Like ‘hell on earth’

Posted on 27 January 2011

An autistic Singaporean describes what he feels is the despondent situation that people like him experience daily.

By Aaron Kok, for the writing contest.

The Autism awareness ribbon. BLW PHOTOGRAPHY / Creative Commons

The Autism awareness ribbon. BLW PHOTOGRAPHY / Creative Commons

IT’S A hard life being a Singaporean and autistic at the same time. We have to live through a lifetime of disappointments, pain and discrimination.

Our parents do not have the money, the time, or the know-how to give us a full and comprehensive treatment that could maximize our potential. We have to go through speech, play, exercise, and whatever therapy, just for a silver lining of hope.

But hope? In what way is there hope?

I only know that our parents’ hope of an early, well-deserved retirement is gone – because they’ll most probably have to work harder and much longer, to take care of us even if we are high functioning (which I am). Some parents even divorce as a result.

In school, we suffered greatly. We do not have the social skills to get around attacks: verbal, physical or mental. Bullies see us as the lower species, judging our intelligence from our behavior, which we have no control over. This is made worse by the media who portray autistics as people who will never be on par with normal people.

We autistics eventually develop low self-esteem, or a “me against the world” attitude. Unfortunately, the anti-bullying campaign started very late. But even now, some schools do not implement it.

Hearing stories from other autistics, I say the anti-bullying program was a failure. Thus Singapore has several generations of kids who will grow up into teenagers and adults and end up in jail or the Institute of Mental Health. Most of these are not even autistic!

I still wonder why did our country’s leader sent his autistic son to an international school that normal Singaporean can never attend. It’s simply not fair that he goes to some international school where they have facilities to accommodate autistics, while WE suffer so much in the mainstream counterparts.

He claims that our mainstream school cannot facilitate his son’s education. Then he, as leader of the country, should implement change in the mainstream education system to accommodate both his son and us! I say it’s only fair that all of us autistics should be allowed a part in the mainstream life.

School was living hell for us. They instituted compulsory co-curricular activities which we are neither interested nor up to the task. There should be a more choices for all, normal and autistics.

I am lucky to have survived NS with the help of supportive superiors. But lots of autistics are not that lucky. They are bullied, harassed, and even beaten up while traveling home.

Autistics can contribute to society by doing what they are talented in, from art and science to even obscure interests like stamps or chess. (Very few schools outside the elite schools have such CCAs.) So our teachers hammer us, trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

The system forces Singaporean students, autistic or not, to do Project Work at both polytechnics and Junior Colleges. This is where we are victims of political maneuvering. They gang up on their autistic classmates to take credit for their hard work and to falsify their peer appraisals against us.

Despite their disability, autistics are hardworking and dedicated in their work. It’s not fair for our classmates to do this.
For males, life is worse. All of us are subjected to two years of brainwashing and physical torture; National Service. I bring the reader’s attention to male autistic Singaporeans because males constitute three quarters of the autistic population globally.

I am lucky to have survived NS with the help of supportive superiors. But lots of autistics are not that lucky. They are bullied, harassed, and even beaten up while traveling home. To think the perpetrators are grown men, who behave like school children who don’t grow up. One autistic, who also survived NS like me, even told me that there are many gang members in the SAF. All these are telling signs that NS is not for us autistics, definitely.

Our society does not allow flexibility in autistics serving our country. Hence, there is a tendency that some autistics may not be able to withstand the rigors of NS. They either serve NS dutifully, whilst suffering in the process, or be exempted, or even expelled like a few of my friends.

When one is expelled or exempted from NS, he will be at a disadvantage. Society discriminates against people who do not serve NS, labeling them ‘chao keng’ or ‘wuss’. These derogatory remarks do not serve any purpose, other than showing society’s ignorance and nonchalance towards the challenges we autistics have to face, day in and day out.

Our employment situation is dire. I do not have objective statistics myself, but to my own estimates, no autistic I know is gainfully employed in a job that makes full use of his or her capabilities to the fullest.

We are mostly either stuck in dead-end jobs, or are not promoted to positions at the same pace neurotypicals, or non-autistics. One autistic (whom requested not to be named or identified) told me that he is in his line of job for nine years, and yet there’s no prospects of further training or career advancement. As such, he is in despair.

I believe other adult Singaporean autistics, who have the ability to work, also feels the same.

In addition, the civil service has no clear public indication that autistics like me, even with their sub-par social skills, have a place to contribute to them. Where can we find our jobs?

Our society has to be more gracious and more sympathetic not only autistics but to those with disabilities. Until then, I have put in motion plans to leave this tiny island that some call home.

But I call it Hell on Earth.

The author is a 23-year-old Singaporean, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. He is out of NS and looking for a job. ‘Aaron Kok’ is a pseudonym.

Editor’s note: We will be inviting Denise Phua, MP for Jalan Besar GRC and supervisor of the Pathlight School, to respond to this article. Readers who would like to share their experiences and insights can also contribute to the comments section below or they can write to us at .

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  • Gary

    I personally wished this article has been a little more optimistic and hopeful. It’s full of helplessness, resentment and disappointment that the author could have lived through. But nevertheless, it’s good to know the struggles of the average autistic.

