Friday, 8 March 2013

If you're not an Aspie, what are you?

When I first poked a cautious toe into the Aspie community, I discovered the term "neurotypical".  It's often used to describe people who aren't Aspie or autistic, but it's really a broader term to mean anyone with a neurological makeup that is, well, typical.

More recently, the word "allistic" has started coming up, specifically meaning "not autistic".  I've been hanging out on Tumblr a bit recently, even though I'm far too old for the place, and it seems to be rather in vogue there.  An interesting discussion has broken out over there, about the relative virtues of the two words.

Tvær konur, á peysufötum og í kjól / Two women, one wearing "peysuföt" (traditional Icelandic Costume) and the other a danish dress , 1900-1920 

I'm not a huge fan of "allistic".  Maybe it's because "neurotypical" was the word I encountered first and the word I understand and use, so I'm resistant to some new (to me) word coming along asking to be used instead.  Maybe it's because I'm vaguely synesthetic about letters, and that particular combination just doesn't work for me. It's like a vinegar milkshake.

My main issue with the term is that unless you have enough context to work out the meaning, or are familiar enough with the etymology of the word "autistic" to figure it out, there's nothing about "allistic" that really tells you what it means.  "Neurotypical", on the other hand, you could figure out on your own, even if you didn't have much context to work with.

Then again, "neurotypical" doesn't mean "not autistic".  There are all sorts of other neurological shenanigans, from ADHD to acquired brain injury, that will kick you out of the neurotypical club.  So it's not always the best word to use if you're talking specifically about autistic versus not autistic people.

But I don't have a better suggestion.  If you do, I'd love to hear it.