This is an infographic I made for a workshop recently outlining some key neurodiversity-related terms. These are short definitions and there is much more nuance to each one, but it is a good and simple place to start with each term 😊

Neurodiversity: the understanding that there is a wide range of natural variation in human brains and behaviours.

Neurotypical: someone with a brain that develops and functions the way “we” typically expect, that is to say without a developmental disorder, like autism or dyslexia. Some people will also use this term to refer to someone without a mental illness too. Generally, it is just someone who doesn’t have a neurodevelopmental disorder and doesn’t experience mental illness. It is ultimately a term that people use if they do not relate to being neurodivergent.

Neurodivergent & Neurodivergence: referring to someone whose brain doesn’t develop and function in the way we “typically” expect.

Neurodevelopmental Disorders: a group of conditions with specific criteria which we use to categorise differences in the development of the brain and nervous systems, such as ADHD.

Neuronormativity: neuronormativity refers to the centring of social, political, personal, cultural, linguistic, and communicative norm and ways of being and engaging in the world which privilege neurotypical modes of being over others; for example, systematically producing a narrative that non-autistic individuals are superior to autistic individuals, that autistic lives are of less value.

Neurominority: neurominority refers to a group of people who share a common form of neurodivergence, such as autism, who face systemic barriers in terms of accessibility and discrimination due to implicit and explicit processes of neuronormativity.

Disability: a physical or mental condition which limits a person’s ability to perform certain tasks or skills. In the UK, in a legal sense, neurodivergent conditions are typically considered a disability under the 2010 Equality Act, and this is important to note as this act provides legal protection in work, education, and in other services and allows for access to specialist support and services.

Autistic vs. Allistic: allistic simply refers to someone who is not autistic. It is important to note that an allistic may be neurodivergent in other ways, for example, having ADHD, but they will not be autistic.

Bonus! Co-morbidity / Co-occurrence: this simply refers to conditions and disabilities which are commonly seen with another; for example, autism commonly co-occurs with ADHD. Having co-occurring neurodevelopmental disorders is the norm rather than the exception.


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