Autism in the workplace
Writing, training, speaking, campaigning ...
For details of Janine's training on Autism and Neurodiversity in the Workplace, click here.
by PCS rep, Helen Sheridan
Never give a trade unionist a platform if you want to get away on time. I hope you're all sitting comfortably. For anyone who cares about these things, my name is Helen Sheridan and I am a trade union representative with the Public and Commercial Services Union. I have served on the Executive Committee for my branch for almost ten years, as well as on various sub-committees within the branch. I'm also Autistic.
As you've probably noticed, awareness of neurodiversity has increased dramatically over the past few years, with high profile campaigns from groups like the National Autistic Society, increased representation in film and television, such as The A Word, and the rise of social media giving a platform to Autistic people themselves. Self Advocacy groups have gained more control over the conversation being had about Autism and are steering it to the areas that matter to Autistic people.
Autistic, dyspraxic, dyslexic and other people with atypical brain wiring have particular experiences under capitalism. These experiences have positive and negative aspects, and for many people include distress and disadvantage. What are the roots and the causes of this experience? Can we develop the positives while removing the disadvantages? Can we resolve the negatives by tweaking the current system?
Written for and published by TotalJobs.com, here.
Work can be an uphill climb for autistic people. Colleague support can smooth out the gradient and make it easier going, explains Janine Booth, co-chair of the TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee.
Some notes from recent discussions on Marxism and autism (two meetings and some online exchanges):
- There is a capitalist market in products aimed at autistic people and their families. These range from useful resources through to fake and even abusive 'treatments' and 'cures'. As well as commodifying autistic people's needs, this also exploits the fears felt by autistic people and particularly by parents of autistic kids.
- The mass production brought about by capitalism has had the effect of 'standardising' human beings, pushing us into a narrowly-defined 'normal', in contrast with the more individual, craft-based systems of production that preceded it. On the other hand, mass production has brought major advances and increased living standards. Can socialism combine the advantages of mass production and a renewed scope for individuality and diversity?
I wrote this blog for the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which published it on 3 April 2017.
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.
Yesterday saw RMT's first ever Disabled Members' Conference, held in London.
Although quite small (9 delegates, plus union officials), the important thing was that it took place at all, especially as rank-and-file members had pushed for its creation against the wishes of the union's national leadership. Now it is established, it will grow from year to year, as the union's other equalities conferences have done.