Inclusive Language
Inclusive Language
Lifestyle

Inclusive Language Guide – Neurodiversity Edition

There are many ways to talk about neurodivergent people, and for the most part, these terms have been used interchangeably. However, there are some important differences between them that you should know about. This guide will help you understand what each term means, how they differ from one another, and which ones you can use when talking with a neurodiverse person.

What is Inclusive Language?

Inclusive language is a term used to describe the use of inclusive terms and phrases when referring to people with disabilities, mental health conditions, or other differences in ways that are respectful, accurate, and supportive. It’s important for those who work with these populations to be aware of how they refer to them so that everyone can feel included and respected.

Why is Inclusive Language Important for Neurodiversity?

People with neurodivergent identities (as opposed to neurotypical) experience a wide range of emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and sensory experiences that are different from what most people experience. These differences can make it difficult for neurotypicals to understand or relate to their experiences. As a result, many people with neurodivergent identity have difficulty feeling accepted, supported, understood, and included by others. This can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, depression, anxiety, and even self-harm.

When we use inclusive language, we show respect and understanding for all individuals regardless of their differences. We acknowledge that everyone has unique strengths and challenges. We also recognize that our own lives are not the only ones worth living. By using inclusive language, we help build an environment where people with neurodivergence can thrive.

How inclusive language creates unity at work and school

By using inclusive language, colleagues and teachers can create environments where everyone feels safe, valued, and included. They can also provide opportunities for students to learn about themselves and each other through shared experiences. When everyone feels welcome, supported, and included, everyone benefits.

Examples of Inclusive Language:

“I see you.”

“You look great today!”

“I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner.”

“Thank you for sharing your story.”

“It sounds like you’re having a rough time right now.”

“I hear you.”

“What do you think?”

“That makes sense.”

Inclusive language in writing

Use inclusive language in your written communications. For example, instead of saying “you,” say “your name” or “the person you mentioned.” Instead of saying “he/she,” say “person X.” You may want to consider using gender neutral pronouns as well.

Here are some examples of acceptable pronoun usage:

She/Her/Hers

He/His/Him

They/Theirs

We/Us/Our

Neurodiverse people deserve to be treated respectfully and accurately. If you’re unsure if something is appropriate, ask yourself whether this statement would offend someone with a neurodivergent identity.

Person-first and identity-first language

Using person-first language means starting sentences with “a person with…” or “an individual with…” and ending statements with “with…”. For example, the phrase “my friend has Autism” is person-first. Instead, the phrase “My friend who is Autistic” is preferred since it describes a part of their identity.

How Can I Use Inclusive Language?

There are several simple things you can do right now to start practicing more inclusive language:

1. Be Aware. Think before you speak. Before you say something, ask yourself if it’s appropriate and consider whether it will add value to the conversation. If you aren’t sure, don’t say anything at all!

2. Ask Questions. When someone shares information about themselves, ask questions like “What does that mean?” or “Is there another way to say that?”

3. Show Respect. Make sure you’re paying attention to tone of voice, body language, facial expressions, and gestures. Take note of how you’re responding. Are you showing interest? Do you seem distracted? Are you interrupting?

4. Listen. Try to listen carefully without judgement and without trying to fix or change the person speaking.

5. Speak Clearly. Keep your speech concise, clear, and focused on the topic being discussed. Avoid jargon, slang, acronyms, and technical terminology.

Summary

Inclusive language helps us understand others better by acknowledging them as they really are. It shows respect for all people. It builds community and allows us to connect with one another. Using inclusive language helps us become more aware of our own biases and prejudices. And finally, when we use inclusive language, we help ourselves feel less alone.

Keep reading and see what else you can learn about being neurodivergent today!

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Neurodadversity
30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

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