Helen Sheridan, a rank and file PCS activist who pioneered the role of PCS Neurodivergent Members Officer in R&C Bootle Taxes Branch and a candidate in the Group Executive Committee elections, talks about autism acceptance.
Friday 2nd April 2021 is World Autism Awareness Day. Or as many people in the neurodivergent community prefer to call it, Autism Acceptance Day. Awareness is fine, but if it is still accompanied by prejudice and fear then it probably does more harm than good.
That’s why we say Autism Acceptance. Accept that we stim. Accept that we don’t like the smell of the photocopier. Accept that we can’t concentrate over the sound of the lights. Accept that we do things you might find odd. Accept that we have different needs to neurotypical people.
Hiding your Autistic traits is exhausting and soul destroying. Perhaps that’s part of why a study published in Demark in January this year found that Autistic people are three times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
Autistic people routinely suppress their natures in order to blend in with the neurotypicals. And the reason most of us do that is because we learned when we were children that our true natures got us bullied. That fear stays with you long after the bullying has stopped. Yet, if you ask someone directly, would they ever tease someone for being Autistic, they’ll say no. However, if someone flaps their hands when they get excited, or routinely fails to get the joke, you can pretty much guarantee that they’ll be teased, or worse.
It’s not much that Autistic people are asking for, simply the right to be ourselves without fear of what will happen to us if people see us without our masks. Without fear that people will take advantage of us. Without fear of ridicule and violence. Is that so much?
Helen is standing for the R&C GEC alongside the following candidates:
Richard Jones, Pete Smullen
Group Executive Committee
Phil Dickens, Dave Gibbons, Georgina Griffith, Nigel Hesdon, Richard Jones, Helen Sheridan, Pete Smullen, Christine Spinks, Annette Wright