Neurodivergent, often referred to as ND by those of us who are, describes all of those people whose neurology differs from the predominant neurotype: the neurotypically minded. One autistic person is neurodivergent, one group of autistic people could also be described as neurodivergent, or as a neurodivergence, as would one dyslexic person or any single group of non-neurotypical people. Neurodivergence is the collective word for a group or groups of people whose minds are wired differently to the most common – neurotypical.

Neurodivergent people experience the world in a different way to neurotypicals. This can affect our learning styles, our social interactions, our sensory responses, our communication, indeed, everything that makes us who we are. This website, The Gentle Autistic, is for all neurodivergent people. If our needs, our behaviours and our voices were more widely understood and heard, I wouldn’t be writing this glossary. Though I do enjoy it!

One of the most common mistakes in print and online, by diagnosing professionals, charities, academics, even those who run support groups and departments specifically for neurodivergent people, is their interchangeable use of the words neurodiverse/neurodiversity with neurodivergent/neurodivergencies. The first two have very different meanings to the latter two, and this is causing a great deal of confusion for newly diagnosed neurodivergent people, seemingly as much as it is for academics and medical professionals!

If those who are supposedly educating people can’t even get their terminology right, how are we ever supposed to identify ourselves correctly, or even find each other to create communities? The language of neurodiversity and neurodivergence needs to be given an overhaul.