"Is he autistic or with autism? Seriously, what do you call him?"
Well mainly I call him by his name, which I'm not sharing here. You have to trust it's a really good name. I think he's like the only one of his whole school that has it too and it's not anything weird like "Apple". Although now that I think of it, perhaps naming him "Potato" would of been more our speed. My husband calls him "Champ" and when I'm not calling him "Kiddo" I'm calling him "Monkey Butt" because it makes him laugh. He then calls me "Hey Monkey Butt!" back, picking great times to do it like out at the grocery store or at a therapy waiting room. What can I say? We're a little odd in our humor here.
Anywho, I'm guessing you really mean do I say my son with autism or my autistic son. Honestly, I use both when talking about him. Back and forth. All over the place willy nilly. Why? Simply because I can and I really don't know what his preference is regarding it. I'm not even sure the Kiddo knows he is autistic or has autism. We certainly don't hide the word around here and seeing as he is an only child, the autism way is the only way we roll.
I used to use the whole "person first" language pretty much exclusively. The great bonus feature of starting this blog is I've gotten to talk to a lot of folks with autism! Imagine that! Time and time again, I see that many of them prefer the term autistic. Who am I tell them "No you can't call yourself that." It's quite possible my kiddo might be thinking the same way as these other autistic adults. Or maybe not. I'm not really sure. I mean for all I know my kiddo might identify solely with just being a french fry eating fiend. I know his autism doesn't define him but it sure is a part of him. He could go a day without eating a french fry(although it would protested loudly, I assure you) but there is never going to be a day where he won't be autistic or with autism or however you want to say it.
If my kiddo comes home one day and says "Mama, I prefer it THIS WAY!" then that's the way I'm probably going to continue to do it when talking about HIM. I'm not going to deny him that request. I'm also trying to make an effort as I get to know folks with autism or autistic what it is they prefer. I know! That's a lot of extra info to pack in my rapidly aging mind but to me, I think I can do that. If I can remember that a person prefers their nickname to the name on their birth certificate, this isn't much different than that. Maybe this is my Irish (or with Irish decent) background into play here. We are forever naming our kids one name yet call them another. (No seriously. We do this a lot. My mom found out her aunt's real name at her aunt's funeral. Someday I'm hoping my mom might tell me my real one!)
All I know is I'm just trying to honor everyone's request. Autistic or with Autism. I'm sure I'm going to muck it up. I'll piss someone off. Know that it comes from a good place and correct me with what you prefer if I screw it up. We'll move on and order another side of fries.