This kind of language is a problem because it places value on the ability or inability to do something.Whether someone can tie their own shoes, count to ten, wipe their own butt, or live on their own without help isn’t a moral question.

When we talk about neurodiverse folks these days, we usually think about autistic people first, but the neuro-atypical umbrella can include people with ADD or ADHD, people with learning disabilities such as dyslexia or dyscalculia (difficulty learning or understanding number-related stuff), people with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder, and other people with neurological disorders, brain injuries, and developmental disabilities.

In short, we’re usually talking about people who have been labelled with some sort of medical diagnosis.

Sometimes, this is helpful, when it means that someone gets the support and validation they need for how their brain works.

I was excited to see Noah Eidelman’s workshop Neurodivergent & Naughty: Sex and Sexuality for folks on and around “the spectrum” on the schedule at the 38th annual Guelph Sexuality Conference., where I spent a fun, exhilarating, exhausting couple of days in June.

Collectively, our conversations about sexuality and disability are still revolving mostly around physical and sensory impairments or illnesses.

When we turn to intellectual and developmental disabilities, we’re still too often stuck at the question of ability to consent, or at validation of sexuality (including asexual identity) in the first place.

Noah’s presentation took us beyond that conversation, to the factors that can affect relationships, sexual identity, and sexual expression for neuro-atypical or neuro-diverse folks.

Noah likes the shorthand of neuro-weird or neuro-whatever.

As someone who would be considered neurotypical (more on that in a minute) I don’t feel comfortable adopting the term neuroweird, but I love it…because it describes just how messy and imprecise the whole neurodiversity umbrella is.