  • terence

    @Gary,

    well, it’s the writer’s perspective, so…

  • Heidi

    The essay does have a negative tone to it. But however what if he’s speaking the truth??

    I have a friend who is mentally ill and he suffers very much what the writer of this article has went through. He’s not autistic but he’s got bi-polar and has been to the IMH before. Once you step into that Woodbridge Asylum, you are doomed for life here.

  • Gary

    Yes indeed. Who talks about self-esteem when you step into IMH? No one ever steps out of IMH, walking with an air of self-confidence and self-assurance.

  • Bryan

    @ Gary

    Agreed!

    Tears fell from my eyes when I read this article. I always thought that autistics will be cared for since I saw schools like Pathlight School or St Andrew’ autism centre.

    I never though that their teenage and adult like is so….. “sobs”, T_T

  • Gary

    I hope this article, even with its sad tone, can somehow has the ability to empower our society as a whole to work with the disadvantaged in general, and also autistics, to build a better Singapore together.

  • SimpleSimon

    An autistic adult wrote this? I was very surprised…. I always thought that autistics would be intellectually disabled. I am surprised that the writer is able to write an essay like this.

    Please forgive my ignorance, I believe it has something to do with mainstream culture. The media keeps portraying about people with mental illnesses as hopeless cases. That included the latest Channel 8 drama, Breakout, I heard that Zou Jie Ming is autistic. But my friends keeping mimicking the way he speaks and I often tell them to stop poking fun as its disrespectful.

    • T.Y

      You said it! I watched the whole Breakout and I wa pissed off with everything about it. Acting, directing, writing…but what made my blood boil was tht Zou Jie Ming! As an Autistic myself, I was trully offended by his stereotypical and very inaccurate potrayal and the roles of his family didnt help either. I cant believe that show even got the most nominees at star awards and won the big time. Even with elvin ng winning favorite character! So this just shows that we singaporeans need a misfit to amuse us and laugh at. now with the damage done, peoples perceptions of autistic people are even more innacurate thanks to that popular show. Now i am even more afraid to be honest to people abou myself. and regarding your comment, I forgive you for keeping an open mind.

  • terence

    Does anyone know of autistics who have done well in society?

  • Gary

    The list is long, basically summarized here at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_on_the_autism_spectrum

    But noteworthy autistics include:

    High-functioning autism:

    Temple Grandin, food animal handling systems designer

    Asperger’s Syndrome:

    Michael Burry, investment fund manager
    Vernon L. Smith, Nobel Prize winner in Economics
    Satoshi Taijiri, creator of Pokemon

    Autism Spectrum:

    Jason McElwain, high school basketball player

  • terence

    @Gary

    hmm but i’m sure there are some of them in Singapore?

  • CloudLeopard

    @ SimpleSimon
    Since you have the capacity and the heart to tell your friends to stop making fun of Zou Jie Ming. We all forgive your ignorance. Autistics are separated into two subgroups, low functioning and high functioning.

    Low functioning autistics have severe intellectual problems and while there are some who have some talents, most of them end up in St. Andrew’s. I must say that being a youth volunteer, their only advantage is that most people can tell from their face.etc they have a problem and tend to be able to empathize with them. But they have to depend on a lifetime of welfare. As you know Singapore is not a welfare state.

    The writer appears to be the high functioning sort. Their problem is that most people define intelligence based on their social life and thus they think that high functioning autistic are like retards. They do not get empathy easily especially from the law. They might be well-versed in a certain subject but they are social handicaps. People cannot fathom high functioners becos high functioning autistics walk on the fine line between disability and ability/genius. They dun seem disabled but at the same time they are disabled, leaving normal people with average IQ very confused.

  • Gary

    @terence

    Eric Chen. Website owner of autistic website. http://iautistic.com/

    • Fiona

      Why aren’t there more autistics who achievements are more well-known?

      • Uncle

        Becos society is preventing them from achieving greatness?

        • Fiona

          Then why is our society preventing autistics to achieve their sort of greatness?

          • Brown

            Becos our education system is not flexible and expect all of us to like the author says, fit into a round hole.

            Autistic people are known to be very creative in some aspects. They might be socially inept but they are just as capable.

            Singapore’s education system produces by the book, half pass six quality graduates who are unable to meet industrial requirements.

            I am saying this as I am a supervisor in an animation company in Singapore. I interview many fresh graduates from our local polys. Most of them are dumbed down by our education system and they can’t think out of the box.

            Autistics tend to naturally think out of the box as their perspective is very different from normal people.

          • Fiona

            Overseas, at least in Australia or the United States, those who think out of the box are lauded for what they are. I only hope we are more supportive for creative thinkers and the disadvantaged, both of which might apply to autistics.

      • Klark
        • Something to consider

          The question is, is there anyone from Singapore appearing on the list?

  • Gary

    @CloudLeopard

    I understand that low-functioning autistics have their own issues. Having worked with them on my own personal capacity in school, I know they are struggling, day-by-day. I wish the Government will look into this.

