Neurodiversity - the who, what, why & when!

Take a look below, at what neurodiversity means, where the term came from,

and the history behind

'Neurodiversity Celebration Week'.

What is Neurodiversity Celebration Week?

“It’s a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences.” Its goal is to transform how neurodiverse individuals are perceived. However, NCW also plans to change how neurodiverse people are supported in society. It aims to provide schools, universities, and organisations with the opportunity to recognise the talents and advantages of ‘thinking differently’ while creating more inclusive and equitable cultures that celebrate differences and empower every individual. Their mission, quite simply, is to change the narrative! “Working together with schools, universities, and organisations, we aim to: increase acceptance and understanding, provide education and celebrate neurodiversity!”

NCW founder, Siena Castellon, said: “I founded Neurodiversity Celebration Week in 2018 because I wanted to change the way learning differences are perceived. As a teenager who is autistic and has ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia, my experience has been that people often focus on the challenges of neurological diversity. I wanted to change the narrative and create a balanced view that focuses equally on our talents and strengths.”

What does neurodiversity mean?

The first thing to consider about neurodiversity is that everyone’s brain is unique and works in slightly different ways. Neurodiversity is a term that describes the different thinking styles that affect how people communicate, experience, and interact with the world around them. It is an umbrella term and covers numerous conditions like autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and Tourette’s syndrome. And, it is estimated that around 15-20% of the world will be living with a neurodiversity at this current time. The word itself comes from two parts: the words neurological and diversity. 

  • Neurological (neuro) refers to nerves relating to the nervous system, specifically the brain,
  • And diversity means - variety or difference. 

And, where the term neurodiversity exists, there is also a term for those who have a typical neurotype or would be classed as fitting into the “norm” where thinking patterns are considered; this is called Neurotypical, an abbreviation of neurologically typical. It refers to anyone who is not diagnosed with neurodivergent conditions. The term has been adopted by the neurodiversity movement and by some members of the scientific community. 

Where does the term come from?

The word neurodiversity was popularised by Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist who has described herself as “likely somewhere on the autism spectrum”. She first used the term ‘neurodiversity’ in her Sociology Honours thesis, back in 1997. Her work aimed to increase the acceptance and inclusion of all people while also embracing neurological differences. And now, not yet 30 years after she coined the term, it is almost universally used. Though the term neurodiversity was coined about people on the autism spectrum, it has since come to embrace and encompass the likes of ADHD, dyslexia, and dyscalculia.

At the time, the term represented a move away from previous ‘blaming theories’ whereby mothers and their parenting skills were considered to be the primary predictor for autism in children. Children with autism were thought to have such ‘issues’ because of the way they were brought up, as opposed to having a divergent brain. So, it is no wonder there is sadly still a stigma attached to different neuro diversities, as well as a lack of awareness and understanding.

A little more about Judy Singer

As the daughter of a Jewish mother who survived World War 2 in Hungary, Judy Singer grew up in Brisbane, Australia, having settled there when she was just 4. As she grew up she began to notice her mother’s ‘unconventional’ behaviour and at first wondered if it was down to the trauma of surviving the Holocaust, autism, or both. When Judy became a mother in 1987 she started to think about the complexities of human behaviour and the genetic traits we pass onto our children. She started to notice her daughter showing traits that resembled those of her own mother and was later diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. 

Judy Singer

Before the diagnosis, Judy began studying sociology and disability studies at Sydney’s University of Technology and it was here that she later started her thesis and the term ‘neurodiversity’ was born. Judy’s thesis was titled ‘Odd People In’, and had two subtitles: The Birth of Community amongst People on the Autistic Spectrum, and A Personal Exploration of a New Social Movement based on Neurological Diversity.

And, if you want to know more about Neurodiversity Celebration Week and how you can get involved check out their website and timetable of events happening from 18th March 2024:


UK: TechEdology Ltd: + 44(0)1672 560387 , US: TechEdology LLC: 813-421-2002

+ 44(0)1672 560387 |

Company Registration No.: 08234244  

Terms & Conditions of Sale | Privacy Policy

Inspiration® and RapidFire® are the registered trademarks of Diagramming Apps, LLC.

TechEdology® is the registered trademark of TechEdology Ltd.

British Assistibe Technology Association