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Neurodiversity Research and Resources


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Welcome to the Neurodiversity Guide. This page is still under construction, so some sections may still be blank. If you have any suggestions for this page, please email me at

What is Neurodiversity?

The term neurodiversity was introduced in a 1998 undergraduate honours thesis by Australian sociologist Judy Singer. Just as biodiversity is a measure of ecological richness, neurodiversity reflects the range of ways brains and nervous systems can differ from person to person and the cultural and social meaning we give to such differences.


Someone whose neurological arrangement differs from the average is neurodivergent. A person can be born neurodivergent, or become so later in life through illness or accident. While the term neurodiversity emerged from the Autistic community, it is a broader idea that embraces a range of neurological differences from ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia to bipolarity, schizophrenia, PTSD, Down syndrome, and more.


Neurodiversity is based on the social model of disability. This model argues that disability is not contained in the individual specifically, but in the individual’s relationship to their social and physical environments. A common example is how people who need glasses are disabled, but are often not considered to be because of the widespread availability of assistive technologies (in this case, glasses or contact lenses).


The social model is often contrasted to the medical model of disability. In this model people who are not “normal” are considered to be deficient, sick, damaged, or otherwise lacking as individuals regardless of their environmental or social contexts. The medical model tends to place more emphasis on curing people, bringing them back to an idealised physiological “normal,” than on understanding divergent ways of thinking and being or providing social supports for those outside of the norm.


Proponents of neurodiversity acknowledge that neurodivergent people are disabled and that not every aspect of their experience is something that they would choose (a classic example being the frequent digestive issues that often co-occur with autism). The differences in the social and medical models of disability are sometimes blurred, and as with any marginalised community, there are different viewpoints from within the neurodiversity movement itself.


Neurodiversity studies is the interdisciplinary study of neurodiversity that brings together fields like critical disability and autism studies, “mad studies,” the humanities and social sciences, psychology, social work, occupational therapy, nursing, education, and others to understand how neurological difference is experienced, perceived, and treated in cultural context. Its stated goals tend to emphasize human, civil, and patients' rights, mutual aid, and individual or collective autonomy.

Search Tips

Search Tips


1. Use Truncation

Truncation is a good strategy to expand your search hits when looking for resources. Putting an asterisk (*) at the end of a word or acronym will fill in different endings for it. For example, Canad* will find Canadian, Canadians, and Canada. Because different authors may use different terms, you can search for autis* to find autism and autistic, or schiz* to find schizophreniaschizophrenic, "schizo" (considered a slur by some in the community, but also used as an informal expression by some), as well as other related terms.

2. Consider the Past

A commonly used term online or in disability and neurodivergent advocacy groups, or historical terminology that is no longer current, may not be used in academic literature. For example, what might be called "autism" today was called "Asperger's," "childhood disintegrative disorder," or "infantile schizophrenia" in the past. If you cannot find the information you are looking for, think about other ways that the concept might be discussed, even if it is not the generally accepted terminology.

3. Consider the Source

The resources you find will often be split along the lines of the medical or neurodiversity models, which tend to use different language and seek to achieve different goals. Like with many studies that focus on marginalized groups, neurodiversity is a political concept and so what qualifies as an "authoritative source" will differ depending on whether or not you want to focus on a clinical description or the individual's experience.

On social media, hashtags like #actuallyautistic, #actuallyADHD, #actuallyDID, etc. are sometimes used to indicate whether one is speaking about neurodivergence from an own-voice perspective, but any single own-voice perspective will not necessarily represent the community as a whole.

Books and Articles

Books and Articles

There are far more books in the TRU Library than are listed on this guide. Find them by searching Discover!

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (often shortened to DSM-5) is considered to be the primary diagnostic text in psychiatry and is published by the American Psychiatric Association. It forms the basis of many discussions about neurodivergence from the perspective of the medical model. 

Under construction

Websites and Online Resources

Local and National Organizations

Local and National Organizations

International Organizations


Book Lists and Recommendations

Book Lists

Some premade lists of books on neurodivergent topics or themes

Library Staff Picks

More coming soon!