Autism

Autistic people face discrimination and prejudice in a society which expects us to understand and fit in with social rules that are not of our making. Autistic people are also part of the disabled people's fightback. This section includes my work providing 'Autism in the workplace' training and information for trade union representatives, plus campaign news, and personal and political observations.

Marxism and Autism

Published in Solidairty 434, 29 March 2017:

 

Can Marxism can help us to understand autistic experience in modern capitalism? How might Marxism inform our struggles for equality and liberation?

There are different approaches to understanding autism. Perhaps the dominant approach is a medical one: seeing autism as a disease or tragedy, and autistic people as being broken and needing fixing. Over recent years, a more progressive approach has developed. It stresses acceptance of autistic people rather than simply “awareness”, and demands rights, equality and support rather than abusive “treatments”.

This approach is based on the concept of neurodiversity: the recognition that the human species is neurologically diverse; that different people have different brain wiring. But this more progressive approach, while welcome, does not necessarily locate autism and neurodiversity within the social, economic and political structures of society. It is important to do this — firstly, because all disability exists in a social context; and secondly, because autism is largely an issue of how people interact socially. We are all expected to follow social rules, but who makes those social rules, and how?

Report: RMT Disabled Members' Conference

Yesterday saw RMT's first ever Disabled Members' Conference, held in London.

Although quite small (9 delegates, plus union officials), the important thing was that it took place at all, especially as rank-and-file members had pushed for its creation against the wishes of the union's national leadership. Now it is established, it will grow from year to year, as the union's other equalities conferences have done.

 

Video: What is Autism?

An introduction to autism, explaining what it is, common terms, with a plain-English account as well as the medical stuff. This video explains autism in terms of what is different about autistic people, rather than what is "wrong" with us.

Equality for autistic and neuro-divergent people!

By Joe Booth and Janine Booth, published in Solidarity 426, 11 January 2017

Socialist activists are drafting a manifesto for the Labour Party of radical policies to advance equality for autistic and other neurodivergent people (those with an atypical “brain-wiring”, usually a condition such as dyspraxia or attention deficit disorder). Supported by John McDonnell, a steering group has drafted a proposed manifesto and, having launched it at Labour Party conference in September, is now inviting input from Labour Party and trade union bodies and interested individuals.

Speaking on Autistic Workers, Trade Unions and Solidarity

This is the sound recording of my talk about Autistic Workers, Trade Unions and Solidarity at the AutSpeak event on Thursday 12 January in London. The overall theme of the event was Building an Autistic Community. It was well-attended, and after the four panellists had finished speaking, a lively question-and-answer session took place.

Autism and Marxism

A 20-minute PowerPoint presentation discussing whether Marxism can help us to understand autistic experience in modern capitalism, and how it might inform our struggles for liberation.

Ode to SuBo

The media is reporting that Susan Boyle may never perform live again, and that this is because of her Asperger Syndrome - implying that it is her autism that is the problem rather than the barriers that the entertainment industry puts in the way of autistic artists.

From struggling years her star had come to rise
When those judgemental judges were surprised
A frump like her could have a splendid voice
The admen and accountants full rejoiced
But putting on that mask was such a drain
Now Susan may not sing on stage again

Disablity Officer's report for RMT London Transport Regional Council, September 2016

Contact me: j.booth@rmt.org.uk

1. Disabled People Against Cuts held a week of action to coincide with the Paralympic Games. During the week, DPAC attended our Southern Rail picket line. Disabled campaigners have compiled a report alleging that Southern's plans to remove guards breach the Equality Act in making its services less accessible to disabled passengers.

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