UCL Human Resources



What is neurodiversity?
  • Neurodiversity means neurological diversity
  • Neurological refers to the nervous system. That includes our brain and the nerves in all our body
  • Diversity in the context of Biology refers to the variety and variability of life
  • The human species is neurodiverse
  • An individual human cannot be referred to as neurodiverse
  • Three quarters of the human population has a typical neurology, thus neurotypical
  • A random group of humans can be referred to as neurodiverse assuming they are neurologically diverse
What is neurodivergence?
  • Neurodivergence refers to a different or divergent neurology when compared to most of the human population that has a typical neurology
  • Approximately a quarter of the human population is neurologically different or neurodivergent to most of the human population
  • An individual can be referred to as neurodivergent
  • Neurodivergence is not a disease
  • Neurodivergence is not a collection of deficits
Neurodiversity or neurodivergence?

An individual human cannot be neurodiverse.
Three quarters of the human population has a typical neurology, thus neurotypical.
A random group of humans are neurodiverse.
An individual can be neurodivergent.
A group of individuals can be neurodivergent.
While some people use these terms interchangeably, be aware that these terms do not mean the same thing.
Nevertheless, some neurodivergent people refer to themselves as neurodiverse.
Just be aware that these terms are not synonyms.

What neurodivergent presentations are known?

Autism, ADHD, ADD, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Tourette’s, and more.
Also, neurodivergence rarely fits into one label.
A neurodivergent individual can have presentations across the known conditions but also experience changes during the day.
Thus, neurodivergence is diverse, dynamic, and multidimensional.
Diverse because staff and students at UCL can have any combination of these invisible disabilities.
Multidimensional because the social and physical environment can further disable individuals.

And dynamic because our needs and strengths vary during the day.

What is disability?

It is an umbrella term covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Thus, disability is a complex phenomenon reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which they live. Some neurodivergent people do not see themselves as disabled.

What is an impairment?

A disruption in body function or structure.

What is an activity limitation?

It is the difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action.

What is a participation restriction?

It is a challenge experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.

What is the human rights model of disability?

The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) marks a shift in thinking about disability from a social welfare concern to a human rights issue which acknowledges that societal barriers and prejudices are themselves disabling. The UN CRPD states that disability is “an evolving concept” but also stresses that “disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”. The UN CRPD also notes that “persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”.

How can I know if I am neurodivergent?

Take this training that we launched on 5th October 2020 and let us know if you self-identify with the things that you learn about neurodivergence: https://moodle.ucl.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=23321  

Check the outline of the training sessions here: https://sway.office.com/jrMKjYfcx3BbuAiI?ref=Link

Learning material is permanently available to all UCL staff and students.

What is the 'Double Empathy Problem'?

“When people with very different experiences of the world interact with one another, they will struggle to empathise with each other”. Past research has shown that non-autistic people struggle to read the emotions of autistic people or form negative first impressions of autistic people. According to the theory of the ‘double empathy problem’, issues are not due to autistic cognition alone, but a breakdown in reciprocity and mutual understanding that can happen between people with very differing ways of experiencing the world. https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/professional-practice/double-empathy