Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Offensive Autism Language - "Autie" and "Curebie"

In the new post Ransom Notes world of autism discussions it seems that freedom of speech, and truth telling, must give way to the sensitivities of various persons and organizations. That being the dynamic of this new autism world order then I would like to offer my list of terms that I find offensive. I ask that the sensitive souls who petitioned NYU into submission over the Ransom Notes campaign, and others, cease and desist their use of these offensive and demeaning terms. I will start my list with two that I find particularly offensive: "autie" and "curebie".

1. Autie - is an expression used by some persons with Aspergers, and some parents and professionals who have surrendered to the ideology of the anti-cure movement, to describe persons with autism. I have a son who is diagnosed with Autism Disorder with profound developmental delays. The use of the term trivializes the very serious challenges he faces now and for the rest of his life. It is demeaning and stereotypical. Autism Disorder is a serious neurological disorder and can involve serious and dangerous intellectual, communication and behavior deficits. Please do not use the term "autie" to describe my son or other persons with Autism Disorder.

2. Curebie - is a derogatory term which is intended to be derogatory. It is a term coined by some anti-cure high functioning persons with Aspergers, and those who support their ideology, and it is primarily directed at parents trying to help their children; parents trying to treat and cure their autistic children. It is also directed at organizations promoting research aimed at curing autism. Please cease and desist the use of this hateful, offensive term.


jypsy said...

Though I may have used both of these words in my life, neither are part of my regular vocabulary. I would certainly have no problem banishing both from any further conversations with and/or about you and your son and see little reason for using either outside that context.

On a similar vein though, I'm curious about your feelings on the word "Aspie". I view it, not in any derogatory sense whatsoever, but more a "term of endearment" and use it when referring to both my son & myself, both diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. (I use "autistic" in its place when referring to Alex, who has the same diagnosis as Conor.)

Parents I know who use "Autie" use it the way I use "Aspie", simply as a short form, abbreviation, term of endearment etc. in no way meant to trivialize anything, demean or offend anyone. I'm not sure what stereotype you see it implying.

My own wish would be that you stick with the facts and paint with a fine brush. For instance, do you know who "coined the term" 'curbie'? If not, may I suggest you say something like "It is a term used by some anti-cure high functioning persons with Aspergers,". Your fine brushwork is evident in that sentence with the use of the word "some".
OTOH, I believe every parent wants to "help their children", "curbie" applies to those who want to "cure their autistic children" -- you used too wide a brush & too many un-facts in your definition.

Unknown said...


I have no opinion on the use of the word "Aspie" by persons with Aspergers.

"Autie" as a term of endearment does in fact trivialize autism disorder and the very serious and in some cases life restricting deficits that it often brings with it. "Autie" is often used by those who believe that autism is a good thing which I do not.

As for "Curebie" if a cure becomes available for my son I would cure him - in a heartbeat. Just as I now try to expand his abilities, his understanding and his enjoyment of life by Applied Behavior Analysis, which is proven effective in improving various elements of social, cognitive, communication and behavior deficits for persons with autism - even though it is not a cure. I don't care how the term "Curebie" originated, I know how it is used today. It is used to mock and denigrate parents trying to cure - and thereby help their own children. It is VERY offensive.

As for presenting only facts we each present our version of the facts and the types of facts we are discussing are by their nature subjective. Your "facts" are not accepted by me and vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Autie- I have always thought it a term of endearment between autistic people, I wasn't aware that non-autistic people were using it. If a group of people choose to identify themselves with autie, and they are autistic, I would think it would be polite to accept whatever the group chooses to call themselves. For instance, its been quite acceptable for black american's to call themselves African American. But I remember in the late 1980's when that term was being bandied about their were a lot of white people that had problems with it because they believed that since these black americans weren't from Africa, they shouldn't call themselves African American. Now, its accepted among the majority of whites. It should have been all along because it shouldn't be up to white people on what black people choose to be referred to. Before black it was negro and before negro, well, we know what it was.

When I was in the Marine Corps, you were either a light green marine or a dark green marine with green and marine being the unifier. I'm not sure if that holds true today.

However, on the one hand, you ask not to be referred to as a Curebie, while at the same time asking autistics not to refer to themselves as auties. I believe the former is a legitimate word, I believe the latter isn't.

I hope you save equal outrage also for those that use the term retard to describe autistic people. I hope all people will stop using that term as well. I also hope they will stop calling autistic people train wrecks, like cancer and worse than death.

