Today, we’re going to dive into a short series on neurodiversity and other neuro* words associated with this concept.

In my work with Autism-Asks, concepts of neurodiversity come up frequently. Another frequent occurrence is the misuse of the terms associated with neurodiversity. Often, I see neurodiverse and neurodivergent and neurodiversity used interchangeably in asks, despite rather different definitions of these words.

As such, I’ve wanted write this series for a while. The spark for this series arose a few months ago during the last round of mod applications. A couple of the questions focused on neurodiversity and the associated language, and even people who conveyed their understanding other concepts quite well seemed to struggle with neuro* words.

This post is going to go over some basic definitions and then the following posts will focus on some of the words in more depth.



(n.) the variation of human minds and brains that exists in the world, the infinite spectrum of neurocognitive functioning in our species. An indisputable fact of the universe.

Neurodiversity Paradigm:

(n.) a perspective or approach to neurodiversity that focuses on three key principles.

  1. Neurodiversity is a natural and valuable form of human diversity.
  2. There is no one “normal” or “healthy” type of neurocognitive functioning. Further, the idea that one exists is no more valid or conducive to a healthy society than the idea that there is one “normal” or “right” gender, ethnicity, or culture.
  3. The social dynamics that manifest surrounding neurodiversity are similar to the social dynamics that manifest around other forms of human diversity (i.e. diversity of race, gender, or culture). These dynamics include social power inequalities as well as the idea that, when this diversity is embraced, it can act as a source of creative potential.

Neurodiversity Movement:

(n.) a social justice movement seeking civil rights, equality, respect, and full societal inclusion for neurodivergent people.

Neurodivergent (ND):

(adj.) having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal”


(n.) the state of being neurodivergent

Multiply neurodivergent:

(adj.) a person with multiple neurodivergencies, i.e. a person with autism, PTSD, depression, and dyscalculia.

Neurotypical (NT):

(adj.) having a mind/brain that falls within the dominant societal standards of “normal,” the opposite of neurodivergent. Neurotypical is to neurodivergent as straight is to queer.


(n.) the category of neurocognitive functioning a person has. Examples of neurotypes include autism, depression, borderline personality disorder, and neurotypical.


(n. or adj.) a population of neurodivergent people who fall under the following criteria

  1. They all share a similar form of neurodivergence (neurotype)
  2. The shared neurotype is one that is largely innate and is inseparable from who they are. The shared neurotype is a pervasive factor in the psyches, personalities, and fundamental ways of relating to the world for the people of this neurotype.
  3. The shared neurotype is one that typically is met with some degree of prejudice, misunderstanding, discrimination, and/or oppression from the neurotypical majority (often enabled by the classification of that neurotype as a medical pathology).

Examples of neurominorities include, but are not limited to, Autistic, schizophrenic, bipolar, and dyslexic people.


(adj.) A group comprised of people with different neurotypes. For example, a family with a neurotypical parent, an Autistic parent, and an Autistic and ADHD kid would be a neurodiverse family. An individual cannot be neurodiverse.

That wraps up our definitions for now. Hopefully this helps elucidate the language of neurodiversity. Tune in tomorrow for Exploring the Language of Neurodiversity: Neurodivergent vs Neurotypical.