Thursday, April 17, 2014

A New Word!

Autism is an umbrella term. It encompasses Einstein (suspected to have had Aspergers' syndrome), me, classically autistic children who can't speak at all, and everything in between. How can one word do so much? It can't. In meaning so many things, it has been stretched too thin and now means almost nothing! 
 I don't want to call myself autistic. Not because I don't want to be labeled (I like labels,) but because I want to be labeled accurately and precisely. And it seems wrong when the same label applies to severely autistic kids who need so much more help than I do–as if I'll dilute the word's power by stretching its meaning so far. I also don't want a long phrase, or anything with overtly negative connotations.  I want a word that means high-functioning autism or Aspergers' syndrome only, but in fewer words and without the negative connotations of autism and syndrome.
The words I want don't yet exist. So I set out to find some myself:
Mentally Different
This one fits two of the three criteria: it's not too long, and it carries no negative connotation. I've used it before, but there's one major problem: inexactness. What, exactly, is mentally different? It could be anything, not just high-functioning autism! Time to try again…
I didn't make this one up, which is good because I don't like it much. It sounds silly, and while it's short, its root is Aspergers' syndrome, which definitely has a negative connotation. (I don't like having a syndrome. It sounds dreadful!)
Not too long, not too silly…this one is turning out well. It's not very exact, but since autistic people call "normal" people neurotypical, it's more "connected" to autism than "mentally different" is. Then I looked it up…and found out that according to Urban Dictionary (a notoriously unreliable source), it means someone with autism or a whole host of other disorders; schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dyslexia, et cetera. Another inexact term!
The negative of allistic, which is a synonym for neurotypical someone not on the autism spectrum. If allistic means not autistic, nonallistic must mean autistic. And since we already have autistic to refer to the severe forms, I claim nonallistic for my side of the spectrum; the high-functioning autistics. (I made it up, so I get to decide what it means.)
adj. | non-a-lis-tic | negative formation of allistic
a person with high-functioning autism or Aspergers' syndrome 
That's it! I've coined a new word! And now that I have my terminology straight, I can get on to what I meant to do before I noticed this problem, which was write about Autism Awareness Month.
More posts to follow soon!