In the grand scheme, that’s not an important question. But, in its own trivial sense, it does touch on the ideas of semantics, language, identity. And those are issues of importance.
I just read a whole series of articles on “people-first language.” An example of people-first language is “person with autism” rather than “autistic person” There are good arguments to be made for both preferences. Person-first language emphasizes the individual, rather than the diagnosis. People-first language is often advocated by disability rights organizations as a more respectful form of language. But, other groups advocate away from this style, stating that people-first language can separate the diagnosis from the individual, or even make the diagnosis seem like a less desirable condition. They argue that autism is an innate part of the individual.
In all I’ve read, I see opinions from autistic individuals, from individuals with autism, from parents of autistic individuals and from parents of individuals with autism. Which leaves me confused because I’m an outsider. I don’t want to offend, but it seems like I have no choice. Whether I use person first language, or not, I’ll be offending some individuals.
So I’ll leave it at this. My intent in my writing is to be respectful. I’m sorry if I chose the wrong form, and I’ll keep looking for consensus. Until then, I guess I’ll just go with the clearest grammar.
Image: By Tom Murphy VII (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Patricia Robinson MFT
I'm a licensed therapist in Danville, California and a coach for Asperger's and ADHD nationwide. I work with individuals of all ages who have special needs, like Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADD, ADHD, and the family members and partners of special needs individuals.