Yesterday, sitting in the talkback at the play Sacred of Sarah, where my daughter plays an autistic young adult, I heard something new to me: a debate as to which comes first: the person or the identity?
In person-first language the person comes before the disability in the description: a person with autism vs. identity-first language putting the disability or disorder first as in an autistic person.
The Self-advocates participating in the talkback insisted on identity-first as an inherent part of their individual identities. It’s the same way we refer to one’s race or ethnicity. It made so much sense to me. Autism is more and more prevalent in our society. We need to accept these unique individuals as they are, focusing on individual strengths and interests that allow them the full rights of participation in society as they chose.
This is the last weekend to see the play. Don’t miss it. There’s much to ponder.