Saturday, January 10, 2015

How to bring out the best in your person with autism

How is the autism community like in your home country like? Are they committed to bring the best out of the person with autism?

I'll start with my own country, Singapore.

Our people with autism (especially low-functioning autistic people) have government subsidies, which provide a minimum support, enough to live on. 

Some people with ASD have vocational training, giving them a 'job'. Standardized testing ensures that able Singaporeans, even with autism spectrum disorders, maximize their opportunities in life so long as they meet a certain standard on them. They are placed in STEM, business support or even the arts.

Despite the fantastic job in Singapore so far, there is still dissatisfaction in the Singapore autism community. They include the enlistment of males under conscription (which is not too desirable given that it's coerced, but it could work out well with support from the armed forces, as Singapore has conscription), the inability to get into the civil service and similar 'stable jobs' (and hence, a stable source of living, especially for higher-functioning individuals with autism) and rejection of health and medical insurance cover for autistic individuals.

I can only say most members of the autism community are content, but many are not, as more can be done. Perhaps a step in the positive direction would be having the autism organisations in Singapore to examine its biggest issues and work them for the good of people with autism, at the local context, as much more can be done. There could be international cooperation on autism, if this helps to better what we can offer at the local level.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Finding our value

Aspies and people with autism are supposed to solve problems with technical abilities. Do we, and our families, accept that our world is changing faster than our ability to process problems? Will we ever find our strengths to adapt with the environment?

Being more passionate and intuitive than the other people is not the solution.

With globalization, people with better abilities than us can supplant whatever roles we are doing. We can be replaceable, by any machinery, computer or even fellow human being anywhere, so long as their costs are lower than ours and they bring in more monies than us. We still do not find an equitable system that spreads wealth to human beings, as our social support structures as a whole weakened relative to, say, 30 years ago, before Thatcherite policies and Reaganomics.

We have to re-think our current positions relative to other people. 

A mentor I confide in posed me this question, and this question the Aspie or autism way of survival: do I have anything to lose if I just do anything what I wish to do? 

I adapt to my environment by being a mediocre, say, *ahem* then I may not even survive the future of regulations, presence of many more capable and motivated people with higher qualifications and *better experience*. How can I tell this to my support structure that, just let me do anything what I want so long as it doesn't risk my health too much, and I tell you what I do every day - am I not networking, building skills etc.?

I feel that I am losing nothing, I may gain even more - sanity, motivation and focus on what I have now, relative to the loss of my family' face, hopes and wishes which are not built on sensible foundation. I face not just a language, but mindset barrier that seems insurmountable for now.

Who does not want to gain the ability to lead an independent life, while we live with a positive attitude that busts stress and obstacles to lead one's family and community ahead?

Ultimately, we have to find the most practical way out to bring immediate value to our surroundings around us. If we choose to like what we love to do, and what we love to do is in demand by other people around us, we should keep doing it regardless of pay. Then we have a value. We will not be that easily replaced by anybody, or anything.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I Can't Breathe!

As someone with Kanner's autism who went through rather unconventional treatment, I have three pleas:

(1) Don't force me to do certain things. 

Especially if they impact my career, way or life or thinking. 

Because it is not a matter of whether I like some things or not. It is more of whether, with the onslaught of globalized competition, we can 

(2) Recognize that we are all unique.

Don't say 'why X with autism can do it, but not you'?

Autism is more than Kanner's and Asperger's. It is a spectrum.

People with autism, with reasonable accommodation, can achieve whatever they set out to do. LFs have a greater sense of awareness of their inabilities than HFs, from my experience.

(3) Let me do anything what I want, including the choice not to talk aloud about my autism.

Not every person with autism is a self-advocate.

What is the use of saying 'I have autism, I am talented, I need accommodations to achieve well and other people need similar stuff'. We would rather spend time and effort on something we enjoy doing. If we enjoy digital art, we should spend time talking about conceptual ideas, instead of ranting on how life is unfair to us, and why we should enjoy 'human rights'.

We'd love to have human rights. We love building skills and know-how even more, to build skill sets.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I find it hard to be fully 'me'.

Lately, in the past half year, I enrolled in Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The more I study about the wonderful philosophy of oriental medicine, the more acutely aware that I know I am 'not normal' because some of my functioning is beyond the norms of the well-being I have. I still do not disclose my autism, despite it being a major obstacle in my understanding of the instructions given in school (oh, I do not apply for special needs consideration in the college too).

With the course, I also became more sensitive and conscious of my culture. On top of being a Chinese, I am not just a Chinese, living in multicultural Singapore means I have some subtle Malay, Indian and Western influences that I may not be so aware. I just feel, uncomfortably, more 'un-Chinese'  because of exposure of what is Chinese, and what is not.

These happen on top of my autism. I do not want autism to have me, but I do not want to see my capabilities being limited, because of what I cannot do - now.

We cannot lead life backwards. We assume we make the best choices in life, under the most complete of circumstances.

Hence, I am still exploring my options.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


This is why I tried to write a business plan. I want to be my own boss of my parallel import sporting firm, importing football training systems and American basketball sporting goods, especially those Under Armour compression and basketball shoe lines. I even designed questions to support marketing and promotional decisions - this is why I did tons of surveys. it can be better refined.

