April is Autism Acceptance month, and I would like to talk about person-first versus identity-first language! This is a huge controversial topic in the Autistic community.
What is person-first language and identity-first language?
- Person-first language is when you put the person before the disabilty. For example, “person with Autism.” This is often offensive to Autistic people because they feel as if you are extracting Autism from the person.
- Identity-first language is when you put the disability before the person, as part of their identity. For example, “Autistic person.”
How do people like to be addressed?
- Most people would prefer to be addressed as an “Autistic person,” but it is important to ask them if they like to be addressed in a certain way.
What do I do if I don’t know how someone prefers to be addressed?
- Ask the person!! Build a relationship with the individual and, when it becomes the right time, you can ask them how they’d like to be addressed.
I believe language is very important in the disability community, and our words matter. It is important that we use language wisely, around not only Autistic people, but people with all disabilities.