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Why do we use "autistic" and "has autism"?

Updated: Oct 21, 2022

Terminology can be a very emotive subjective. For some people it means a lot, for others it isn't important. We thought long and hard about which term to use across our wesbite and in our products. The deciding factor for us was that the choice ultimately comes down to the person themselves.

Here at Autability we prefer using different terms. One of us prefers "autistic" and the other prefers "has autism". If two people setting up a business for autistic adults and children, who are themselves neurodivergent, have different preferences then we should embrace other people's preferences too. So on this website and in our store, we use both terms and give you the choice.

But why do many people dislike the use of "has autism"? This term is often compared to saying someone "has gay" or "has lesbian". It removes the diagnosis and preferences from the person and treats it like it is an accessory they carry around. Being "autistic" or being "gay" implies that these diagnoses and preferences are a part of who you are. They are entwined within you, making you wonderfully unique and who you are.

On the flip side, some people with autism do not want their diagnosis to define who they are. They may find that their diagnosis causes them struggles and they do not want to project a message that they are autistic and nothing else. It is completely down to personal preference.

What we do encourage here is that if you are taking this decision for your child, talk to them first if you can. Explain about the differences and give them the chance to understand. We have worked with children who have chosen either term or even both to describe themselves.

If you have the knowledge behind it, it is your choice entirely and for that reason we offer products that use both terms.

The Autability Team

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