What do “neurodiverse” and “neurodivergent” mean?

Terms such as “neurodiverse” and “neurodivergent” were introduced in the 1990s by autistic sociologist Judy Singer as an alternative to deficit-based language, such as “disorder.” Singer highlighted notable strengths of many individuals in the autistic population that include abilities to focus, recognize patterns, and remember factual information. A “neurodivergent” person refers to a person on the autism spectrum or, more generally, to someone whose brain processes information in a way that is not typical of most individuals. These people may have learning disabilities, attention deficit and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome. Through a neurodiversity lens, such conditions reflect different ways of being that are all normal human experiences.

Although “neurodiversity” is usually used to describe a group of neurodivergent individuals, it also refers to all of humankind because everyone has a unique way of processing information.

For a project that works with neurodiverse students, consult the DO-IT website Neuroscience for Neurodiverse Learners

For further information regarding neurodiversity, consult Harvard's What is Neurodiversity?, How do neurodiverse and neurotypical software engineers differ in the workplace?, and this article by the Neurodiversity Hub.