I am a self-advocate. This is true. When I went to my teacher on the trip to India and told him that I am Autistic, and that I was running into issues with sensory overload at the factory visits, that was self-advocacy. When I asked my roommate to come with me for moral support when I went to talk to him, that was self-advocacy. When I give people the heads up that I need space, that I absolutely can not be touched without warning, that is self-advocacy.
But that is not all I am. I am also an Autistic activist. The difference between acting as a self-advocate and acting as an Autistic activist is, largely, in who I am advocating for. As a self-advocate, I advocate only for myself. If my advocacy is primarily for me but also partially for the community at large, calling it self-advocacy is probably ok, calling me a self-advocacy probably works in that context. When I am advocating purely for myself, the terms definitely work. But there are contexts where it does not. Autistic self-advocate is something I am, but it is incomplete. It doesn't tell the whole story, and acting as if it does is ignoring a significant part of my activism, the part that is not only for my own benefit, the part where I am trying to help all Autistic people, all autistic people, and all people with autism.
When I give a conference presentation on the erasure of Queer Autistics? (I will be, next month.) When I write things about autism in general, not just myself? Most of the things I take to this blog to do? Not self-advocacy. The fact that I am Autistic myself is relevant, but I am not advocating primarily for myself. I am engaging in good old fashioned activism, and it's not just for me. Usually, it's not even mostly for me. I write for me in the sense that I write because I need to get my words out, but I write for the world in the sense that I really am trying to change the whole world, starting with my little corner. That's activism.
So I am an Autistic self-advocate, and I am an Autistic activist, and which way you complete that phrase depends on the context. If you're not sure, go with activist. Most of the things where activist wouldn't work happen quietly, between me an a professor or me and a sports coach, with no ones life to be effected except my own. Most of the things where self-advocate wouldn't work are on this blog or mentioned here.
Language matters. Context matters. If you're reluctant to call me an Autistic activist, ask why. And don't try to tell me that you're reluctant because it's just words. If it's just words, then you will have no trouble using the words I want you to use to describe me.