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Glossary

 

A short list of terms that you may come across on this site. Some of these I would never use myself, but they’re included because they occur in research papers or other material referenced here. 

 

Autism: See the What is Autism entry. An excellent non-pathologising description by Nick Walker.

 

Autistic person: not “person with autism”. We don't say “person with homosexuality”. I also use the words autistic or autist, though as for most English speakers, the “ic” ending on “autistic” as a noun is problematic.

 

On The Spectrum: An autistic person is someone who's "on the autistic spectrum". There is no single way of being autistic, thus the idea of a spectrum..

 

Asperger's Syndrome (AS): A form of autism where there is no delay in acquisition of language as a child. In spite of what you might see on TV, it has nothing to do with having a high IQ or above-average intelligence. Asperger’s covers a range of capabilities and challenges. Worth noting, Asperger’s is no longer recognised as a diagnosis (DSM-V, 2013), and has been folded into Autism Spectrum Condition (see below)

 

Neurodiversity: like biodiversity, except that it refers to neurology. It's the idea that across the human population there is a diversity of neurologies, i.e. different kinds of brains. The term embodies the idea that there is no single “normal” type of brain, or “right” style of neurocognitive functioning, in the same way that  there is no “normal” or “right” ethnicity or sexual orientation. The term mainly refers to autism, but is increasingly being applied to other neurotypes such as dyslexia.

 

Neurodiverse: has two meanings. The most common is in reference to someone who doesn't have a typical neurology, which generally means autistic. The second is in reference to a group or population where there is a diversity of neurologies.

 

Neurovariant: same as Neurodiverse, though less common

 

Neurotypical (NT): someone with a typical neurology, i.e. someone who is not autistic or neurodiverse.

 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Refers to the autism spectrum. I don’t use this term as I don’t consider autism a disorder.

 

Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC): Is increasingly being used instead of ASD, for the above reason.

 

High Functioning Autism (HFA): Another term I don’t use, firstly because it has no specific meaning, and secondly because it’s inaccurate. Many autistic people find it problematic, explored more fully here: Functioning labels, what’s the big deal? and here: Autism functioning