As Seen On Twitter | Is It Ever Acceptable To Describe Someone As Being “On The Spectrum?” Asks Jeremy Vine & #ActuallyAutistic Respond | November 14, 2021


Is it ever acceptable to describe someone as being “on the spectrum” if you’re not referring to a medical diagnosis? An example would be Detective Inspector Alec Hardy in Broadchurch.

3:21 AM · Nov 14, 2021

TheAutisticAdvocate @KieranRose7

No. Not only is it stigmatising, it’s using stigmatising language, misconstrued and misunderstood by many, to stigmatise. You should know better than to use tropes and stereotypes to conflate with marginalised groups. Thank you for asking, but your ableism is showing.

5:34 AM · Nov 14, 2021

Holly Smale @HolSmale

Hi Jeremy. First off, “on the spectrum” is an unacceptable term. It’s “autistic”. Secondly – yes, but leave it to the autistic community to label fictional characters. Otherwise it’s usually a) inaccurate and b) a covert way of trying to insult someone.

4:54 AM · Nov 14, 2021

MosEisley @atypica19508822

Jeremy, the idea that ‘everyone is somewhere on the spectrum’ needs to be put to bed – it is not true and is not helpful to either neurodivergent or neurotypical people

.4:17 AM · Nov 14, 2021

Ruth Topham  @ruthtopham

It seems to get used by people who are too uncomfortable saying “autistic” for some reason, and often in a derogatory way. Just use “autistic person” – assuming you KNOW that to be the case and move on.

5:46 AM · Nov 14, 2021

Pete Wharmby@commaficionado

No I’m afraid not, Jeremy. The ‘spectrum’ is a troublesome idea at best, and doesn’t visualise autism adequately at all. And autism is a definite thing – you either are, or aren’t. There’s no inbetween state. So no-it’s a bad idea and pretty nasty to see as an autistic person.

6:02 AM · Nov 14, 2021

Nicky Clark@MrsNickyClark

It depends who’s saying it. Diagnosed autistic people or non autistic people. I often notice traits but “On the spectrum” is usually used pejoratively. Writers will shy away from naming characters as autistic due to potential backlash. We need more autistic writers really.

5:38 AM · Nov 14, 2021


No it’s not acceptable. Not for Neurotypicals to decide. A lot of the time us Autistics have Autdar and I had none at all about Alec Hardy.

6:07 AM · Nov 14, 2021

Alyzande Renard MSc@alyzande

Photo posted: Red traffic sign with No printed in white letters.


If you want to pursue a serious conversation around this, best not to use a fictional character as a central tenet

3:39 AM · Nov 14, 2021

Jeremy Vine@theJeremyVine

I’ll decide how to have conversations, thanks. Meanwhile, if you want to have a “a serious conversation” you might consider using your own name and phone

4:53 AM · Nov 14, 2021

Alex L Anderson@alexandapen

It’s definitely unacceptable to use the phrase “on the spectrum,” we are autistic. Autism isn’t a bad thing and it’s stigmatising to see a public figure treading on eggshells with their terminology. Also, it should have been tagged #askingautistics

4:57 AM · Nov 14, 2021


Passive aggressive much. I wasn’t the one trying to initiate a conversation, just responding to your request for opinion, in a respectful manner to suggest there are countless real people better to have the conversion around than a fictional one, Jeremy.

4:57 AM · Nov 14, 2021

∞ Autistic Architect ∞@aheeleyRIBA

No – everyone is not “on the spectrum”. The autistic spectrum is a range of characteristics which vary between *autistic* people, and not a line that goes from not-autistic to very-autistic.

6:39 AM · Nov 14, 2021

Shine On Autistic Union

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