APAC19 – personal highlights

20190620- a quiet moment with Lucy before my Plenary Speech (Photo courtesy of Prof. Iliana Magiati)

Head here for my brief spotlight page on APAC19 and some of my own photographs – Asia Pacific Autism Conference 2019.
(Click on the link)

All in, it was a resounding success, one which Singapore can be proud of. Not that we have ‘arrived’ yet, but that we have been able to learn and achieve this much progressive thinking, inclusivity and respectful facilitation – all within such a short span of time.

The folks at ARC (Autism Resource Centre) were amazing! So much hard work and coordination of this mega event, and everything went excellently well, given the monumental task at hand.

1,800 people registered for this event. The largest of its kind ever in Singapore, and perhaps even in the entire Asia Pacfic region.

I am literally in awe of the people who have made this work so well – the planning and organisation, and the movement and deployment of human resources, are all things that I would never be able to do with this much precision and vigour. From the top down and ground up.

Which leads me to muse on the misunderstanding whirling around regarding the “disability rights movement”, flowing into the issue of Autistic Equity and Autonomy.

Here is what I reiterate over and over again. I guess Neurotypical folks also need some repetition for ‘alien’ concepts to sink in? Autistic brains aren’t the only empathy impaired ones, you know. Empathy is an Endeavour of Will – not a magical quality. We need to work hard and determinedly on building bridges and reciprocal empathy resonance across differences. This is the beauty of Neurodiversity. We celebrate humanity’s natural diversities, with respect for differences at every dimension and level. Not just some. And Autistic people are not wanting to stage a ‘coup’ and take away all your jobs and roles in our common goal for making a better life for Autistics. We want and need to work with our non-autistic allies in all things. What we merely ask for is a key role in decision making on matters concerning us. Reasonable request, I should think?

“Nothing About Us Without Us” does not mean we take over exclusively. It means literally that we must be central to the movement towards inclusion and progress. It means we must be included in the Leadership and not just passive recipients of charitable attention and intention. It means we must have equity and respect on our own platform.

We’re not asking for exclusivity. Inclusion needs to be inclusive. Inclusion works in all directions. Simply so.

We’ve come a long way, we’ve far more to achieve, let’s walk the talk and talk the walk together please!

We are in this together. And while we do try to continuously reassure our non-autistic allies on this – with our appreciation and gratitude – we also need those who call themselves our allies to put away their insecurities and gather together with us, for us.