‘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 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.
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.)
4 August 2018
TEDx Pickering Street
I cannot walk,
It is too strange.
I must count:
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
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
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: 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
Contact: Ms. Zhang Xuehong – firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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?