When I first started at this (whatever this may be) I noticed that Autistic people who fought for recognition, acceptance, and support for, well, Autistic people were most commonly referred to by others as self-advocates. So I followed suit. It seemed an appropriate designation as they are, I reasoned, advocates for themselves.
Later, as it has so many times throughout the years, my language evolved. A number of Autistic friends told me that they were not comfortable being called self-advocates, but instead identified as Autistic advocates, or, in some cases, as Autistic activists.
The difference, like so many others when we talk about the impact of language, was anything but semantic. A self-advocate is, as the name so clearly implies, someone who advocates only for him/herself. Thanks in large part to the intersectional nature of ANY effective advocacy movement, I have yet to meet a single Autistic advocate / activist who fights only for…
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