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

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PhD Dissertation 2016

I finally uploaded it here.

Scheherazade’s Sea: autism, parallel embodiment and elemental empathy. 2016

It’s been sitting there in the bowels of my external storage drive since 2016. I am very proud of this work – not merely because I won the top award to be won among postgraduates, the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Research 2016, but much more because of the way I survived the odds with Lucy’s help and that of my loyal friends, and my one and only amazing sister (and her wonderful hubby). It is a team effort of grit, will, faith and a lot of sand in the mouth. It is a testament to me of the beauty of love and friendship.

As the final chapter will tell, the work has been the best thing to happen to me. I waited and longer for this all my life, and it is a dream come true. (The PhD journey – not the Dean’s Award, I never dreamt of that, never in my wildest dream would I think I would win it – actually, I didn’t even know it existed until I was informed that I was in the running!)

Thank you, dear friends who have helped prop me up and given me all that amazing strength to persist.

WE DID IT!

Scheherazade lives on.

Autistic Thriving @ TEDx

This is the complete unedited script of my TEDx speech, delivered today amidst a flurry of technical failures and farcical-comedic twists. (Read about it here.)

AUTISTIC THRIVING
Dawn-joy Leong
4 August 2018
TEDx Pickering Street
Singapore

~

I dance,
Because
I cannot walk,
The ground,
It is too strange.
I must count:
One, two,
One, two, three!

Autistic people are given many different labels by the non-autistic world. One of them is ‘clumsy,’ and by that measure, I suppose I am – it is a conscious effort for me to walk in a straight line, navigate bumpy surfaces, and stroll and chat at the same time. Yet, how does ‘clumsiness’ explain the ability to dance? When there is music, my body becomes freed from the tyranny of the walk, and the ground doesn’t seem so daunting anymore. Continue reading

Reluctant Advocate

I am not an “Autism Activist” – far from it – so, please do not call me that. Thank you. I do support the work of activists, it is a necessary force when things are woefully wrong and a great deal of vim and vigour is needed to create change for the better. It is just that my natural constitution does not fit well with the vivacity required for effective activism. Sometimes, though, I do engage in advocacy. Well, all right, quite often especially of late, but this is not what I deliberately set out to do. I am, first and foremost, an autistic researcher and multi-artist. Unpacking this further, my research interests include (but are not confined to) autism, autistic sensory idiosyncrasies, alternative and elemental empathic resonance, clement spaces of mind and body, and my material practice reflects this research, employing multiple artistic disciplines. I love my research and multi-art practice, and I adore my beloved Lucy Like-a-Charm, the two represent mental, emotional and physical wellbeing and equilibrium to me. Continue reading

Disabled People Have an Ally Problem: They Need to Stop Talking For Us

Important points very clearly put forth. Disabled Leadership can and must happen, but first, the ground needs to be laid. And this article lays it down very well. Read and learn!

Crutches & Spice

My mom and I were in the store when it happened. It wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last, unfortunately. It was a common occurrence, “par for the course” as they say. An acquaintance of my mother (my mom’s real friends know better) had walked over to us and started a conversation with us. Just normal things until she switched the conversation to kids, she looked and my mother and asked “what subject does she like most in school?” Despite standing right beside my mother, despite having been introduced to me by my mother, despite the fact I had nodded quite attentively to what she had yammered on about, she decided to ignore my presence and address the question to my mother. For most abled people, this may seem like a momentary slip up in decorum, but for disabled people this is all to familiar: proximity to…

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bloviation & the sacrificial lamb

My recent casual blog post, musing on Arts and Disability, and the devastating effects of non-disabled colonisation of the disability conversation, theory and practice in any field, with a focus on the arts, simply because this is my field of research and praxis.

“Perhaps it is time to take the entire conversation back and situate it on our own platform – the Actually Autistic / Actually Disabled stage. One that we choose for ourselves, not that which is designed and built by the non-disabled colonising forces. One in which there is no prerequisite social-political posturing of ambiguous, veiled or hushed up mumblings, no copious mists of gas lighting, and no contemptuous slime of condescension. Just honest truth and a light shining onto a path ahead clear of the debris of gurgling bloviation. Is this even a possibility, I wonder?”

bunnyhopscotch

20180512-bunnyhopscotch-bloviation bloviating babble bubbles

I learned this new word from my friend Rick. I like it. It has a robust movement to its physical form, flow and force. It sounds and feels like thick copious slimy globules arising from a pit of bubbling sludge. This word has a sensorial constitution that matches its meaning. Thank you, Rick!

“Bloviation” – such a proliferate and aggressively dominating activity in the field of Autism and Neurodiversity. Autism is a trendy topic these days, isn’t it? Everyone – from the housewife ‘AutismMom’ to the Professor in Psychiatry, and the outright quacks touting ‘cures’ and ‘healing touches’ mushrooming like unbridled viruses in between – seems to be dancing vigorously around the jolly campfire of Autism.The word makes me think of the many (I have lost count now, it is a long and wearying list) instances of having to silently endure protracted lectures, workshops, conversations, discussions, seminars…

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Upcoming Lectures – Hong Kong Feb/March 2018

I shall be in Hong Kong next week and a half delivering two public lectures. Friends in Hong Kong, please do drop by!

1. EMBRACING NEURODIVERSITY

Embracing-Neurodiversity_poster1

Embracing Neurodiversity: sharing empathy through multi-sensory immersive art.
Venue: University of Hong Kong, Room 4.34, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus.
Date and time: 28 February 2018, 4-5.30pm
Language: English
Contact: Ms. Zhang Xuehong – xuehong@hku.hk

Abstract:

Empathy is a complex concept: an abstract phenomenon that can be felt, but remains invisible and unknown to others unless properly conveyed. Each human culture has different ways of expressing and showing empathy. Nonetheless, empathy is an important part of human interaction and a key component to forming congenial relationships.
According to the neuronormative-designed pathological description, the autistic person is a social misfit without ability to form meaningful connections, in a barren mindscape devoid of empathy and creative imagination. In reality, the autistic realm is a rich and vibrant sensorial ecology teeming with detail, observations of minutiae, and dynamic energy; and autistic persons possess a different kind of empathy, an alternative connectivity that is no less meaningful than that of the social normative majority.

Autism has been scrutinized and defined by the neuronormative for almost a century, yet the normative realm has failed dismally to understand the autistic existence. Perhaps it is now time for the autistic world to show the way forward, with multi-art practice as agency, towards deeper empathic resonance across neuro-cultural divides.

2. AUTISM & ART

V1-20180302-Poster

 

Autism and Art

Another talk I will be delivering in Hong Kong, this one is at the Education University. The poster is in Chinese, as the audience in this one will be mainly Cantonese speaking. My lecture is in English with simultaneous Cantonese translation. There will be a show by autistic sand-artist, Sai-Ho Lee to open the session, and a Q&A at the end.

Topic: Autism and Art.
Venue: Education University of Hong Kong, Lecture Room 105
Date and time: 2 March 2018, 2-5pm
Language: English with Cantonese translation
Contact: csenie@eduhk.hk

Abstract:
For many autistic persons, life within the context of the wider social world is a difficult journey full of stigmatization and misunderstanding. How may artistic research and practice help to bridge the divide between neurotypical and autistic realms, to forge real and lasting empathic connectivity between?
對於許多自閉人士來說,活在這個社會猶如踏上一條充滿負面標籤和被誤解的艱難旅程。講者透過藝術研究和實踐,探索如何跨越非自閉和自閉特色世界族群的鴻溝,形成真正持久和具同理心的連系。