Self-labeling, perceived stigma toward autism spectrum disorder, and self-esteem and the change in autism nosology

Michal Soffer, Shay Argaman-Danos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Since the DSM-5 came into force, individuals previously diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome (AS) were newly labeled as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD), raising concerns about the exacerbation of stigma toward individuals with AS. Objective: This study explored: (a) the self-labeling among people previously diagnosed with AS; (b) the correlation among self-labeling, perceived public stigma (PPS) toward ASD, and self-esteem among people with AS; and (c) whether self-labeling mediates the relationship of PPS with ASD and self-esteem. Methods: A convenience sample of 89 individuals previously diagnosed with AS completed anonymous online questionnaires. Results: Most participants self-labeled as people with AS. Self-labeling was not significantly correlated with PPS or self-esteem. Self-labeling did not mediate the correlation between PPS and self-esteem; PPS was directly correlated with self-esteem. Conclusions: Our study's findings suggest that stigma and language are not necessarily connected. This implies that rehabilitation and health care professionals should not assume that language perpetuates stigma, but rather that stigma—both among the public and as perceived by people with ASD—should be the focus of intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101162
JournalDisability and Health Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Perceived public stigma
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-labeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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