Glossary of Terms


A different brain wiring present in 2% of the population, usually diagnosed by age 4, and more often in males than females. People with autism communicate differently than the neuromajority, and they often have different sensory experiences than those who aren't autistic.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):

Clinical diagnosis based on criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, 2013, Text Revision 2022), which focuses largely on a person's deficits rather than their strengths. The two core areas of observation are social communication and patterns of behavior, and the diagnostician may also assign a level of severity, 1-3, which is meant to describe the increasing support needed.


When a person exercises real or perceived power over another person in a way that’s harmful. While intentionality and repetition are often included in the definition of bullying, grace should be extended to the target versus the person exhibiting the bullying behavior.

Disability Harassment:

Bullying someone on the basis of their disability. Disability harassment is a violation of three federal laws: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (1975, 2004), the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973).

Identity-First Language:

A way of linguistically seeing and embracing that which makes a person unique, as in “an autistic employee”, because that worker cannot be separated from their autism.


When someone takes into account a person's unique abilities and removes barriers to full, meaningful participation, they are practicing inclusion. Creating a sense of belonging begins with inclusion.


A person is neurodivergent if their neurotype diverges from the neuromajority. For example, a person with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may identify as being neurodivergent. Most aspects of neurodivergence are present at birth, but may not be identified until later in life. Approximately 48% of humans are neurodivergent.


The general population is neurodiverse, because it includes a number of neurotypes, such as autism. It also includes those with no diagnosable neurological difference.

Neuromajority or Neurotypical:

Humans with no diagnosable neurological difference. Depending on what you include in neurodivergence, this is a very slim majority, accounting for approximately 52% of Americans.

On the spectrum:

Because the clinical literature about autism refers to “Autism Spectrum Disorder”, saying a person is “on the spectrum” in this context means they’re autistic. There is a diverse range of skills, experiences, and abilities for individuals on the spectrum.

Person-First Language:

Putting the "person" before the identifying characteristic, as in "a student with autism." While this way of speaking about disability has been long-preferred when interacting about children, most adults with disabilities have made it clear that they cannot be separated from their disability, and therefore prefer identity-first language.

Puzzle Pieces and Autism:

While puzzle pieces were commonplace in the autism community for decades, the symbol was increasingly rejected by autistic adults by the late 2000s. Although Good Friend, Inc. (GFI) tried to change the meaning of the puzzle pieces with its 2014 "We ALL Fit" video and the Figureheads' hip hop song of the same title, it was clear to GFI that it was time to leave puzzle pieces in its past. GFI re-branded in 2020.

Rainbow Infinity Loop:

The neurodiversity paradigm is represented by the rainbow infinity loop, which reflects the continuum and dynamism of neurological experience in the broad spectrum of humanity.

Universal Design:

As it applies to creating a physical space, universal design incorporates principles of equity, flexibility, and simplicity to make the environment as user-friendly as possible. Considering differences in perceptibility, allowing tolerance for user error, ensuring minimal physical effort, and allowing space to move and access features freely minimize specialized adaptations and accommodations. When building curriculum, universal design for learning guidelines provide multiple means of engagement, representation, and action/expression. Considering the mixed abilities of users during the planning process to determine how to maximize access and utility saves resources in the long run.


Instead of standing by as someone is being bullied, an UPstander can practice any/all of these

  1. Stand near the person being bullied.
  2. Speak up on behalf of the person being bullied.
  3. Report the bullying behavior to a trusted authority.
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