Neurotypical (NT, an abbreviation of neurologically typical) is a neologism widely used in the neurodiversity movement as a label for non-neurodivergent people.[1][2] That is, anyone who has a typical neurotype, so excluding autistic people, or those with ADHD, dyslexia, and so on. The term has been adopted by both the neurodiversity movement and the scientific community.[3][4] It is not to be confused with the term allistic, which refers specifically to non-autistic people, who may or may not have a divergent neurotype.


Early definitions described neurotypicals as "people who do not have autistic-type brains", clarifying that this would exclude "autistic cousins" who are recognizably “autistic-like”[5] but not necessarily autistic.[6] Early uses of "NT" were often satirical, as in the Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical,[7][8] but with time it came to be widely used unironically.[9]

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 neurodivergent,[9] an umbrella term inclusive of people with diverse mental and behavioral differences, 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.

Some people prefer the term allistic,[10] which unambiguously means "not autistic".[11]

The National Autistic Society of the United Kingdom says of the term "neurotypical": "neurotypical is mainly used by autistic people so may not be applicable in, for example, the popular press."[12]


"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".[13]
  • "Neurotypical" was a dubious construct, because there was nobody who could be considered truly neurotypical. There was no such standard for the human brain.[14]


  1. ^ Walker, Nick (2021). Neuroqueer Heresies. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-945955-26-6.
  2. ^ "NEUROTYPICAL | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary". Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved 2022-05-23.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Language and abbreviations". 2008-06-06. Archived from the original on 6 June 2008. Retrieved 2022-04-19.
  6. ^ Arnold, Laurence (2017-10-07). "A brief history of "Neurodiversity" as a concept and perhaps a movement". Autonomy, the Critical Journal of Interdisciplinary Autism Studies. 1 (5). ISSN 2051-5189.
  7. ^ Tisoncik, Laura A. (2020), Kapp, Steven K. (ed.), "Autistics.Org and Finding Our Voices as an Activist Movement", Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement: Stories from the Frontline, Singapore: Springer, pp. 65–76, doi:10.1007/978-981-13-8437-0_5, ISBN 978-981-13-8437-0, S2CID 210502958, retrieved 2022-04-19
  8. ^ Blume, Harvey (1998-09-30). "Neurodiversity". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2022-04-19.
  9. ^ a b Walker, Nick (August 2021). Neuroqueer heresies : notes on the neurodiversity paradigm, autistic empowerment, and postnormal possibilities. pp. 33–46. ISBN 978-1-945955-26-6. OCLC 1287945422.
  10. ^ "ALLISTIC | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary". Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved 2022-04-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "How to talk about autism". Retrieved 2022-04-18.
  13. ^ Russell 2020, p. 288.
  14. ^ Russell 2020, p. 290.