This page is designed to answer the following questions:
- 2.2. Explain how the terms ‘neurodiverse’ and ‘neurotypical’ are used in relation to autism. (Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Autism, Introduction to Autism)
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“Neurodiverse” and “neurotypical” are terms used to describe differences in brain function and behavioral traits. These terms are often used in discussions about autism, but they can apply to a range of other neurological differences as well.
Neurodiversity is a concept where neurological differences are recognized and respected as any other human variation. These differences can include those labeled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others. So, when a person is described as “neurodiverse,” it means they have a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the societal standard of “normal.”
Autism is a part of the neurodiversity spectrum. Autistic people, as part of the neurodiverse community, have a unique set of neurological differences that affect how they communicate, socialize, and experience the world around them.
On the other hand, “neurotypical” is a term used to describe individuals of typical developmental, intellectual, and cognitive abilities. That is, their brain functions and processes information in the way society expects most people’s brains to work.
In essence, “neurotypical” and “neurodiverse” are not opposing or dichotomous terms; instead, they represent points on a spectrum of human neurological development. It’s also important to remember that these labels don’t imply any value judgment: being neurotypical is not “better” or “worse” than being neurodiverse, and vice versa. They are simply descriptors that help us understand and respect the variety of human minds.