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What is 'Neuroexceptional' anyway?

Photo by David Hill

I started calling people 'neuroexceptional' out of frustration. It is an accurate and broad descriptor. In my role as a mental health counselor, we try to fit people into categories listed in the exhaustive (and exhausting) DSM-5. People rarely fit nicely into those categories and ultimately I don't find them very useful other than having something to fill in a box on a chart. I might see someone as having ADHD while another provider accounts for the same symptoms with an anxiety diagnosis. I'll see someone as having sensory meltdowns while another providers sees explosive personality disorder. I'll see someone as having the social challenges of autism spectrum while another provider sees an antisocial personality disorder. What we do tend to be able to agree upon is that these folks are not your standard issue, they are indeed 'neuroexceptional'. The way their brain works is an exception to the way that is expected.

When I am not working as a mental health counselor, other labels get thrown around... weird, nerdy, shy, awkward, introverted, sensitive, antisocial and so on. I can't think of anyone who particularly likes having their exceptionality explained away with these terms. Kudos to Susan Cain who has done a great job of assisting introverts and the world around them in understanding that particular trait.

So I have starting using the term 'neuroexceptional'. I found it on the internet. It made sense to me. When I introduce the term to people who feel they have landed askew of societal expectation, they inevitably say "I kinda like that."

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