I’m Autistic as well as aspie

A few months ago I discovered the word Autistic, with a capital A, and felt it was a word that truly fits me. As I understand it, capitalised Autistic is used to refer to identity, culture and community, whereas lowercase autistic refers to neurology. Along with lowercase autistic and autist, capitalised Autistic has joined aspie, Aspergian and spectrum as words I use to describe my neurology and identity. My diagnosis is Asperger’s syndrome.

‘You’re not autistic,’ said my mum. ‘That includes people who can’t speak.’

‘Are you aware,’ said someone else, ‘that some autistic people have much greater communication difficulties than you do?’

Asperger’s syndrome is a variety of autism and is acceptable to them, but plain, general autism is not. This doesn’t make logical sense to me.

Autism carries a greater stigma than Asperger’s does, and I fit the public perception of autism (a rocking, screaming, tragic child) even less than I fit that of Asperger’s (an awkward, male maths genius).

‘Autistic’ is a word that encompasses a wide range of language abilities, communication styles, sensory sensitivities, stimming needs, and social styles and abilities. Just as ‘English’ describes a group of people of many ethnic backgrounds, from many different counties, with different values and religions. It would be silly to say to an English person, ‘You’re not English – you’re different from these other English people I’ve heard about.’ We are diverse, but the things we have in common make it worthwhile to use the same word for all of us.

‘Autistic’ feels more natural to me than ‘aspie’ and ‘Aspergian’ do, because I see Asperger’s more as a diagnostic category than something inherent to my brain. People diagnosed with Asperger’s can describe themselves as Autistic as a sign of solidarity with all Autistic people, including people with other autism spectrum diagnoses. ‘Autistic’ feels like I’m part of something bigger, not just my little bit of the spectrum. And I like the extra shade of meaning capitalising Autistic brings, and how it reflects that there is more to our experiences as autistic people than just neurology: we’re Autistic together, and with pride.


See also The Problems with “Asperger’s” by Lydia Brown


6 thoughts on “I’m Autistic as well as aspie

  1. I’m so glad somebody else thinks like me 🙂 Autistic people are so often erased and it sometimes feel like most Aspergians want to leave them on their own. But I’m Aspergian and I prefer to call myself Autistic. I feel like it’s my duty to use the space I have to speak to let autistic people that aren’t aspies not be erased again

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t really gotten around to calling myself Autistic with a capital yet, but right from the start (aka while I was working on getting my diagnosis) I referred to myself as “autistic” as well as “aspie”. Admittedly, this was partly because my sister, the Speech Language Pathologist, told me about the planned revisions for the DSM-5 back in 2011, so I knew that “Asperger’s” was likely to be on the way out as a term.

    And really, the main actual difference between classical/Kanner’s autism and Asperger’s Syndrome (aside from the capilization) is that “aspies” had no language delay. That’s pretty much it. Now that can sometimes seem like a huge difference when comparing someone who can speak with someone who is partially- or non-verbal, but it doesn’t make a difference to: non-verbal communication difficulties; sensory sensitivities; executive function issues; detail-orientation; and other elements that make up the neurological difference from the “norm” that we call autism.

    Anyway. Getting off that soapbox. *wry grin*

    🙂 tagAught

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it’s totally arbitrary and I don’t think it makes sense to have Asperger’s as a separate category when you could just call it autism with/without language delay. And I think someone’s current speech and language ability is often more relevant than when they learned to speak, especially in adulthood, when some non-Aspergian autistic people end up with the same language ability as the average Aspergian.


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