Real talk: I used to always use person-first language (e.g., person with Autism). I even had a disagreement in my grad school class with a prof who stated that identity-first was better since it made the disability "less memorable" if it was near the start of the sentence versus the end of the sentence. Cue a bunch of random research that didn't have anything to do with what each individual community preferred...
Since that time, I've committed to learning and listening to Autistic voices, and something that has been expressed by the majority of Autistic individuals is the preference towards identity-first language, but not for the reason my prof said (actually quite the opposite!).
Identify-first language reflects the belief that being Autistic is an inherent part of a person's identity, while person-first language reflects the belief that Autism can be separated from an individual. We know that Autism is a neurodiversity that results in a different way of seeing and interacting with the world, so it makes sense that many Autistic individuals would prefer language that is validating to their experiences and is not pathologizing.
While speech-language *pathologists* do treat communication concerns, being Autistic is not - and should not be considered - one of them.
by Halle Demchuk, SLP
Paediatric SLP | GLP-Trained Clinician | Owner of HAEPI SLP
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