Watch Your Words
We recently posted a blog “The autistic worker – an untapped talent pool” written by Cath Everett, journalist and business blogger. In the article, she explains that IT companies are now focusing on targeted recruitment drives, to hire people with autism. There is a growing skills shortage in the IT sector and as a result companies are now looking at the talent pool available. The overall message of the article is a positive one, with employers actively looking to employ people with autism, however the language used throughout the article has been deemed offensive by some readers.
It is important to be mindful of the language we use when talking about people with a disability, syndrome, or condition. In the context of this article on autism, it is important to note two things; one, not to label a person with autism and two, it is essential we do not generalise the condition.
When using terms such as ‘autistic’, ‘autistic worker’ or ‘autistic student’, we inadvertently create perceptions, prejudices and preconceived thoughts, which would ultimately not exist otherwise. While most people with autism are very proud of their condition, it is important to note that their condition does not define them.
When speaking about autism, it is important that we do not generalise or compartmentalise the term or the person with the condition into one category. People who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are impacted differently by the condition and it is important we recognise this.
The article in question used very generalised and stereotypical terms and in doing so, omits the diverse nature of someone who has autism; such diversity which can be utilised by different industries. People with autism have very idiosyncratic skills and talents, whether that be a talent for software development, recognising patterns, breaking codes or crunching numbers, which can help fill the skills gap within the IT and digital sectors; it is important we sell the talents of the individual and not their condition.