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, but this figure changes all the time as new research is completed and is thought to be much higher. While autistic people share some similar characteristics, they are also all different from each other. Autism 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.

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’ (note: this is no longer used as a diagnostic term. Click here to read more about why.)

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 neurodivergence, 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.
  • Neurodiversity is used to describe the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioural traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population.
  • Neurotypical is used to describe someone who does not display traits of a neurodivergence.


ADHD is defined through analysis of behaviour. People with ADHD show a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity–impulsivity that creates challenges with day-to-day functioning and/or development. Wording is taken from ADHD UK.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

FASD is a neurodevelopmental condition with lifelong cognitive, emotional and behavioural challenges. In addition to effects on the brain, FASD is a full-body diagnosis that can include more than 400 known conditions. FASD is a spectrum and results when a baby is exposed to alcohol prenatally. You can read more about FASD, including common myths, via National Organisation for FASD website.

Daisy Chain specialises in strategies and approaches that are compatible with: Autism, ADHD, FASD, Sensory processing differences, anxiety and social and communication differences. For a young person to attend they must be either diagnosed, on the pathway or have been identified by a professional as having a need relating to the listed neurodiversities.


At Daisy Chain, we follow the below terminology principles.

Generally, we say ‘autistic person’ / ‘neurodivergent person’ rather than ‘person with autism/a neurodivergence’ because studies have shown that this is the majority preference within the autistic community. However, each individual will have their own preferences on how they choose to identify and be referred to, and we always use a person’s preferred terminology if they have specified this to us.

  • We use positive language and avoid terms such as “symptoms”, “suffer from”, “affected by”, or “high/low functioning”
  • Instead, we use language such as, ‘percieved high/low’ “support needs”, “differences”
  • We talk about autism and neurodivergence as a ‘difference not deficit’

Read more about terminology guidelines via Autism Education Trust website.



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