One of the issues that bounces back and forth in the community is whether or not to use person first language. Four years ago when this company was founded, we didn’t worry overly much about the language on the website – we used person with autism and autistic person interchangeably. Actually, we usually referred to autistic children, because the overwhelming majority of people with autism are still children.
But two years ago, a lot of requests came in to change all of our language to ‘person first’ language. i.e., person with autism. It seemed reasonable, so we agreed. All of the site was changed to put the person first, because autism doesn’t define who you are.
As time passed, however, we realized that wasn’t quite the case. Autism affects your personality traits; for instance, someone with autism isn’t likely to be an extrovert, because they’d want to avoid the eye contact and exhaustion that comes along with socializing. Someone with autism might base their entire personality around a special interest, or might become engrossed with autism rights advocacy. These people said that person first language denies the part that autism plays in shaping who they are. That it’s up to the person themselves to decide what autism means to them.
So, we use interchangeable language on our website, and it’s staying.