I know my destiny will still be one of 'failure'. I know it. My father has dreams of being a geologist, crushed because of familial pressures for him to 'do anything', which happens to be his current line of work. 40 years later, same old story. But different twist - I have a condition he doesn't has.

My parents knew my plans and decried me as daydreaming. They said they are getting older, and they want me to stop whatever I want and just do what they want.
I would rather be unemployed as fuck (mind my words but I say what I mean) than to toil my time where I cannot give a middle finger salute under any dick shit situation that it is really needed. Don't accountants have to give a true and fair statement of financial accounts and affairs? (Well... even if you say whatever you want, while other people go 'money money money', 'fame fame fame' or 'dreams dreams dreams', I am still going 'family' and 'acceptance by in-group' as I can't get the first three.)

I have to honestly say, I would rather fail so that I can be a great intellectual with the shiny PhD from some research intensive university in Saudi or UAE, than to be a decent person in my parents' plan. Or...

I cannot fulfil my dream as a researcher in the Arts/Social Sciences especially in English or Geography or Sociology, because of... I cannot do Psychology because I was literally forced to withdraw out of someone else's wishes, even though I chose Psychology. I am forced to abort job search and business plan writing and I have to do something I know I can never be great at.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Not In My Back Yard - Aspies not welcome in their homeland

I dare to say Singaporean Aspies are not welcome in our homeland. We are just like snakes, to be driven out by some certain Saint. As an Aspie myself, I think Aspies may be considered pests or parasites of our society, for some reasons.  But I do know the ones causing our suffering are definitely mistreating others like us, and therefore, sinister, to say the least.

We all want to bring the best out of whatever abilities we have and minimize the costs of our failures, just as any other rational human beings.

Being identified as an Aspie does not make us stupid, vulnerable or incapable to ourselves. It is the way other people perceive our characteristics, and link them with our conditions, that make us stupid, vulnerable or incapable.

However, let us be clear about it - Aspies are perceived as incapable, and it is our human nature not to be associated with such people, and it happens that we have the traits that make their conditions a hindrance to their lives (i.e. defining Aspies as Aspies).

So this means we try to make our achievements public while we try to hide our autism conditions, while we promote about what we can do for society. This means we can help our community only in secret, so that we do not cannibalize our chances of success.

Please be clear in what do you want, friends.

Do you want to be identified as an Aspie? Are you so fearful of that because that already sort of happened in your life?

Or you want to be identified as, say, a great artist, who moves and shakes the world with some masterpiece that the world identifies with?

I am sure for all of us, the answer will be latter.

If you don't want to be identified as an Aspie, and you just want to live your own life as 'you', then just live you in your own personal space. At least the Internet is vast enough for you to create many alter egos, don't you?

If you know what you want to be in your life, then work not for preventing being an Aspie, but work for the person that you truly want to be, and I am sure it has no 'autism' label. A few autism groups I know have the mechanism to isolate the autism label from the others, so that you could bring your views to autism - and then, moving on, you could go on be your true selves completely without autism label through another alter ego.

From my observations with a handful of Aspies from Hong Kong, the discrimination against Hong Kong-born Aspies in Hong Kong is definitely much more than the discrimination against Singapore-born Aspies in Singapore. Plus, for people like me, we have no other homeland we can call our own - not China, through the Bandung Declaration that we have to declare loyalty to our host nations, not our 'host nations' where we may be discriminated when we are not immigrants, and certainly not the land we call Singapore, where we are second class citizens in the land we are born and bred.

Ironically, given the perception of America and Britain that they are 'free' lands - when people with autism in America and Britain are also suffering in their own way through lack of opportunities in a really competitive environment, it is more likely that we Aspie Singaporeans choose to be third class citizens in these countries, doubly discriminated as people of both disability and color.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

My experience with Fluoxetine/anti-depressants

Many years ago, I started taking Fluoxetine to control my depression and anxiety disorders. I got anorexia and constant headaches. I stopped medication after a year due to such effects. 

Thereafter, I stopped medication, and there were withdrawal effects. I did not have good sleep and I often get nightmares. My appetite still had not recovered. 

They affected my performance so adversely. I completed a degree which I had a low GPA, and I did not hold a job for the past six months. I am heading nowhere. The only place I can move ahead is doing another degree with less time pressures. I also consciously know I am virtually unemployable, so why not just do what I like?

I worry that people with autism may have a dim future. If he is thinking of higher education, let us be realistic, he has limited options. 

I hope he has no interest, or being pushed, to pursue a career in the financial service sector. I remember being pushed to pursue a career in this sector. 

I majored in accounting in University. My autism and anxiety issues, coupled with the after-effects of medication, made me unsuitable for a career in Accounting.

I prefer studying Geography, and I enjoy explaining spatial relationships between different places. But my parents (rightfully) pointed out I have grade C in 'A' Levels for H2 Geography, despite my A grade in the Preliminary Examinations for the subject. 

I believe I can do much better if I am given the opportunity to retake the examination papers. My struggle against Fluoxetine gave me no other option, other than to keep doing something I enjoyed doing for a long time.