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Quick questions on the autism community's descriptive terms

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GypsyMoth

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I'm sure these questions aren't new. I keep running into conflicting uses of these terms and thought I'd give a shout out to all of you and ask you about them:

What's the difference in using the terms "Autist" and "Aspie"? Don't they mean the same thing?

Exactly why is the term Asperger's frowned upon? Yet, at the same time, why does it still seem to remain the preferred term of use by individuals?

I've noticed there is some difference between saying someone is autistic vs. saying they have autism. One links identity to autism and the other implies autism is separate from identity. Is there any significance to distinguishing between the two, and why?

What are the autistic community's preferred terms of use?

Thanks!
 

Stuttermabolur

A psychologist said so
V.I.P Member
Before DSM-V there were several different "Autism-related" diagnoses you could get, including classical autism, PDD-NOS and Aspergers syndrome. In the new version they were (almost) all collected into a single diagnosis, Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD, where you have different types of severity but is otherwise a single "disorder".

Asperger's syndrome is named after Hans Aspergers who was an Austrian nazi psychologist. He noticed that some kids under his care were quiet, studious and knew a lot about specialized areas. He was fond of them, called them "little professors" and thought their skills could be harnessed by the nazis. He sent other "less developed" children to be murdered in concentration camps. In DSM-IV, Aspergers was a separate diagnosis, which tends to be for people with strong, intensive interests and often bad social skills which do not get as affected by sensory noise and have more developed language skills than "classical autists" (or even non autists for that matter). A lot of people were diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome and thus identify more as an "Aspie" than an "Autistic level one". Conversely, other people are disgusted by the connotation with a nazi eugenicist and don't want anything to do with the term. Under DSM-IV I would probably be diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. To simplify, Aspergers syndrome used to be a subcategory of the autism spectrum, but officially it doesn't exist as a separate diagnosis anymore.

The autistic vs. with autism discussions derive from a larger talk on person first language which has been developing over the last several decades. Its proponents state that instead of saying "depressed person" which makes depression seem like an integral part of someone's identity, you should say "person with depression". Overall, this change of wording is seen as a good thing. However, when it comes to people on the spectrum, many don't feel like autism is something they "have", which is "affecting them", autism is a part of their neurology and thus who they are. It isn't a separate factor, but instead an integral part of who they are as people. In my experience, "person with autism" is used more by allistic people, while autistic is used more by those on the spectrum to describe themselves (though not everyone agrees). I say that you pick the one which feels right for you to describe yourself.

I hope this helps. Personally, I don't care much about any of the terms as long as I know I'm with people who understand me, and I them.
 

Magna

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
To each their own if people choose to refer to themselves or even others as "Aspie", but I've always hated the term and have never/would never refer to myself that way. I wouldn't hesitate to tell someone not to call me that if they did. It sounds far too cutesy to me and as such belittles and glosses over the real struggles inherent in being this way.
 

VictorR

Random Member
V.I.P Member
I recommend the platinum rule (treat people as they wish to be treated - e.g. ask them what terms they wish to be identified by) given that some individuals have very strong feelings one way or another.
 

Moogwizard

My mind is my own church
V.I.P Member
Personal preference I guess. I hate using the term Asperger’s sometimes because he was a very evil person . But with most people they think Autism is just non -verbal . So I have to say Asperger’s so they can comprehend a bit . Most NTs don’t understand a spectrum concept.
I am diagnosed ASD2 . Some days I feel High functioning, but when I am not I don’t even want to be around people , and have sensory issues especially if something is bothering me . That’s when my true colors of ASD2 show up .
But I understand the term Aspie was used before they knew Asperger’s dark past. I think the terms make it more digestible for Nts. Me personally it’s just a label .I don’t care . But I just tell people I am Autistic .Because medically that is what it is . It’s not my problem if they don’t understand it or know what it is .
 

Suzanne

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Autism is referred to classic autism, which is static and aspergers, is an off shoot of autism and thus, why it is referred to as: ASD ( Autism spectrum disorder).

Aspergers is frowned upon, by "professionals" because the man who discoved it, is Han's Aspergers, who sadly, was a huge nazi sympathiser and he was in charge of getting rid of disabled ones and that is when he discovered a certain group who had similiarites to Autism, but at the same time, different and put a name: Aspergers. And why professionals do not like the termology ( understandable, to my way of thinking) but also, confusing, because they have not chosen another name and thus, go by: ASD.

When I was diagnosed - he clearly said: you do not have autism; you have aspergers.

I will never say I am an autie, because I am not. I am an aspie.

I downloaded and printed and cut, a credit card size card, which says that I have aspergers. But, because I reside in France, it actually says: I am autistic aspergers ( je suis autiste asperger.
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
The relevant distinction between Asperger's and Autistic was (USA) and is still (elsewhere) that Aspies have:
relatively unimpaired spoken language and intelligence.

NT's don't read the DSM V definitions of ASD. And the majority of people (young adult and up) we might want to make the clear to were brought up in times/places where "Autistic" meant ASD2 and ASD3, and was mostly used to describe people who (by the standards of the time and place) required medical care.

Calling yourself Aspie short-circuits the need to actively demonstrate that you have at least normal intelligence and linguistic skills.

There's also the issue of the "D=disorder" in ASD. There are people who are, or would be classified as, ASD1 who don't require medical care., but would benefit from a little understanding, and perhaps access to training.
I'll never describe myself as "ASDx", or any other "Healthcare-centric" name until they learn to help us.

If at some point (and it won't be soon) control of the terminology is moved away from the medical profession, or in the unlikely event they adjust their collective mindset from "problem solving" to "community health", a suitable term might be found, and I'll consider using it.

For now, Aspie is the most practical non-pejorative alternative.

