On Person-First Language…

I am not Jennifer with a side of autism, no more than I am someone with femaleness. I do not “have autism” – it’s not a disease. Autism is the term for our neurological wiring. We’re autistic; autistic being the adjective to describe a person with a particular neurological condition known as autism. Being that the condition is pervasive and effects every aspect of our lives, autistic is appropriate to describe us, much in the way gender is. We are born this way and it influences how we experience life.

Until YOU let go of the idea that it is a disease or something wrong with me, how will people see me as Jennifer-who-happens-to-be-autistic and not the stigma YOU create by insisting that I’m Jennifer-who-isn’t-defective-it’s-okay-please-ignore-her-autism-it-won’t-bite-I-promise?

And have you ever noticed that people who usually strongly insist on using person-first language (“person with autism”) are the ones who refer to themselves as “autism moms”? They tell you to use person-with-autism to honor the person outside of their “disorder” and not label them as an individual. Yet, referring to themselves as autism moms is using person-second language and basing who they are on that label? Hypocrisy. I am a person who is autistic. You are a parent of an autistic child… or better yet, a parent.