Uniquely Me Episode 1 – a perspective

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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.

Background

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

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Data-based study? – Whose data?

‘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

Autistic Thriving

Lucy and I shall be at TEDx Pickering Street this Saturday 4 August 2018. Come join us and hear my ideas on how autistic and non-autistic people may grow and thrive, not despite autism but because of the unique features of autism, and what society can learn from autistic persons.

[Autistic Thriving – Dr. Dawn-Joy Leong]
There is a great deal of ‘awareness’ these days about Autism – mainly from non-autistic observations. However, where are the Actually Autistic voices in this cacophony of opinions and interpretations? What is it like to be autistic? Discover how Dawn learns to thrive within her autistic ecology, not despite but because of her autism.
Grab your tickets here: https://tedxpsthrive.peatix.com/

[自闭世界的生意盎然]
自闭症在当下取得了广泛的关注,只不过这些观察结果都是从非自闭症患者角度获得的。可是抛开这些不和谐的观点和解释,我们从何听到自闭症患者的真实发声?作为一个自闭症患者是什么样子?在这场演讲中,Dawn会向我们分享她是如何在患有自闭症的情况下茁壮成长。

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 dr.dawnjoyleong@gmail.com)

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.”