The National Autistic Society exists to champion the interests of all people with autism and relies on the media to report issues relating to autism in a factual and inoffensive way.

We encourage journalists to use positive language about autism and to check that copy is in line with the following guidelines. Includes guidelines at the bottom of the page on the correct pronunciation of 'Asperger'.

Don't say

Do say

An autistic / autist  /autie / aspie
(Note: some individuals may refer to themselves in this way, however)

Person / baby / child with autism / on the autism spectrum; autism (including Asperger syndrome); he/she has autism

Our recent research indicates that there is a preference among autistic adults for the team 'autistic'. Therefore this term can be used to describe adults.  

Suffers from OR is a victim of autism Has autism / an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
(Note: The term ASD is used by many people but some prefer the term 'autism spectrum condition' or 'on the autism spectrum' because it avoids the negative connotations of 'disability' or 'disorder'.)
Retarded / mentally handicapped / backward Person with a disability
Disease / illness / handicap Disability OR condition
Asperger syndrome is a mild/rare form of autism Asperger syndrome is a form of autism
(Note: Asperger is pronounced with a hard "g"; see below)
Normally developing children Typically developing children
Normal Neurotypical
(Note: This term is only used within the autism community so may not be applicable in, for example, the popular press.)

How to pronounce 'Asperger'

Asperger is a German name and should be pronounced with a hard 'G', as there is no soft 'G' in the German language. As a guide, Asperger should rhyme with the surname of the famous racing driver Gerhard Berger. Someone wrote to the NAS recently to say that that people might see negative connotations with the wrong pronunciation when a soft 'G' is used. She pointed out that 'Asperges' with a soft 'G' (as in purge) is the name of a religious rite, a purging ceremony, concerned with the purging of sin. 'Aspergere' is Latin for 'to wash or sprinkle'.

Read more facts and statistics about autism.

We have just published the first piece of research about how autism communities in the UK talk about autism. Read more.