RE: Approval Requested: ASD defintion

Hi Rachael,

Respectfully to you and to all who worked on this definition, a big -1 for me.

The implied definition is person-first, such as “a person with Autism”. That’s the old way of thinking. The new, spearheaded by Autistics, is identity first, such as “Autistic Person” or “Autistics”. This distinction is important because the former attributes deficit to the person, and the latter attributes deficit to the environment. For more info, see “The Significance of Semantics: Person-First Language: Why It Matters<>” by Lydia Brown<>, a lawyer and activist known as “Autistic Hoya”. Conversations I had with Lydia convinced me identity-first is the way to go.

I thus suggest the following revision.
“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by environmental deficits, such as from the noise of overhead florescent lighting, that cause Autistics to experience episodes of sensory overload and some degree of impaired social behavior, communication, and language abilities. This may impact Autistics’ capability to regulate behavior and attention, and may require them to rely on alternative communication methods.”

Note my substitution of “ability” with “capability” which refers to a higher level of ability that could be demonstrated under the right conditions. Also note my elimination of “… a narrow range of interests and activities …”. I don’t think that is relevant to the definition.


John Rochford
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center
Director, INDEX Program
Faculty, Family Medicine & Community Health
About Me<>
Schedule a meeting with me.<>

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From: Rachael Bradley Montgomery <>
Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2020 11:27 PM
To: public-cognitive-a11y-tf <>
Subject: Approval Requested: ASD defintion


In today's meeting <> we discussed the following definition for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by some degree of impaired social behavior, communication and language abilities. This may also impact the person’s ability to regulate behavior and attention. Individuals can have a narrow range of interests and activities and they may rely on alternative communication methods. Some individuals may also experience episodes of sensory overload.

We also discussed adding a note at the top of the glossary that states: See neurodiversity for an alternative approach to ASD, Dyslexia, and other cognitive disabilities.
We would then add an asterisk (with associated aria-label) at the end of each definition that should reference this note.

Please reply with a +1 this if you are OK with this approach or write back to the list with proposed changes.

Thank you!

Rachael Montgomery, PhD
Director, Accessible Community<>

"I will paint this day with laughter;
I will frame this night in song."
 - Og Mandino

Received on Friday, 26 June 2020 19:02:59 UTC