In recent months AutismHR has fielded several questions, politely asking why the site uses Identity-first language, so I thought I would address it here.
Within the autism community there is healthy debate over the use of person-first vs. identity-first language when addressing individuals on the spectrum.
Here's an example of each form:
Person-first language: "AutismHR.com is designed for adults with autism."
Identity-first language: "AutismHR.com is designed for autistic adults."
For those not immersed in the autism community the difference may seem subtle, but there are distinct differences.
I can appreciate and respect people's preference for person-first language. That is a view that many hold. The idea is that it identifies the person as being separate from their difference. The individual is identified as a person first, and only second by the medical diagnosis they bear.
Identity-first language still recognizes the individual, but accepts the idea that the individual's difference makes up a part of who they are. Such individuals cannot separate themselves from their difference. It's a holistic way to identify someone.
My overall opinion is that person-first and identity-first language is both correct and incorrect. However, the target audience for whom such language is intended requires the author/content producer to make a choice about which language to consistently use.
AutismHR has simply chosen to primarily use identity-first language to reflect the preference of the many in the autism community for whom AutismHR is primarily geared -- self-advocating individuals on the spectrum.
The National Center on Disability and Journalism has a good post that points out the differences in more detail. I encourage anyone curious about this issue to read it.
Posted by: Nick Venturella
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