snake oil

LA PETITE PRINCESSE SERIES

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.

The fiercely aggressive and subversive tactics of these 21st century snake oil hawkers is no laughing matter. I recently posted a warning on my official Facebook page about programmes recently emerging in the autism marketplace selling quick fixes. In a matter of minutes, I received a private message, from someone I initially thought was just a curious or concerned parent. It was only later, when the person’s profile faded into thin air (either they blocked me or it was deleted because it was a fake profile to begin with), that I realised what this was all about.

Dubious-Programme-Msg.jpg

 

Then, there are parents who do not bother (or perhaps are unable) to read and understand articles written by autistic advocates and researchers.

I recently posted this piece by Ann Memmott on my official Facebook page:

Irresponsible Information: Autism” (click to go to Ann’s article)

I was told that it had made its way to some local autism chat group. A young autistic adult remarked that he could not get past the first few paragraphs, because he was overtaken by fear. Then some parent declared with self-ascribed authority that Memmott was making false claims and merely “seeking for attention”. To which the young autistic adult replied that he was immensely relieved, because the article had made him afraid.

Was this simply because they failed to grasp what the article was actually trying to convey? (I see nothing scary or attention-seeking about the article. To me, it is well thought out and the points logically expounded.) Or perhaps this parent and the snake oil pushers are one and the same? Or both reasons rolled into one?

I shall never know. Nor do I really wish to know. It is far too distressing and soul-depleting for me to dabble in these groupie things: the bullying that takes place in such settings, the pompous nonsense being sprouted, and the sycophantic behaviours of the subjugated combine to form a disturbingly dissonant chorus.

All is not very well in Autism Land. The NeuroNormative Colonial Masters are holding tightly to their autistic subalterns, while the unscrupulous fraudsters weave lies and pseudoscience with unnerving steely determination.

I advocate because of necessity. In truth, that is not my passion. I am a researcher. A scholar, an Artist and Musician. I realise with increasing clarity that I am not particularly gifted at teaching those who resolutely will not learn, and trying to educate the adamantly uneducated is too exhausting a task for me. The combative arena – fighting snake oil and wrestling ignorance – is not my natural habitation. I believe ever more strongly that if I may contribute to the autistic world any kind of graceful redemption, it will be most cogently through the Arts: above and beyond the slugging matches, battle cries and bloodied terrain, there shall persist music, art, narrative, poetry, dance, theatre etc. This is where I want to be. This is where I will be found. Look for me. New work is germinating… Scheherazade will return soon.

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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。

Disabled Leadership in practice

In a previous post, I mused about Disabled Leadership, the great divide between theory and practice that many disabled persons face, and suggested one fundamental element that is crucial to recognition of disabled participants in the conversation on disability: payment as a basic mark of respect. Now, in this brief ‘follow-up’ post, I’d like to provide some straight-forward concrete examples of its practice in the arts and film.

I’ve iterated and reiterated before, and now once more, I am no activist – I have an aversion for confrontational activity, but advocacy is something that most disabled professionals are forced to engage in (in some way or other) due to the dominating climate of ableism and stubborn ignorance surrounding the disabled practitioner. In other words, advocacy – sometimes quite vehement and insistent – is made necessary because disabled practitioners need to clear the debris-strewn paths, clogged channels, and polluted waterways so that we can proceed with our practice. Continue reading

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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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)

Autism & Neurodiversity in Hong Kong

HKU-CGED-Talk

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I was in Hong Kong recently, speaking on Autism and Neurodiversity. An amazing week. Hope to see you again soon, Hong Kong!

(For enquiries on speaking engagements, please email: dawnjoy@mac.com)

Autism and the Arts

An excellent article by Katie Sutherland in The Conversation about Autism and the Arts. It is both a relief and a joy when non-autistic writers or producers etc write / make features that are respectful, inclusive and accurate when portraying or talking about Autism. Thank you, Katie Sutherland!

Featuring Snoosphere by Lull Studios, my two works, Clement Space and An Olfactory Map, and Thom & Anglemouse’s Rush Hour at Cloud Heaven. Please click on the link:

“Autism and the arts: making a space for different minds.”

Excerpt:

“Rancid perfume. Stinky babies. Sweaty clothes. Garlic hair. Human bodies putrefying and I think my own is beginning to smell,” declares artist and researcher Dawn-joy Leong in her installation, An Olfactory Map of Sydney, at Customs House in Circular Quay.

At times confronting, at times funny, Leong’s graphic description of the assault of odours while travelling by bus forms a series of video monologues about her sensitivities to smells, sounds, light, colour, tastes and movement.

Leong is autistic and regularly feels overwhelmed due to hyper-sensory perception. This can trigger extreme reactions such as nausea, headache, vertigo and sometimes excruciating pain. Through Leong’s work, the viewer gets a real sense of how exhausting having such a heightened awareness must be, particularly in a world designed for “neurotypicals” – people who are typically wired or non-autistic.