I call myself autistic but if you call me a person with autism, I don’t mind. If you compare me to a puzzle it is ok. I think you are like a puzzle too.
I don’t speak for all autistic people. I don’t think anyone can.
I understand the reasons why person-first language can be damaging, and the importance of letting people know why that is. If you don’t know, Google it. You will understand too. Better yet, read the article Identity-First Language by Lydia Brown. It contains a well written analysis of why it is harmful to use person-first language, as well as links to other articles about the pros and cons of its usage.
It is important to educate people about these things, but I have been noticing a trend lately of articles that claim to speak for all autistic people, saying that we prefer to be called autistic. Nobody can speak for all autistic people. Not even other autistic people.
I have been an outcast for much of my life. It feels horrible. Even worse is feeling like an outcast in the autistic community.
In the 10 years since I have accepted the fact that I am autistic, I have met so many amazing people both online and in person. I have worked with many of them over the years to help us connect and find each other online. Now, I feel like I don’t fit in to a community that I helped to build.
It is possible that I am missing a big piece of the puzzle. I am not trying to be an asshole and piss people off by writing these things, but as I try to express what I am thinking, I realize that I am scared of even posting this due to backlash from a lot of people who I like to think of as my friends. I actually questioned using the word “puzzle”. WTF?
Today is Autistics Speaking Day and today I am taking the time to speak to other autistic people. I am asking us to keep our minds open to other people’s thought processes and realities, just as we ask them to do the same thing for us.
Disclaimer: This post is partly about educating people with good intentions who are trying to do the right thing, and respecting their processes if they come to a different conclusion. It does not apply to those who believe that autistic people are “less than” neurotypical people, or organizations like Autism Speaks who are actively spreading lies and harming people.