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May 2024: Please note the content within this website, including resources, are currently being reviewed and updated in collaboration with our Autistic Advisory Group.

Statement on Language

People use different words to talk about autism and each person will have their own way of talking about autism and about themselves. Some people in the Autistic and autism community like to use ‘Autistic person’ (identity-first language), some like to say ‘person with autism’ (person-first language), and some are fine with using either. Some Autistic people identify as having a disability, while others do not.

The Australian Government uses identity-first language, Autistic person or Autistic people. This approach is supported by current research.

Statement on Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity is a term that is used to describe the natural range of diversity that exists in human neurodevelopment. Although all people process the world differently, some differences are grouped and named. The neurodiversity of a community arises from the presence of different brain types (also known as ‘neurotypes’).

There is a majority neurotype (known as ‘neurotypical’) and there are minority neurotypes (known as ‘neurodivergent’). Neurodivergent brains process the world in a way that differs from neurotypical brains. Well-known forms of neurodivergence include autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and learning differences (such as dyslexia). Many people are also ‘multiply divergent’ (that is, they have more than one different neurotype, for example: autism and ADHD). Many neurodivergent people (including Autistic people) believe that there is no “normal” or “healthy” type of brain or mind, or one “right” style of neurocognitive functioning.

Overall, the Neurodiversity Paradigm — which centres the lived experience of neurodivergent people, including Autistic people — implements a strengths-based, rights-based, and neurodiversity-affirming approach, which seeks to embrace individuality.

About Autism

There is not one universally accepted definition of autism that captures everyone’s experience.

Between 1 and 2 in every 100 Australians have a diagnosis of autism. However, the number of Autistic people living in Australia is likely to be substantially higher. Some reasons for this could be;

  • historical approaches to diagnosis
  • cost or wait times to receive a diagnosis
  • people feeling that diagnosis is not the right path for them.

Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental difference. Autistic people are all individuals and their experiences of day to day life will all be different. As such, the varying strengths and support needs that each person has can change particularly around big life transitions, or certain situations and environments.


Adapted from: https://engage.dss.gov.au/developing-the-national-autism-strategy/