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“It defines who I am” or “it’s something I have”: what language do [autistic] Australian adults [on the autism spectrum] prefer?

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posted on 2023-01-23, 00:58 authored by Simon BurySimon Bury, Rachel Jellett, Jennifer SpoorJennifer Spoor, Darren HedleyDarren Hedley
There has been a recent shift from person-first to identity-first language to describe autism. In this study, Australian adults who reported having a diagnosis of autism (N = 198) rated and ranked autism-terms for preference and offensiveness, and explained their choice in free-text. ‘Autistic’, ‘Person on the Autism Spectrum’, and ‘Autistic Person’ were rated most preferred and least offensive overall. Ranked-means showed ‘person on the autism spectrum’ was the most preferred term overall. Six qualitative themes reflected (1) autism as core to, or (2) part of one’s identity, (3) ‘spectrum’ reflecting diversity, (4) the rejection of stigmatising and (5) medicalised language, and (6) pragmatics. These findings highlight the importance of inclusive dialogue regarding individual language preference.


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Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders




Springer Nature



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This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use: It is not the Version of Record however and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:

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