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Neurotypical

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Neurotypical (or NT) is a term used to describe a person whose neurological development and state are typical, conforming to what most people would perceive as normal. People whose neurological development is atypical are referred to as "neurodivergent". The term is most freqently used by autistics and people with Asperger Syndrome.

The term originated in the autistic community, as a way to refer to non-autistic people. It sometimes therefore includes people with other types of atypical neurology such as dyslexia, epilepsy and ADHD, although ADHD has sometimes been considered to be a form of autism. However, it strictly refers specifically to typical neurology. The neurodiversity movement uses the strict sense exclusively.

The term was coined by members of an early, private e-mail list composed of mostly autistic adults and a few parents of autism spectrum children. Autistics.org popularized it in 1998 with the ISNT website. As people from the original list joined other lists the term was used by more autistic spectrum individuals, those who study them, and parents.

The use of the word "typical" in place of "normal" hints at an underlying issue faced by neurology: does common (or most common) define normal, apart from a statistical normal distribution? The term is deliberately constructed to avoid prejudging this issue. In the United Kingdom the National Autistic Society recommends the use of the term in its advice to journalists [1]. The term has also started to be used in the scientific literature.

The term is used with varying degrees of seriousness. This ranges from a straightforward factual way to refer to non-autistic spectrum people to a more playfully tongue-in-cheek use in contexts which often strongly imply that the "merely typical" are to be pitied for wasting so much of their brain capacity keeping track of uninteresting and irrelevant information such as illogical 'social rules'. Some might see this term as the early stages of a new branch of identity politics.


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