Advocacy Group Issues Statement on Language, Images, and Depictions of Severe Autism

February 14, 2022

National Council on Severe Autism Opposes Using Language that Airbrushes Reality

In an effort to push back against recent efforts by autism self-advocates to substitute reality-based language in favor of terms that tend to romanticize or trivialize autism, the National Council on Severe Autism (NCSA) has issued a position statement on the topic. Their position paper states, “NCSA opposes campaigns using Orwellian language, airbrushing reality and aiming to control both real-life and artistic narratives around autism. Instead, no matter how disturbing some words and images may be to some people, we strongly support the uninhibited dissemination of ideas, stories, images and depictions of severe autism in public discourse, research, media, social media, books, film and theater. However, we oppose any language used with the intention of degrading, mocking, or shaming any person with a disability.” The statement continues to point out efforts over recent years where self-advocates have demanded that autism not be referred to as a “disorder,” but rather a “condition.”  Additionally, these same vocal advocates have requested that no individual should be viewed as “suffering” with autism but instead are merely “experiencing” it. Another demand made by self-advocates is that individuals with autism be called “Autistics” based on the perception that autism is an identity, not a brain-based disorder. NCSA is also deeply concerned with the attempts of these self-advocates to prevent the inclusion of images of severe autism in the arts and media. Their statement draws attention to the demands of the advocates that any portrayal of severe autism must fit their terms and conditions, which the organization opposes. Ultimately, NCSA believes that a small sector of the autism community should not hold the greatest power to serve as the principal voice for all individuals on the spectrum.


NCSA’s Position Statement

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