Thank you for attending our Manifesto event at Labour Party Conference

We are delighted to have been joined by MPs John McDonnell, Emma Lewell-Buck, Debbie Abrahams and Barry Sheerman at the Autism Neurodiversity Manifesto Steering Group event on 26th September, Labour Party Conference.

The room was filled by our passionate speeches and discussions as we rolled out our Manifesto to a Government in waiting. The Labour Party response was tremendously positive: John McDonnell demonstrated clearly that Labour has embraced the concept and has the political will to make this happen!

A special mention to Emma Lewell-Buck who as a dyspraxic MP, gave an amazing speech and then unfortunately  underpinned her message by falling from the stage and breaking her wrist! 🤕 It is literally the small things that trip us up. Much dyspraxic empathy and good wishes to Emma for a speedy recovery. 🤗

Whilst I  did audio record the event, if anyone has a video clip or photos of the Manifesto event that you are happy for posting onto this site, please can you email me, Annie Morris, at: stjames200852@yahoo.com

Thank you so much.

Do join the facebook discussion on our fb page: Labour Party Autism Neurodiversity Manifesto

Everything about us with us! 😊

 

 

 

 

Labour Party Autism / Neurodiversity Manifesto Conference Event Tickets for Delegates

If you are attending the Labour Party Conference, then please do sign up for this event on Tuesday, 26th September, 5.30pm – 7.00pm, Room: Hall 4, the Hilton, Brighton.

Admission is FREE, but via ticket.

The tickets are available here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/labour-party-autism-nd-manifesto-discussion-tickets-38018097152?aff=utm_source%3Deb_email%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_campaign%3Dnew_event_email&utm_term=eventurl_tex

We look forward to seeing you on 26th September at 5.30pm.

 

Manifesto Event at the Labour Party Conference 26th September 2017

Hello, everyone,

If you are attending Conference, then please come along to our event and join the debate!

Details:

Tues, 26th Sep, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Room: Hall 4, the Hilton Hotel, Brighton

Speakers: John McDonnell and core members of the Labour Party Autism/Neurodiversity Manifesto Steering Group.

Join us at our forthcoming panel discussion and Q&A to discover a truly inclusive Manifesto which will tackle discrimination and deliver real gains for Neurodivergent people.

If this Manifesto becomes Party policy, Labour will be the first major political party in the world to develop truly inclusive policies in partnership with neurodivergent people, using the ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ principle.

This event will be hosted at a Conference venue, which is located within the security zone. So, if you cannot attend yourself, please contact your local Labour MP and Councillors to ask them to attend in your place, so that they can update you in on how pioneering progress is being made in the Labour Party.

The link to the latest version of the draft Manifesto can be found on our website at: http://www.neurodiversitymanifesto.com

We hope to see you there… 🙂

 

 

 

The Labour Party Autism / Neurodiversity Manifesto (V. 2, 2017)

 

Please find below the updated draft Manifesto (V.2, 2017).

We, the Labour Party Autism / Neurodiversity Manifesto Steering Group, launched the original draft Manifesto with John McDonnell at last year’s Labour Party Conference, on 28th September 2016 at The World Transformed.

Since then, much has happened, most importantly we have been consulting with the wider community as much as possible – and the Labour Party itself has included statements in its General Election 2017 Manifesto on the LP intentions to work towards an ‘autism-friendly’, ‘inclusive’ society, based on the ‘social model’ of disability, which makes this a ground-breaking initiative on behalf of the Labour Party.

If Labour formally adopts the (finalised) Manifesto, this will be an international first.

If this Manifesto becomes Party policy, Labour will be the first major political party in the world to develop truly inclusive policies in partnership with neurodivergent people, using the ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ principle.

 

The Labour Party Autism Neurodiversity Manifesto

The Manifesto is structured as follows:

1. Key principles

2. The realities of our current situation

3. Policies to challenge discrimination and inequality

 

1. Key Principles

Our key principles are:

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. ADHD, dyslexia, autism and others are neurological differences. We want human neurodiversity to be accepted not suppressed or cured. (See our website for 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.

 

2. The reality of our current situation

We have the right to live independently, with a lifestyle of our choice. But many environments and essential spheres of life are hostile to autistic and other neurodivergent people:

Diagnosis/identification and support

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.

There is a widespread lack of public health support for ADHD, particularly diagnostic services for adults, most of whom would not have been ‘picked up on’ as children.

Girls are more likely to be misdiagnosed than boys and are often not recognised as neurodivergent until later in life.

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.

There is a higher prevalence of mental health issues among neurodivergent people. For example, around a quarter of those with ADHD experience depression or anxiety; 40%-60% of dyslexic children also present with anxiety, depression or attentional issues.
Often, we only receive support once we develop mental health problems. If we receive adequate support, this may prevent or reduce mental health problems.

