IDENTITY-FIRST AUTISTIC - MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of Identity-First Autistic is to replace the outdated assumption that ‘person-first’ language (person with autism rather than autistic person), when talking about any physical, mental or neurological condition, is the politically correct language to use.
When working with or talking about autistic people, the majority of organisations promote the use of 'person-first' language under the well-meaning belief that it is the more respectful way to refer to an autistic person. It is used to imply that the subject is a person before anything else, and should not be dismissed as 'less than' due to their condition.
However, the consequence of person-first language are that it puts negative connotations on the condition itself. Insisting the use of person-first suggests that being autistic, disabled or divergent from the norm is something one would not wish to be associated with. It does nothing to dispel shame or promote positive acceptance of autistic individuals. It implies that autism is a burden or illness rather than part of that person’s identity and neurology. It also sustains the ideology of 'less than' by giving attention to the idea that using the identity to refer to an individual could be insulting or seen as a way to dismiss their personhood in the first place.
To be truly person-centred, all elements of the person have to be given equal recognition and respect. Identity-first language shows acceptance of what cannot be taken away from the person. It shows respect to the autistic individual for who and what they are. It also promotes pride and positive self-esteem in autistic people and teaches society that being autistic is not automatically wrong or detrimental. We shouldn't need to say 'person' first in order to remind ourselves that autistic people are people.
We as autistic people would like to see identity-first language adopted by organisations, professionals, media and society when talking about us. We understand that many may come under fire for going against the currently accepted 'PC' guidelines. To combat this, we are building up our resources and gaining considerable support from the wider autism community and our pledgers, to promote and validate this change.