Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Hillary, Alyssa. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Hillary, A. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My take on Person-First Language

So, since someone is bound to ask why I call myself an autistic as opposed to a person with autism (or to insist that I switch, which isn't going to happen,) here is my take on person first language/identity first language/whatever other language there might be: I know what I prefer to be called, and you should call me the way I prefer. I prefer to be referred to as an autistic or an autistic person. I do this because ``person with" implies that I could also be a ``person without," and I would be a different person if I weren't autistic. I also wouldn't take a cure if it existed. (If you had something that would take out the sensory issues but leave the way I think alone, I'd take that in a heartbeat. But I wouldn't give up the rather awesome way my brain works in order to dump the sensory issues.) So I will call myself autistic, not a person with autism.
That said, if you prefer to be called a person with autism, a person on the autism spectrum, or to not have the autistic identity mentioned at all, let me know and that's what I'll do when describing you. Because the whole person-first language thing was described to me as being about respecting the person. Thing is, if person X says ``No, Y is not how I want to be described. I identify as Z," then even if the point of Y was to be more respectful, the way to be respectful of person X is to call him or her Z. This applies to ALL identity issues. So respect my choice, and I'll respect yours.

P.S. Yes, I've heard that the person-first language is actually to separate the disability from the person, and I don't know if it's the case. It also doesn't invalidate the most important part of my argument, namely that the respectful thing to do is to refer to a person the way he or she asks you to, even if you have been told that is the ``wrong" term to use.


  1. Agree! As a person with a 'disability' who works with people with 'disabilities' I've found the most important thing is being genuinely respectful. Labels come and go. Semantics change.

  2. I actually wouldn't give up the sensory issues. Yeah, it sucks to find so many things painful or overloading, but I believe that the same wiring that causes me to find jeans painful also causes me to enjoy the feel of velvet or my own hair. And the same wiring that causes me to find sun glinting off of a car so painful also makes me like the way sun glints off of my pale skin when I flap my hands.

    There's some evidence to suggest that sensory hypersensitivity can also mean more intense enjoyment of the *right* sensations. For example, people with Williams Syndrome (also known as 7q11 deletion) usually have auditory hypersensitivity and an intense love of music. The few individuals with WS that I've heard of who didn't have auditory hypersensitivity also had a more NT reaction to music, so I suspect the two traits are linked.


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