However, bottom line for me is that autistic people should feel free to refer to themselves by whatever terms they wish and that Mr. Doherty should be referred to by whatever term he wishes.

Lisa Jo Rudy said...

For those teens and adults who find, along with a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, also a group of peers - being an "aspie" is certainly not a bad thing. And when that word is used among a group of people with Asperger syndrome, it can be a term of endearment.

But it seems to me that "aspie" or "autie," like any other term describing a group of people, should be used very carefully by people outside that group. Certainly, there are lesbians who use the word "dyke" affectionately - but that doesn't make it appropriate for the New York Times!

Lisa (

Unknown said...

Anonymous 4:54

You said:

"However, on the one hand, you ask not to be referred to as a Curebie, while at the same time asking autistics not to refer to themselves as auties. I believe the former is a legitimate word, I believe the latter isn't.

I hope you save equal outrage also for those that use the term retard to describe autistic people. I hope all people will stop using that term as well. I also hope they will stop calling autistic people train wrecks, like cancer and worse than death."

Anonymous my son is autistic, not Aspergers. He has a diagnosis of Autism Disorder with profound developmental delay. He has limited command of speech like many persons with actual Autism Disorder. I would like to know who these "autistic persons" are who you claim refer to themselves as "auties"?

My son does not use words like "autie" or autistic. Nor does he type lengthy internet essays. Autie trivializes the very real negative realities faced by my son and many other persons with actual Autism Disorder. That is why I find it offensive.

As for double standards, you object to negative portrayals of the negative realities faced by persons with actual Autism Disorder. You obviously approve of the petition to suppress the Ransom Notes campaign. It is time for you to meet your own standards Marine. Please cease and desist use of "autie" when describing persons with actual Autism Disorder like my son. And please cease and desist calling parents like me who are trying to actually help our children "curebies" and other intentionally derogatory terms.

Unknown said...


Conor is actually autistic and has limited speech. He has Autism Disorder, not Aspergers. He does not use and would not understand the expression "autie". Who are the persons with diagnosed Autism Disorder who use the term "autie"? The expression trivializes the real challenges faced by persons with Autism Disorder like my son.

Any attempt to describe the actual negative realities of Autism Disorder are met with petitions to suppress like the anti-Ransom Notes campaign or by internet hatred as occurred with the Autism Every Day video. There is, on the internet, a persistent effort to suppress the truth about autism, a serious neurological disorder, while glorifying it as a joyful condition. This autism denial may provide careers for some highly articulate autistic persons as "representative" autistic persons but does nothing to help people like my son with whom they have little in common.

Anonymous said...

"Please cease and desist use of "autie" when describing persons with actual Autism Disorder like my son."

Please read a copy of the DSM IV so you will know what an Autism Spectrum Disorder is and who falls into that category.

"I would like to know who these "autistic persons" are who you claim refer to themselves as "auties"?"

Well, I'm not aware of seeing you on any of the chat boards where I frequent. You may know of Tito Mukhopadhyay, he's one that uses autie, but since he can type, you may not consider him autistic anymore I guess based on how you personally define autism.

"My son does not use words like "autie" or autistic. Nor does he type lengthy internet essays." I wasn't aware that there are a lot of children your son's age that go out on the internet and type lengthy internet essays. I certainly didn't at his age.


Anonymous said...

...surrendered to the ideology of the anti-cure movement...

Please forgive my ignorance on the subject, but is there really a coherent and organized "Anti-Cure" Movement against Autism? I find that hard to believe....

Unknown said...

Robert, try barking up a different tree. I began reading the DSM and other materials when my son was disagnosed almost 10 years ago.

You asked for examples of "Autistic" persons who use the term "autie". There are many and a Google Blogsearch would show you many. Here are but a few:

From the "Aspies for Freedom" site:

LESTAT - "NCIS-Abby, autie? I think so ... The tech, Abby, is a goth chick, always bouncing off the walls, very idiosyncratic speech, as has the autopsy dude, ducky, who always starts into off-topic anecdotes, halfway through his sentences, looking at it, both of em look like they are on the spectrum."

From Beau McClelland at Proud

Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The positives of being an autie


but perhaps most of all,

Me. Myself. I."