BTW - "on the spectrum" works here, but in general "the spectrum" has been appropriated by a much better accepted and supported group, and they have a widely-recognized flag to prove it.

As a group, we don't have the political or organizing skills to do anything like that.
 

SusanLR

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Just because a Nazi doctor named a group of children with certain traits after himself
means nothing to me.
When I was diagnosed it was called Asperger's.
It seems an easy way for people to know you are an offshoot from what they have
grown up thinking autism means. They instantly think of what is now called ASD-2
or ASD-3 when they hear the word autistic or autism.
The image of needing care and mostly non-verbal.

I've often really wondered why the "professionals" changed the terminology.
Was it really because it was the name of a Nazi? Does it make communication
between doctors easier somehow? Or was there a push from some faction to
make it all sound the same with little distinction for levels on the spectrum?

I will always identify with Asperger's since that was my diagnosis and others understand the term.
To change it now is confusing to me.
It's like my name has been Susan from birth and someone says over fifty years
later it will be Samantha from now on.
 

Au Naturel

Au Naturel
LOL! So much fuss over a label. One should not be married to a label or it becomes a cage for the person labeled and a stereotype of them for everyone else's convenience.

Asperger syndrome was not named by Hans Asperger. He identified a set of traits that seemed to occur together in children and after the war he wrote about them. It is common practice to use the discoverer's name to identify a syndrome of traits. (Or medical condition or scientific discovery or theorem.) As for him being a Nazi, he never joined the party and was booted out of his clinic by the Nazis and sent to the front lines. He may not have been a stellar example of humanity, but he wasn't a Nazi.

You can use any label you like but somebody somewhere will be offended. Taking offense is a way of attempting to assert control and has become a national pastime.

I like the term Aspie. It rolls off the tongue well. Short and to the point. Dropping Asperger from the DSM was a mistake, IMHO, and shows that modern psychiatry really doesn't have its act together.
 

Crossbreed

Neur-D Missionary ☝️
V.I.P Member
Asperger syndrome was not named by Hans Asperger. He identified a set of traits that seemed to occur together in children and after the war he wrote about them. It is common practice to use the discoverer's name to identify a syndrome of traits.
It was Dr. Lorna Wing who applied Asperger's name to the version of autism that we now call ASD1.

Dr. Tony Attwood has come out in defense of Dr. Asperger's war-time record.
 

Moogwizard

My mind is my own church
V.I.P Member
LOL! So much fuss over a label. One should not be married to a label or it becomes a cage for the person labeled and a stereotype of them for everyone else's convenience.
This is true ,that is very dangerous
Asperger syndrome was not named by Hans Asperger. He identified a set of traits that seemed to occur together in children and after the war he wrote about them. It is common practice to use the discoverer's name to identify a syndrome of traits. (Or medical condition or scientific discovery or theorem.) As for him being a Nazi, he never joined the party and was booted out of his clinic by the Nazis and sent to the front lines. He may not have been a stellar example of humanity, but he wasn't a Nazi.
True he did not use the term but he was one of the first to use the term “Autism”preferred was Autistic psychopath.
Why did he identify these traits?
Because of the Nazi children’s Eugenics Program and anybody with autism was thought as defective ! Children who did not show enthusiasm for conformity , or care about social norms and excepted social construct . Only the highest functioning children he would think of as taught enough to integrate into society and the their talents be used for the cause .If not you are looked at as a cost to the state and a defective human ,and therefore did not serve a purpose. The non verbal never had a chance . He experimented and murdered many children especially little girls . They would usually let them starve or inject them with chemicals, and tell the parents they died of pneumonia. The parents that cared that is . And his clinic that he worked at the brains were harvested and kept in the basement.
Lots of his work and clinics documents have survived and also Autistic patients have gave interviews. Yes he may not have been at rallies speaking like a Nazi but all of his action prove he was part of the cause.
All Germans were expected to serve in the military.I have not read anything where he has seen combat , as far as I know he worked in the hospital tents .and did scouting work

You can use any label you like but somebody somewhere will be offended. Taking offense is a way of attempting to assert control and has become a national pastime.
I am not upset if someone calls me aspie or if I have Aspergers . I just know most people are history illiterate. I don’t mean that in a bad way . Just people are occupied with other stuff . Where i study history. And sometimes knowing the context or origin of a word . The psychologist who started using the term Asperger’s even regretted it .
But I understand that is was in The DSM to help psychologist label and diagnose, I understand how someone who has Asperger’s on their diagnostic will identify with that . Maybe mine in 20 years will change From ASD to something else who knows . Good thing is progress is being made at understanding.
I like the term Aspie. It rolls off the tongue well. Short and to the point. Dropping Asperger from the DSM was a mistake, IMHO, and shows that modern psychiatry really doesn't have its act together.
It may have been a mistake I agree . For diagnostic purposes. But modern studies of our autism has come a long way. It is interesting to see how each period in times describes autism. With labels that is .I understand that “Asperger’s” is a medical label and just a word . And may mean something or nothing to someone. But as far Hans Asperger’s as a person and a doctor. I won’t give him a pass , or sympathy.
 
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Gerontius

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Autistic/I am autistic.
I do not like "autie" or "aspie" as they seem unnecessarily twee.
I do not usually tell people I "have autism" because I do not know if it's something you really "have," like a cold, or if it's something about the way you're wired. It affects bone and muscle, the functions of the mind, everything--seems like it's baked right in.
 

Magna

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
At work, we are required to say they "have Autism" and never "are autistic."
Interesting. Not really a "person first" language usage but similar? I wonder if your work would say: "He has diabetes." rather than "He's diabetic." Also interesting that I've never heard of a diabetic person taking umbrage and insisting they be referred to as a "person with diabetes" but for autism it's a hot button issue for some reason....
 
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