August 01, 2023
A person’s identity is a personal, individual, and evolving part of their overall human right. As an evolving species our identities change through each of our developmental milestones, we develop from children into teenagers and then into adulthood.
Identity does not develop purely based on our gender roles, they also evolve based on our education, employment, sexuality, religion and even our image. Autistic identity is no different, our autistic identity can be evolving. A person can identify as a confident autistic community member in one situation and not identify as autistic in another situation.
Some people who are autistic identify using person first language ‘person with autism.’ This is due to the idea that a person is seen before their disability and that their disability is not their only defining aspect of their identity.
Other people use identity first language such as ‘autistic person.’ This is because some people believe that being autistic is an inherent part of their identity and is not something that can be separated from other parts of their identity.
As all with identities, an autistic persons identity may evolve and change, how they identify today may not be how they identify tomorrow. As professionals we need to respect everyone’s choice on how they want to identify with their disability.
If you are not sure, just ask the individual.