The National Autistic Society exists to champion the interests of all people on the autism spectrum and relies on the media to report issues relating to autism in a factual, positive 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'.

If you are referring to a particular person or group, ask them how they would prefer to be described. This preference should take precedence over the recommendations outlined below.

Don't say

Do say

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

Person/child on the autism spectrum/autism (including Asperger syndrome)/autistic

(Note: We are using the term 'autistic' more and more as our recent research indicates that there is a preference for the term among autistic adults.)

Suffers from or is a victim of autism

is autistic/is on the autism spectrum/has an autism spectrum disorder

(Note: The term ASD is used by many people but some prefer the term 'autism spectrum condition' 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


(Note: This term is only used within the autism community so may not be applicable in, for example, the popular press.)

People living with autism (to describe autistic people and their family and friends)

‚ÄčAutistic people, their families and friends

People on the autism spectrum, their families and friends

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 us 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.

In 2015, we published the first piece of research about how autism communities in the UK talk about autism. Read more.