In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion of the idea of neurodiversity. Much of it has been positive, but with that has come more than a little confusion. What does it mean? Who does it cover? We in the Leeds Autism AIM team have our own ideas.

There are two words to consider – neurodiversity and neurodivergence. At first, there doesn’t seem too much difference, besides a few letters at the end. However, both words have different definitions. Here is what we understand by them.


We believe that the idea of neurodiversity covers everyone. This includes people whose brains are atypical, such as autistic people and those who think more conventionally. The latter are known as ‘neurotypical’.

Neurodiversity works in the same way as biodiversity, which covers all forms of life (plants, animals and so on). There is diversity in the different ways in which peoples’ brains work. Having people who think differently to one another is something many celebrate.


What does neurodivergent mean? It’s a word that describes someone who has a condition that affects how they think and process information and sensory input such as sound, light and smell. This word is applied to autistic people.

Autism is one of several conditions that is considered neurodivergent. Others include:

  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Tourette’s Syndrome

It is worth noting that some other conditions and mental health difficulties are also considered by some to be neurodivergent.

The above video about neurodiversity, its’ origins and politics was made by Gill Loomes-Quinn, our Peer Development Worker. Please note that Gill made the video in her capacity as an academic and not as a member of the Leeds Autism AIM team.

Some autistic people are diagnosed or self-diagnosed with one of the conditions listed further up this blog post. In the AIM team, we strive to use the words neurodiversity and neurodivergence correctly.

If you would like more information on this subject, feel free to contact us by email at [email protected].