“Autistic adolescents” or “adolescents with autism”? How do we refer to ourselves?

Adolescents - IFL vs. PFL Language Incidence in Google Scholar Results (w/ citations)
Adolescents – IFL vs. PFL Language Incidence in Google Scholar Results (w/ citations)
A 10-Year Retrospective

More data on the findings about how we talk about ourselves. I say “we”, because scholars are part of the human community, as are autistic folks. And when you refer to “one of them”, you’re actually referring to “one of us”. All of us.

Here’s a sample link for the queries I’ve been running, so you can see for yourself:

https://scholar.google.com/scholar?as_vis=0&q=”adolescents+with+autism”&hl=en&as_sdt=1,5&as_ylo=2014&as_yhi=2014

Still more evidence that person-first language is dominant (and notice how I’ve chosen the combination chart which makes the PFL physically more dominant — that supports my point in a not-so-subtle way, but which can be compelling if you’re not aware that’s what I’m doing. I’m clever that way 😉

Let’s look at how it looks with the two measures as lines of equal weight:

Adolescents - IFL vs. PFL Language Incidence in Google Scholar Results (w/ citations)
Adolescents – IFL vs. PFL Language Incidence in Google Scholar Results (w/ citations)

See the difference. They’re both on “equal footing”, but it’s still clear that the person-first language is outstripping the identity-first terminology.

Again, in May 2013, the DSM-V deprecated (and removed) Aspergers from the available autism spectrum diagnoses. We had a slight dip in usage of both (not sure what took their place, or if there was just less research being published at that time), but then PFL picked up in 2014 and beyond, and it’s climbing.

Especially with regard to adolescents.

This is so interesting to me! I want to also collect data on “girls with autism” vs. “autistic girls”, as well as “boys with autism” vs. “autistic boys”. That can lead me down another path of inquiry, especially regarding the attention paid to boys vs. girls. But I just don’t have the time for that, right now.

I’ll definitely be looking into that in the future, however. “Adolescents” seems so distant, so clinical, so official. But I’m really looking for insights into scholarly literature and how professionals refer to us, so there’s some value in that.

The chief takeaway for this set of numbers – for me – is that the amount of research being done around adolescents on the autism spectrum has really exploded. Take a look:

Adolescents - IFL vs. PFL Language Incidence in Google Scholar Results (w/ citations)
Adolescents – IFL vs. PFL Language Incidence in Google Scholar Results (w/ citations)
A 10-Year Retrospective

Over the past 10 years, we went from ~500 papers in aggregate, to nearly 3,000 – almost a 600% increase in output.  And that’s not even including the research being done today.

Oh, if I only had a research assistant who could collect the numbers for me… But in the meantime, I’ve got my script that generates the links to the queries for me, so that’s a huge time-saver.

These numbers are not static. They change from day to day on Google Scholar, for some reason – one of the numbers changed by 10, just a few days later, for some reason. But the purpose of this study is not to get exact numbers, but get an overall sense of the prevalence of person-first language vs. identity-first language.

And for those purposes, I think my data points all do the trick.

Advertisements

What do you think? Share your feedback - and feel free to share this post!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s