Position statement – language at ESA

At Early Start Australia we respect each individual’s choices about what language is used to describe them.

Every individual deserves respect, affirmation, and courtesy and that is why we will ask you how you like to be referred to.

Sometimes, especially where we need to reflect a bigger group of people, we have made choices about what language we will use. You might see this language used on our website, in our policy documents, or in our other communication with you (like reports and emails).

We do not consider that language preferences are either right or wrong and we have made these choices to:

  • Reflect the preferences of the majority of our clients.
  • Support how individuals and groups of people are seen in our community.
  • Promote inclusion and the rights of our clients to define themselves.

Language related to disability

When referring to people with disability, there are two approaches:

  • Person-first language – This refers to the person first, e.g., person with disability, person with a limb difference. Many companies use this language to focus on the person, rather than their disability.
  • Identity-first language – This refers to the disability first in the description, e.g., Autistic person, deaf, blind, disabled.

Early Start Australia generally follows the Australian Government guidelines on language and uses person-first language.


When it comes to the language used to describe autism and people on the autism spectrum, Early Start Australia understands language preferences can be deeply individual.

We endeavour to respect the preferences of individuals and follow their lead in terms of how they would like to be referred in regard to their autism (for example, autistic, person on the autism spectrum, person with autism, person with ASD).

The term autistic person uses identity first language, which reflects the belief that being autistic is a core part of a person’s identity.

More generally, in our published material and other work, we use the terms autistic person, person on the autism spectrum, person on the spectrum, or neuro-divergent person.

At times, Early Start Australia may need to use the term ‘autism spectrum disorder’ when required, such as in diagnostic contexts.

Language related to cultural identity

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language

Early Start Australia recognises and respects both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Nations people in Australia.

Early Start Australia’s preference is to use:

  • First Nations peoples; or
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Cultural and linguistic diversity language

Early Start Australia values inclusive language such as:

  • Multicultural communities
  • Cultural and linguistically diverse communities