Lariat Letters: Use person-first language in articles about autism

I have noticed several stories in the Lariat lately about people with autism.

While I am thrilled that you are raising awareness for this disorder, I think it’s important that you find out how to talk about it in a sensitive way.

The title of one story in today’s issue, for example, began with the phrase “autistic families.” This is not at all the correct way to talk about autism and can be considered offensive.

Families are not autistic…one individual in the family is (or several may be).

Furthermore, it is a good idea to use person-first language when talking about disabilities, because we believe that people are not defined by their disabilities.

Instead of “autistic,” then, you would say “individual with autism.”

The person comes first, and then the disability.

Maybe it takes up a little more space to say that, but it makes a huge difference to individuals and their families to know that what they have is not a label or something they are stuck with, but something they can overcome.

Kelsey Henry

Graduate Student

School of Psychology

San Marco.