So far, this site doesn’t have information and resources organised by ‘theme’ (perhaps the information management geek in me will get the better of me at some point…). Nevertheless, identity-first language is a topic I thought important enough to warrant its own page.
Identity-first language means I refer to myself as an “autistic person”, rather than using a person-first descriptor such as “person with autism”. I allude to this usage in this blog post:
I’ve earned the right to label myself as autistic. It explains everything. It is not all that I am, but it defines so much of who I am.
And that is why, for me at least, the identity label comes first. That I’m still a person should be obvious.
For me, as someone who is adult diagnosed, and who has only recently learnt in depth about autism in general, let alone my own or that of my daughter, I am repeatedly struck by how often autistic people are seen as somehow less than human. The root of this seems to lie with the common misconceptions that we lack empathy and that we are emotionless – two “facts” that are categorically untrue, as you discover the moment you actually start listening to autistic people.
But rather than write a longer, more in-depth blog post about the reasoning behind my choice, however, I thought I’d instead link to a load of pieces by autistic people who have already done the work of explaining this matter far more effectively than I have time to do right now.
[To any autistic person out there who does prefer to refer to themselves as a “person with autism”: whilst I don’t agree with this rationale, I accept and respect your right to refer to yourself in the way with which you’re most comfortable. Just as long as it’s your choice.]
Individual blog posts and articles
- Just Stimming (2011). “Dear Autism Parents“. From Just Stimming…
- Lydia XZ Brown (2011). “The Significance of Semantics: Person-First Language: Why It Matters“. From Autistic Hoya.
- Sparrow Rose Jones (2016). “Why I Call Myself Autistic“. From Unstrange Mind.
- Cynthia Kim (2014). “The Logical Fallacy of Person First Language“. From Musings of an Aspie.
- Amy Sequenzia “Person First Language and Ableism“. From Ollybean.com.
- Amy Sequenzia (2013). “I am Autistic“. From Autism Women’s Network.
- Jim Sinclair (1999). “Why I dislike person-first language“. From Autism Mythbusters.
- Leia Solo (2015). “Embrace the labels”. From Respectfully Connected.
- Michelle Sutton (2016). “I like my labels“. From Michelle Sutton Writes.
- Autistic rights campaigner and self-advocate Emma Dalmayne explains it effectively in this short video.
- This one, from Bendigo Autistic Advocacy, includes links to articles and posts by various authors on a range of topics, including identity-first language
- Ryan Boren keeps an up-to-date list of links on the subject (and his blog itself is also worth a read, more generally).