Language and Terminology

Below are some explanations of terms I use in my blog for those unfamiliar with the language of Autistic Culture and the Neurodiversity Paradigm.

Autistic: Identity first language will be used by me rather than “person with autism” as being Autistic is a core part of my identity and life experience. I mainly capitalize “A” in “Autistic” to recognise our identity and our culture, much like Deaf culture capitalize their first letter.

Neurotypical: the way of being which neurodivergent people diverge from. Neurotypical ways of being make up the neuromajority of the world.

Neurodivergent: includes those who are Autistic, ADHD, Dyslexic, Dyspraxic. Anyone who diverge from the dominant societal standards or neurotypicality. There is also acquired neurodivergence such as trauma, OCD, psychosis, as well as cultivated neurodivergence such as through drugs or meditation.

Neurodiversity: the diversity of human body-minds. There is no one way of thinking or experiencing the world.

Neurodiversity Paradigm: acknowledges how there is no such thing as “normal”. Embraces and values different minds and ways of being. We want to shift to this and move away from pathologising Autistic and other neurodivergent people.

Neurodiversity movement: is a social movement which aims to have the rights of all neurodivergent people be respected and upheld. To make society more inclusive of all different kinds of minds.

Neuronormativity: the gold standard of “normal” that society seeks. It is a social construct which does not exist, much like hetero and gender normativity do not exist.

Ableism: when able bodied people devalue disabled people. Autistic people experience ableism as we are disabled. Often we are disabled by society and sometimes disabled by our inherent experiences, such as our sensory needs.

Nonspeaking: I address Autistic people who do not use mouth words as nonspeaking over “non-verbal” as non-verbal means without words. Usually, nonspeakers have words but need to express these in ways other than mouth words. Nonspeaking is also the preferred term by these groups.

Support Needs: is a term I will use rather than ‘functioning’ labels as there is no such thing as ‘high or low functioning’. Our needs as Autistic people fluctuate constantly. No one is less or more Autistic and we all can require some levels of support. Those who need more support than others still deserve respect and to not be shamed for this.

Stimming: any action which provides stimulation. Examples could be playing with hair, tapping, shaking, rocking, flapping, visuals, as well as vocal stims such as sounds or words.

Autistic Culture: the culture which binds Autistic people together. We have our own ways of communicating, our sensory experiences, shared histories and shared traumas as a neurominority.

References to Neurodiversity language and terms:

Nick Walker –