Someone on Twitter asked two different questions. He asked if autistics preferred person-first language (person with autism) or “autistic person.” I have given my answer to that. He then asked if disabled people preferred “person with a disability” or “disabled people.” I want to share my answer to that:
I have autism, but the only reason I’m disabled is because of how I’m treated by everyone else. I can’t keep a job because of the ableism and prejudices of neurotypical people, not because of me. So it would be “person with disabilities” since I’m not disabled.
Of course, there are autistic people out there whose autism is so severe that it becomes a disability regardless of everybody else. But there’s a majority of us for whom we are disabled by others rather than inherently disabled by our way of existing in the world, our perceptions, our interactions, our ways of thinking, our behaviors, our bioculture. From this perspective, one would have to argue that someone from a different culture who comes to the United States is “disabled” because of how everyone treats them. The difference is that people mistake autistics as being part of the neurotypical bioculture when they’re not. And it’s that which is disabiling more often than not.