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Neurodiversity refers to the diversity of human minds. We know that no two people have the same way of thinking or sensing things. Understanding neurodiversity means accepting that everyone has different strengths and needs and actively working to create a society that includes everyone. 


Our population is neurodiverse meaning that every human has a unique brain.  So we are all part of neurodiversity. Neurodiversity includes everyone and is not a new word for some kind of additional or special need.

Most people find that most of their learning, sensory, social, creative, organisational needs are met most of the time in society. They are neurotypical. They fit in the majority group in society so most places are set up with their needs in mind.

However some people are neurodivergent. This means that how they perceive and interact with the world differs from the standards of the society in which they live. Some of these people have labels for their neurodivergence such as Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Epilepsy but many people do not have a label. 


Neurotypical (Most People) + Neurodivergent (Some People) = Neurodiversity (All People)


Neurodivergent people may have high or low support needs due to the differences in how their brain works. This may change during their life. They may, or may not, be happy about being neurodivergent. 

The important thing is that society needs to recognise and respond to neurodiversity among its citizens in a fair and inclusive way.  This means that people should get supports when they need them to access services such as school, work, social spaces. It means all of us working together to create a society where people are not discriminated against due to being neurodivergent. 

So a neurodiversity-accepting society, sometimes called a neuroaffirmative society is one where everyone is accepted and efforts are made to include all people. Then the whole community can benefit when no brains are excluded. 

The definitions around neurodiversity can be confusing - the ideas about neurodiversity are not new but are only now being talked about throughout society. 

It is crucial to understand that neurodivergent individuals have unique needs that deserve to be acknowledged and accommodated. Unfortunately, many neurodivergent individuals face challenges, judgments, and barriers in a society primarily designed around neurotypical norms. As a result, they may require additional support, assistance, and, above all, understanding—both from themselves and from others.  This may be necessary for them to access educational institutions, employment opportunities, and social settings. Without appropriate, individualised support some neurodivergent people lose access to such basic facilities.


There are many medically-identified neurodivergent conditions, for which supports are available.

Some examples are listed below:

  • Autism (including what was previously known as Asperger's syndrome)
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Dyscalculia (difficulty with math)
  • Dysgraphia (difficulty with writing)
  • Dyslexia (difficulty with reading)
  • Dyspraxia (difficulty with coordination)
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Acquired brain injury
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Some mental health conditions


Accessing diagnosis and support in Northern Ireland can often be challenging. Statutory services often face overwhelming demand, resulting in lengthy waiting times.


Using autism as an example, it has been reported that in Northern Ireland, 1 in 21 children have received a diagnosis of autism (DHSSPS, 2022, Prevalence of Autism in School-Aged Children). As of 2021, it was estimated that nearly 4,500 children in Northern Ireland were awaiting an autism assessment, with the likelihood that the numbers are even higher. Thousands of children have been waiting for over two years to receive a diagnosis and access necessary services (Response from Minister of Health, Belfast City Motion: Waiting Lists for Diagnosing Autism in Children).

According to the NI Census 2021, there are 35,367 individuals, including both adults and children, in Northern Ireland who are autistic. The census figures indicate that 5.25% of 0-14 year-olds are diagnosed as autistic, compared to 0.32% of 40-64 year-olds (NISRA, 2022, Census 2021 Main Statistics for Northern Ireland Phase 2). These statistics suggest that there may be a substantial number of undiagnosed adults who have yet to receive a formal autism diagnosis. Indeed, due to the lack of access to assessment, some adults self-identify as autistic in order to access autistic communities.

Fortunately, there are numerous voluntary, community, and charity organizations that provide valuable information, advice, and support for autistic people and their families. 



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Helpful Resources


Consider if you'd like to browse privately: These resources often link to external Websites like YouTube, or Amazon for example, which save certain information about your browsing history. If you'd like to check out these resources but you'd like to keep your browsing private or are concerned for your safety, please consider using incognito mode - this will allow you to view all content without the risk of exposing your browsing history. 







  • The Middletown Centre for Autism Podcast - Featuring interviews with leading thinkers and practitioners in the world of autism. The interviews feature discussions on strategies that may be helpful in supporting autistic children and young people.
  • BBC 1800 Seconds on Autism (Podcast) - From home and family to humour and epic geekiness, this is a funny and enlightening podcast about thinking differently. With autistic hosts Robyn Steward, Jamie Knight and guests.
  • Square Peg Podcast - Autistic women* and nonbinary people share our stories. The Squarepeg podcast is all about giving autistic adults an opportunity to hear from other neurodivergent people.








  • What is Neurodiversity? - Counselling Psychologist Stephen Munt introduces us to Neurodiversity supported by client insights. We also hear from an individual who has faced and overcome challenges with her Neurodiversity and differences.
  • What Exactly is Neurodiversity? - The neurodiversity movement has been around for some time, but what exactly is it? In this video, How to ADHD talk about what the neurodiversity movement is and how it's linked to the autistic community.
  • Neurodiversity: The New Normal | Cynthia Coupé | TEDxOcala -  In this talk, Speech Language Pathologist Cynthia Coupe, MA, CCC-SLP describes what neurodiversity is, and what happens when neurodivergent individuals are not supported by society.
  • BBC - Chris meets with Murray – who is non-verbal – and his parents Keith and DJ Ken Bruce, to discuss their family's experience of autism
  • More Coming Soon! Do you have any suggestions? Join the Conversation at the bottom of this page!



Find Help Near You - Neurodiversity


There are many support agencies in Northern Ireland who specialise in providing support to support people to live a more fulfilled and content life. Everyone is different and some people may benefit from increasing their social interaction, gaining employment, counselling or becoming more active outdoors. Browse our directory to find local organisations to explore and consider reaching out.

We currently do not accept requests for ongoing support from us.
Instead, please browse or search our directory to find the most appropriate service for your needs to ensure you
get the best support possible.


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