Search the Otago Polytechnic website

Welcome to Neurodiversity

Otago Polytechnic’s Neurodiversity Community provides an opportunity to share resources, make connections with people who identify as neurodivergent, and provides resources for those who want to know more about neurodiversity.



We want all of us to develop a better understanding of neurodiversity and how to work with and support different and diverse groups of people.

We believe that Neurodiversity brings amazing strengths, and we can all show respect through our  awareness, understanding and acceptance.  To support  individuals and whānau we all need to have a better understanding of neurodiversity and reflect on what it means for our practice.

We know that many people who identify as neurodiverse experience barriers due to misunderstandings, complexities around diagnosis and these are lifelong.

What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one "right" way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.

The neurodiversity movement emerged during the 1990s, aiming to increase acceptance and inclusion of all people while embracing neurological differences. Online platforms provided spaces for more and more autistic people were able to connect and form a self-advocacy movement. At the same time, Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist, coined the term neurodiversity to promote equality and inclusion of "neurological minorities." While it is primarily a social justice movement, neurodiversity research and education is increasingly important in informing how we all view and work with individuals strengths and challenges, with different disabilities and neurological conditions.

Judy Singer (2013) refined neurodiversity to describe humans as presenting across a spectrum of neuro-abilities - natural to expect the way humans’ minds work to be diverse and full of variation across the human population.

While neurological variations can sometimes make it challenging to communicate, express ourselves and interact with others, they also enable strengths and capabilities such as being creative and innovative and having exceptional conceptual and analytical skills. 

Words matter in neurodiversity

Neurodiversity requires inclusive, non-judgmental language. While many disability advocacy organisations prefer person-first language ("a person with autism," "a person with Down syndrome"), some research has found that the majority of the autistic community prefers identity-first language ("an autistic person"). Just like with gender, we need to respect someone’s chosen identity, is best to ask directly about a person’s preferred language, and how they want to be addressed. Knowledge about neurodiversity and respectful language is also important.

The neurodiversity view is also personal. Being neurodivergent can help shape identity and how people see themselves and their value in the world. Neurodivergent people experience, interact with, and interpret the world in unique ways. That can sometimes create challenges and can lead to creative problem-solving and amazing new ideas — things that benefit everyone. Simply put, neurodiversity is a variation of the human brain.

Technical terms for neurodiversity are:

  • Neurodivergence - The individual expression of neurodiversity.
  • Neurotypical (NT) – The term originated in the autistic community, as a way to refer to non-autistic people, and is used to describe a person whose neurological development and state are typical, conforming to what most people would perceive as normal. People whose neurological development is atypical are referred to as "neurodivergent".
  • Neurodivergent (ND) – Is a group of individuals who identify as neurodiverse. Neurodivergent people experience, interact with, and interpret the world in unique ways.
  • Kanorau ā-roro is the Te Reo translation of neurodiversity.

The word neurodiversity refers to the diversity of all people, Some Neurodivergence is genetic, some developmental and some may be the result of life events/injury. Neurodiverse expressions include, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), Autism and Tourette’s.

Tuhono Default Image 1080x720 Autumn


Published on 15 February 2023

Neurodiversity Community of Practice Symposium 2023 - call for presenters! The 2023 Superpowers Symposium will be held at Otago Polytechnic/ Te Kura Matatini...

Staff Hub, Neurodiversity
neurodiversity image 001


Published on 16 September 2022

This symposium focuses on Kanorau ā-roro superpowers and neuro-abilities; we ask individuals, learners, and educators to share their knowledge of neurodiversit...

Staff Hub, Neurodiversity
5eb39f1f abff 48be b81b 1d1b67f93286 FitMaxWzM1MiwyNjRd


Published on 11 October 2022

Tiffany Stenger, Learning Advisor at Whitireia and WelTec, is completing a Master of Professional Practice qualification, and is looking for participants for he...

Staff Hub, Neurodiversity
Tui andrea lightfoot 0MU2XZbkGZ8 unsplash 1300 v2


Published on 18 September 2022

Coming up on the PD calendar - learn more about neurodiversity and supporting neurodivergent learners in the upcoming hui in September and symposium in October....

Staff Hub, Neurodiversity
Coloring pencils creative background free public domain CC0 image rawpixel


Published on 07 September 2022

As we celebrate the 55th World literacy day this Thursday 8th Sept., the world of literacy continues to evolve. Here’s an update on current issues in literacy...

Staff Hub, Neurodiversity
thumbnail Ambers Picture


Published on 18 July 2022

Staff Hub, Neurodiversity
CORP campus Abstract 015


Published on 16 March 2022

Staff Hub, Neurodiversity