Autism & Mental Wellbeing

Back in Singapore! Hit the ground running. Two more lectures upon my return from Hong Kong.

“Autism & Neurodiversity – lived-experience & the way forward” – NUS Psychology. Thank you, Dr. Iliana Magiati, for the invitation to address your class of future psychologists on neurodiversity and actual autistic insights into autism.

 

“Autism, Mental Wellbeing & Higher Education” – NUS Office of Student Affairs. An important topic. Autistic students in universities have to navigate a minefield of sensory, social, political & executive function complexities. Specific considerations and supports / accommodations are necessary. First, let’s look at autism from the viewpoint of Neurodiversity, ditch that pathological model, it doesn’t help at all!

(For enquiries on talks / workshops / training sessions, please email me at dawnjoy@mac.com)

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Space of Mind – Interview

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I was interviewed by Chloe Watson in this new magazine, Runway – Australian Experimental Art. Thank you, Chloe!

Space of Mind: An Interview with Dawn-joy Leong

“For autistic artist-researcher Dawn-Joy Leong, spaces are vividly coloured by scent, sound, sight and touch — sometimes overwhelming, even disgusting, at other times relaxing, harmonious, or gloriously amplified. Leong explores her heightened sensory experiences of the world through her art and writing, encouraging her audiences to engage with their own sensoriums, at the same time opening up avenues of empathy and communication between ‘neurodiverse’ and ‘neurotypical’”

Reflections on the neurodiverse city

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My article for Artlink Magazine, “Reflections on the neurodiverse city,” is now free to access online. Click on the title for the full article.

Excerpt:

“Many autistics experience “body‑in‑space” challenges. The opening poem describes my own proprioceptive quirk: I can dance, but the simple task of walking along the pavement without tripping requires a conscious rhythmic pattern in my mind, usually in the form of a song or a tune. Other idiosyncrasies inherent to autism include extreme sensitivity to the visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile senses. Lights, colours, sounds, vibrations, smells, tastes and textures may separately or in complex confluence trigger extreme reactions like nausea, headache, vertigo and even excruciating pain. The mental propensity towards precision – that is, noticing things in greater detail, also heightens sensory reception and reaction. A common unifying theme in this richly woven, polyrhythmic and highly chromatic existence is that of anxiety. Coping with life in an environment not designed for and conflicting with native autistic modalities, the autistic person is constantly in a state of stress.”

Snoösphere 2017 – call out!

Upcoming project: Call Out!

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Snoösphere, 2017

Snoösphere 2017 – a multisensory experience with a focus on autism, featuring autistic creative partnership.

Lull Studios and UNSW would like to invite autistic persons of all ages to join us as creative advisors in designing a gallery-based art installation.

Snoösphere is a space made up of interactive sound, vision, aroma, and touch-controlled elements, in which people can roam and explore. It is an immersive space for promoting discovery, empathy and understanding of the spectrum of neurodiversity.

Named for the noösphere, which is the phase in the Earth’s evolution after the biosphere – a future planetary sphere of mind – the Snoösphere promotes embodied consciousness of the sensory and energetic properties and performance of physical space.

We see this as the especial province of autistic artists. Instead of being passive end-users, autistic participants are an influential part of developing Snoösphere, putting into practice the ethos “Nothing About Us Without Us.”

Dr. Dawn-joy Leong is the autism consultant for Snoösphere, personally facilitating the interesting and fun autism-friendly sessions.

Participants will experience creative engagement and learn about the process of building a multisensory interactive environment aimed at supporting the sensory needs of autistics. Contributions from our autistic advisors will be duly acknowledged in the final production.

Introductory consultation sessions and workshops for small groups and individuals (completely free) will be held 17-20 November 2016, at UNSW Art & Design, Paddington.

Please feel free to contact Dawn-joy for more detailed information, or to register your interest in becoming part of our project. Dawn will reply to emails promptly and no question is too trivial.

Email: dawnjoy@mac.com

Phone: 0477424585

The Big Anxiety Project

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The Big Anxiety Project

The BIG Anxiety Project is an innovative citizen science venture developing creative approaches to health research and data visualization.”

Lucy and I are honoured to be a small part of this amazing project, which kicks-off on 5 June 2016, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 3-6pm, level 6, with this interactive talk-cum-discussion session.

Friends in Sydney, if you will brave the weekend’s wet and wild weather, please do join us at this interactive event.

If you are not in Sydney or unable to attend the above event, please take part in the Big Anxiety Project’s survey on anxiety at the Black Dog Institute: click here!

Autism and me: a lifelong quest for Beingness and Clemency of Being

Autism and me: a lifelong quest for Beingness and clemency of Being.

Guest lecture, 27 August 2015, School of Education, UNSW, Australia.

Thank you, Dr. Iva Strnadova, for inviting me to deliver this guest lecture since 2012. It has become an annual event I look forward to greatly.

I promised Iva I’ll tell as many personal stories as possible within the time limit, and so I shall. But before I launch into the dramatics, I’d like to begin with some basic terminology.

When I first began on my research journey, I adopted the prevalent deficits-focused, pathological perspectives and terminologies, because that was all I knew at the time. However, I henceforth prefer to use the term “Autism Spectrum Condition” instead of “disorder,” because this better describes the neurological culture that autism actually is. I also no longer use functioning labels – “high” or “low” functioning – as they are not only insulting to autistic persons, but more importantly they are based on a system of measurements that does not properly respect the innate autistic functional modalities and paradigms.

Now for my fabulous stories. Continue reading

Scheherazade’s Sea – autistic parallel embodiment and elemental empathy

Paper presented at UNSW Art & Design Postgraduate Conference, 17-19 June 2015.

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My Ph.D dissertation, tentatively entitled, Scheherazade’s Sea – autistic parallel embodiment and elemental empathy, is part of a protracted journey in search for Being: a detailed study of Self and Other, and examination of multidimensional interstices of dynamic, interactive reciprocities.

This research and practice rests upon three fundamental concepts:

  1. Parallel Embodiment,
  2. Endeavour of Empathy, and
  3. Space of Mind, from which emanates Elemental Empathy.

The theoretical foundation for this work is constructed from documented studies in neuroscience, anthropology, the arts and humanities, and personal anecdotal evidence from autistic individuals. At the same time, my artistic practice acts as concretising agency by creating experimental ‘sharable’ spaces that serve not merely to display autism but to invite dynamic, personified communion; connecting individuals across neuro-functional divides. Continue reading