Learn about autism

A comprehensive guide to autism and the autistic mind

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This is the 'learn about autism' menu page. This part of the website is very large, but you can always click on the colourful cat picture to return to this menu:

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* About the terminology used in this website

After finding out that I am autistic, I quickly learned that, even among our community, there are disagreements over the terminology, or language, that we all prefer to use when talking about autism and all things neurodiverse. Some can be a little too quick to pounce upon those who may not always use the technically 100% accurate terminology.

This is completely understandable and makes for a very healthy debate - as an autistic person myself, I always aim to stay current, accurate and true. But I will admit, that at times, I've found others (and myself) getting a little too caught up in being perfectly precise, and I don't think it is always necessary or appropriate. Remember, most of us are extra sensitive souls, who have often suffered a lifetime of criticism and rejection.

It can also go against the bigger goal of the autism advocacy movement. I want this website to encourage acceptance of autism. In order to do that, I aim to increase awareness and use the appropriate terminology to do so, but if I get it slightly wrong at times, please don't send complaints on a postcard! I'm human too, so I may sometimes write neurodiversity when I should be writing neurodivergence; or neurotypical when I mean non-autistic. But if you do spot something really bad, please do let me know via the contact form, and give yourself a star ⭐️ 😬.

 

Also, there are debates about whether neurodivergence includes all physical and psychological differences that change the brain or affect the brain in any way whatsoever.  Not just autism, ADHD, dyslexia and so on, but also Parkinson's, dementia, MS, EDS, fibromyalgia and hundreds of other conditions.

On the one hand, this does demonstrate how varied and diverse we all are. But it can also make it more difficult to distinguish the difference between the autistic experience of being born with a brain that operates differently to non-autistic people, and that of people who have developed a neurological or psychological disease or condition at some point in their life. Not to mention all the other variants of differences, disorders and diseases in between!

It is a complicated issue and one which I am still debating in my own mind. But for now (because the nurse in me like to categorise diseases and differences in some kind of organised manner) I'm going to stick with what I am comfortable with.

 

So I will use the term, neurodivergent, to mean the people who were born with a neurodevelopmental difference, including autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and so on. And I'll use the term, neurological disorder, to talk about conditions such as MS, Parkinson's disease, dementia, ALS and so on. I use the term, psychological disorders or conditions, to talk about depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and so on. And for other physical conditions (even though they will of course affect the brain too) I will use the terms physical disabilities, physical conditions or something similar if that is more appropriate. 

 

Oh, and one more thing - I sometimes use the word disability and sometimes, difference. Autism is a difference, which for many, is also disabling, so I do mix these words around a bit.

Now let's get on with the show...