Lauren Davison discusses being diagnosed with Autism aged nearly 25, and highlights her campaign with Labour Doorstep to amplify the voices of neurodiverse activists.
This year’s World Disability Day is my first with a diagnosis of Autism. Despite being nearly 25, I didn’t get diagnosed until February. This is the case for many young women and girls with the condition – in part because most research on the condition was for years largely carried out on men and boys. Autism can manifest differently between genders.
When people hear “autism” they think of quite unhelpful portrayals that are basically caricatures, or assume I therefore have no emotional intelligence. Because for many people, the only time autistic folk are visible is when something is wrong – whether that be stimming, having what people rather insensitively call a “meltdown” in public, or exhibiting unusual/rude behaviour. They very rarely see us just existing – and in fact, you wouldn’t know many of us are autistic if you saw us day-to-day.
Neurodivergence is more common than you might think and covers a whole host of conditions – from Dyspraxia, to ADHD, to Borderline Personality Disorder to Dysgraphia. All are common, but rarely spoken about conditions – the focus tends to go straight to Autism. If neurodivergence is more common in the general population than we might think, that must also be true for our movement. But we just don’t hear about it.
That’s why, teaming up with a newly formed non-factional grouping, Labour Doorstep, I am leading a campaign to highlight and amplify the voices of neurodiverse activists. Not only do we want to shine a light on the varied and wonderful contributions neurodiverse activists make to our movement, but we do also need to talk about what more can be done to include and accommodate us. Our party should be a safe, welcoming space for neurodiverse people at all levels – from lay member to MPs. So often though, it just isn’t.
We’ll also be looking to create some educational resources for CLPs to use – just like we have for a range of other topics, such as making CLPs inclusive for the trans community and centring the voices of Black activists. In coming weeks, we’ll also be doing a series on hidden/invisible illnesses, antisemitism and Islamophobia.
We’re always looking for more people to join us in sharing their stories and ideas, so do get in touch with us - @LabourDoorstep_ on Twitter.
Lauren Davison is a Criminologist with a specialist interest in researching prisons, social harm, and inequality in the Justice System. She is a co-founder of the newly created Young Fabians Criminal Justice Network, and is the Co-Chair of Open Labour's Justice Reform working group! She Tweets at @Lauren1995x_.
Labour Doorstep is a newly created non-factional grouping that aims to help Labour members across the UK network, share ideas and develop their political education.