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Union blog - Autism: raising awareness and winning acceptance

I wrote this blog for the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which published it on 3 April 2017.

At the start of Autism Awareness Month, campaigner Janine Booth says autistic people's involvement in our trade unions is essential to winning acceptance and raising awareness.

Do you have any autistic workmates? Perhaps you do. Perhaps you do but you don’t realise it. Perhaps you are autistic yourself. Maybe you have an autistic dependant – child or adult – or you know a workmate who does.

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?

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.

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