'Neurodiversity' means that different people have different brain wiring. Unfortunately, those with a minority brain wiring - such as dyslexic, autistic and dyspraxic people - face discrimination at work and in wider society.
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?
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.
Discussing the Labour Party Autism/Neurodiversity Manifesto.
Venue: Baskervilles Tea Shop, 66 Alderman's Hill, London N13 4PP
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.
Janine read through the notes from the previous meeting, and reported on the process to draw up a Labour Party autism/neurodiversity manifesto. Discussion followed, and included:
As public understanding of autism grows, there are different approaches to understanding it.
* A medical approach, which sees autism as a disease or a tragedy, that we are broken and need fixing
Val Graham reviews Autism Equality in the Workplace by Janine Booth.
Janine Booth, poet and author of Autism Equality in the Workplace, is both a worker and trade union activist. A member of the TUC Disabled Workers Committee, her handbook Autism in the Workplace was published online by the TUC in 2014.
We are working with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell to progress the idea of the Labour Party developing a Neurodiversity/Autism Manifesto and appointing a Shadow Minister for Neurodiversity. We are pleased to hear from John that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also supports this idea. Neurodiversity (ND) is the term that describes the fact that different people have different brain wiring (neurology).