So I typed “autism” in my iPhone’s Notes App and hit the ‘define’ button (it’s one of the options that pops up when you highlight a word). This is what the app defines as autism.
The beginning of the definition is spot on.
“A mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.”
Then it continues to read.
“A mental condition in which fantasy dominates over reality, as a symptom of schizophrenia and other disorders.”
I’m sorry, what?! ‘...fantasy dominates over reality...?!’ ‘Schizophrenia??!’ ... Really?
So I shared the picture with our Facebook friends, and I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a little, umm, distasteful, to say the least.
I then decided to find out which dictionary the Notes App used for defining words. I called up Apple and spoke with a man named Shawn who was very helpful and understanding. No one ever asked him which dictionary was used for the Notes App before, so he had to do some digging but soon discovered it was from Oxford Dictionary. ‘Oxford Dictionary: The world’s most trusted dictionaries.’ Mhmm. Shawn was kind enough to give me the phone number for Oxford Dictionary. Thanks, Shawn!
So then I called Oxford Dictionary and spoke with a woman named Tavie who was also very helpful and understanding. She agreed that it wasn’t right and gave me an email address to Oxford Dictionary and assured me that my message would be forwarded off to the editorial team.
I immediately sent them an email:
“No two children with autism are alike. There are many, many different definitions of autism, and every single one of them have their own personal reasons behind them, but it is very safe to say that autism is NOT ‘a mental condition in which fantasy dominates over reality, as a symptom of schizophrenia and other disorders.’ I am writing to you to please remove this portion from your dictionary definition of autism as it definitely is not the definition of autism.”
If their definition of autism bothers you too, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org voicing your concern and it’ll be sent to the editorial department for review. Please help me get the definition of autism changed!
Maybe they will listen to us. I hope that something gets done.
Update: An Oxford Dictionary representative replied: The Worst Definition of Autism