Ableism: A “type of discrimination in which able-bodied individuals are viewed as normal and superior to those with a disability, resulting in prejudice toward the latter.”

Autistic experience/to be Autistic: “[A] neurodevelopmental difference, where Autistic brains work differently to non-autistic people. ​There are as many different brains and ways of experiencing the world as there are different bodies. ​ There is a variety of Autistic people, just as there is a variety of non-autistic people, but all Autistic people share some similarities. ​ These similarities include: ​

  • differences in experience of the sensory world, ​
  • differences in communication, ​
  • differences in thinking, socialising and moving​

Some Autistic people need support with day-to-day living, and within this perspective there is no one way to be Autistic. (Autistic Self Advocacy Network, 2020)

Autistic culture: “Autistic culture largely works from a shared understanding of the neurodiversity paradigm, where Autistic experience is a natural variation within the human species, enacted upon by social power relations and ideological notions of “normal” (Farahar and Bishopp-Ford, 2020; Walker, 2014). Where Autistic experience is in need of acceptance and societal accommodation and support, not intervention or “cure”… This shared, depathologised meaning is in turn transmitted to other Autistics via “the culture we produce [such as our writing, art, and music]” (Straus, 2013, p. 466).” – Farahar (Handbook of Critical Autism Studies, forthcoming 2022)

Culture: The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society (Oxford University Press, 2020).

Culture of autism: The pathological and paradigmatic narrative that constructs “autism” as a medical neurodevelopmental “disorder”, embedded within a “culture of autism”.  Within this culture “people with autism” are portrayed negatively as people with deficits, and this is transmitted in similar ways to other cultures, via writings, symbols (e.g., the puzzle piece), art, language use and so on.

Discovery versus diagnosis: Discovery is preferable as diagnosis implies medical disorder or disease, which is unsubstantiated in the literature, as well as going against the narrative of the neurodiversity narrative, paradigm, and movement (Walker, 2014) of difference not deficient.

Neurodiversity: The diversity of brain and body-minds.  Neurodiversity, a property of groups, contains neurotypical people who learn and perform neuro-normativity.  It also contains neurodivergent people who queer their body-minds in distortion of neuro-normativity.

shareable meme, gold background, with lots of circles around a central circle that says neurodiversity.  The circles contain: Neurotypical; Autistic; Attention Differences (ADHD/ADD); Dyslexic; Dyspraxic; Tourette’s; Obsessive Compulsions; Anxiety; Depression; Trauma Response/s; Voice-hearing.  Black writing underneath says: Neurodiversity, the property of groups, contains neurotypical people who learn & perform neuronormativity.  It also contains neurodivergent people who queer their body-minds in distortion of neuronormativity.

Neurodivergent(ence): Individual body-minds that function in ways that diverge from ideals of neurotypicality (Walker, 2014).

Neurominority: Group who share the same divergence (e.g., Autistic; dyslexic; voice-hearer; etc.).

Neuromajority: Those whose behaviours and ways of being are deemed socially acceptable, and who are able to perform neuronormativity.  Comprises those who are considered neurotypical.

Neuro-normativity: The body-minds/behaviours/neurologies/brains that are valued as normal in society – deemed socially acceptable.

To neuro-queer/be neuroqueer: To distort the performance of neuronormativity.

Neuro-typical(ilty): The condition from which neuro-divergent people diverge from neuro-normativity. 

Shareable meme, Navy blue background, white writing, gold neurodiversity symbol: white writing says: Neurodiversity = the diversity of brains, and body-minds. A property of groups.  Neuro-divergent(ence) = individual body-minds that function in ways that diverge from ideals of neuro-typicality.  Neuro-typical(ilty) = the condition from which neuro-divergent people diverge from neuro-normativity.  Neuro-minority = group who share the same divergence (e.g., Autistic; dyslexic; voice-hearer; etc.).  To neuro-queer or be neuro-queer = to distort the performance of neuro-normativity. Definitions of neurodiversity - Aucademy in discussion

Pathology/pathologising: Regard or treat as psychologically abnormal.  To represent (something) as a disease. A departure or deviation from a normal condition.

Stigma: A process of negative labelling; stereotyping; prejudicial attitudes; and discriminatory behaviours about and toward groups of people with socially deemed undesirable characteristics.


Autistic Self Advocacy Network. (2020). About Autism. Retrieved from ASAN: Autistic Self Advocacy Network: https://autisticadvocacy.org/about-asan/about-autism/

Farahar, C. (2022). Autistic identity, culture, community, and space for wellbeing. In S. Ryan, & D. Milton (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Critical Autism Studies. Routledge.

Farahar, C., & Foster, A. (2021). #AutisticsInAcademia. In N. Brown (Ed.), Lived experiences of ableism in academia: Strategies for inclusion in higher education. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Oxford University Press. (2020). Culture. Retrieved July 2020, from Lexico: https://www.lexico.com/definition/culture

Straus, J. N. (2013). Autism as culture. The Disability Studies Reader4, 460-484.

Walker, N. (2014, September 27). Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms & Definitions. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from Nick Walker’s Notes on Neurodiversity, Autism, and Cognitive Liberty: http://neurocosmopolitanism.com/neurodiversity-some-basic-terms-definitions/

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