Note: This book is currently out of stock. A revised, expanded copy may be created. in time to come
I am Eric, a 24 year old with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. I decided to change my life a few years ago. Instead of dismissing emotions as irrational, I chose to experience them as deeply as possible. Instead of treating humans as alien life forms, I chose to accept my identity as a human being and experience my human life. As I explored my inner world, I slowly awakening to the instincts that autism suppressed in me.
My perception of the outside world solidified from a flat video screen into 3-dimensional reality. I developed an instinctive sense of inappropriate verses appropriate words and actions that guided me in my social interactions. My mind cleared up and I could make decisions without the panic that used to overwhelm me. Instead of finding bodily contact disgusting, I developed the desire for intimacy and can now choose to use it to enhance my social experiences. Most importantly, I found myself developing a sense of kinship and bonding. I became concerned for my new friends and my family members.
Seeing that I had stepped beyond autism's limitations, I wanted to share my experiences and the subtle features of the autistic consciousness I experienced. This was not an easy choice. I knew that without funding and support from professionals and organizations, I had to do my work alone. Without guidance from other people, I had to find my own way. I knew that other people might discriminate against me when I seek employment. I knew that there was no guarantee that people will accept my work or find it of value. Very importantly, I had to defy my mother's wishes. Instead of taking a well-paying computer job, I chose to make the world a better place by sharing about autism.
Undeterred by the lack of support and various failures, I published 2 autism books, made my autism website, created my original autism materials and stepped into a new life in a foreign land that I have never seen before. After many sacrifices and struggles, I present with this book, the insights that I had won with my sweat and tears. May it inspire the world!
I come from a poor family in Singapore, which struggled to make ends meet. As I grew up, my mother realized that something was wrong with me. I did not look at her when she spoke. I tended to repeat her words or give irrelevant answers. I ignored her and sat alone by myself reading books.
The family doctor was unaware of autism and said that I would outgrow these behaviors. My mother thought that I merely had some communication difficulty, but she could not afford to send me to a speech therapist. She did not have an English education that would have given her access to professional help. However, she loved me and spent whatever little money she had to buy me good food, nursery song cassettes and hire a private English tutor.
In kindergarten, she home-schooled me when I missed lessons due to asthma attacks. In Primary school, she tried to stop the bullying I received, and helped me clear up some misunderstandings with a teacher. With her help, I eventually graduated with a Diploma in Logistics from the mainstream educational system. However, while my mother could help me from the outside, she could not see my inner experiences. Not knowing about autism, she often held me up to the standards of my non-autistic peers. I was found wanting - too slow, too clumsy, too gullible and too unwilling to change my ways.
I broke things. I could not sense the meaning in her verbal instructions and needed her to repeat a few times. I shared inappropriate information with other people. I did not make friends and play with other children. I could not tell her about what happened to me. When I went to the doctor, she had to explain my syndromes and medical issues for me.
Yet, how could I explain something that I was not aware? How could I change the behavior that I did not know was under my control? How can I do something that I could not understand? Fortunately, now I have the capacity to become aware of my experiences. With this, I do my best to paint the ineffable experiences I had into words. If only my mother had read this book 2 decades ago…
Sample Preview: My Body & Environment
Human limitations were too severe for me to take. I wish to break free of this frail and sickly body. Soar to the stars. Transform myself into anything I like. Make all wishes come true in an instant. Melt into the programming system of reality and start changing the laws of physics.
Human technology is too primitive. Humans are proud of their puny supercomputers, fragile fighter jets, wobbly skyscrapers and inaccurate GPS satellite system. Yet they are still at the mercy of mere hurricanes, earthquakes and diseases. Those who escape still die of old age in mere decades. Their economical system is driving their wildlife to extinction. Their political system seems bent on driving themselves to extinction.
I see before me, a crazy civilization stranded on a tiny blue planet. I see a civilization unaware of the infinite possibilities of outer space, desperately trying to protect minute pieces of their planet from each other. I see chaos and suffering where people attack, cheat or kill each other for sheets of paper (i.e. money), ideological logos, small parcels of land and mating partners.
I detested the dirt, the noise and the ugliness around me. The mucus coming from my nose and throat… Yuck! Human bodies also need rest, food and maintenance. What a hassle! If only I could photosynthesize like a plant or run on electricity so that I can save time eating and going to the toilet. Even worse, this body breaks down over time, with many irreplaceable parts. In mere decades, it would be hard to operate and uglier than ever.
Events on Earth take time: not nanoseconds, but years! I cannot teleport and clone myself at will. I must express myself in imprecise words instead of telepathic knowing. It is beyond human power to memorize every book in the National Library, when even a simple computer can do so easily.
Marooned on this isolated backwater, I felt that my real home lies far beyond the stars. I could not accept my identity as an Earthling, my home as Planet Earth, and my human body with its severe limitations. Such thoughts made it difficult for me to accept Humanity.
Lack Physics Instinct
This instinct is pervasive: it colors people's consciousness no matter if they are waking, dreaming or imagining something. It makes physics processing so effortless that they need not constantly think about how to move their hands. With a malfunctioning physics instinct, I lacked depth perception. The world appeared to me like a flat TV screen. I had no idea where my body was and how I could use it to modify my environment. When I perform daily tasks like stapling paper or pouring water, I used my eyesight to guide me. Any distraction means another accident.
In addition, the behavior of objects was a mystery to me. How would I know that placing glass objects close to the edge of the table might cause accidents? How do I know that I should put knives facing away from people, because someone might cut himself taking it out or it might drop? How do I know that slamming the cupboard doors may cause it to break and come loose? I only knew if someone warns me verbally.
I knew that I had this handicap only when I started recovered from it. One day around 2003, I spontaneously began to sense something different about the world. It seems that objects are “floating” and “popping out”. It took me over a week to get used to this. At the same time, my audio-visual-smell imagination also developed a bodily-touch component. I began to understand why most people could work so easily with physical objects.
(continued in book)
1. Preface 1
Coping with Autism Roadblocks
The Process of Growth
Going Beyond the Limits of Autism
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