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Correctly Using the Words Neurodivergent, Neurodiversity, Neurodiverse

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

by Ben VanHook, Divergent Adventures Brand Ambassador, Advocate

Using terminology related to neurodiversity and neurodivergence accurately and respectfully is important in promoting understanding and inclusivity. Here's a breakdown of the terms and their correct usage:

  1. Neurodivergent: Neurodivergent is an adjective used to describe individuals whose neurological development and functioning differ from societal norms. It includes people with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette's syndrome, and other neurological variations. The term recognizes that these differences are a natural part of human diversity and should not be pathologized or stigmatized.

Example: "My friend is neurodivergent, and they have a unique way of processing information."

  1. Neurodiversity: Neurodiversity is a concept that refers to the wide range of neurological variations found in the human population. It embraces the idea that neurological differences, like other forms of diversity, should be recognized, accepted, and respected. Neurodiversity advocates for including neurodivergent individuals in society without trying to force them to conform to neurotypical standards.

Example: "Promoting neurodiversity in the workplace can lead to a more inclusive and innovative environment."

  1. Neurodiverse: Neurodiverse is an adjective used to describe a group or community that consists of people with a variety of neurological differences. It emphasizes the diversity of neurological conditions and experiences within that group.

Example: "The neurodiverse community is actively working to raise awareness and reduce stigma."

Other iterations of the word "neurodivergent" might include:

  • Neurodivergency: This is a less commonly used variation of neurodivergent and is used as a noun to describe the state of being neurodivergent.

Example: "The school provides support and accommodations for students with neurodivergency."

Using these terms with sensitivity and respect is essential, just as you would when discussing any other aspect of human diversity. When talking about individuals, using person-first language, putting the person before their condition is essential to avoid defining someone solely by their neurodivergence.

Incorrect: "He's an autistic."

Correct: "He's an individual with autism."

By using these terms thoughtfully, we can promote a more understanding and accepting society for all individuals, regardless of their neurological differences.

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