A disabled MP has spoken of her pride at being abl

first_imgA disabled MP has spoken of her pride at being able to speak openly about being dyspraxic, after having to hide her diagnosis from employers for years before she entered parliament.Emma Lewell-Buck (pictured) was previously a social worker but was “acutely aware that if there were any job cuts that would come around, it would be used against me and I would be the first one in the dole queue”.She said sheused to take work home with her at weekends, work late into the evening andstart early in the morning because, like many other disabled people, she feltshe had to “go the extra mile” and “work that little bit harder to proveyourself or keep up”.She wasspeaking at the launch event of Neurodivergent Labour (see separate story), a political campaign group that will fight forthe rights of people with neurological differences such as autism, dyslexia,dyspraxia and dyscalculia, both within the party and in wider society.Lewell-Buck,the shadow minister for children and families – who later confirmed toDisability News Service that she is happy to be described as a disabled MP –said that being dyspraxic affected her every day in her work.She said:“Every single thing I do I need to prep for meticulously, down to the tiniestdetail. “But I’m oneof the lucky ones because I am in a job where I can openly speak about mydisability and I can use my profile to raise awareness.”The MP forSouth Shields said she was only diagnosed at the age of 27, after beingassessed by an educational psychologist on the advice of a lecturer while shewas studying for a masters degree.She said:“My whole life clicked into place. I suddenly realised why, when I was growingup, I always felt different to other kids and always used to isolate myself. “I realisedwhy I put my shoes on the wrong feet, why I couldn’t tie my laces properly,button my coat up, why I was always spilling my drinks and why the whole familyalways referred to me as ‘our clumsy Emma’. “I wasalways so frustrated that things that used to come so easily to other kids wereso, so hard for me.”This caused“tremendous low self-esteem and self-confidence” as a child, she said.But she saidshe now saw her dyspraxia as an advantage.She said: “Ijust see it as I’m a little bit different to some of those around me. I’veembraced it. “It doesn’tdefine me, it’s just part of me. I’ve been forced to adapt and face thosechallenges, and come up with solutions, and I certainly don’t feeldisadvantaged.”She thankedthose neurodivergent party members who had developed the idea of the neworganisation, as well as shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who has supportedthe idea over the last three years and spoke at Saturday’s launch event.She said:“It is thanks to you that people like me have the confidence to talk about andembrace who we are and thanks to all of you that the fabulously neurodivergentpeople have been given this platform to help us on the way to that much-neededsocietal and cultural shift.”Lewell-Bucksaid that she, McDonnell and other Labour colleagues were “determined to changethe culture of our society and how neurodivergent people and people withdisabilities are treated. “Ourapproach is a clear move away from the dehumanising and debilitating hostileenvironment we have seen under the Tories to one where people will be treatedwith dignity and respect.”She said itwas “the neurodivergent people in this world who have always been the bigthinkers, and creators and innovators. “We are theones who always have the ability to think outside the box and come up withsolutions to some of the world’s greatest problems.”Among thedecisions agreed by the launch event was to endorse a draft Labour autism andneurodiversity manifesto that neurodivergent party members have spent threeyears developing.Included inthe manifesto are calls for neurodiversity training for all teachers andteaching assistants as part of their “core training”, support forneurodivergent students, smaller class sizes, and neurodiversity to be includedin the school curriculum.Lewell-Buck,who is leading on Labour’s special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)reforms, said the proposals in the draft manifesto were “an exact fit to thosethat I have been arguing for behind the scenes in my team meetings”, becauseshe was committed to making SEND “an embedded and intrinsic part of our overalleducation system”.She saidthat a good education “can make the difference between where you begin in lifeand where you end up. “I am livingproof of that: a dyspraxic, dyslexic, shy working-class girl, growing up on theestate where I did, and never destined to be a member of parliament. “So goodeducation can absolutely make the impossible happen. I am proud to be a LabourMP and I am very proud to be dyspraxic.”She added: “You have all stopped me feeling different and I have found my home and for that alone you are always going to have my help and support, and I look forward to working with you all.”A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…last_img

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