And here is another:

Autistic Thoughts (thauts) wrote,
@ 2007-09-27 17:47:00
Previous Entry Add to memories! Tell a Friend! Next Entry
Current mood: silly
Current music: Men Without Hats- "Safety Dance"
Entry tags: autism, humor

Aspie/Autie Humor
Borrowed from plf515 by way of Hard Won Wisdom

A guy is flying in a hot air balloon, and he's lost. He lowers himself over a field and calls to a guy "Can you tell me where I am and where
I'm headed?"

"Sure. You're at 41 degrees 2 minutes and 14 seconds North, 144 degrees 4 minute and 19 seconds East; you're at an altitude of 762 meters above sea level, and right now you're hovering, but you were on a vector of 234 degrees at 12 meters per second"

"Amazing! Thanks! By the way, do you have Asperger's Syndrome?"

"I do! How did you know that?"

"Because everything you said is true, it's much more detail than I need, and you told me in a way that's no use to me at all."

"Huh. Are you a clinical psychologist?"

"I am, but how the heck did you know that??"

"You don't know where you are. You don't know where you're going. You got where you are by blowing hot air. You put labels on people after asking a few questions, and you're in exactly the same spot you were 5 minutes ago, but now, somehow, it's my fault!

Unknown said...

Anonymous 8:52

I never said the anti-cure movement was coherent. It is loosely organized as an internet group that links to each other and reinforces the movements views. Try checking out the Autism Hub and the "Autism" bloggers who post to that internet organization.

Anonymous said...

>"You asked for examples of "Autistic" persons who use the term "autie".< Autism Reality NB wrote 8:12am.

This was MY response:

"Well, I'm not aware of seeing you on any of the chat boards where I frequent. You may know of Tito Mukhopadhyay, he's one that uses autie, but since he can type, you may not consider him autistic anymore I guess based on how you personally define autism."

That was your quote I pulled and your question I answered. Your confused. I answered the question and gave you an example.


Unknown said...


I was not at all confused. I gave you several examples of persons with Aspergers who feel entitled to use the expression "Autie". You run from the issue raised in this comment which is that I consider the terms "autie" and "curebie" to be offensive.

Please do not use the first to refer to persons who have Autism Disorder like my son. And do not use the second to refer to parents like me who are trying to help our children.

Katie said...


I'm autistic (as in autistic disorder), and I use "autie" all the time.

I do agree with you about "curebie". I don't use it. Ever.

Unknown said...

Mr McClelland

Thank you for your comments. Your non use of the word "curebie" is commendable and I genuinely appreciate it.

I also thank you for your comments about "autie" although I respectfully disagree with you. I have already quoted you in this discussion as being an autistic person who uses the word "autie".

You say your diagnosis is Autism Disorder. Fine. Your post here and elsewhere on the internet demonstrate substantial intelligence and excellent command of language. Many persons with Autism Disorder diagnoses do not share your gifts.

Some engage in dangerous, self injurious behavior. Many will live their lives dependent on the care of others. Their realities are very serious. The term autie trivializes their severe autism disorder and the serious challenges they face.

That is my opinion as the father of a severely autistic boy who does not have all your gifts;a boy with Autism Disorder who can not speak for himself on other than a very simple, basic level, and who can not participate in this discussion.

Katie said...

I completely understand.

I do have issues I struggle with. Loneliness, depression, anxiety, the occasional meltdown, you name it. But perhaps my greatest struggle is, that despite being verbal, I don't know how to tell those who need to know about my internal pain, especially my father, whom I love dearly.

Also, my typing skills are not representative of me in real life.

Thank you for replying to my comment. It is greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Using unloaded terms to describe people does not trivialize individuals. You're finding offense in the term "autie" which has never been used by a more powerful group to demean another exploited group (such as racist terms used by plantation owners in the south during the reconstruction period).

According to social identity theory, you are a member of an ingroup and those with autism are the members of an outgroup.

As a member of the outgroup (someone who identifies as autistic) I am very offended by your post.

If you had autism yourself, you would be a part of the outgroup and would have the right to take offense.

The fact that you're offended by a term used by an outgroup as part of their identity is incredibly demeaning. You do not own the term Autie and have no right to demean those who associate themselves with that word by claiming offense to it (even though you possibly meant no offense).

I suggest you post an apology and retraction of your comments about the term autie.

Gavin Bollard said...

Like aspie for Aspergers, autie is a shortened word meaning absolutely NO disrespect. If anything it's an endearing word. I'd think it would be up to the affected individual to determine whether or not they accept it... not their parents.

