The word ‘autisticality’ was actually coined by my friend. Although I’m sure other people have said it before too; it’s quite a natural word to create, really. It could just as easily be “autisticness”, “autistitude”, or even – “autism”. Oh, wait.
In theory, autisticality means just the same thing as autism, right? “That kid’s autism affects their social skills”, “that kid’s autisticality affects their social skills”. And yet, it’s different somehow.
Maybe it will make more sense with some other examples. How about a broken leg:
- My broken leg means I can’t walk.
- My leg-broken-ness means I can’t walk.
They have the same meaning in the simplest way. But “broken leg” is very concrete and specific. Whereas “leg-broken-ness” is abstract, like it’s one-step removed from just “a broken leg”. It makes it sound like “leg-broken-ness” is some kind of all-encompassing permanent aspect of the person. That’s why the second option doesn’t make much sense – it’s actually just one small and temporary part of them. In this case, it has one specific effect: making them unable to walk.
Autism/autisticality works the same way, but in reverse:
- My autism means I am prone to anxiety.
- My autisticality means I am prone to anxiety.
The first one sounds like “my broken leg means I can’t walk”. It feels like saying “my specific, temporary, and abnormal medical condition gets in the way of me functioning like I usually do”. The second one feels like saying “this overall aspect of me defines the way I am as a person”.
There is a person who can walk, temporarily disguised by the broken leg. But there isn’t a non-anxious person, disguised by the autism.
There is just a person, and autisticality.