by PCS rep, Helen Sheridan
Never give a trade unionist a platform if you want to get away on time. I hope you're all sitting comfortably. For anyone who cares about these things, my name is Helen Sheridan and I am a trade union representative with the Public and Commercial Services Union. I have served on the Executive Committee for my branch for almost ten years, as well as on various sub-committees within the branch. I'm also Autistic.
As you've probably noticed, awareness of neurodiversity has increased dramatically over the past few years, with high profile campaigns from groups like the National Autistic Society, increased representation in film and television, such as The A Word, and the rise of social media giving a platform to Autistic people themselves. Self Advocacy groups have gained more control over the conversation being had about Autism and are steering it to the areas that matter to Autistic people.
You sit me on a chair that hurts
In a classroom full of noise and light
You put a pen in my wrong hand
And tell me that I have to write
You speak in terms that don't make sense
You write in symbols I can't see
You talk to everyone at once
You talk to everyone but me
Autistic, dyspraxic, dyslexic and other people with atypical brain wiring have particular experiences under capitalism. These experiences have positive and negative aspects, and for many people include distress and disadvantage. What are the roots and the causes of this experience? Can we develop the positives while removing the disadvantages? Can we resolve the negatives by tweaking the current system?
This is the speech I gave at the fringe meeting at Labour Party conference on 25 September 2018 about the draft Labour Party Autism / Neurodiversity Manifesto.
A lot has happened since I said to John McDonnell at a book launch two-and-a-half years ago that it would be a good idea for the Labour Party to have a specific manifesto on autism and neurodiversity.
Seem odd because they can't see
The trees for the wood
I sent this letter to the organisers of The Autism Shows, with over 100 supporting names, in June 2018.
Seconding a motion from the University and Colleges Union (UCU) about the Disabled People’s Summit, I outlined the reasoning behind the text that RMT had added to the motion via our amendment. The motion (incorporating the amendment) was passed unanimously.
This is my proposing speech for TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee’s emergency motion calling for action to stop cuts to funding for kids with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Several trade unions’ delegates spoke in support of the motion, which was passed unanimously.
Conference, I am going to tell you: