Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside

“Neurotypical” – Is the Word Useful? And/or Meaningful?


“Exhibiting the qualities, traits, or characteristics that identify a kind, class, group, or category”IMAG0110

The Use Of The Word

The word itself doesn’t make sense – being used to describe “others” (people who aren’t on the spectrum) society is a mixture of different sorts of people and rather than lumping people into one “group” (neurotypical society, neurotypicals, NTS) wouldn’t it be best to say people who don’t have autism? People who aren’t on spectrum?

It has also been used as word to “attack” people by some people on the autism spectrum who don’t have autism which surely is reverse prejudice?

Two wrongs certainly don’t make a right in this case.

People Who Aren’t On The Spectrum – Aren’t All The Same (Because No One Is)

You can’t define other (in this context people who aren’t on the autism spectrum) by a set of standards that you have created based on assumption that they must all be like that, that is stereotyping, generalising and over-simplifying. If you treat the set of people by the same standards you expect them to treat you in this case that doesn’t apply because of the contradiction.

If it was reversed and all people on the spectrum were thought to be the same and that was projected people I’m sure people from many different quarters would have something to say – the same applies here. Humans are unique and worthy regardless of having a disability or not. Everyone is equal.

Being Balanced

Two people spring to mind who also question many aspects of the autism word – I have written many blogs about sense of togetherness and all views being taken into account in balanced and objective manner.

Dr Casanova

Dr Manuel Casanova has written many thought provoking and reflective blogs on this subject about representation. I consider Dr Casanova a realist with very firm and empathic with genuine heartfelt intentions and questions with regards to this subject.


Donna Williams 2011

Donna Williams has also written highly reflective blogs with regards to the this subject. She has too shares the same qualities with a firm realistic approach, empathic genuine and heartfelt in her words and intentions. I consider their sage advice forward thinking in the context of the autism “world”.

NTs’… When a Word Becomes ‘Loaded’ and Why I Don’t do Bigotry

People Are People 

I like people on the basis of being people it doesn’t matter who they are or were they come from I like them for their personalities not because of anything other – human beings are all unique and that means we are all equal in the world.

Paul Isaacs 2015


Author: Paul Isaacs

Paul was branded as a “naughty & difficult child” at school. He was classically autistic and non-verbal due to speech articulation difficulties. He had complex sensory issues and appeared both deaf and blind. He gained functional speech around the age of 7 or 8 years old. He went through the mainstream school system with no additional help or recognition of his autism. Consequently, he did not achieve his academic or his social potential and had very low self-esteem. At age 11, Paul was referred to the children’s mental health service with childhood depression where he was regarded as “developmentally underage” and having speech problems. As an adult, Paul had a string of unsuccessful jobs, and his mental health suffered. He developed both Borderline and Schizotypal Personality Disorders in early 2007. He was referred to mental health services and misdiagnosed with “Asperger traits with a complex personality”, which did not satisfy Paul or his family. A local autism organisation put Paul in touch with an experienced psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with Autism at 24 years old. In 2012 Paul was also diagnosed with Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome by an Irlen Consultant who confirmed that he also had face, object and meaning blindness – conditions which Paul describes eloquently in his speeches and training sessions. He also has dyslexia, dyscalculia and also a dissociative disorder. Having started working as an local autism organisation as a public speaker in 2010, Paul joined their mission to promote autism awareness. His hope is that others will not have to suffer as he did. Now also a core member of our Training Team, Paul continues to enhance true understanding of autism at every opportunity. Paul has released and published 5 books on the subject of autism published by Chipmunka publishing and has contributed to other books too. Having overcome many challenges to achieve the success that he now enjoys, Paul’s message is that Autism is a complex mix of ability and disability. He firmly believes that every Autistic person should have the opportunity to reach their potential and be regarded as a valued member of society. Apart from autism related blogs Paul also write about movies, fashion, art and anything that is of interest. As of August 2015 Paul now works as a freelance speaker, training and consultant in and around the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire area. If you are interested please contact him via email at

8 thoughts on ““Neurotypical” – Is the Word Useful? And/or Meaningful?

  1. No, it would not be best to say “people who don’t have autism”or “People who are not autistic” because sometimes, what NT is being used to describe or complain about won’t have anything to do with say…. people with ADHD. Sometimes, we need to talk specifically about not-autistic as distinct from NT,

    • Dear educationcomboplatter Thank you for your comments and differing thoughts on this subject I am well aware that many people disagree with me on this subject that fine we all have our different views do we not. 😉 The reason I say this is because one has to to look at the whole picture of “autism” which is an adjective not a definition it is a “stacking” of pre-existing conditions that are varied and fluid in presentation – so one would look at information processing, mental health, identity and personality types, environmental issues and learning styles. So because “autism” is a clustering of single condition people “off the spectrum” could relate to face-blindness, aphasia, semantic pragmatic disorder, simultagnosia etc as well as the whole mix of personality types that present themselves as more “autistic” or more “non-autistic”. The politics of the word “NT” I do not like because of how the word is used in the context of reverse bigotry, “them” and “us” and that to me is wrong. All human beings have their difficulties for so many differing reasons regardless of if they are on the spectrum or not. Thank you for your comment Kindest regards Paul

      • Sure. There are going to be experiences that autistic people have as a whole though (the whole ‘package’ as it were) and we do need a word for not-autistic-but-not-necessary-brain-normal and also a word for not

        Maybe what we need is a new word for NT. I don’t know.

        I’m playing devil’s advocate here but is it possible that “typical brain” is not liked merely because of the fact of a label that is now given to everyone and not just those who are ‘other’.

        I dunno. In the context of Autistic Culture Blogging….usually, people who have the same problems for different reasons are referred to as “cousins.”

        So I wonder if part of the problem might be that that is sort of taken for granted in that space and we don’t always do a good job of setting the “ground terms” for lack of a better phrase.

        Then there’s allistic which is talking about experiences that non-autistic people (but not necessarily typical people have) do not share with autistic people. (Or less strictly…least A&C vs non-A&C.)

        I sometimes wonder if it’s the mere fact of the label that is annoying to some people.

        As for ‘us against them’ – that existed long before the NT term ever came about – I think the NT term is a symptom of the US vs. them culture – not a cause.

        See, this is confusing to me. The autistic vs allistic thing is quite literally “autistic vs not-autistic” which seems to be more “us vs them” since THEM is bigger there than it is in autistic vs neurotypical.

        Tl;dr: Allistic is a term we NEED because not all neurodivergence is the same. You can’t just replace NT with it because the word doesn’t mean the same thing.

        Now, if you want to come up with a new label for NT…that’s something I am more than willing to listen too.

      • I would say that all voices should heard when it comes autism strip away militancy and politics and keep it real. ☺👍

      • Sure. That’s a nice blog post. Thanks.

    • We are all human 😉 NTs’… When a Word Becomes ‘Loaded’ and Why I Don’t do Bigotry

  2. Paul, a helpful, valuable piece. I appreciate you for asking good questions – having the gall to ask why we construct unhelpful dialogue. I’m a guide, searching for pathways for those with autism, who I call friends. Human persons with autism are my teachers in this life.

    • Thank you I agree with you if we lose and define someone solely by one word which is an adjective (a describing word) then we are denying them healthy growth, grounded self perception and valuable journeys in life.

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