An Autism Glossary

From the TUC handbook, ‘Autism in the workplace’.

Asperger syndrome 
An autism spectrum condition that affects the way a person communicates and relates to others. People with Asperger syndrome usually have fewer problems with language than those with other forms of autism, and may not have the accompanying learning disabilities often associated with autism. 

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 
A developmental condition involving difficulties with attention, activity levels and impulsivity. 

Autism / Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC) / Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) 
Neurological developmental conditions which occur when atypical (unusual) brain connections lead to atypical development. These differences in the way the brain functions lead to particular challenges and abilities and unusual development. 

Family members, professionals or paraprofessionals who provide constant or regular care. 

A condition associated with significant difficulty with numbers and calculation. 

A condition associated with significant difficulty with reading. 

Impairment of the organisation of movement with associated problems of language, perception and thought. 

Repeating back something said to you; many autistic people use echolalia. 

Executive function 
The set of abilities used to plan complex cognitive tasks, to translate motivation into action. 

Flexible working 
Changes to hours or location of work to suit a worker’s caring responsibilities. 

An unusually high or intense response to a particular stimulus eg. smell, texture, colour. 

An unusually low response to a particular stimulus eg. light, pain, sound. 

Neurological diversity / neurodiversity 
Difference in the neurological make-up, or ‘brain wiring’ of a population. 

Neurologically Typical / Neurotypical / NT 
(A person) not having a neurological condition such as autism. 

Non-verbal communication 
Communication through means other than words, for example facial expression, posture, gesture and body movement. 

Reasonable adjustments 
Changes to working conditions – for example, equipment, duties, hours of work – to enable a person with a disability to carry out his/her job. 

Individuals who possess special talents, usually in the areas of music, mathematics, drawing or calendrical calculations. 

Self stimulation / stimming 
Behaviours often used by people with autism to provide stimulation, assisting with calming, adding concentration or shutting out an overwhelming sound. Examples include rocking back and forth, skipping, vocalising or making repetitive noises, flapping hands or spinning round.

Variation in the way a condition affects or shows itself in individuals with that condition. Autism is a spectrum condition, meaning that individuals have different traits, to different degrees. 

Triad of impairments 
A theory of autism identifying impairments affecting social interaction, social communication and imagination.

Download Page Content (.pdf)