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A.T.P - “Ask the Person”

Everyone is likely to have their own preference regarding the language used around autism

and neurodivergence. It is important to ask individuals about their preferred terminology.

To date, there is no universally accepted standard for language use for autism and other neurodivergent conditions. If you are referring to a particular person or group, ask them how they would prefer to be described. Where possible, this preference should take precedence over any recommendations.

Most preferred

● Autistic individuals

● Individuals on the autism spectrum

● Neurodivergent individual

● Neurodivergent thinker

● ADHDer

● ADHD employee

● Dyslexic/Dyspraxic/Dyscalculic individual

Language to be avoided in the workplace

● Person with autism/Asperger’s

● Suffers from autism / ADHD / Tourette’s etc

● Neurological disorder

● High functioning/low functioning descriptors

● ‘Everyone is on the spectrum’

● Neurodivergence as a disability

Some autistic and neurodivergent people refer to themselves or one another as an autist / autie / aspie, or colloquial terms such as neuro-wild, neuro-quirky or neuro-curious. Whilst we accept that people may wish to refer to themselves and each other in this way, it is often less acceptable when used by a ‘neurotypical’ person. Therefore, Specialisterne does not use this language in a professional context.

In the absence of knowing an individual’s preference, person-first language is recommended. This language focuses on the individual and recognises their neurodivergence is an intrinsic part of who they are. We encourage managers and colleagues to be respectful and simply ask their preference for how they would like to be referred to in their workplace.

Key Terms 

Neurodiversity: This term refers to a general diversity of minds. The diversity or variation of cognitive functioning in people. When we talk about promoting neurodiversity in the workplace, for example, we are referring to creating a diverse workforce representative of the broad spectrum that exists when it comes to ways of thinking, processing information,

communication, and learning.

Everyone has a unique brain and therefore different skills, abilities, and needs. This will sometimes be abbreviated to ND.

Neurodiverse: Neurodiverse is an adjective that describes a group of people. A workplace, for example, is likely neurodiverse, because it contains both neurotypical and neurodivergent individuals. Be careful, as you should never describe a person as being neurodiverse. Individual people should be described as neurodivergent.

Neurodivergent: This word is an adjective that describes a person (singular), whose brain functioning, or neurology is different from what is typically expected. When someone’s brain functions as typically expected, they are called ‘neurotypical’. A single person cannot be neurodiverse. Many times, neurodivergent people will have a diagnosis or label you may recognise, like autism, dyslexia, or ADHD. But neurodivergent people are also those with epilepsy, different kinds of brain trauma, or simply a unique way of thinking that may not have a specific diagnosis.

Divergent Thinkers: This is a preferred term used to describe neurodivergent people. It refers to those whose ways of thinking diverge from the norm.

Neurodivergence: This is a general term that describes the different manifestations of neurodivergent thinking in a neurodiverse world. It is literally the “state of being neurodivergent.” You could say, for example, that dyslexia and dyspraxia are specific types of neurodivergence.

Neurotypical: People who are neurotypical are what society would generally refer to as not neurodivergent. Oftentimes you will see it abbreviated as NT.


Terminology of Disclosure: There is a move away from the traditional terminology of ‘disclosure of disability’ in a workplace setting, as it can make it seem like the person is divulging a secret. Most neurodivergent individuals do not identify as a person with a disability.

We now tend to use the simple phrase “choose to share information about their neurodivergence”, when talking about a person’s choice to let their employer or colleagues know about their condition or specific requirements.


What to say and not to say when speaking to your autistic, ADHD, or neurodivergent employee/team mate.

Don't say

Do say

An autistic/autist/autie/aspie

(However, some individuals may

refer to themselves in this way)

Suffers from or is a victim of








Neurological disorder







Asperger syndrome is a mild/rare

form of autism





Normally developing children




People living with


Person on the autism spectrum/autism/autistic

Autistic/Neurodivergent individual


Is autistic/is on the autism spectrum

Has ADHD/is an ADHD individual

(Note: The term ASD has previously been used by many people

but some prefer the term 'autism spectrum condition' because

it avoids the negative connotations of 'disability' or 'disorder'.)


Neurodiverse thinker

Neurodivergent individual


Person with a disability






Asperger syndrome is on the autism spectrum

(Note: Asperger is pronounced with a hard "g")


Typically developing children


Normal Neurotypical


Autistic people, their families and friends

ADHD individuals

Neurodivergent individuals

People on the autism spectrum, their families and friends

Like what you see? Get in touch to learn more.

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