Many of the language conventions I use in writing about autism are those that have developed within the Autism Network International (ANI ) community. These include:
Autistic is accepted and often preferred as an adjective. Some ANI members do prefer “person first” language, and others dislike it or find it offensive. Many ANI members use “autistic” as a noun as well (that is, they refer to themselves and others as autistics.) There are no language police within ANI; people may refer to themselves in whatever way they are comfortable. As I explain in more detail elsewhere , my own strong preference is to use language that reflects autism as a part of me and a central descriptor of the nature of my personhood.
Neurotypical (abbreviated NT), used either as an adjective or a noun, refers to people who do not have autistic-type brains. NT is considered more specific than “normal,” as the definition of “normal” is very much dependent on context. However, members of the ANI community are well aware that within the context of humans-in-general, we are not normal. It is not considered insensitive or pejorative to acknowledge this fact. Most of us don’t mind not being normal and would not want to be normal. We appreciate being acknowledged for what we are.
Cousin refers to a person who is not NT, is not quite autistic, but is recognizably “autistic-like” particularly in terms of communication and social characteristics. Some conditions that may lead to cousinhood include Tourette syndrome, hydrocephalus, Williams syndrome, and some learning disabilities.
stands for “autistic and/or cousin.” “AC” and “cousin” are sociological
terms describing status within the ANI community, rather than clinical diagnostic
Copyright (c) 1998 Jim Sinclair
Click here to read about my objections to person first language
Click here to return to the main page