Our draft is structured as follows: 1. Our key principles 2. The realities of our current situation 3. Policies to challenge discrimination and inequality
- Key principles
- The social model of disability: Disability is caused by society creating barriers to the equal participation of impaired (or neurologically different) people.
- The neurodiversity approach: Humanity is neurologically diverse; people have different brain wiring. Autism, dyslexia, ADHD and others are neurological differences. We want human neurodiversity to be accepted not suppressed or cured.
(Our website www.neurodiversitymanifesto.com will shortly set out Neurodiverse profile prevalence figures).
- Opposition to austerity: We need adequate public services, benefits and wages. Government and local authority cuts to these are a political choice, not an economic necessity.
- Socialism, democracy and solidarity: As a prospective Labour Party manifesto, this document bases itself on labour movement principles. We want to challenge the deep social roots of discrimination against neurodivergent people.
- Nothing about us without us: Policies and services, and the Manifesto itself, must be shaped by autistic and other neurodivergent people.
- The reality of our current situation
We have the right to live independently, with a lifestyle of our choice. However, many environments and essential spheres of life are hostile to autistic and other neurodivergent people:
- Independent living, services and welfare There is a desperate lack of diagnostic / identification services: in some areas, there is no diagnostic service for eg. dyspraxia in adults; waiting lists for autism assessments can be up to three years. While waiting for diagnosis/identification, many people are misdiagnosed or are medicated for conditions such as depression or anxiety which may arise from the discrimination and lack of support they experience arising from their neurological status.
Often, we only receive support once we develop mental health problems. If we receive adequate support, this may prevent or reduce mental health problems.
The Tory Govt has cut welfare benefits and subjected claimants to punitive ‘work capability tests’. Neurodivergent people are among those who have been driven to suicide by benefit sanctions.
Our National Health Service is under attack from Tory cuts and privatisation.
There are barriers to our access to healthcare, some of which have been recently reported by the Westminster Commission on Autism. A recent study showed that autistic people have a significantly lower life expectancy than non-autistic people.
There is a shortage of appropriate social care for autistic and other neurodivergent people. Some autistic people are placed in institutions far from their families and support networks.
The housing crisis makes it difficult for us to find secure housing with access to the services we need. Working-class people rely on these services much more than people who can afford to buy them.
- Education Our schools are under-funded and over-stretched. Few have specialist provision for neurodivergent students.
Autistic and other neurodivergent children who are academically capable are often overlooked and their needs not met.
School students do not want to be forcibly ‘normalised’ but neither do they want to be singled out as ‘different’.
Teachers and teaching assistants do not get enough training about neurodiversity. So support can be arbitrary rather than appropriate.
Parents also receive no training in neurodiversity.
Parents and kids are too often blamed for challenging behaviour, rather than the root causes being addressed.
Teaching and assessment methods are geared towards neurotypical learning styles. Recent government policies eg. more assessment by exams, has made this situation even worse.
As the end of compulsory education, neurodivergent young people do not get enough support with transition to adulthood – they talk of falling off a ‘cliff’ as support services come to an end.
Autistic and other neurodivergent teachers and other education staff experience discrimination and distress in hostile workplaces.
Disadvantage continues beyond compulsory education into further and higher education.
- Work Only 15% of autistic working-age adults are in full-time employment; a further 9% are in part-time employment. ADHD adults frequently have poor occupational outcomes, such as frequently changing jobs or long-term unemployment. This is not because only a fraction of neurodivergernt people can work: it is because workplaces are hostile environments for us.
Even if a mere 10% more autistic people were allowed access to the workforce, then the economy could be boosted by £593.25 million per year.