Policies and Initiatives

AuSM’s Use of Person-First and Identity-First Language

The Autism Society of Minnesota respects the right of individuals to be referred to with language that makes them comfortable. There currently isn’t a universally accepted way to refer to an individual on the autism spectrum. Some recommend person-first language (“a person with autism”) to highlight that an individual is a person before a disability. However, others, often self-advocates, note that autism is an important part of their identity that cannot be separated from who they are, and thus recommend identity-first language (“autistic”).

In preparing communications with our community, AuSM will be intentional in considering audience language preferences for specific printed materials, social media posts, on our website, in e-mails, and in other forms in which we present public information. When audience or personal preference is not known, or when AuSM is referring to a large group of people, AuSM will default to person-first language.

If you are visiting AuSM and prefer that AuSM staff members use person-first, identity-first, or another form of address, please let an AuSM staff member know.

Functioning Language

AuSM recommends avoiding the terms “low-functioning” and “high-functioning” and “mild/severe” autism. These terms can be misleading. Someone who can hold down a job may struggle in other areas of their life. Alternatively, someone who uses a communication device may require no personal support. Additionally, someone’s ability to function can depend on context: the environment, the supports in place, their emotional state, and their level of stress. People’s abilities will change over time, whereas labels tend to be static. These labels often will be used to deny services to those seen as “high functioning” or to deny the agency and abilities of those seen as “low functioning.” Instead, you might describe the specific supports or challenges an individual has, talk about the accommodations they need, or simply refer to the individual as having autism unless more information is necessary.

Website and Social Media Posting Policy

In line with our mission, AuSM will share and promote events and information to the autism
community through the AuSM website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and other social media provided that the events and information share our philosophy and support our goals:

  • Inform and educate families, professionals, and the community about autism spectrum
    disorders and promising interventions that meet individual needs.
  • Advocate for appropriate services and rights for people with ASD and their families.
  • Support families and individuals through services and relationships.
  • Do not directly conflict with AuSM events and/or information.

If the above criteria are met, we will consider posting information as space allows. The length of time events and information are shared through AuSM’s website and social media is at the discretion of AuSM. AuSM is not responsible for reproductions of information taken from AuSM’s website and/or social media once the information is posted. AuSM reserves the right to remove or edit events and/or information from its website and/or social media without notice.

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