Language matters: why I can't recommend some autism trainers / authors.

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Over that last few days I had to weigh up the value of a principle I hold versus the pragmatic benefit to people who ask me for advice and signposting. In a typical week I get a dozen or more requests for advice. I find this pretty embarrassing but I am glad I can hopefully help people.

For the most part I direct people elsewhere and act as a signpost, I might add a bit about my experiences or offer some advice. However the majority of request results in a book recommendation or an introduction to someone else.

This is normally fine as generally speaking the autism authors / trainers I recommend have a good attitude to language. They either share my position that identity first language is a good default or they use neutral or a range of terms. Because of this there is no conflict.

However, from time too time I come across someone who is doing good work, but uses language in ways which are not appropriate. That’s when I get into a conflict. Do I recommend them to people knowing it will further the bad use of language (and the side effects which are dangerous) or do I recommend people look elsewhere?

I hate being in this position but I’ve come to the conclusion that I must stick to my principles. I will explain to someone the issues but if they continue to use language poorly I will stop recommending them.

This is what happened today. After multiple attempts to effect change with a noted author / trainer they didn’t want to change so I can no longer recommend them. This is a pretty horrible feeling for me as ignoring the language issues they do good things. Worse I had recommended them in the past and that’s now a recommendation I regret.

I aim to be consistent with this. I have turned down events in the past due to language use and I will probably continue to do so, not recommending books / trainers for the same reason makes it more consistent.


Spaced Out & Smiling is about exploring the fun side of Autism, and trying to understand what it means to be Autistically Happy.

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