 

• Independent living, services and welfare

The Tory government 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. 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’.

Schools and society more widely put enormous pressures on children and young people (including neurodivergent youngsters), leading to more and more widespread mental health difficulties, without adequate resources to help and support young people through difficult times.

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 neurodivergent 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.

Barriers and discrimination in employment include: recruitment, interviews and assessments; the sensory environment at work; social pressures; lack of control over working conditions; and insecure employment.

The law, and the Tory Government’s Autism Strategy, place no obligation on employers to make workplaces and working practices equal and accessible to neurodiverse workforces.

 

• Prejudice and discrimination

There is a level of bullying and hate crime against autistic and other neurodivergent people that should shame our society.

This has increased with the demonisation of people who are disabled and/or different in pursuit of the Tories’ austerity agenda.

Profiteers and ‘quacks’ exploit the fears of neurodivergent people and our families by marketing false and dangerous ‘treatments’ and ‘cures’.

The built environment is often distressing and inaccessible, with an intense and increasing assault on our senses.

 

• The justice system

While some neurodivergent people and their families have received useful support from the police, there have been several reported cases of police brutality against autistic people.

Neurodivergent people can find the justice system very difficult to navigate, and are often wrongly, harshly or unfairly judged.

Too many people are in custody who would be better off receiving support. Reports suggest that an exceptionally large number of prisoners meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.

Equality law requires us to prove that we are disabled – in terms of things that we cannot do – in order to claim legal protection against discrimination and gain support eg. at work.

 

• Lack of understanding

There is too little research into neurodiversity and neurodivergent people’s needs; and what research there is can focus too heavily on the search for cures rather than on developing understanding and support.

When others (eg. professional bodies, charities, clinicians) speak for and/or make decisions for us, however well-meaning, then our views and needs can be misrepresented.

 

3. Policies to challenge discrimination and inequality

• Diagnosis/identification and support

Diagnostic/identification service available to all, without delays, which recognises neurodivergent conditions in girls and women as well as in boys and men. Assessment as to whether the individual has other, related conditions.
Adequate support following diagnosis, for example coaching from other neurodivergent people.

• Independent living, services and welfare

Stop and reverse cuts; expand services.

Resource local government to provide services.

Use statutory guidance to ensure that local authorities carry out the requirements of the Autism Act through decision-making forums that include representatives of autistic people.

Scrap Work Capability Assessments; adequate benefits for all who need them.

Equal and adequate health and social care: restore the NHS; reverse privatisation.

Provide appropriate, publicly-controlled and accountable care close to home, family and/or other support networks.

Provide necessary social housing and support to enable independent living. Secure tenancies and protection for private renters. Consideration of neurodiversity in domestic violence services.

Neurodiversity training for all public service staff.

Provision for autism service dogs with the same status and rights as other assistance dogs.

 

• Education

Well-funded, publicly-run and accountable schools.

Smaller class sizes.

Varied teaching and assessment methods, recognising diversity in people’s learning style and pace.

Neurodiversity training for all teachers and teaching assistants as part of core training.

Provision for neurodivergent students and all schools, colleges and universities.

No cuts in support through Education and Health Care Plans.

Consideration of neurodiversity in early years and SureStart.

Education about neurodiversity in the curriculum, including support with social interaction.

Take the stress out of studying. Take measures to support the mental health of teenagers (including neurodivergent teenagers).

 

• Work

Place a legal requirement on employers to make workplaces and working conditions more equal and accessible and less hostile, including through adopting a neurodiversity policy and training for all staff.

Job applications and interviews to be accessible, non-discriminatory, and include support.

Replace Work Capability Assessments with Workplace Accessibility Assessments.

Pursue a full employment policy, with the right to an appropriate, secure job for all who can work.

Remove the cap on Access to Work.

Restore Remploy as an employer of disabled people.

Ensure that anti-discrimination law covers volunteers as well as employees.

Support for self-employed neurodivergent people, recognising that commercial and reporting requirements may be difficult to meet.

 

• Prejudice and discrimination

Apply the principle of Universal Design to make the built environment less distressing and more accessible.

Apply a strategy to tackle bullying and hate crime, including compiling accurate statistics, and recognising in law that that ‘hate crime’ can be aimed at neurodivergent people.

Ensure that all treatments and therapies aimed at autistic and other neurodivergent people are properly regulated.

Legislate against quack ‘cures’ which are abusive to autistic and other neurodivergent people.

 

• The justice system

A review of the workings of the justice system to ensure that it is accessible to people of all neurologies.

Neurodiversity training for all justice staff.

Ensuring that non-harmful unusual behaviours are not criminalised, and that people receive support rather than punishment if an intolerable environment causes disruptive behaviour.

Support and rehabilitation for offenders with ADHD and/or other neurodivergent conditions.

Restore Legal Aid and scrap Employment Tribunal charges.

