FB1-A: Language and Symbols in Autism: A survey to identify preference among the autism community

The language choices, terminology and symbolism used when discussing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) influence how ASD is represented and perceived. Recently, groups have voiced opinion regarding some of the more traditionally accepted terminology and symbolism used when referring to ASD. Person first language (PFL) versus identity first language (IFL), how the month of April is referred to in regards to ASD, as well as the graphic symbols used to represent ASD have each been the topic of discussion. We investigated these three areas by conducting a survey which yielded 1200+ responses across 14 countries to seek individual’s opinions regarding 1) identifying language, 2) month of April representation, and 3) representative symbol. We collected responses from individuals with an ASD diagnosis, parents, those who know someone diagnosed, and professionals. Data were summarized and analyzed for each question revealing overall opinions as well as specific populations’ opinions. 

Learning Outcomes:

  • Why does the language and symbolic representation used matter and why is this a resurfacing debate? 
  • Has there always been a consensus for terminology and symbolism until recently?
  • What terminology do persons with a diagnosis of ASD prefer?
  • Is there a clear difference in terminology preference between individuals with a diagnosis of ASD and others, such as parents or professionals?
  • Does preference differ according to demographic region?


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