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ASPartOfMe
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06 Aug 2021, 8:07 am

Autism Parenting Magazine

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“Autist”, the noun form of “autistic”, is another word for a person with autism. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it first appeared in print in 1922, though there’s no information on where or in what context.

This was 11 years after the term “autism” was coined by German psychologist Eugen Bleuler.

Over time, “autism” became the accepted medical term for this diagnosis, and patients were sometimes called “autists”. Kanner’s research formed the basis for our modern understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Today, “autist” is rarely used by researchers, doctors, or autistic people themselves—but it can be found in edgy online spaces.

Strangely enough, you might see this relatively scarce term most often in Wall Street Bets, a forum for discussing stock trading on social media site Reddit. Wall Street Bets experienced a flash of fame in early 2021 when users coordinated to undermine Wall Street bigwigs. This brought some attention to the community’s very…unique culture, particularly its frequent use of words like “autists”.

Wall Street Bets’ definition of “autists” seems flattering on the surface. A “basic guide” to the forum’s culture says “Use autistic to describe someone that actually does due diligence and knows what they are doing”. Members also use “autists” as a blanket term for themselves and all fellow members. The guide doesn’t explain how this terminology developed, but it’s probably rooted in the stereotype that every person with autism is a high-functioning, obsessive expert on certain topics, or even a savant-level genius.
Users of Wall Street Bets aspire to make serious money, so it makes sense that they want to be “autistic” about stocks. Calling themselves “autists” might appear to be a weird pseudo-compliment, but it’s derived from oversimplified stereotypes. Plus, the forum’s use of “retard” doesn’t indicate a respectful attitude toward people with disabilities or mental conditions.

Wall Street Bets is just one of many communities on Reddit, 4chan, and other sites that reject “political correctness” and frequently reference autism spectrum disorder.

Indeed, “autists” may be their expression of choice because it’s outdated at best and offensive at worst.

Even without the strange Internet context, “autist” just doesn’t sound very…nice. I realize that’s personal opinion, but we rarely refer to people as nouns when it comes to race, sexuality, ability, and other such identifiers. We’re likely to cringe when someone says “the Blacks” or “the gays” instead of “Black people” or “gay people”. Why? Because it can come across as dehumanizing and othering.

“Autists” may not be offensive in and of itself. Still, because of the connotation surrounding it and its infrequent use among the autism community, there are better words to use.


I have seen “Autist” used occasionally used on here, not the most common term but definitely not rare. I have never heard of it being used by NT’s until this article. Because one job related space uses it in a positive but stereotyped way as reasoning for the term being “not the best term” or offensive is political correctness on steroids.

I personally find that the term conveys elitism.


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HeroOfHyrule
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06 Aug 2021, 10:03 am

I use "autists" and call myself an "autist" sometimes, I've always done that. I don't see an issue with it.

How does it sound elitist?



ASPartOfMe
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06 Aug 2021, 1:47 pm

HeroOfHyrule wrote:
I use "autists" and call myself an "autist" sometimes, I've always done that. I don't see an issue with it.

How does it sound elitist?

It rhymes with elitist? If you say pianist vs piano player pianist denotes the highest level of skill, gymnist donates a higher level of skill then gym rat. I am not saying that everybody who calls themselves an “autist” feels this way but if I call myself an autist I would feel I am putting myself above autistics.


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06 Aug 2021, 2:11 pm

I don't find it elitist, and I hadn't thought of it in terms of "gymnast" or "pianist".

I don't like saying autist out loud, because I think it sounds like "artist" or "oddist", and a lot of people wouldn't know what we're talking about especially if it's out of context. Typing it visually to someone makes it more clear that we aren't saying "artist", and written communication is usually more in context anyway.

I remember a joke when I was growing up. I was studying Art, and people would tease me and say "You're not artistic. You're autistic! Ha Ha Ha!" This was before my diagnosis and it was just meant to be a joke or a play on words.

Turns out I'm very .... artistic after all. (wink)



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06 Aug 2021, 2:18 pm

The name doesn't denote some form of elitism amongst autistics or to those who knew about autism in my point of view.

If anything, it's just less resonating from autistic if I ever called myself an autist. :lol:

Instead it just sounds like of an allistic who knows very much about autism than an autistic who knows just as much...

Or an autistic who kinda distance their autism with anything that connects them to the word 'people' or community.
Less of an elitist and more of an anti-conformist. :lol: Anti-conformist, not non-conformist.

Not really better or worse.
... If I took it in my native version of English context and lensed with how I process language.

I think it is more resonating for foreign English and maybe in wholly non-English contexts of certain structures.
It remains to be seen if it's actually offensive in context further away from English contexts and which.


