The first episode of “Uniquely Me” – a series about autism and autistic lives in Singapore – aired last night on MediaCorp’s Chinese Channel 8. Immediately afterwards, there were rumblings and rants emerging from the adult autistic community in chat groups and on Facebook.
Some contextual background is needed before I launch into my own perspectives and reactions to this twenty minute show.
Autistic people – we are an oppressed and traumatised, vulnerable and hurting community worldwide. As autistics, we are already predisposed towards hypersensitivity, detail orientation, and communicate with the world in ways unlike the normative. Add to this the accumulated collective cultural history of Autism (see Steve Silberman’s “Neurotribes” – the best book published thus far on the history of autism), and the specific situation here in Singapore, where the perception of autism as a whole is mired in the old medical model, and autistic people are generally presumed incompetent rather than competent, completely devoid of our own voice / voices: we have thus acquired a collective trauma, and individual heightened anxiety around the subject of Selfhood. The setting is a painfully raw, tender, largely confused and ignorant, and emotionally volatile scenario. It is not surprising, then, that many in the adult autistic community have reacted explosively, with anger and shock, at this very stark presentation of autistic persons with complex needs in the first episode. Continue reading
Thriving not despite but because of Autism. Being inside our natural Autistic realm.
The Princess & The Snake (2010)
Autism is trending these days. Well, it’s been top of the pops for quite some time, actually. The more sensational the better, it seems, thanks to neuronormative machinations. Big money is to be made here, so it’s not surprising that the field draws so many quacks and snake oil peddlers. From MMS (which is basically bleach solution) to ASEA water (saline water), to a plethora of expensive dodgy programmes claiming to help “cure” / “shed” / “overcome” / “reverse” Autism, the marketplace is busy indeed.
I can understand that parents, especially non-autistic parents, are desperate. Parenting is not easy by any measure. For a non-autistic parent of an autistic child, finding themselves awash at sea in a realm completely alien to their own, grasping at straws for quick salvation is not unnatural at all. However, what grieves me is, in their readiness to part with money for snake oil, it is their autistic children who will bear the brunt of this folly, the children who will eventually grow up into traumatised autistic adults or autistic adults deprived of their intrinsic worth performing poor imitations of neurotypicality. Continue reading
“Autism, Mental Wellbeing & Higher Education” – NUS Office of Student Affairs. 9 March 2018
“Autism & Neurodiversity – lived-experience & the way forward. 8 March 2018
“Art & Autism” – Dawn-joy Leong
I’ve set up a page listing the various services I offer, and the kinds of collaborations I am interested in. Please visit this page for more detailed information: SERVICES.
If you’re interested in engaging me for lectures, workshops, collaborations or art commissions, please contact me via this email address:
Polite note: please bear in mind that I expect to be paid for my professional expertise. It seems ridiculous to have to state this so explicitly, but the amount of requests I receive from various organisations for unpaid work, some rather vigorous in nature, has become too overwhelming.
‘Data-based’ study – whose data?
(From: Dawn-joy Leong, Scheherazade’s Sea – autism, parallel embodiment and elemental empathy, 2016).
In 2014, I took part in a study conducted by a PhD researcher who claimed to specialise in aspects of physiological and psychological empathic and social motivation in autism. I was told in advance that the study would be about emotional vs. cognitive empathy. I remember thinking that I had read a few similar studies on this same subject, but couldn’t recall the exact titles of those papers. “Replication enforces truth,” I recall the words ‘auto-writing’ on my mental blackboard, for no apparent conscious reason. The laboratory was situated in a building tucked away behind another more prominent block. Continue reading
I’ll be speaking in the panel at the Joint IHL SEN (Institute of Higher Learning, Special Education Needs) Forum on 14 September 2018 at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The extended title of my panel speech is: “Autism, Neurodiversity and a Neurocosmopolitan Future.” My workshop (taking place after lunch) will be about “Embracing Neurocosmopolitanism: different ways of empathy and communication.”
Free admission but registration necessary.
More details and registration here: Joint IHL SEN Forum 2018
Here are the speakers notes for my presentation yesterday (11 Aug 2018) at our disability-led forum on Disability-Led Practice, a groundbreaking first in Singapore. I’ve also added more detailed links to videos in this post.