There is this thing making the rounds in Autism WordPress blogs at the moment. It’s called The Autistic Bill Of Rights*. There is one point on there that comes up a lot.
IV. The Autistic Community holds the right to choose the language which pertains to them, and when language is chosen, it shall be respected by all.
This point reflects that some autistic people prefer person first language and some prefer identity first language. Some people want to describe Autism as a disorder and others prefer condition. That’s fine, every autistic person has the right to choose their own language. But this is often closely followed by an expectation that the people around that autistic person use the same language and by people getting offended if the wrong language is used. And this I really don’t understand. The language we use reflects both how we understand language as well as our understanding of the world.
Some people may simply use which words sound right in that particular sentence. It may have absolutely nothing to do with the persons perception of Autism.
Some individuals might know several people with Autism who have different opinions on which is the right language to use. I imagine it would be quite hard to ensure that every time such an individual talks to one of the autistic people they know, they remember which person likes what and thus what language to use.
Some individuals might know someone with a different condition who has a preference for a particular type of language. They then may generalise that use of language to other conditions. That’s what people do, they generalise what they learn. Being able to generalise is part of what makes social situations easier for non autistic people.
Of course there will be some people who choose language that does reflect what they perceive autism to be. I think that’s perfectly fine. I would personally prefer that everyone always used language to reflect what they actually thought.
There are many reasons people use specific language and everyone has, to a reasonable degree, the right to use the language they want. If someone uses language you don’t like, first find out why they use that language. If it does reflect a perception you think is incorrect then by all means explain why you hold a different perception.
*So I only just found out that if you have a hyperlink to another person’s WordPress blog post, WordPress creates a Ping Back from that post to yours. That is a bit too much interconnectedness for me. Here is the URL for the Autistic Bill of Rights post. stimtheline.wordpress.com/2018/01/22/autistic-bill-of-rights-shareable-image