The Dos and Don’ts of Describing Autism


A few months ago, someone in a Facebook group I belong to shared a graphic related to autism and IEPs. The information was presented with simple illustrations and organized into bullet points that I could easily understand. I clicked through to the author’s page and discovered an amazing collection of similar resources all related to autism.

That is how I came to follow Karla’s ASD Page. Up to this point, I had subscribed to pages and blogs written exclusively by parents. Karla is a parent, too, but she is autistic. Her writings on autism advocacy offered me a new perspective.

On her Facebook page, Karla shares the work of other autistic/allistic writers. The page’s tagline is “Not fighting autism, working with it.” So, as a counterpoint, she includes news articles about discrimination against autistics or blog posts that portray autism negatively. Then she responds to these pieces using charts, graphs and illustrations that summarize the key issues and offer alternatives.

Reading Karla’s analysis as well as the comments of other autistics forced me to become more cognizant of how I am writing about autism. For today’s post, I decided to create a “Do this/Don’t do that” chart.  I’m not putting this here to tell other people what they are doing wrong. I’m not claiming I know it all or that I have been or will be perfect. Rather, I am creating and publishing this list to serve as a personal reminder to take care when I blog about autism.

  • Define autism as a neurological disorder
  • Call autism a disease that must be defeated
  • Recognize autism as a lifelong disability
  • Focus solely on the developmental delays and ignore the issues that autistic adults face
  • Acknowledge that autistics face discrimination
  • Define autistics by deficits
  • Celebrate the differences
  • Deny the challenges
  • Defend autistics’ rights
  • Demand a cure
  • Document positive experiences and moments of success
  • Dream of the future
  • Blame autism for any desperation or despair that I may feel
  • Equate an autism diagnosis with a death sentence

D, as I discovered while writing this post, is for a lot of words.
I’m blogging on the theme of autism acceptance as part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

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