APAC19 – Asia Pacific Autism Conference 2019

* Update: This morning (25 June 2019), a few photographs of me were uploaded on their official social media. Well, it’s really nice of them, so now I know for sure I was actually really there, and it wasn’t a figment of my over-active imagination after all. Happiness prevails. 🙂 Such simple autistic joys, eh?

Main website: http://apac.autismcongress.org/2019/

My involvement:
Organising Committee
Scientific Sub-Committee
Plenary Speaker – Day 1
All-Autistic Panel Speaker – Day 1

Photographs: For all Official Photographs from APAC19, head to the Autism Research Centre / Pathlight School Facebook Page.

They’re all really fabulous photos, please do check them out, and if you see yourselves, please go ahead and tag, tag, tag!

*You won’t find any photos of me or Lucy + me there, though the photographers were quite busy snapping away at Lucy (who wouldn’t be enthralled by the presence of such a beautiful creature, right smack in the midst of the region’s largest autism conference?). We were actually waylaid endlessly by people wanting photos of Lucy. Here’s a dog at a conference in Singapore and not a Labrador, but a Greyhound, no less! But I guess the people making the oh-so difficult choices on which photos to feature in their social media just didn’t think Lucy was visual-worthy, or maybe an assistance dog is not an important enough feature of how Autistic people may best thrive, despite the huge body of evidence in support of this? First one in Singapore ever and not an image of her anywhere in the hundreds of photos. Anyway, whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter, really, I’m not bothered by the exclusion, I just find it somewhat amusing in my funny little autistic way, that is all. A small pity, for documentation purposes, that I didn’t get a photograph of me delivering the Plenary Speech – it looked like all other speakers did except me. Oh, wait, Lucy was onstage with me: maybe the people doing the social media uploads have dog phobia? Puzzling. Sadly, the one and only visual record of my Plenary Speech was uploaded by Paul of Asperger’s From the Inside, here. This will have to be the only visual proof that I was actually there at all – in case I begin to think it was all in my imagination!

From “Aspergers From the Inside”

Well, friends and supporters have remarked on this somewhat mysterious absence of images of Lucy and me, so I’ve decided I’d put up my own little personal photo gallery for everyone who does want to see my old mug in this event and of course, for Lucy’s fans and supporters (more the latter, really – people are just being polite when they ask about me, what they really want to see is Lucy!).

Anyway, so here it is.

#APAC19 with Dawn and Lucy! Enjoy folks, and thank you for your support throughout my journey. You know who you are! I am deeply grateful.

A note on lighting: You might have noticed an eerie, cloying, enveloping orange hue in every single photograph. Actually, I’ve tried to filter it out as much as possible already, so the photos here are not true representations of the aggressive intensity of orange bombardment. Yes, the lighting was oppressive – whoever designs these spaces? It was a war-zone in there. Wagner at his very tackiest. Well, think “Multi-Sensory Wagner in a Casino,” maybe?


Despite the full-on sensory battle, the positive energy was amazing:

APAC19 was fully subscribed. 1,800 people gathered in the massive Resorts World Convention Centre, all with the same desire: to learn about Autism, and how Autistic people can thrive from a selection of well-known Autism researchers and leading autistic advocates and allies from the Asia Pacific region (especially Australia, and Singapore). A quantum leap forward from all previous autism events in Singapore – APAC19 has set a groundbreaking base line for the future of inclusive research, respectful representation of Actual Autistic persons on the Autism Platform, and, of course, progressive foci for autistic people in Singapore.

This is the very first time ever in Singapore that an autism conference / event features actual autistic speakers (Damian Milton and myself for Plenary 1 & 2); autistic volunteers on the ground, working alongside other volunteers as Conference Hosts; very generous full sponsorship for autistic presenters; sponsorship for autistic volunteers to attend one session of their choice per volunteer day; and a designated Autistic Social Space just for us autistics too! We had a wonderful time in our own social space, connecting with other autistics from around the world – the Australia-Singapore connection is strong! Who says autistics do not socialise or have no social skills? We feel comfortable in our own neurotribe and we connect in ways different from the neurotypical, but we do connect!

I also appreciate so much that they shut down all the hand dryers in the bathrooms for the entire three days, and organisers did try their best to keep noise levels down though it was difficult explaining the concept to the venue’s sound technicians. There’s even a section in the APAC19 website advising on Respectable Language Usage. Bravissimo!

Singapore is on the map and moving forward! Thank you to all who have contributed towards this amazing positive progress – a quantum leap for Singapore indeed!

See you all at APAC2021 in Perth, WA, Australia!