Drop the d from ASD
Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) ‘drops the d from ASD’ to promote positive language around autism
Aspect embraces language as a tool for social change by dropping the word ‘disorder’
Aspect has set out to provide positive messaging about autism with its latest campaign, ‘drop the d from ASD’. As part of the campaign, Aspect has removed the word ‘disorder’ from autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in its communications, in response to growing feedback from the autism community that the term is experienced as negative and restrictive. From now on Aspect will refer to people with autism or people on the autism spectrum.
While awareness of autism within Australia is slowly improving, acceptance and understanding remains a challenge for individuals on the spectrum and their families. Defining people by their disability often isolates or segregates individuals. It focuses on the disability, not the person. It can create stigma in the community and can lead to many outcomes, including delayed diagnosis.
Language is a powerful instrument in forming attitudes and beliefs. It not only reflects society’s perceptions, but also determines and prescribes them. By eliminating negative language and moving community attention away from ‘disorder,’ we can better understand, celebrate and empower those on the autism spectrum and their families.
“A person’s disability should not be the focus of that person’s description,” said Aspect CEO Adrian Ford. “All too often autism is portrayed as a struggle and something to be overcome. By dropping the word ‘disorder’ Aspect hopes to encourage understanding and acceptance for the differences of people on the spectrum”.
“One way of tackling this is to drop the word ‘disorder’. Terms such as these can portray people with disabilities as members of an ‘other or outsider,’ group, separating them from the mainstream. Aspect believes that ‘disorder’ is outdated, constrictive and no longer appropriate,” said Adrian.
Dropping ‘disorder’ from the autism spectrum description recognises that disability is only one characteristic of the person and does not define their identity. This removes the collective feature ‘disorder-sufferer’ and focuses instead on the individual. The one exception will be where the term refers to the diagnostic category of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a technical context and with reference to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).
The move is another example of Aspect’s commitment to inject positive awareness into the national conversation about autism, following the launch of Aspect’s positive awareness campaign ‘a different brilliant’ in November last year, celebrating the differences of people on the spectrum.