You might have noticed a few differences on our website since the last time you looked! The most noticeable change would be our new name, Embrace Autism! Now, why did we do that?
Old name: Embrace ASD
At the end of 2020, I wrote a post where I explained why we chose the name Embrace ASD for ourselves,Embracing ASD | Embrace Autism especially in light of the fact that we don’t see autism as a disorder—at least not inherently so. You can read that post below.
And that’s exactly why we felt it was good to change our name. Because if we need to explain and defend our name, our message is not clear. To be honest, when we started Embrace ASD, it felt like a really straightforward name; we were diagnosed with a condition formally called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) according to the diagnostic manuals, and our mission was simply to embrace that condition. We always felt the ‘disorder’ part is arguable, but didn’t take the terminology that seriously. Yes, it would be better if autism wasn’t characterized and named as a disorder, but it was never part of our mission to urge for different terminology. Or at least, we intended to focus on communicating autism research, and not on policy changes. The latter is important, but it was not our primary interest or strength.
But regardless of how straightforward the name seemed to us, it’s undeniable that there is some irony in our name. I mean, why would you embrace a disorder? We came up with rationalizations like, “You know, the D could stand for ‘delight’ or another positive term”, but no one is going to think of that when they see ASD. We figured we might be able to reclaim the abbreviation ASD for a more positive message by making our slogan something like ‘Autism Spectrum Delight’ displayed under our name. But I honestly think to call ourselves delights is a bit obnoxious.
But more importantly, why would we invest time and potentially money trying to reappropriate terminology that is strongly falling out of favor in the autism community? It would be an entirely Sisyphean enterprise, and I don’t think it would even be in anyone’s best interest.
New name: Embrace Autism
So instead of having to explain and defend our name—and potentially having people dismiss us on account of it—we felt that not only is it right to change our name to Embrace Autism, but it’s much more aligned with our mission and message. No longer do we have to explain away any irony in our call to action. Instead, it’s an explicitly positive and empowering message, so we hope you like the change.
And to those who took issue with our old name and made us reconsider, thank you! I have to admit that it was frustrating to hear, since I felt it was a distraction from the good things we do. But to be fair, it was not you creating that distraction, but us. With our new name, I think our message is a lot more clear, without distractions.