Many parents have asked that I use the term 'with autism' rather than 'autistic', as they feel that they are 'labeling' their child. I do not see it in that way. No matter if you say 'autistic' or 'with autism', or even 'on the spectrum', ultimately they all mean the same thing, well they do to me anyway.
People who are actively engaged in social media - and young people in particular - are constantly aware of their audience and their role as entertainers. Images leave much unsaid and open to interpretation, so their meaning and intention can be defended in line with audience feedback and the threat of social shame.
As people have come to recognise the power of words, we've worked hard to eliminate hate speech and the prejudices that usually accompany it, including sexism, racism and bigotry. It's high time that we also recognised the devastating effects of speciesism and worked to counteract it and the words that fuel it.
From working at Mencap I have lots of friends and colleagues who have a learning disability. Nearly all have had to listen to offensive language from others at some point in their life. It's ignorant to use such terms. It's just slang, you might say, it's just a joke, it's not actually. It's just the same as using racist or homophobic words.
Last November when I was going through treatment for my primary breast cancer I blogged about the top ten words or phrases that, as a breast cancer patient, I feared or loathed the most and wanted removed from the dictionary. In the last few weeks and months since my secondary diagnosis, I've revisited these.