What is the ‘difference not deficit’ debate and current terminology?
There is often an assumption that autistic young people need to behave and live like those without autism. Many autistic adults take exception to this assumption and the fact that much of the literature on autism uses medical terms such as deficit, disorder, and intervention. They argue that such terms are both inaccurate and stigmatising and based on an incorrect notion of what humanity and normalcy entail.
They argue that such notions can further disable autistic people and, if internalised, can lead to crises in self-identity, esteem and worth. On the other hand, there are others that argue that they are severely impaired and want to retain the term disorder to explain their experience. In recognition of this debate, much of the literature now just refers to autism or autism spectrum and not autism spectrum disorder or condition. If their needs are recognised and appropriate support is given, a significant number of autistic young people will experience relatively few difficulties in their school lives and into adulthood.