Leone Centre Glossary

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is medical terminology. In the context of neurodiversity-affirmative therapy, we will not use the term disorder.
ASD benefits from an approach that embraces and supports the unique neurological variations of individuals with autism.

Common challenges

  • Misunderstanding and misrepresentation of ASD in traditional therapy settings.
  • Lack of specialised support recognising the strengths and needs of autistic individuals.
  • The importance of a therapy approach that respects neurodiversity.

About ASD

The medical term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) encompasses a range of differences affecting communication, behaviour, and sensory processing. ASD is typically diagnosed in early childhood, but it can be recognised at any age. Characteristics and traits vary widely, hence the term “spectrum.”

ASD and neurodiversity-affirmative therapy

The medical term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is used to describe a developmental condition that affects communication, behaviour, and social interactions. Neurodiversity-affirmative therapy recognises autism as a natural variation of the human experience. This therapy focuses on creating supportive environments that validate the experiences and perspectives of autistic individuals, with an emphasis on strengths-based approaches rather than viewing autism solely as a disorder.

Therapy benefits

Neurodiversity-affirmative therapy respects and embraces the differences associated with ASD. This approach:

  1. Promotes self-acceptance and self-understanding.
  2. Encourages the development of individual strengths and talents.
  3. Supports mental health and well-being in a non-judgemental setting.

How it works

Therapists working from a neurodiversity-affirmative perspective:

  1. Use personalised and flexible methods.
  2. Focus on collaborative goal-setting with the individual.
  3. Create a safe space for expressing thoughts and feelings.


What is neurodiversity-affirmative therapy?
Neurodiversity-affirmative therapy is an approach that values and respects neurological differences, recognising them as part of human diversity.
How does this therapy differ from traditional approaches?
Unlike traditional approaches that may aim to ‘correct’ or ‘normalise’ behaviour, neurodiversity-affirmative therapy focuses on understanding and supporting individual differences, promoting acceptance and self-worth.
Who can benefit from neurodiversity-affirmative therapy?
Anyone on the autism spectrum or with other neurodevelopmental differences can benefit, as it is designed to cater to the unique needs and strengths of neurodiverse individuals.


  1. National Autistic Society – What is Autism?
  2. Neurodiversity Hub – Neurodiversity-Affirmative Therapy
  3. NCBI – Neurodiversity and the Autism Spectrum
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision