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

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


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…

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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:


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



Nothing about you without you – the Labour Party Manifesto for disabled people

This is fantastic!

Coupled with the Labour Party Autism / Neurodiversity Manifesto, the LP is demonstrating its deep commitment to inclusion and listening to those who are disabled or neurodivergent.

Nothing about us without us, indeed! 🙂


Re-blogged from:



dyslexic annie’s Blog

Autism: Tolerance Vs Acceptance – Embracing Difference

This post is re-blogged from: https://erinhuman.com/2017/05/15/tolerance-vs-acceptance/

Date: May 15, 2017Author: theeisforerin1 Comment 

Tolerance vs Acceptance

definitions of Tolerance at left:

  • the capacity to endure pain or hardship
  • indulgence for practices different from or conflicting with one’s own
  • the allowable deviation from a standard
  • the capacity of a body to endure or become less responsive to a substance or insult, especially with repeated use or exposure
  • relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor

definitions of Acceptance at right:

  • the quality of being able to take or hold
  • the act of giving admittance or approval
  • the act of regarding something as proper, normal, or inevitable
  • the act of recognizing as true
  • the act of making a favorable response to
  • the act of assuming an obligation to
  • the state of being received willingly

Autism Acceptance
because tolerance is not enough


What do *you* think? 🙂





Videos of the Launch: John McDonnell (video 2)

The official Launch of the Labour Party Autism / Neurodiversity Manifesto at the LP Conference in September 2016: a wonderful moment, and there followed an excellent Launch discussion, so thank you everyone!

These videos were taken at the Launch by a member of the Steering Group with a mobile phone (apologies for the shaky cam).

Please note that this is not the first video of the Launch: am trying hard to post Video 1 (Introduction and John McDonnell 1), and will re-arrange / post as and when the tech lets me!

If you have any queries, comments or ideas, please post or go to our Facebook open discussion page:



We want everyone to engage with this / have a say in how the draft Manifesto develops. Already we are drafting changes, to make sure that the full range of neurodiversity / neurodivergence is explicitly stated, to make sure this is as inclusive and holistic, person centred and identity-first as is possible!

Any queries / ideas / suggested changes, please just post on our website or fb page.   Thank you for getting involved. 🙂

All videos copyright: by Annie Morris, 28th September 2016