Like a Different Language: Neurodivergence Acronyms and Terms

All the acronyms in neurodivergent conversations can seem like an alphabet soup of weirdness. But never fear, Socially Awkward Weirdo has your back. You’re welcome, fuckers.

Our world these days seems full of acronyms: LGBTQ, ADHD, JPEG, ATM, etc. It seems like we can’t speak without using a goddamned acronym anymore. Even shit you didn’t know was an acronym is a fucking acronym! Like “laser”, for instance. Nowadays, that shit is just a word, but it wasn’t always. It’s a goddamned acronym and stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The thing is, I use a lot of these motherfuckers on here talking about neurodivergence. The little bastards are handy because I don’t want to write out Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder every time I write about it any more than you want to read all that shit. So, I thought I’d put together a list of the more prominent acronyms and terms used in conversations about neurodivergence. You know, in the interest of clarity and shit.

Acronyms and Terms: The Alphabet Soup of Neurodivergence

This is something I’ve thought about doing for a while now but never seemed to get around to. There’s always been some new thing I’ve learned or some new outrage that’s gotten in the way. But it’s important because all these acronyms — ADHD, ASD, RSD, and more — are confusing to me and I have the shit. I can’t imagine what you “normal” types think about it all. It’s probably not as shitty as some of the stuff I hear about the LGBTQ+ thing, so there is that. Anyway, the way this will work is I’ll give the acronym or term, followed by a quick dirty definition along with a link that goes deeper. So, here we go, fuckers.


  • ABA _ Applied Behavioral Analysis. ABA is the most common and best established treatment for kids with autism. And, it’s awful. You can find out why here. Or, you can go here for a less critical overview.
  • Allistic _ This is a quick, easy way of saying someone isn’t autistic. You may notice that I don’t use it that much but that’s only because my scope is wider than just autism, I try to cover neurodivergence as a whole. Here’s a link that goes into the term a little deeper.
  • ADHD _ Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. You already know this, but I want to do this shit right. ADHD is a developmental condition that affects the “brain’s self-management system” (link to follow). It is characterized by differences in attention, executive function, and emotional regulation. Read more here.
  • ASD _ Autism Spectrum Disorder. Like ADHD, you know what this is but what you might not be aware of is the “spectrum” aspect. We now know that autism exists in different forms across a range of aspects. It’s where that “If you know one autistic person, then you know one autistic person” thing came from. Here’s more on the subject.
  • DSM-5 _ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. This is the manual doctors use for diagnoses and treatment recommendations of mental disorders, developmental issues, and other brain-related shit. Go deeper here.
  • ICD-11 _ International Statistical Classification of Diseases 11th Revision. This is basically the rest of the world’s version of the DSM-5 except that it covers more than just mental health. Don’t ask me why we use something different than the rest of world. I mean, we’re still using those ridiculous imperial units, for god’s sake. Okay, rant over. Read more about the ICD-11 here.
  • ND/NT _ Neurotypical (NT) and neurodivergent (ND). A way of talking about people that isn’t fucking ableist. Society used to call neurotypical people “normal” and us NDs were, by extension, “abnormal”. Which is shitty. These terms/acronyms come from the concept of neurodiversity, which you can read about here.


  • Echolalia _ This is repeating noises/phrases that one might hear. Autistics use it as a stim (see below) to deal with stress, a script to handle a social situation, or a calming strategy. Find out more here. Now, the site I’ve linked to is talking about kids, but you should know that autistics of all ages use echolalia. But as I’ve said before, the fucking dialogue around autism is way too focused on children.
  • Executive Dysfunction (ED) _ Executive Dysfunction, which I’ve written about here, is the part of your brain’s system that handles working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibition control. That’s what the Cleveland Clinic says, anyway. You read more of what they say about it here.
  • Rejection Sensitive Disorder (RSD) _ So, you know that shitty little voice in your head that pops up from time to time, to tell you what an awful person you are? Multiply that about 10 and you have Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. Here’s a little something more in depth.
  • Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) _ SPD is basically problems handling sensory input. And, by “sensory input”, I mean pretty much any sensory input — sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, you fucking name it. If it’s a sensory thing, we can have problems with it. This article does a good job explaining this shit.
  • Stimming _ This is self-stimulating behavior that NDs use to soothe themselves, handle stressful situations, express frustation, and more. So, you probably know the classic stims like rocking and hand-flapping, but there as many stims and there are neurodivergent people. Check out this Healthline article if you want to know more.
  • Dyslexia/Dyscalculia/Dysgraphia _ These are actually separate conditions but they’re also pretty similar. Each one has to do with how the brain processes language and numbers. Dyslexia deals with words and letters, dyscalculia does the same with numbers, and dysgraphia has to do with writing. This article gives a good breakdown of each one.

Important Shit

Okay, so you probably know already, but this list is in no way exhaustive. I’m just trying to give you guys a reference page for the stuff you might have encountered either here or elsewhere. Because of that, this post is going to listed on the home page in section called “Important Shit”. I’m going to be doing more shit like this as things go along, but this is the start. Keep your eyes open for more and don’t forget to share these posts. The more people who see this shit, the better things will get for us.

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