n. The variety of non-debilitating neurological behaviors and abilities exhibited by the human race.
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But in a new kind of disabilities movement, many of those who deviate from the shrinking subset of neurologically ''normal'' want tolerance, not just of their diagnoses, but of their behavioral quirks. They say brain differences, like body differences, should be embraced, and argue for an acceptance of ''neurodiversity.''
—Amy Harmon, “The Disability Movement Turns to Brains,” The New York Times, May 09, 2004
Neurodiversity is a word that has been around since autistic people started putting sites on the internet.
It has since been expanded to include not just people who are known as "autistics and cousins", but to express the idea that a diversity of ways of human thinking is a good thing, and dyslexic, autistic, ADHD, dyspraxic and tourettes people to name but a few all have some element in common not being neurotypical in the way our brains work.
—“What Is Neurodiversity?,” Coventry Neurodiversity Group, May 01, 1999
1998 (earliest)
The common assumption in cognitive studies these days is that the human brain is the most complicated two-and-a-half pounds of matter in the known universe. With so much going on in a brain, the argument goes, the occasional bug is inevitable: hence autism and other departures from the neurological norm. ISNT [Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical] suggests another way of looking at this. Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment? Cybernetics and computer culture, for example, may favor a somewhat autistic cast of mind.
—Harvey Blume, “Neurodiversity,” The Atlantic Monthly, September 01, 1998
The neurodiversity movement is based on the belief that there is no such thing as "normal" when it comes to the human mental landscape. The neurotypical (1996) person simply does not exist. Together we display a wide variety of neurological behaviors and abilities, and most of us exhibit some form of mental "disorder" from time to time, albeit in non-debilitating — or "subclinical" — form: mild depression, temporary anxiety, and so on. We accept that the world is populated with people who are tall and small; who are big-boned and bird-boned; who are ecto-, meso-, and endomorphic. So, as the theory goes, doesn't it make sense to also accept that the world is populated with people who exhibit at least as wide a variety of neurological traits?

Update: Thanks to Wikipedian CeilingCrash for antedating the earliest citation for this term to September, 1998.
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