Strengthen the law:
o ‘Neurological status/condition/divergence’ to be an additional protected characteristic under the Equality Act.
o Strengthen the Public Sector Equality Duty and extend it to the private sector.
o Develop the Autism Act to include eg. obligations on employers.

 

• Lack of understanding

Education and training about neurodiversity at all levels: for political decision-makers; employers; administrators of justice; education staff; public service providers; (prospective) parents; etc.

A campaign to raise public awareness of neurodiversity and neurodivergent conditions, including through GPs’ surgeries and promotional materials.

More resources for research, in areas guided by the needs and concerns of neurodivergent people, including research into historical mistreatment of neurodivergent people.

Ensure that when the government is considering new policies (eg. citizens’ income), it considers the impact on all of our neurodiverse population.

 

Signed: The Labour Party Autism Neurodiversity Manifesto Steering Group

V.2 of the Manifesto is available on our website at: http://www.neurodiversitymanifesto.com

Please spread the word! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

When I was a chameleon…. Autistic Identity and social ‘acting’

Girls and women: autism and ‘masking’ – what do you think? 🙂

jeanettepurkis

When I was fifteen I went from being a fundamentalist Christian one week to a revolutionary socialist the next. This is probably quite an unusual and swift about face in terms of beliefs and identity. I didn’t do it because I was confused about who I was. I did it to be accepted and have a peer group to belong to. I was at school some years before the Asperger’s diagnosis became available where I lived so had gone through school as the loner, the ‘weirdo’, the target of apparently every single bully in the place. While as a small child I was confident and liked myself, years of bullying and harassment at school taught me I was stupid, worthless, ugly and everything else. I thought it had to be true or why would so many people say it about me? I didn’t think anyone would want me to be…

View original post 1,058 more words

A post, from Austin Harney, a member of this Steering Group

We are delighted to put up this post from Austin, written on 3rd June 2017, with his full permission.

“Dear All,
Labour is the first political party to endorse Autism/Neuro – Diversity in its manifesto. John McDonnell , the Shadow Chancellor, and Janine Booth (RMT and TUC Disabled Members Committee) were the driving force behind this policy. This move by the Labour Party is, extremely, important to me as I, first, publicly, declared in 2013 that I was diagnosed with Quasi – Autism at the age of 4 in 1972. This condition was, quite, extreme in its day. Also, society was very hash in its attitudes towards disabled people, especially as Asperger Syndrome (a mild form of Autism) was not recognised until 1994. Before 2013, I had been active in the Trade Union movement and the Labour Party. I was accustomed to public speaking but never had the nerve to come out in the open about my Autism! I thank John McDonnell and Janine Booth for helping me to, publicly, reveal this disability!
When I received the diagnosis, the authorities recommended that I was taken away from mainstream education against my wishes. The top professional medical experts stated that I had sub – normal intelligence that was unfit for mainstream society, education and employment. I was sent to an Autistic compound at the back of Grasvenor Infants School in Barnet. At a time, when there was no air conditioning in those days, we had to spend hours confined to the building on a very hot sunny day. When I was collected, my parents demanded an explanation. The response from the teaching staff was that due to the Harvest Festival, the parents of the normal children were there, that day. If these parents knew about anything this compound on the back of the playground, they would take their children away from this school. No doubt, it explains the extreme prejudice that one had to undergo in those days! After a couple of years, it was clear that I was not improving and my family decided to take me away from the school. I was not in a school for quite a few months until I was returned to my former mainstream place of infant education.
Growing up during those years was very difficult in adapting to mainstream society, especially in secondary education. It was not easy seeking employment, either, after I left school. I was dismissed from the civil service at a time when reasonable adjustments did not exist as it was before the Disability Discrimination Act became law in 1995. If there had been a reasonable adjustment to accommodate my neurological condition which affected my ability to learn, I could have been beneficial to the organisation!
However, I appealed against dismissal and thanks to the Trade Union, I successfully sought re – employment in the civil service but, unfortunately, on a lesser grade. I have paid back this gratitude to the Trade Union by representing all members of different grades in the civil service. I have been a delegate to many Trade Union conferences including the televised TUC and spoke on the rostrum on more than one occasion. All these years, I kept quiet about my condition but, today, I hope that we can boost hope and inspiration for all Autistic people including the parents of the children who have received the same diagnosis!
No doubt, a golden opportunity could await us in order to transform the lives of Autistic people by eradicating the prejudices of previous centuries! It is the reason that I ask you to vote the Labour Party in the general election on Thursday 8th June 2017!
Austin Harney,
Secretary of the Labour Party Autism/Neuro – Diversity Steering Committee.”

Please join the discussion on our facebook open discussion page:

facebook.com/LPANDmanifesto/

Thank you, Austin! A meaningful and beautifully written post…

🙂