As we get ready to release All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum, which is a beautiful new edition of bestseller All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome, we spoke with author Kathy Hoopmann to find out more about what changes have been made, and why an update was needed.
What’s in a name? A lot actually.
In 2006, I wrote All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome with the express purpose to demystify the diagnosis in a fun, easy-to-read format.
In 2013, the diagnostic tool used by professionals in the United States (the DSM5) eliminated the term Asperger Syndrome and placed it under the generic umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Asperger Syndrome was now to be diagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Level 1.
Now that’s a mouthful!
Since then, there has been much debate and confusion about the correct terminology to be used. Is it Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) or just the Autism Spectrum (AS)? Should we say a person with autism or an autistic person or someone who is neurodiverse?
Apart from the change in the diagnostic terms used, other changes were occurring in the autism community. In 2006, it was generally accepted that most of those diagnosed were boys. Now it is known that almost as many girls are on the spectrum. As All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome was written with male pronouns, this needed addressing. Fifteen years ago it was considered empathetic to say there is a little bit of Asperger’s in us all. Now that statement is recognised as not only incorrect but insulting to those on the spectrum as it belittles the very real challenges they face daily.
So when it came time to update my book to current terminology and sensitivities, I was faced with a very difficult task to get things right, especially knowing that word usage and correctness changes regularly.
All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum is written with the very best intentions to reflect the wishes of the autistic community in language and concepts. I know that my choices will not please everyone and that views on language will continue to evolve.
However words do matter, and sometimes we get things wrong, and that’s ok if we are gracious about respecting the views of others and are prepared to use their preferred language once we know what it is.
I pray that my readers will see past the finer details of disagreement and join with me in celebrating, and growing in understanding of, the richness and diversity of the autistic community.
Learn more and pre-order your copy of All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum here.
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