Neurodiversity 101 – Neurodevelopmental Disorders

This is an infographic I made for a workshop recently outlining some a brief overview of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) currently recognised in the clinical literature. These are short definitions of NDDs and there is much more nuance to each one, but it is a good and simple place to start with each term.

[image id: poster of "Neurodevelopmental Disorders." There are 5 boxes, each with a heading of a different neurodevelopmental disorder and an overview of it written in Open Dyslexic font. Full transcript below]

Intellectual Developmental Disorder (IDD): An intellectual disability is a condition that affects a person’s mental abilities, such as how they think, learn, and solve problems, and can cause difficulties with everyday tasks and meeting societal expectations for independence.

Communication Disorders: Communication disorders are conditions that affect a person’s ability to use language, speech, and social communication skills. These disorders can include problems with language, speech sounds, and the way a person communicates with others. They can also include difficulties with the fluency and rhythm of speech, such as stuttering.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Autism is a condition that affects how a person communicates and interacts with others. It is characterised by difficulties and differences in social communication and interaction, and by restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests. The range of support needs varies significantly between autistic individuals, and can be impacted on by co-occurring conditions.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): ADHD is a condition that affects a person’s ability to pay attention, be organised, and control their impulses. People with ADHD may have trouble staying focused, listening, or keeping track of things. They may also be very active or have trouble sitting still and may interrupt others or act impulsively. It is important to note that the hyperactivity component can be internalised and people with ADHD may feel very overwhelmed internally without showing this externally.

Motor Disorders: Motor disorders are conditions that affect a person’s movement and control of their muscles. This includes problems with coordinating movements, repetitive behaviours, and tics. For example, Developmental Co-ordination Disorder impacts upon an individual’s ability to plan and process information, turn thoughts into action, and navigate fine and gross motor skills, which means they may seem clumsy. Tic disorders includes Tourette’s disorder, which is when a person has multiple motor and vocal tics.

Specific Learning Disorders (SpLDs): SpLDs refers to conditions like dyslexia and dyscalculia. It is a condition that impacts upon how an individual learns certain academic skills, such as reading, writing, and mathematics. It typically appears during the school years and is characterised by persistent difficulties with these skills that are not due to intellectual disability or other conditions.

Neurodiversity 101 – Terms

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.