Close menu


Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Autistic People’s Perspectives on Functioning Labels and Associated Reasons, and Community Connectedness.

Keates, Nathan, Martin, Farradeh and Waldock, Krysia Emily (2024) Autistic People’s Perspectives on Functioning Labels and Associated Reasons, and Community Connectedness. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. ISSN 0162-3257

Item Type: Article


Functioning labels have been used in relation to autistic people and differentiating between support needs. The main purpose of our study was to identify perspectives regarding language about being autistic. In regard to themselves and functioning. Furthermore, we investigated the influential factor of community connectedness on use of language acceptability and functioning labels.

516 autistic respondents completed our survey. We asked about demographic characteristics, how respondents would like autistic people to be termed in the survey, and their acceptability (person with autism, Aspergers, disorder, conditions, living with autism, autistic). We also asked about respondents? Autistic Community Connectedness, acknowledging the implicit nature of language and identity (Stets & Serpe in New directions in identity theory and research, Oxford University Press, 2016). The main focus of our survey was whether or not to use functioning labels, and the supporting rationale.

97% of respondents stated that they find the term ‘autistic’ acceptable. Respondents who did see merit in using functioning labels to describe autistic people also reported not necessarily using them about themselves. Community membership was found to impact the participants’ language preferences to describe the support needs of autistic people, including the use of functioning labels.

The proposed best option for language preferences is not to find consensus but instead, opt for the optimal choice that people find the least offensive or disagreeable. This means using identity-first language and not using functioning labels.

[img] PDF
AcceptedManuscript.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 9 March 2025.

Download (385kB) | Request a copy

More Information

Additional Information: his version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: autism, language, preferences, functioning labels, identity-first language, person-first language, community, connectedness,
Depositing User: Nathan Keates


Item ID: 17498
Identification Number:
ISSN: 0162-3257
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Nathan Keates: ORCID iD
ORCID for Farradeh Martin: ORCID iD
ORCID for Krysia Emily Waldock: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2024 09:34
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2024 09:34