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Please explain? Common terms we use in the autistic community...

Here are some common terms that you'll often hear me refer to in therapy sessions.... this list is an intro only, and certainly not exhaustive- just a little taste-tester. I have tried to write them in the most succinct and easy way to understand!


Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Methods to communicate without speaking, using tools (like devices) or gestures (like sign language).



Discrimination Against Disabilities: Prejudice against disabled individuals, rooted in the belief that typical abilities are superior, and disabilities need fixing. I also often talk about internalised ableism too...



Emotion Identification Challenges: Difficulty in recognizing and expressing emotions due to neurological differences.


Assistive Technology (AT)

Supportive Devices for Disabilities: Tools and equipment designed to aid disabled individuals in communication, learning, and daily activities.


AuDHD (or ‘an auDHDer’)

Autistic and ADHD: Describes an individual who is both Autistic and has ADHD, neurotypes that very commonly co-occur, like me!



Being True to Oneself: Acting and communicating in ways that align with one’s true identity, free from masking.


Burnout (Autistic)

Exhaustion from Overwhelm: Intense physical, mental, or emotional fatigue due to prolonged stress living in a world that is not yet fully supportive and respectful of us



Hiding Autistic Traits: Also known as masking, it involves concealing our Autistic selves to fit into social norms.


Double Empathy Problem

Reciprocity Issues in Understanding: mutual misunderstandings between Autistic and non-Autistic people are due to a disconnect in empathy, not a lack of empathy in Autistics.



Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (revised): A manual used by mental health professionals for ‘diagnosing’ conditions, including Autism.


Executive Function

Cognitive management skills: Abilities to plan, organize, regulate emotions, and make decisions, often challenging for Autistic individuals, and those with ADHD



State of full absorption: Engaging in an activity with complete focus and enjoyment, losing track of time.


Functioning Labels

High/Low Functioning Terms: Describes levels of challenge in individuals; considered inadequate as functioning varies by context.



Increased Brain Connectivity: More connections within and between brain regions, explaining some Autistic experiences.



Intense Concentration: A state of being deeply absorbed in one activity or thought.



Heightened Sensitivity to Stimuli: Overreaction to sensory inputs like bright lights or loud sounds.



Reduced Sensitivity to Stimuli: Underreaction to sensory inputs.


Identity-First Language

Autistic Person vs. Person with Autism: Preferred by the Autistic community as it emphasizes Autism as part of our identity.



Sharing Detailed Information: Excitedly providing extensive details about a focused interest.



Concealing Autistic Traits: Internalizing behaviours to fit social norms, often at the expense of one’s well-being.


Medical Model of Disability

Disability as a Personal Deficit: Views disabilities as issues to be fixed within the individual, focusing on impairments.



Involuntary Loss of Control: Intense reaction to overload or overwhelm, requiring empathy, not punishment. Please check in to see what we need, but don't demand anything of us.



Natural Brain Variations: The beautiful diversity in human brains, including neurotypes like Autism and ADHD.



Neurological Profile: An individual’s unique brain configuration, such as being Autistic or having ADHD.



Typical Neurological Development: Describes those whose brain function is considered standard or within ‘normal’ limits (whatever that means!)



Group with Different Neurotypes: A community comprising individuals with various neurotypes.



Differing from Typical Neurology: Refers to individuals whose brain function deviates from the norm.



Shared Neurotype Community: Individuals with the same neurotype, such as neurodivergent people. Also as in 'Neurokin Psychology', meaning I have the same neurotype as you!


Neurodivergent-Affirming Care

Supportive Therapeutic Approach: Therapy that respects and understands neurodivergence, tailored to individual needs- what I aim for at all times.


Parallel Play

Playing Side by Side: Engaging in activities alongside others without direct interaction, often preferred by Autistic individuals.



Persistent Demand (for) Autonomy: a drive for autonomy (not a pathological demand avoidance- an offensive term)



Body Position Awareness: The sense of body part positioning and movement in space.



Restricted and Repetitive Behaviours: Diagnostic criteria for Autism involving repetitive actions or focused interests…. Often harder to pick up in late identified female neurotypes



Internal Overload Response: Withdrawal or inaction in response to overwhelm, an internalized form of meltdown.


Special Interests (SPINs)

Intense Focus Areas: Strong passions or hobbies that are deeply engaging for Autistic individuals. Mine is cats!



Self-Stimulatory Behaviour: Repetitive movements or sounds used for self-regulation, common in Autistic individuals..often can be subtle things we don't think of, like watching same movie, reading same book, etc.



Rediscovering True Self: Reconnecting with genuine interests and behaviours after ceasing to mask.

I hope this has been helpful for you. Please check out my other blogs!

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