One of 104,000, apparently

There’s an ongoing debate among people who write about autism between those who favor person-first terminology (“person with autism,” “has autism”) and those who favor identity-first terminology (“autistic person,” “is autistic”). Generally, parents of children with autism prefer the former, while autistic people prefer the latter.

Others have written persuasive pieces on the implications of language (I’ve tried my hand as well), but for the moment, I’d like to switch to math.

I’ll use my handy precise scientific information generator, Google.

Google search results for:
Person-First Non-Age-Specific
“person with autism” OR “people with autism” — 10,000,000 results.

Person-First Juvenile
“child with autism” or “children with autism” —14,900,000 results.
“boy with autism” or “boys with autism” —1,720,000 results.
“girl with autism” or “girls with autism” — 8,400 results.
“kid with autism” or “kids with autism” — 3,030,000 results.
Total Person-First Juvenile
“child with autism” OR “children with autism” OR “boy with autism” OR “boys with autism” OR “girl with autism” OR “girls with autism” OR “kid with autism” OR “kids with autism” — 68,100,000 results.

Person-First Adult
“adult with autism” or “adults with autism” — 3,520,000 results.
“man with autism” or “men with autism” — 704,000 results.
“woman with autism” or “women with autism” — 112,000 results.
Total person-first adult
“adult with autism” OR “adults with autism” OR “man with autism” OR “men with autism” OR “woman with autism” OR “women with autism” — 8,640,000 results.

Total Person-First
“child with autism” OR “children with autism” OR “boy with autism” OR “boys with autism” OR “girl with autism” OR “girls with autism” OR “kid with autism” OR “kids with autism” OR “person with autism” OR “people with autism” OR “adult with autism” OR “adults with autism” OR “man with autism” OR “men with autism” OR “woman with autism” OR “women with autism”— 70,300,000 results.

 

Identity-First Non-Age-Specific
“autistic person” or “autistic people” — 748,000 results.
“autistic person” or “autistic people” or “autistics” — 1,190,000 results.

Identity-First Juvenile
“autistic child” or “autistic children” — 4,740,000 results.
“autistic boy” or “autistic boys” — 894,000 results.
“autistic girl” or “autistic girls” —287,000 results.
“autistic kid” or “autistic kids” — 1,020,000 results.
Total Identity-First Juvenile
“autistic child” OR “autistic children” OR “autistic boy” OR “autistic boys” OR “autistic girl” OR “autistic girls” OR “autistic kid” OR “autistic kids” — 5,650,000 results.

Identity-first Adult
“autistic adult” or “autistic adults” — 272,000 results.
“autistic man” or “autistic men” —638,000 results.
“autistic woman” or “autistic women” — 104,000 results.
Total Identity-First Adult
“autistic adult” OR “autistic adults” OR “autistic man” OR “autistic woman” OR “autistic men” OR “autistic women” — 927,000 results.

Total Identity-First

“autistic child” OR “autistic children” OR “autistic boy” OR “autistic boys” OR “autistic girl” OR “autistic girls” OR “autistic kid” OR “autistic kids” OR “autistic adult” OR “autistic adults” OR “autistic man” OR “autistic woman” OR “autistic men” OR “autistic women” OR “autistic people” OR “autistic person” OR “autistics” — 5,840,000 results.

What does this tell us?

Well, it’s an unscientific culling of Google results, many of which overlap (i.e., many sites contain multiple forms of the searched terms), so not much. However, we can see that when person-first language is used, it involves reference to juveniles 96.87% of the time.  It involves reference to adults 12.27% of the time.  It involves a non-age-specific reference 14.20% of the time.

When identity-first language is used, it involves reference to juveniles 96.75% of the time. It involves reference to adults 15.87% of the time. It involves a non-age-specific reference 20.38% of the time.

Person-first language is 12 times more likely to be used than identity-first language.

We are dealing with a discourse that is heavily dominated by person-first language, and even more heavily dominated (in both person-first and identity-first) by discussion of juveniles.

Draw conclusions as you will.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know how inexact this is. Yes, I know that sometimes persons (including neurotypicals) over the age of majority are referred to as “boys,” “girls,” or “kids” (this doesn’t diminish the point). Feel free to check and correct my math.

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