21 March 2022

Neurodiversity - an international perspective

For Neurodiversity Awareness Week, Austin blogs about the need to campaign for the rights of neurodiverse people across the world.

Whilst we campaign in Britain to improve the lives and employment of neurodivergent people, it is a huge problem abroad, including in neighbouring countries. In France, many autistic children are deprived of the right to mainstream education, as many are taken away from their parents and placed in care homes, which was the case in Britain, 50 years ago. The United Nations stated in its most recent report that autistic children in France “continue to be subjected to widespread violations of their rights.”

In the Republic of Ireland, the employment rate of autistic people is 1% and reasonable accommodation, which we call reasonable adjustments in Britain, has only been introduced in Ireland in 2021. Before, there was no law on hidden impairments or invisible disabilities in Ireland with the exception of Gladstone's Lunacy Act in the nineteenth century.

The United States, Germany, Scandinavia, and Israel may be more advanced for neurodivergent people but other countries in the Mediterranean sphere, former Eastern Bloc, and the Southern Hemisphere are far behind. In Greece, human rights activists filmed disabled children in a care home who were tied and gagged to their beds.

The European Disability Strategy of 2010 to 2020 was discussed at the meeting by the executive committee of the European Trade Unions Confederation but there is no mention of hidden impairments or invisible disabilities. We should push for more emphasis of inclusivity in education and employment for people with invisible impairments such as those with neurodivergent conditions and against the disability hate crime suffered by many autistic and neurodivergent people.