Neurodiversity is a neologism used to refer to variation in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions in a non-pathological sense. It was coined in 1998 by sociologist Judy Singer, who helped popularize the concept along with journalist Harvey Blume.
The word neurodiversity is attributed to Judy Singer, a social scientist who has described herself as "likely somewhere on the autistic spectrum" and used the term in her sociology honors thesis published in 1999. The term represented a move away from previous "mother-blaming" theories about the cause of autism. Singer had been in correspondence with Blume as a result of their mutual interest in autism, and though he did not credit Singer, the word first appeared in print in an article by Blume in The Atlantic on September 30, 1998.
Some authors also credit the earlier work of autistic advocate Jim Sinclair in advancing the concept of neurodiversity. Sinclair was a principal early organizer of the international online autism community. Sinclair's 1993 speech, "Don't Mourn For Us", emphasized autism as a way of being: "It is not possible to separate the person from the autism." In a New York Times piece written by American journalist and writer Harvey Blume on June 30, 1997, Blume described the foundation of neurodiversity using the term "neurological pluralism". Blume was an early advocate who predicted the role the Internet would play in fostering the international neurodiversity movement.
The term "neurodiversity" has since been applied to other conditions and has taken on a more general meaning; for example, the Developmental Adult Neurodiversity Association (DANDA) in the UK encompasses developmental coordination disorder, ADHD, Asperger's syndrome, and related conditions.