One of the things that continually makes me facepalm about the social justice/anti-oppression community is their insistence on making up new words that actually suck worse than the ones they’re replacing. The recent debates over replacing “sexual” is the default term for people who experience…
Allistic was created by a few autistic people on Tumblr as a reaction to the problematic aspects of “neurotypical” - “neurotypical” suggests that there is some standard brain wiring that autistics don’t conform to. And it’s nonsense because there is no such thing as a “typical” brain, everyone is wired differently.
I’m sticking with allistic.
There’s no such thing as a truly white person either.
It’s less the replacement of neurotypical than the fact that the replacement word reinforces anti-autistic bigotry in such awful ways. When something comes along that doesn’t do that, I will reconsider my usage.
“There’s no such thing as a truly white person either.” What does that even mean? You’ve stated it and provided absolutely no reasoning as to why skin colour is comparable to mental function.
How does defining one group as “typical” and another as “atypical” not reinforce bigotry? Your argument is not really making sense.
“White” means without pigment, and no one is literally without pigment. So if “neurotypical” is not okay to say because no one is truly typical, then why is it okay to say “white” when no one is truly white? Yet if someone brings up this argument, they’re accused of derailing. So how is “no one is truly neurotypical” not considered derailing? Because I kind of think it is.
“Typical” is not a value judgment. That’s why it’s preferred over words like “normal” or “natural”, which are value-laden. Typical/atypical are interchangeable with normative/non-normative. They’re neutral. If the term was “neurologically normal” I’d have a problem with it too.
Does that make more sense?
Er. No. “White” does not mean “without pigment” because white can be a pigment. In the context of race it means pale-skinned, fair-skinned. The analogy makes no sense because race and the way people think are not comparable. And there *are* people without pigment, btw- It’s called albinism.
Normal and typical mean the same thing. From Google web definitions:
Adjective: Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.
“Typical” is not neutral, because it can be used in oppressive ways - “typical woman”, “typical [insert race here]”, etc. By using “neurotypical” you’re saying that there’s a standard way for people to think, and neuro-atypical people are outside of that, they don’t fit in, they’re a deviance.
“Allistic” and “autistic” define two different types of people without suggesting that autistic is somehow a deviation from some mythical standard, or allistic is preferable to autistic. They’re just two different groups that exist.
But that’s exactly my point: white is a word that’s used to describe people of a certain ethnicity, but it does not literally describe them, because all people (even albinos!) have color to their skin. Likewise, neurotypical is a word that’s used to describe a group of people (non-autistics) but it may not literally describe them because all people, even the so-called able-minded, deviate from the theoretical norm. Words can mean different things in different contexts, and in the context of describing autistic/non-autistic people, neurotypical just means “non-autistic”.
Autistic/allistic may describe “two groups that exist” but it enforces a false, and harmful, self/other dichotomy that unfairly characterizes autistics as having certain stereotypical traits.
To be honest, I had no idea anyone, especially anyone with autism, actually objected to “neurotypical”. It’s the only term that’s ever been used in any of the autism groups I’ve ever been a part of, and most non-autistic members of those groups used it to describe themselves. I’d be amenable to finding another term IF we could make one that didn’t unfairly stereotype autistics.
But… if it doesn’t matter whether these words are literal or not, why does the self/other dichotomy with respect to allistic matter? I mean, if the “marked/unmarked” status problem with neurotypical can be thrown out as “well, NT isn’t literal,” then why can’t proponents of allistic do the same with the self/other issues surrounding that word? Especially since you really do have to trace the etymology back to bring up that problem with “allistic” since the root is, well, a root, whereas with “neurotypical” the problematic “typical” is a common adjective meaning “normal” that is easily visible within the word itself.
Food for thought.