Panel: Neurodiversity in Polyamory Relationships

Facilitator: Worner Leland; Panelists – Zayah Abel, Mo Deslandes, Ishaan G, Timotheus Gordon Jr, Ash Friday

Neurodiversity is concept that honors neurological differences as natural human variability that should be respected instead of pathologized. The neurodiversity umbrella encompasses neurological differences, including intellectual or developmental differences. This includes differences associated with labels like ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Bipolar, Depression, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Epilepsy, OCD, PTSD, and many others. Some view their neurodivergence as part of their external experiences, while others view it as a core part of their identity. For many it shapes how they navigate the world. During this panel discussion we hope to explore how our individual experiences of neurodiversity impact our non-monogamy. We will examine what building affirming, neurodiverse non-monogamous community looks like, how to be supportive of neurodivergent partners and community members, how to navigate different communication needs and styles, and more.

Timotheus Gordon, Jr: Timotheus Gordon Jr. is an African-American autistic self-advocate in the Chicagoland area, writer, and Master of Science candidate in disability & human development at UIC. Through various publications, including his blog the Black Autist, Gordon speaks on being autistic in the African Disapora, police violence towards disabled/Deaf people of color, autism in mainstream media, and non-monogamy among autistic people. He is polyamorous himself and has been supporting the lifestyle for five years.

Zayah Abel: Zayah is a non-binary, autistic, queer, non-monogamous young person. They are passionate about making art, playing Overwatch and DnD with online friends, and devouring mint chocolate chip ice cream while binge watching various shows. They have a knack for knowing truly intriguing information about the world, and bring their whole new perspectives to their interactions with others.

Ash Friday: is a proud, professional pervert who’s taught adult sex, kink, and health education since 2012, though they’ve been in the industry even longer. They live for the places where the strange and fantastical meet practical concerns, and constantly explore how the most mundane and unexpected parts of our identities can have concrete impact on how we play and love. Ash attends school for psychology with a focus on gender and disability studies and (in their spare time) investigates the influence of -isms, constructive and harmful. They view the navigation of mental health, emotional growth, and processing pain and trauma as integral to all relationships, starting with the relationship to self. Ash works in some of Chicago’s longest-standing kink & sex-positive spaces and has taught at a range of events from Dark Odyssey, Bound in Boston, Twisted Tryst, and Chi-Fi to various schools, stores, and private events.

Mo Deslandes and Ishaan G will also be joining us.