The “Key Texts” Series
These titles are intended to be printed as double-sided A4 documents. Feel free to use them as you will.
Autistic UK Key Texts 1 – Why I Dislike “Person First” Language
Perhaps the most fundamental argument that Autistic UK seeks to make concerning autistic people is that we are exactly that; autistic people. Not “people with autism”. We do not “have” autism. This seminal essay by Jim Sinclair and arguing this point was written in 1999.
Autistic UK Key Texts 2 – Don’t Mourn For Us
This is essential reading for parents of autistic children. Written by Jim Sinclair, it was presented at the International Conference on Autism in Toronto 1993 and first published in the Autism Network International newsletter, “Our Voice” (Volume 1, No. 3) 1993
Autistic UK Key Texts 3 – Charter For Persons With Autism
People with autism should share the same rights and privileges enjoyed by all of the European population where such are appropriate and in the best interests of the person with autism.
These rights should be enhanced, protected, and enforced by appropriate legislation in each state.
The United Nations declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons (1971) and the Rights of Handicapped Persons (1975) and other relevant declarations on Human rights should be considered and in particular, for people with autism the following should be included;
Autistic UK Key Texts 4 – The Autism Act 2009.
Over the last few years we at Autistic UK have witnessed all sorts of people referring to the Autism Act as though it guarantees all sorts of things when in fact it guarantees very little. It says that the Secretary of State, currently Jeremy Hunt MP, must produce an Autism Strategy (which was published in March 2010) and legally binding guidance to accompany it (which was published in December 2010). Revised guidance was published March 2015. We wish that people would actually read the thing. So here it is.
Autistic UK Key Texts 5 – Neurodiversity – Some Basic Terms and Definitions
New paradigms often require a bit of new language. This is certainly the case with the neurodiversity paradigm – even the word neurodiversity itself is still relatively new, dating back only to the late 1990s.
I see many people – scholars, journalists, bloggers, internet commenters, and even people who identify as neurodiversity activists – get confused about the terminology around neurodiversity. Their misunderstanding and incorrect usage of certain terms often results in poor and clumsy communication of their message, and propagation of further confusion (including other confused people imitating their errors). At the very least, incorrect use of terminology can make a writer or speaker appear ignorant, or an unreliable source of information, in the eyes of those who do understand the meanings of the terms.
For those of us who seek to propagate and build upon the neurodiversity paradigm – especially those of us who are producing writing on neurodiversity – it’s vital that we maintain some basic clarity and consistency of language, for the sake of
effective communication among ourselves and with our broader audiences. Clarity of language supports clarity of understanding.
And, as I increasingly find myself in the position of reviewing other people’s writing on neurodiversity – grading student papers, reviewing submissions to journals, consulting on various projects, or even just deciding whose writings I’m willing to recommend to people – I’m getting tired of running into the same basic errors over and over.
So, as a public service, I’m posting this list of a few key neurodiversity-related terms, their meanings and proper usage, and the ways in which I most commonly see them misused.