1.3 Discussing people with autism
Research and clinical literature often refers to ‘autistic individuals’ or ‘autistic children’, terms that many, including people with autism themselves, see as undermining their humanity. The National Autistic Society (NAS) advocates the use of the terms ‘people with autism’ or ‘people with an autistic spectrum disorder’, and this chapter will use such terminology as far as possible. However Clare Sainsbury, who herself suffers from an ASD, has written:
… I object to the insistence on using “people-first” language … We are not people who “just happen to have” autism; it is not an appendage that can be separated from who we are as people, nor is it something shameful that has to be reduced to a sub-clause.
(Sainsbury, 2000, p. 12)
Issues of ‘labelling’ are clearly complex ones and will be further discussed in Section 2.