Neurodiversity was coined in the 1990s, by sociologist Judy Singer to explain the natural variation that could be seen across all human beings. It became the basis of a social movement to position variations in cognitive functioning as a natural element of humanity, in direct contrast to commonly used deficit-based interpretations.outlines of two bodies. The first body illustrates a deficit viewpoint where the disability is an internal characteristic of the student. The second body outline illustrates a difference viewpoint whereby the disability is in the inaccessibility of the tools available to the student.

The term neurodiversity is sometimes used to refer to a small group of people with different cognitive functioning, in direct contrast to the proposed ‘neurotypical’ person. However, this is inaccurately. There is no neurotypical person, in much the same way as there is no biotypical element of biodiversity (Singer, 2020).A List of Neurodiversity definitions. Neurodiversity is a noun representing the diversity of variation of cognitive functioning in people. Everyone has a unique brain and therefore different skills, abilities and needs. Neurodiverse is defined as an adjective, describing the diversity and variation of cognitive functioning in people. Neurodiverse is typically used to describe neurodivergent people. Neurodivergence is a noun used to represent a cognitive functioning which is not considered typical. Neurodivergent is an adjective describing people who have a neurodivergence.

Neurodivergence therefore is the noun used to refer to a wide group of individuals whose cognitive functioning is perceived as different from the Predominant neurotype (PNT). 

This is a growing area of research, and as such there is no agreed definition of which conditions fit within the neurodivergence umbrella. But as it specifically relates to cognition, it is generally understood that it should include conditions that allow the individual to think differently, or process information differently to the perceived ‘norm’. 

What is Neurodiversity and Why Should I Care? A Westminster Conversation
What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodivergence and Reasonable Adjustments
Why Thinking Differently Can Be an Advantage

Useful Websites

The following websites offer more information and resources on neurodiversity

Exceptional Individuals

Genius Within

Neurodiversity Hub: Resources for Employers

Neurodiverse Review

Academic Articles: Neurodiversity and Higher Education

  • Robinson, D., (2022). Neurodiversity in medical education: How can we improve postgraduate learning for neurodiverse doctors?. Medical Teacher, 44(5), pp.564-566.
  • Dwyer, P., Mineo, E., Mifsud, K., Lindholm, C., Gurba, A., and Waisman, T.C. (2022). Building Neurodiversity-Inclusive Postsecondary campuses: Recommendations for Leaders in Higher Education. Autism in Adulthood
  • Nieminen, J, H,. and Paesonen, H, V. (2022). Anti-Ableist Pedegogies in Higher Education: A Systems Approach. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice.
  • Manalili, M.A.R., (2021). Ableist ideologies stifle neurodiversity and hinder inclusive education. Ought. The Journal of Autistic Culture, 3(1), p.6.
  • Woodfield, C., Vroman, K., Seybert, J., Burke, J., Kurup, S., Dickens, B., Ashby, C. (2020). “It would be simpler to see success without dominating discourse ability”: Neurodivergent communicators in postsecondary education. Critical Education, 11(14), 31-53.
  • Clouder, L., Karakus, M., Cinotti, A., Ferreyra, M.V., Fierros, G.A. and Rojo, P., (2020). Neurodiversity in higher education: A narrative synthesis. Higher Education, 80(4), pp.757-778.
  • Mirfin-Veitch, B., Jalota, N. and Schmidt, L., (2020). Responding to neurodiversity in the education context: An integrative literature review. Donald Beasley Institute, 56.
  • Doyle, N., (2020). Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults. British Medical Bulletin, 135(1), p.108.
  • Armstrong, T., 2015. The myth of the normal brain: Embracing neurodiversity. AMA journal of ethics, 17(4), pp.348-352. 


Blogs are a great way to understand the real life experiences of neurodiversity. Click on the blog titles below to open them in a new page.

Exceptional Individuals Blog

My Soul Balm. Neurodiversity and Mental Health

The Donaldson Trust

Oli Bean


Like blogs, Podcasts offer the first person experience, but through an audio file which can be listened to on smartphones or digital music and multimedia players.

Living Neurodiverse


  • Ellis, P., Kirby, A., and Osborne, A. (2023). Neurodiversity and Education. SAGE publications; London
  • Well, J. (2022). Wired Differently. 30 Neurodivergent People you should know. Jessica Kingsley Books
  • Armstrong, T. (2011). The Power of Neurodiversity: Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain. Da Capo Lifelong Books
  • Pollak, D. ed., (2009). Neurodiversity in higher education: Positive responses to specific learning differences. John Wiley & Sons.