Speaking of allistic, how about allist?? :twisted:


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HeroOfHyrule
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06 Aug 2021, 2:28 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
HeroOfHyrule wrote:
I use "autists" and call myself an "autist" sometimes, I've always done that. I don't see an issue with it.

How does it sound elitist?

It rhymes with elitist? If you say pianist vs piano player pianist denotes the highest level of skill, gymnist donates a higher level of skill then gym rat. I am not saying that everybody who calls themselves an “autist” feels this way but if I call myself an autist I would feel I am putting myself above autistics.

I think you're reading into it way too much. lol



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06 Aug 2021, 3:19 pm

I don't know how it is in other countries, but most people on the spectrum I know in the Netherlands say "ik ben een autist" (I am an autist) rather than "ik heb autisme" (I have autism).

Personally, I see it more as what I am rather than something that I have.


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07 Aug 2021, 1:11 pm

If you've met one Autistic, you've met one Autistic.

Personally, I do not object to the term "Autist" when referring to someone who is Autistic, but would prefer...when describing me..."Autie" or "Aspie".

I would not be surprised if someone whose Autism was more severe than mine might favor terms that were more proper medical terms.

I am not too crazy about people who are not on the Spectrum calling themself "Autist", however. That is inaccurate, misleading and blurs/dilutes the meaning of the term "Autist".


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07 Aug 2021, 6:54 pm

I use the word autist because it has fewer letters and is faster to type. :D


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07 Aug 2021, 7:01 pm

I like autist, it can be a homophone of both oddest and artist. :nerdy:


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HeroOfHyrule
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07 Aug 2021, 7:30 pm

blazingstar wrote:
I use the word autist because it has fewer letters and is faster to type. :D

This is one of the main reasons I use it. I'm a bit lazy. :lol: :oops:



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08 Aug 2021, 8:00 am

[/quote]
This is one of the main reasons I use it. I'm a bit lazy. :lol: :oops:[/quote]

Hey now, you're not lazy you're efficient haha



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08 Aug 2021, 3:02 pm

I don't use the term "autist" simply because it's uncommon and I don't see a need for it. I usually say "autistic person." But if someone else wants to use "autist," I have no objection.


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naturalplastic
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08 Aug 2021, 3:20 pm

The Wall Street Journal fad of using the term "autist" is most likely 'convergent evolution'. It probably derives, not from the autism community, but from the accounting/finance community, and derives from "audit" (as in "the IRS is auditing me!")and not from "autism". Among WSJ readers an "autist" is a person who audits their own finances - and doesnt mean someone with "autistic traits". Though those things are not mutually exclusive. An autistic person, or an NT with autistic-like traits, might well also be an "autist" in the WSJ sense. But I digress.

The term does crop up on WP occasionally.

The term is not "offensive", but it grates on me because it sounds like "artist", or "scientist", or "dentist". That "ist" ending implies that we do autism on purpose, and on command, as a craft, or a profession, and do so for money. And it also implies that we dont "do autism" when it's our day off. :lol:

Alternatively it sounds like "Communist", or "Buddhist", and makes it sound like its a creed, or ideology, that folks with autism willfully adhere to, which is also ridiculous.

I prefer the term "autistic".



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08 Aug 2021, 7:20 pm

naturalplastic wrote:
The Wall Street Journal fad of using the term "autist" is most likely 'convergent evolution'. It probably derives, not from the autism community, but from the accounting/finance community, and derives from "audit" (as in "the IRS is auditing me!")and not from "autism". Among WSJ readers an "autist" is a person who audits their own finances - and doesnt mean someone with "autistic traits".

Could you please point us to an example of this "accounting/finance community" use of the word "autist"? I was unable to find it via Google, or as a definition of "autist" in any dictionary. Also, did you mean "Wall Street Journal" or "Wall Street Bets"?

naturalplastic wrote:
The term is not "offensive", but it grates on me because it sounds like "artist", or "scientist", or "dentist". That "ist" ending implies that we do autism on purpose, and on command, as a craft, or a profession, and do so for money. And it also implies that we dont "do autism" when it's our day off. :lol:

Alternatively it sounds like "Communist", or "Buddhist", and makes it sound like its a creed, or ideology, that folks with autism willfully adhere to, which is also ridiculous.

Good points.


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 08 Aug 2021, 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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08 Aug 2021, 7:34 pm

I prefer "Autistic" to "Autist".

Not for any major philosophical reason, I just don't like the way the word "Autist" looks or sounds.

Also as NaturalPlastic says, it makes it sound a bit like a career choice.