People with autism are at higher risk of certain health problems → Autistic people may have a higher chance of certain health issues
Associating certain types of sexual activity with a person’s moral character has historically led to groups being excluded from society or being seen as “abnormal” or “amoral.”
Using neutral language in sexual health does not make suggestions as to who someone is as a person. Rather, it provides information in a way that does not shame, judge, or assign blame.
Providing accurate, empathetic, and non-judgmental sexual health information is the first step in preventing unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and HIV through the promotion of healthy sexual behaviors.
Autism is a common condition, but stereotypes and assumptions around its causes and impacts are also prevalent.
By working directly with autistic people to shape our content into something that best serves their needs and accurately portrays their unique experiences, we can both offer support to the community itself and better educate readers who have less knowledge of the condition.
Our Autism Guiding Principles
While it would be much easier to list the definitive do’s and don’ts of language, that is not possible — context is critical. Language is always changing and evolving, and any list would soon be out of date. This is why we're always listening for changes. Additionally, there are no definitively "right" or "wrong" answers about what language to use. Context is important, and what works for us might not work for you. While specific word choices will change over time, our community approach first ensures that we are prioritizing those who are the most important to what we do: our readers. See full approach here.