My Autism Wish
Some people do not fully understand why I do my autism work. They advise me that "merely" sharing about autism is not "practical": I ought to provide therapies and treatment for autistic children because that is what people will pay for. However, my main purpose is not to "cure" or "treat" autism.
After much effort adapting to Planet Earth, I spontaneously recovered my instincts and developed an intuitive understanding of human life. Having received this rare gift, I felt that I have a duty to share it with the world too. I struggled to develop materials, theories and recognition to accomplish this without regard for my finances. My offers to work together with others to promote autism awareness were rejected by various organizations and people, including some parents of children with autism. Just as I was about to give up with autism advocacy, I made some breakthroughs overseas.
However, despite trying my best, I could not make a living from my autism work. No publisher would pay me an advance for my books and no sponsor was willing to bankroll me. My persistence has also strained my family relationships severely - I was eventually asked to choose between my family and my autism work. After much agonizing reflection, I took on a full-time computer job and relegated autism work to a hobby.
It was when I tried to find a job that I understood the meaning of discrimination. When my autism diagnosis was made aware to some potential employers, their attitude changed immediately and they preferred not to hire me. A friendly smile would suddenly become respectful but distant. Previously interactive discussions would change to repetitively emphasizing on the need for good social and communications skills. An interviewer at an NGO was honest enough to thank me for telling them about my diagnosis, as (she believed that due to my weak social skills) I would have been an unsuitable candidate.
It dawned on me that my autism work has became a liability for this stage of my life. I decided to cut down on my media exposure in Singapore to prevent my employment prospects from being affected. I must emphasize how painful it is to have to turn away all the documentary requests and interviews that I once worked hard to obtain. However, I decided to keep this website as a compromise - to continue contributing to the autism community.
I no longer have ambitions of changing the world through my autism work. Neither do I wish to be known simply as a person with autism - I am more than just my diagnosis. For the next stage of my autism work, I would focus on practical help for the autism community - be it sharing about autism to special needs teachers, helping to mentor autistic youth or advising people who want to set up a business to hire people with autism. These will be done quietly, without fanfare or media publicity.
I would also like to write my 4th book, which will use autism to explore spirituality and meaning in human life. I live a busy schedule working full-time and studying part-time, so I do not know when that book will be written. But I know that someday, this book will join other works such as the Little Prince and Jonathan Livingston Seagull as sources of inspiration for millions of people. Hopefully by then, I will no longer need to work for a living, and be able to pursue my dream of starting a research lab to help solve Humanity's problems. That will be the time when I shall present myself to glare of the world's cameras again.
Thank you for listening. If you wish to offer some support, or connect with me, please feel free to contact me.
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