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Neurotypical or NT, an abbreviation of neurologically typical, is a neologism widely used in the autistic community as a label for non-autistic people. It refers to anyone who does not have any developmental disorders such as autism, developmental coordination disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder. The term has been adopted by both the neurodiversity movement and the scientific community.[1][2]

In its original usage, it referred to anyone who is not autistic or a 'cousin' with an 'autistic-like' brain.[3][failed verification][unreliable source?] The term was later narrowed to refer to those with strictly typical neurology, that is, without a learning disorder or neurodevelopmental disorder.

In recent times,[as of?] people with any sort of mental disorder, whether congenital or acquired, have also sometimes been excluded from the neurotypical label.[dubious ] In this sense, the term is now contrasted to neuroatypical, an umbrella term inclusive of people with diverse mental and behavioral disorders, such as mood, anxiety, dissociative, psychotic, personality, and eating disorders. The conditions themselves, following the neurodiversity and social construction of disability models and in distance from the hegemonic medical model of disability (otherwise known in the neurodiversity community as the "pathology paradigm"), are often referred to as neurodivergences—that is, neurotypes that are divergent from a given social and medical norm. Neurotypical is, in short, not having a developmental disorder; since most people with mental illnesses are born with no developmental disorders, they are considered predominantly neurotypical from birth. Mental illness could be triggered by environmental causes or traumatic events in one's lifetime, whereas developmental disorders are present at birth and continue into adulthood.

Neurotypical, as a specific term for its original purpose within autistic communities, has been replaced by some with allistic, or "nypical",[4] which has roughly the same meaning that "neurotypical" had originally.[5] These terms refer to those who are not autistic and who do not possess another pervasive developmental disorder, even if they may be neurologically atypical in some other way, such as having dyslexia.

The National Autistic Society of the United Kingdom says of the term "neurotypical": "This term is only used within the autism community so may not be applicable in, for example, the popular press."[6]


"Critiques of the Neurodiversity Movement", a 2020 review, argued two basic observations:

  • Many people who do not have an autism diagnosis have autistic traits. This was known by researchers as the "broad autism phenotype". So, there was no clear bimodal distribution separating people with and without autism. In reality there were not two distinct populations, one "neurotypical" and one "neurodivergent".[7]
  • "Neurotypical" was a dubious construct, because there was nobody who could be considered truly neurotypical. There was no such standard for the human brain.[8]


  1. ^ Hare, D. J.; Jones, S.; Evershed, K. (November 2006). "A comparative study of circadian rhythm functioning and sleep in people with Asperger syndrome". Autism. 10 (6): 565–575. doi:10.1177/1362361306068509. PMID 17088273. S2CID 21545034.
  2. ^ O'Connor, K.; Hamm, J. P.; Kirk, I. J. (October 2005). "The neurophysiological correlates of face processing in adults and children with Asperger's syndrome". Brain and Cognition. 59 (1): 82–95. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2005.05.004. PMID 16009478. S2CID 29490793.
  3. ^ Sinclair, Jim (1998). "A note about language and abbreviations". Archived from the original on June 6, 2008. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
  4. ^ Robison, John Elder (2011). Be Different: My Adventures with Asperger's and My Advice for Fellow Aspergians, Misfits, Families, and Teachers (1st ed.). New York: Broadway Paperbacks. ISBN 9780307884824. OCLC 783043987.
  5. ^ Cashin, A.; Sci, D. A. (2006). "Two terms—one meaning: the conundrum of contemporary nomenclature in autism". Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing. 19 (3): 137–144. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6171.2006.00061.x. PMID 16913963.
  6. ^ "How to talk about autism". National Autistic Society. Archived from the original on July 13, 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  7. ^ Russell 2020, p. 288.
  8. ^ Russell 2020, p. 290.