People with Asperger's on this site refer to themselves as Aspies. Is this a term that should be used only by people with Asperger's? Or can neurotypicals (NTs, a term I learned only a few days ago) use it too, and if so, are there conditions under which it is OK and other conditions under which it is not OK?

I'm not in any way implying that there is something wrong with Asperger's or with the term Aspie. But because of the ie ending, it seems overly familiar unless one knows the person fairly well. For example, if I knew someone named Katherine, I would not call her Katie unless/until she told me to.

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    How is this an "interpersonal" question and not a language/terminology one?
    – user3169
    Sep 3, 2017 at 0:24
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    @user3169 It's both. Navigating how language is used by a group of people is often an interpersonal skill.
    – apaul
    Sep 3, 2017 at 0:31

4 Answers 4


I tend to only use the term "aspie" to refer to myself or with other people on the spectrum in a familiar inclusive or joking context.

Self reference:

I'm an aspie.

Familiar inclusive:

Aspies gotta stick together!


Aspies of the world unite! Separately, in your own homes, if you feel like it....

I've never really heard anyone use it as a pejorative, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone out there has...

I guess it is something of an "in term" meaning that I haven't heard people who aren't on the spectrum use it much. I personally am not bothered when NT's use it, but when I hear it my first assumption is that the person saying it is also an aspie.


I wouldn't use it myself not because of the familiarity, but because the term seems to change the way things can be phrased. I tried it in my head 100 times and couldn't come up with a way that felt like it would be appropriate for me to use it because it removed the ability to say the term as something someone has versus what someone is. I do not feel personally comfortable as an "outsider" (NT) using a term that makes that level of change into how you use the term.

In this specific word situation though I do wish I felt more comfortable using it as Aspergers happens to be one of those few words in English that makes me stumble a little every time I say it. So I have to slow down, enunciate, etc and invariable it never flows well for me to use the word at all. In fact, it often sounds like I am putting some weird accentuation on the word I don't intend to.

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    Technically Asperger's isn't a diagnosis anymore, so if it's easier to say "autism" that's a suitable alternative.
    – apaul
    Sep 3, 2017 at 4:53
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    I generally say "ASD" as it's easiest. I do have an nephew who prefers Aspergers, so for his preference I do try to pronounce it. He wasn't delighted they did away with the diagnosis and is a proponent of bringing it back. He has some incredibly good points on it and I tend to think he is right based on hearing him talk about the issues with how they redefined diagnosis. It took him ages to get the correct diagnosis (following a lot of wrong dx) and I think it's a cause he is highly invested in for that reason.
    – threetimes
    Sep 3, 2017 at 5:06
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    Then again... I still prefer "I'm autistic" over "I have autism" It may sound strange to others, but I think it has to do with my personal take on neurodivergent acceptance. I guess, to me "I have..." sounds like "I have something wrong with me that needs to be fixed or cured" where "I am..." sounds a little more like I'm just stating a fact about my self, if that makes sense?
    – apaul
    Sep 3, 2017 at 5:10
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    I think it makes total sense to prefer for that reason. In cases like ASD, it is inherently part of what makes you, you, so it would make sense to me to see it in that light. I have been told that one of the reasons he is so direct is due to Aspergers and it's one of the things I love most about him. I always know exactly what he thinks about things. I find it a very appealing trait actually & have always enjoyed that about him. My favorite quote was when he was about 6 he told me, "When I grow up I want to marry someone just like, but with a better singing voice. You sing terribly". :)
    – threetimes
    Sep 3, 2017 at 5:55

I can just speak for my self here. I think I never heard someone not having Aspergers using the term "Aspie" but thats not due to reservation of the word. I (we?) actually enjoy the term pretty much. And wouldn't take any offense as long its not clearly intended to come over offensive. Especially in written form its so much easier to talk "about an Aspie" instead of talking "about some one having Aspergers" If a topic is focused in that thematic, and Aspies talk quiet often about what they perceive, so talking about Aspergers doesn't happen that rarely.

Ofcourse don't just use it for the purpose of using it, that would be odd, too. but if you talk about someone having Aspergers, why don't just talk about an Aspie?

Now for the part why I personally enjoy that term so much:

First of all the problems I have coming with Aspergers make me feel sometimes very stupid, not getting or noticing the stuff everyone else dose. Since the term "Aspie" has a somewhat cute sound, someone calling me "Aspie" in a friendly way would express in my impression my flaws as something cute and not creating offense by it1. So acknowledging it is just a flaw I/we need to be supported with and expressing to see me only as sometimes being stupid in a cute way, would give me some relief as I would feel understood. But this actually might be an wonderful example of how Aspies and NT's perceive different. I assume the reasons why we have no problem with or even enjoy being called Aspies, is the same reason why NT's find it questionable if thats a nice thing to do.

In addition to that point, I like using a phrasing where I can state that I'm rather then stating I have Asperger's. As quiet a lot conversations I had about Aspergers just kept proposing me "Then simply stop doing that" as they would solve my problem that way. Saying "I'm" I have the impression, is a bit clearer, that it isn't that easy, as a "I have" would do.

1 Being offended by my flaws is the usual thing, so I really would prefer something else.


As someone who was formally diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as a child:

Firstly, be aware that the condition "Asperger's Syndrome" has been depreciated by the American Psychiatric Association upon the release of the DSM 5, which rolled it into one part of the spectrum of conditions referred to as a whole as "Autistic Spectrum Disorder".

"Aspie" as a term could be used in a friendly way, but it can also be used in a perjorative fashion as a way of mocking someone by implying that they're beneath you; it's a shortened "childlike" version of the word, that could in turn be used to imply that the person you're using it to describe is childlike as well.

Since one of the prerequisites of being diagnosed with ASD is a reduced level of social ability, and that includes a reduced ability to determine the social intentions of others, I'd recommend just avoiding using it entirely, since it's entirely possible that even if you mean it in a friendly way, the person you're using it towards may not be sure that that's what you meant, and interpret it as though you meant it hurtfully.

And, ugh, I hate using this language because it comes from the worst parts of the Left Wing of politics, but you also have to consider the power dynamics of privilege involved in this as a neurotypical appropriating a form of address developed by a disadvantaged group of people to refer to themselves. Just because you can see a group of people using a phrase to describe themselves doesn't automatically make it appropriate for a person with a position of relative power over them to refer to them that way; it's certainly not as bad as a white person calling a black person the n-word when its acceptable for black people to refer to each other as such, but the same sort of social construct can still be said to apply.

Additionally, because of the trend of some people self-diagnosing as "Asperger's Syndrome", it's possible that some people might take offense at being called "Aspies" because you're implying that they weren't formally diagnosed and they're just making it up.