Curebie is a derogatory term which refers to people obsessed with the idea of curing an incurable condition. These people often think that special diets, electroshock therapy, home-made and herbal drugs etc will cure a condition that the medical profession is generally in agreement on as incurable.

I see nothing wrong with those definitions, only with your feelings about them.

John Best said...

It seems to me that using the word "autie" is a concerted attempt by the neurodiverse nutjobs to misrepresent those who suffer horribly with low functioning autism. These adults who can speak, write, read and use a toilet make it look like autism is no big deal. This has an effect on public opinion and makes it more difficult for us to find all the answers we need to help severely affected children.

They further confuse the issue by speaking for themselves, which our kids can't do, and berating any talk of cures which they don't need. The deranged leaders of this intentional obfuscation of the issue have influenced young dopes like Alex Plank who goes stirring up a bunch of other young morons who, in effect, protest against helping themselves with their idiotic anti-cure rhetoric.

Unknown said...

Mr McClelland

Thanks again for visiting my site and commenting. I appreciate hearing from autistic persons who explain their life realities in a helpful manner.

Unknown said...


Save your suggestions for the Neurodiversity Hub network. It is YOU that should be apologizing for trivializing the challenges of my son's Autism Disorder.

Unknown said...

Gavin Bollard

You see nothing wrong with those definitions because you are not the parent of a child with Autism Disorder with profound developmental delay. You do not share my son's Autism realities and you do not understand that you are trivializing the severe restrictions imposed on him by his Autism Disorder. Your defence of the derogatory term curebie is weak as even you realize.

Unknown said...

John I agree with you. As you say they obscure the realities confronting my son, impair public understanding of autism realities and obstruct attempts to improve conditions for my son and others like him, others with actual Autism Disorder.

John Best said...

You just have to laugh at these people sometimes. By definition, they are all mentally ill, having been diagnosed with something on the autism spectrum.

When they have things like Autism Pride Day, they're celebrating being mentally ill. It's like alcoholics celebrating getting drunk. Why don't we have an Alcoholics Pride Day and buy them all the beer they want on the taxpayers?

After we learn how to cure autism, sanity will prevail and these Aspies will be cured for their own good. Then they'll see the insanity of celebrating being mental cases.

Gavin Bollard said...

Hey wow... you're a mind reader or something...

You said
"You see nothing wrong with those definitions because you are not the parent of a child with Autism Disorder with profound developmental delay."

You're quite right. I don't have "A CHILD", I have TWO children on the Autistic Spectrum. One is Aspergers and the other is High Functioning Autism.

Their delays are fairly severe and they already suffer from the sorts of problems that will follow them for the rest of their lives - lack of friends, loneliness and Depression.

Unknown said...

Mr Bollard

Fairly severe? I am glad you were honest enough to admit that your two children "on the spectrum" are not severely autistic. Both are high functioning. Maybe you think it is cute to call them "auties". I don't.

My son does not have Aspergers or "High Functioning" Autism. He has Autism Disorder and is severely autistic. Unlike many persons with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism, he would have been diagnosed as autistic back before the 1994 changes to the DSM to include higher functioning persons. He has limited understanding and communication. He will live in the care of strangers when I can no longer care for him. He does hurt himself on occasion. His life is at risk every time he opens a door to the outside streets.

I do not agree with trivializing autism by referencing it as something "cute" or as a way of life. I can't stop you from doing it but I don't respect your choice.

Anonymous said...

Well, I wouldn't call anyone an autie who didn't want to be called an autie, and who I knew didn't want to be called an autie, but I call myself an autie because that's a name I like and don't mind if others use it to describe me. (I'm autistic.)

Anonymous said...

Here is discussion about severe pervasive developmental disorders, I want to say something about milder. Problematic terms (etiquettes) are used for people with mild and "soft" types of people who can be diagnosed as having PDD. They tend to be quite often named as having "nonverbal learning disorder" or "social communicaton disorder" in USA. These names re misleading understatements. Their problems tend to be rather not only "eductional" or even just "social". They appear to have milder sorts of pervasive developmental disorder ("soft" autism). They tend to have "elastic" mind, not "rigid" like someone with "hard", classical autism. They may have very poor eye contact and "stupid-looking" nonverbal communication. Abnormal, fixated interests or strange customs appear to be also not so uncommon. Their sensory problems are sgnificantly milder, but also problematic in some situations (such as haircutting). Their social interest is often limited or idiosyncratized. They have often learning abnormalities (large difference between the level of verbal and nonverbal skills).