Disability rights

Fight and a "bit of banter"

Published on: Wed, 19/02/2020 - 09:24

Emma Rickman

In a previous entry I wrote about K, an industrial cleaner who was poisoned by ingesting lime. In the meantime a senior operator retired, leaving space for an assistant to step up, and a vacancy on the assistant’s team. K interviewed for the assistant’s job and (finally) got it. This left room for A, a new recruit, on the cleaning team.

A is loud, cheerful, hard-working, and has autism and ADHD. He takes to hoovering the plant and doing sandwich runs energetically. The problem, as well as the sighs and the stupid comments from some, is that his Dad works in the control room. This is a source

Other motions not passed - AWL conference 2019

Published on: Tue, 21/01/2020 - 14:28

Angela Driver, David Pendletone, Simon Nelson, Luke Hardy

Motions on left antisemitism, the Hijab in schools, and social security and Labour's policy, were all submitted to AWL conference 2019. The conference decided that the first of these motions - on left antisemitism - should not be voted on, after a debate; the second, on the Hijab in schools, fell; the third - on social security - were not voted on, as decided before any debate.

Neurodiversity at work: a social model

Published on: Wed, 27/11/2019 - 18:29

Janine Booth

Fatima’s autism makes her hypersensitive to bright lights, so she can’t work in our office, poor thing.

Or: The bright lights in our office make Fatima distressed as she is autistic and unusually sensitive to light. She can work here if we turn them down.

Ed’s dyspraxia makes him so clumsy that he is a danger at work.

Or: The workplace is arranged in a way that is dangerous to Ed, who is dyspraxic, and to other workers.

Faryal is dyscalculic and cannot be trusted with people’s money, so she cannot possibly work in the finance department.

Or: Some ways of working in the finance department might

The neurodiversity manifesto

Published on: Wed, 27/11/2019 - 18:29

Louise Wildon

Earlier this year, a group of Labour Party members launched an Autism and Neurodiversity Manifesto, after a steering group had spent three years consulting with various organisations.

All of the members of the group are neurodivergent, as one of the key principles is to involve advice from the very people the policies would affect.

The other key principles of the group are to follow the principles of the Labour Party, to use the social model of disability, to use the neurodiversity approach that recognises that humanity is neurologically diverse and that those differences should be accepted


Published on: Wed, 14/08/2019 - 11:05

Defining away impairment

My exchange with Janine Booth (Solidarity 513 and previous) started with a comment by me, in an interview with Judy Singer previewing the neurodiversity session at Ideas from Freedom.

Some neuroatypicalities, I suggested, are just “differences”; others are also “impairments”. (There’s a big grey area, as with physical atypicalities).

I cited examples from my experience as a maths teacher. Some autistic students are “just different”. Others, maybe impaired.

Example: “student B” spent most of his school time in the Special Education Unit. The SEU asked him to go to my

Letter: Disabled, not impaired

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2019 - 11:18

Janine Booth

Martin Thomas is still insisting that the student he referred to in a previous letter is impaired, but has yet to offer convincing evidence of this.

He appears to conclude that if we don’t recognise this student’s impairment, then we are denying the existence or significance of impairment.

I am comfortable with being labelled “disabled” as an autistic person, because society disables me by being geared to neurotypical interactions and sensitivites. I don’t think my autism is an impairment. I accept that for some people, their neurodivergence — or aspects of it — may be impairment.

I have no


Published on: Wed, 03/07/2019 - 12:38

Difference and impairment

I can still remember my PE teacher at school yelling at me: “What’s the matter with you? Are you disabled?”

He was angry because I was clumsy and awkward. The tiny experience perhaps helps me understand why autistic and other neurodivergent people resent being called “disabled” or even “impaired”.

These days I’m impaired by arthritis, and because ageing has slowed down my brain processes: I am much slower, and fumble much more, with mathematical working today, at 70, than I did when I was 17. Luckily for me, these are impairments which carry little stigma, and I live

Making space for diversity

Published on: Wed, 12/06/2019 - 10:45

Judy Singer, the writer who coined the term “neurodiversity”, will be speaking at Ideas for Freedom, 22-23 June, about how society can and should make more and better space for the “neuro-divergent”. She talked with Martin Thomas from Solidarity about some of the issues.

This is not a verbatim transcript of the conversation, but a summary checked with Judy.

Can I start from an unusual angle? In mathematics, up to the present day, there have always been many — not a majority, but many — of the most brilliant mathematicians whom later historians or biographers describe as being autistic. Those

A different PCS conference

Published on: Wed, 29/05/2019 - 08:21

The 2019 conference of PCS, the main civil service union, from 21-23 May in Brighton was the most open and interesting one in years. The great majority of motions on the Conference agenda were not controversial and nor should they be: the bulk of equality and terms and conditions motions should command support. However, on a number of issues the NEC found itself struggling to win over delegates.

The NEC was censured – an unprecedented event at PCS conference — over its inadequate response to the General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, co-signing a letter last July to the Morning Star. This

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