Promote Respectful Language

Promote Respectful Language

    1. Dora Raymaker
    2. Petition by

      Dora Raymaker

      Portland, OR

Negative, disempowering language can hurt the feelings and self-worth of people on the spectrum and their families and friends.  Even people who may have difficulty expressing themselves often can understand receptively what is said around and about them--it is a false assumption that autistic people "don't understand" when called a "retard," a "victim," or a "burden."  These words indeed cause "suffering."

The National Center on Disability and Journalism gives the following guideline regarding the use of pity oriented language:

"Afflicted with (also see 'stricken with,' 'suffers from,' 'victim of') These terms come with the assumption that a person with a disability is in fact suffering or living a reduced quality of life. Instead, use neutral language when describing a person who has a disability. Not every person with a disability 'suffers,' is a 'victim' or 'stricken.' Instead simply state the facts about the nature of the person's disability."

One of the biggest--and easiest!--ways you can make a difference in the lives of autistic people right now is to pledge to promote respectful language to us, about us, and around us.  Avoid pity-oriented terms, don't use "the R-word" (retard), and always ask yourself: "How would I feel if someone used this word about me?" before speaking or writing about autism.  And encourage others to do the same!

Recent signatures


    Reasons for signing

      • over 5 years ago

      Last November, I ranted on my blog about that phrase "suffers from", because it is just such a rude assumption.
      Of course PWDs suffer sometimes depending on their individual experiences, but it's rarely because of the disability (most are pain-free) but from discrimination and ill-treatment.
      To read:
      Do you want cries with that?

      • almost 6 years ago

      We need to have all of the derogatory terms removed from our current legistlation such as the use of the "R" word in the IDEA legistlation and the requirement for schools, medical personnel, and parents to use it in order to obtain funding for their children to be able to obtain a free and appropriate education.  It's wrong and that requirement and term needs to be removed. 

    • Emanuel Frowner BRONX, UNITED STATES
      • almost 6 years ago

      I'm definitely not in favor of anyone using the N-word or any other ethnic term for that matter to refer to someone.  Some people claim that it is a term of endearment, but it is still WRONG.  As many times as I have heard people say to each other the N-word, I have never called anyone that.  I was not brought up that way.  I was brought up to respect people.  

      When people are conversing with each other, why can't they just say things like "Pal", "Buddy", or "Dude", etc?  These are not stereotypical words, they are universal words and they are respectful to use towards others.

      I'm definitely not in favor of anyone using the R-word to refer to someone with a disability.  It is a hurtful term to use to refer to anyone on the autistic spectrum or to those with other disabilities for that matter.  I have been called the R-word in my life because I have had talents that almost no one else has had. I have also been called the R-word because I was not as fast in certain areas like NTs are, and I have been hurt by this.  It is unfair and WRONG.  

      In spite of this, it has not stopped me from being successful thus far.  

      If a person with a disability has trouble doing something, but if he/she is trying hard, he/she ought be encouraged in a positive matter.  This would help them with their self esteem and they may likely become successful in life.  


    • John W. Knapp LINCOLN, NE
      • almost 6 years ago

      I'm all for respectful language. I don't like the R-word; it is just like the N-word. I like the comment of James Nordlund. I'm okay with hugs, but do need to remember to ask for hugs, rather than reach for hugs. One cover song has been making a hit at my music venues, "Bear Hugs" by Jungle Jam, from 'All God's Creatures are Special.' I also like what Lorna Rodriguez said, too. Every person deserves respect and love. The one challenged with an ASD didn't ask for his condition.

    • Lorna Rodriguez SEATTLE, WA
      • almost 6 years ago

      every person deserves respect & love.

      let's pledge to conscious, life-giving words and smiles :)

      our impact on others is more than we may ever know...


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