What do you think about person first language? The defense, typically, is that a person is a person first and the “condition” is secondary since it doesn’t define their identity. The other side is the argument that person first language implies that the “condition” is negative. Autistics and Aspies tend to disagree with this negative attitude towards ASD. Jim Sinclair expressed this extremely well in his article, “Why I Dislike Person First Language” so I will leave that point to him.
However, I do feel that something remains to be said. It tends to be professionals that use the person first language. Why? Shouldn’t we use the language that Autistic people and Aspies prefer? And yes, I use the person first language as well, trying to avoid offense. I don’t know who’s reading, and the guide I use to determine what to say is the person I am talking with/ about. I feel it’s condescending to presume that I know how a person prefers to be addressed. So I’m asking since that is the best way to find out, what language should we use in our discussions? Please forward this article. I would prefer a dialogue to this monologue. Let me know what is pertinent to you. What would you like me to address or discuss? Let’s use this space to bring forward more voices for those with ASD. Thank you.
Rebecca J. Weaver is a Certified Autism Specialist at Independent with Autism, working to empower individuals with ASD. Need help creating your success strategies? Check out IndependentwithAutism.com for more information.