a glossary of terms for neurodivergent people

it’s a glossary and, in places, it’s a blog. Let’s call it a blossary.

This glossary of neurodiversity, mainly information on neurodivergencies and their co-occurring conditions, was the starting point for The Gentle Autistic website. I was so frustrated at the lack of explanation for all these terms that I’d never come across before, and the few books that I’ve bought, that claim to offer a dictionary of autism and ADHD, are woefully inadequate and outdated.

If you Google many of these terms, there’s no agreement on what any of them mean! So, after copious research, reading, training, speaking with other autistic, ADHD and otherwise neurodivergent people – this is what I offer you. It’s open to your own interpretation, it will grow and adapt as I learn more. You can take the odd word from it and leave the rest, or…

you can read it ‘cover to cover’ and I will be delighted to set you a test. That’s a joke – though I really would be delighted – that’s the teacher in me!

It’s here for you to dip into as and when you like, if you like. There’s a search bar at the top, so you don’t have to wade through it. If you hover over a word it’ll give you a summary, if you click on the word it’ll give you a more in-depth definition. All statements that I’ve made as being factual, are supported by evidence – you’ll find that on the links within the glossary and in the Information section. This doesn’t claim to be an academic resource, so I have held back from referencing in the traditional way – I want it to be readable!

There is also my own opinion and experience, dotted throughout, and I hope that I have made it clear where the facts finish and my own thoughts begin. I really hope it is useful to you as you embark on your neurodivergent adventure. My aim is to make a small contribution to the tide of autistic writing that is emerging that describes the lived reality of being autistic – not just the rigid and simplistic diagnostic criteria that continue to stigmatise us.

I’ve tried really hard to remain neutral in my explanations, I haven’t always achieved that because many aspects of being autistic in a neurotypical world make it impossible to describe something from experience and for that not to influence my writing.

*There is SO much overlap between terms and topics, I have linked each one to give you a smooth transition between them. All words below that are in pale burgundy red are clickable links, either within the glossary or to an external website. Any links that are to external websites will open in a new window, so you won’t lose your place in the glossary. Enjoy!*