Autism is a processing difference that can have an impact on many areas of a person’s life. Autistic people often experience differences in how they process information, their sensory environment and how they interact with other people.

It is estimated that one in 100 children, teenagers and adults in the UK are autistic. While autistic people share some similar characteristics, they are also all different fromeach other. This is because autism is considered a spectrum. The autism spectrum is not linear from high to low but varies in every way that one person might vary from another. There is no ‘typical’ autistic person. Every autistic individual has their own strengths, differences and needs, their own life journey and their own unique story.

How do we talk about autism?

Over the years there have been many different terms and phrases used to describe autism, some of which are still in use today. However, more recently there has been a shift in understanding and changes and developments in how people talk about autism.

When you meet an autistic person, they might use different terms to
describe themselves:

  • ‘Autistic person’
  • ‘On the spectrum’
  • ‘Person with autism’
  • ‘I have Asperger Syndrome’

People have different preferences of what they like used when describing them and autism, so it is always best to ask the individual themselves what their preference is.

Neurodiversity, neurodivergent and neurotypical

We recognise that terms such as ‘neurodiversity’, which encompasses ‘neurotypical’ and ‘neurodivergent’ are used widely. Neurodivergent can be used to describe someone who has a neurodiverse condition, for example, autism. This means their brain processes information differently. An autistic young person could identify as neurodivergent but so could someone who has a diagnosis of ADHD or Dyslexia, for example.

Wording taken with permission from Autism Education Trust.

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