The Neurodivergent Encyclopedia

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Do you see the term Neurodivergent everywhere but have no idea what it’s referring to? How about acronyms like PDA, ODD, and ExD? Are you foggy on what words like stimming and special interest mean?

It can be hard to connect with a community when you don’t understand the language they speak! That’s why we’ve created an entire encyclopedia to reference when you come across a Neurodivergent term

*Note on outdated terms. The understanding of Neurodivergence is changing all the time. Many terms are evolving in order to be more inclusive. In this glossary we will list all terms negative, positive, and neutral with appropriate commentary to make note of ableism and suggest alternative terms.

Are we missing a term? Let us know by emailing mysoulbalm@gmail.com

Table of Contents

Most Common Terms:

ND (Neurodivergent)

An umbrella term that encompasses many different processing differences. Basically anyone who’s brain works differently from what is considered “typical.” The term is often shortened to “ND.”

*Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Cluster B Personality Disorder should be included in this graphic

NT (Neurotypical)

Someone who’s brain is wired according to what’s considered “typical.” Often shortened to “NT”

AA (Actually Autistic)/AA Community

A term to describe both a community and the individuals in that community. The Actually Autistic Community is made up Autistic individuals and advocates who promote “lived experience” education and seek overall acceptance and appreciation for Autism vs. clinical pathologization. Their motto is “nothing about us, without us.

Neurodivergent Community

Similar to the AA Community but also encompasses other Neurodivergents as well as Autistics.

Neurodiversity and Neurodiversity Paradigm

Neurodiversity is not synonymous with Neurodivergence though they often intersect. Neurodiversity is the concept that everyone’s brain works differently because we are all unique.

The Neurodiversity Paradigm is a social justice movement based on that understanding. In the Neurodiversity Paradigm, those with differing processing systems should be accepted, accommodated and empowered to be themselves instead of being considered “broken” or forced to make their brains work more “typically.”

Allistic/Allism

Allistic refers to anyone who is not Autistic. This includes not only Neurotypicals but other Neurodivergences as well. Example: I am ADHD and OCD, but not Autistic therefore I am Allistic (and Neurodivergent).

Alphabetical:

A

Ableism

Discrimination and societal prejudice against disabled people. Ableism is a construct propagated by capitalism where individuals are valued only for their ability to be productive. Many (but not all) of the ND community consider themselves disabled and are often subject to ableism both externally and internally.

ADHD/ADHC (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/Condition)

A neurodevelopmental difference which primarily affects a person’s Executive Function. It is classified under three types – Inattentive, Hyperactive, and combined. Many know about the most common traits, including impulsivity, hyperactivity, lack of focus, restlessness. However, there’s SO much more to ADHD!

Many ADHDers have a hard time with emotional regulation, often dealing with Meltdowns. They may also have issues with memory, organization, and planning. Learning and motor disabilities such as Dyspraxia, dyslexia and dyscalculia also commonly co-occur.

ADD/ADC (Attention Deficit Disorder/Condition)

ADD is an older diagnosis that was once used to describe one of the three types of ADHD (Inattentive). It is no longer in use clinically but some NDs may still refer to themselves as ADD because that’s how they were diagnosed

(ACE) Adverse Childhood Experience

ACES are traumatic experiences that happen in childhood that include but are not limited to abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction.

These are instances that range from sexual assault to domestic violence to substance abuse or divorce. ACES can be cumulative, stacking on top of each other to create what’s known as an ACE score. They deeply affect a person’s mental health, physical health, core beliefs, and self esteem. Read more about adverse childhood experiences here and take the ACE quiz here.

Alexithymia

Alexithymia is a condition in which a person has difficulty understanding their emotions, also known as emotional blindness. It occurs on a spectrum on which impairment depends on the person, situation, stress levels, etc.

Alexithymia can co-occur with Autism as well as other conditions like Schizophrenia and Depression. It can be primary (genetic) or secondary (brought on by trauma).

Those with Alexithymia might

  • Have a harder time understanding their own feelings
  • Have difficulty naming or expressing feelings
  • Find themselves emotionally distanced from others
  • Struggle to create an inner world or indulge in fantasy
  • Seem to “explode” with emotion because they might not be able to “see” the internal warning signs of emotional overwhelm

Read more about Alexithymia here and here.

Apraxia

ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis)

APD (Auditory Processing Disorder)

ASPD (Anti-social personality disorder)

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Device

ASD/AS (Autism Spectrum Disorder/Autism Spectrum)

The clinical name for Autism. Many Autists are moving from ASD to less pathologized labels in order to describe their experience as a Neurodivergent.

*Aspergers/Aspie

A label that was once used to describe “high functioning” autism. It has since been rolled into Autism Spectrum Disorder in the DSM-V

The term is considered outdated in the ND community because of its ties to Nazi eugenics and its ableist connotations. However, some Autists still claim the term, affectionately calling themselves Aspies for short. There is much debate in our community about this self identification. Some Autistics stick with the term because it was how they were diagnosed and is a part of their identity while others have shifted to identifying as Autistic.

Autism

A processing difference that is primarily diagnosed because of an individual’s communication differences and sensory sensitivities. Autism is also often linked to rigidity, anxiety, and repetitive behavior like stimming, however, traits vary from individual to individual.

Autistic

N. An Autistic Person

Adj. describing an Autistic person

Autist

Another way of self identifying as an Autistic. Kind of like switching out “I’m artistic” with “I’m an artist” or “I’m a piano player” vs “I’m a pianist”

Autigender

Autigender is when an Autistic’s Neurodivergence plays a pivotal part of their gender identity. Those who use this gender identity say that Autism is a core part of everything in their life including their gender. Similar to “Neurogender” which is also on this list

B

C

Cluster B Personality Disorder

Cluster B Ableism

CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

D

DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)

Double Empathy Problem

Dyscalculia

Dyspraxia

Dyslexia

E

ExD (Executive Dysfunction)

EFT(Emotional Freedom Technique) Tapping

F

Forced compliance

G

Gifted

H

HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)

Hyperfocus

I

Interoception

Infodump

(IFS) Internal Family Systems

J

K

L

Letterboard

M

Monotropism

Moral Injury

N

Neurotypical

Neurominority

Neurodivergent

Neurodiverse

Neurodiversity Paradigm

Neurokin

Neuroscope

Neuroqueer

Non-speaking

NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder)

O

Othering

ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder)

P

PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)/Pervasive Desire for Autonomy)

Proprioception

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Q

R

Rapid Prompting Method

RO-DBT (Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy)

S

Special Interest

Synesthesia

Spellerverse

Spellers

Spelling to Communicate (S2C)

Somatic Experiencing

T

TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)

U

V

W

X

Y

Z

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