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APUK Blog

Neuroqueer Parenting

Neuroqueering is the practice of subverting or "queering" our embodiment and expression of our neurology. It is not necessary to be innately neurodivergent (such as Autistic or ADHD) to engage in neuroqueering practices, but there is a significant intersection between the two.


A person can be considered neuroqueer when they make the embodiment of their neurology contrast with society's normative standards. It is an act of defiance in an oppressive society, and the logical outcome of neurodiversity as a civil rights movement.


Anyone who has followed my work will know that neuroqueer theory has been transformative for me. It has allowed me to start deconstructing enforced expressions of Self and assimilation into the cultural standards of "normal" that have been very harmful to me throughout my life. Alongside this, I have recently become a father, and this has demonstrated to me the importance of taking post-normal thinking into my approach to fatherhood.


Intergenerational trauma has played a role in all of our lives. From one generation to the next, we have lived lives under the rules of our predecessors, regardless of whether or not those rules provide safety in our own lives. Often, the previous generation's "normal" has been a great source of pain for many of us, and it is the passing down of this pain that has led to much of the distress that younger generations are now experiencing.


So how can we move forward? Neuroqueer theory introduces us to the idea of neuronormativity, and more general normativity in a broader sense. It allows us to look at how our interactions with others influence the development of our sense of Self and impact our expression of our inner world.

When I consider my son, I hope that he can grow up to love the person he sees in the mirror. I want him to feel comfortable expressing the Self that he feels inside, not a version that he thinks will please me. So as a parent, it is my responsibility to model this and provide the tools he will need to access radical self-acceptance in a world that will demand assimilation.


Aside from the broader work of dismantling society’s oppressive structures, I need to be the person that I feel inside. I need my son to see a person that loves who they are in the face of a world that wants him to deny himself.


I need my son to know that he is always safe to express his inner world with me. I need to be an island of calm in the storm of oppression. This requires me to let go of "normal". It requires me to deconstruct the normative ideas of "good parenting", and find a way to meet all of my child's emotional and physical needs, regardless of how the world believes I should do this. I have to realise that my life is not just about me anymore. My son did not ask to be born, and he owes me nothing for his existence. I owe him everything. I am the one blessed with the privilege of watching him grow and evolve, it is essential that I do not impose my own expectations onto that growth.


Children are not an art project. They are not a means for us to express ourselves. They are human beings with lives and feelings of their own. We owe them the right to express that authentically.


David Gray-Hammond is an Autistic and Schizophrenic author and blogger. He wrote the book "The New Normal: Autistic musings on the threat of a broken society" and runs the blog "Emergent Divergence".


Alongside this, he is a professional consultant, mentor, and advocate in the field of neurodivergent experience. He is in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, and this represents a lot of the work he has done over the years; including the creation of drug market profiles, Harm reduction programmes, and representation of neurodivergent people's treatment rights in discussions around treatment policy.


He is a father to a beautiful baby boy and hopes to leave the world a better place for him.


During January 2023, David's new book will be offered in our monthly giveaway for Autistic parents in the UK. Please see our giveaway page for our latest book.


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