    This is why I think it’s good to see MP Denise Phua, the Superintendent of Pathlight School, to respond to this article. I know people who interacted with Ms Phua on a personal and/or work basis before and understand that she is understanding, and she listens to the concern of the people in general, particularly autistics.

    As for high functioning autistics, I do not understand them well enough. But looking at the article, I really hope that society will be more understanding towards them as well.

    It is no wonder that the author requested to use a pseudonym. Unless society’s attitude towards autistics change, it will be detrimental for the autistics for really truthfully say who we are – for they will be subject to social manipulation in school, in NS and in work. As an article wrote, if I can recall rightly, ‘no one wanted to hire someone with a ‘mental illness’.

    We really hope that the government can take action in light of the portrayal of the autistics’ plight, as shown here.

  • CloudLeopard

    @Gary
    High functioning autistics are somewhat an enigma which I can see even you get confused. Because even the child psychologists are also confused.

    The problem being that there is no clear cut answer. Doctors group people with autistic symptoms into clear cut categories. Rett syndrome and Fragile X syndrome are clearcut and easy to diagnose. Classic autism is also fairly clearcut: Children with classic autism are usually non-verbal, unengaged, and unable to perform well on standard diagnostic tests.

    For high functional autistics, the answer is blur like sotong.

    High functioning autistic demonstrate autistic behaviors. For example, depending upon their age, they can use meaningful language, read, write, do math, show affection, complete daily tasks but can’t hold eye contact, maintain a conversation, engage in play, pick up on social cues, etc.

  • Gary

    @CloudLeopard

    Yep. Are the High-Functioning Autistics normal, or do they have a ‘disability’ that Society is helpless to help?

    • CloudLeopard

      Like I said, they walk the line between normal and disabled. So making them very hard for them to mingle with people and people to understand them especially Singaporean kids.

      • Gary

        I don’t know whether there are any solutions we can think of, to solve this issue?

        • Fiona

          If we do understand out HFAs better, and befriend them, it’d be great. I don’t know where can I start, though, to find such friends.

          • Striped Panther

            You will never know, it could be that strange colleague in your office or just someone who looks normals walking down the street.

            They are hiding like some superheroes for a good reason.

          • Fiona

            So you imply that autistics are everywhere?

          • Fiona

            Oops it should be ‘I infer’

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  • Gary

    I have hope, though, that the able autistics can contribute to society, in their own unique ways. 😀

    • Jim

      Can autistics contribute, even if they are jobless?

      • Fiona

        I suppose, logically speaking, we have to see what they are strong in?

  • Bhavan Jaipragas

    Yipeng, Lee Kuan Yew’s eldest grandson also suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. He went to a neighbourhood secondary school, and later went on to NUS where he graduated with what I believe to be a second upper honours degree. Lee Kuan Yew talks about Yipeng quite extensively in Hard Truths.

    • Wayne

      If so, I’m interested in the specific pages of accounts on Li Yipeng – this would make a good read.

      • Fiona

        If the autistics’ parents are rich or powerful as Li Yipeng, will they be better off saying they are autistic?

        • Striped Panther

          Hmm they will have more access to more facilities. However not every autistic has such a rich and powerful parent.

          • Fiona

            Then why not solicit support from the rich and powerful to help high functioning autistics even more?

  • Denise Phua

    Hi Aaron, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I understand how you feel but perhaps not fully as no one can fully understand another person. I volunteer at ARC, AAS, Eden School, Pathlight School, and a Day Activity Centre for the more severe adults with autism. My fellow volunteers and I are doing whatever we can to develop schools, systems etc. It takes alot of effort at implementation level, on the ground and I am sure we are still not there yet. More help will be good :o).
    May I invite you to a meeting at Pathlight Cafe to discuss further? You can email me at [email protected]
    Warm regards,
    Denise Phua

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  • Jim

    In Singapore a person with Aspergers syndrome going on to an uni is a big deal. In other countries this is just normal. Why aren’t there more prominent People with autism here?

    • Yoda

      @ Jim
      There is a big problem. The unis here seem to put those who served NS at top priority. Some Autistics that I know of, do not survive the NS as military life is just not for them. I have heard of autistics who get exempted or drop out before they can finish their 2 years.

      I know this friend who dropped out from NS but his A level results are good enough to enter a NUS. But becos he dropped out from NS, now of the local unis accept him…It’s true.

      Now he’s migrated to New Zealand.

      • Wayne

        Thank you for your insights. We should give opportunities to autistics who are willing and able to work hard at their opportunities, not deprive them from what they can possibly have the potential to achieve.

        • Jim

          Yoda, I appreciate what you’d shared — and to be honest, it’s a waste and shame that your friend moved to NZ when Singapore doesn’t give him the chances to do his best.

          • Fiona

            I also think I would have moved to New Zealand, if I were Yoda’s friend.

      • Jim

        And accept that you are second class in your home land?

        Well that aside, autistics are just autistics. Let them be!

        • Brown

          Yeah but there is plenty of them with untapped useful potential.

          Somemore people need to make the effort to come down from their high places to befriend them. It’s like Jesus Christ coming down to Earth to live with human beings. I believe we can learn from Jesus in this case.

          • Fiona

            Who knows these second-class citizens, free as they are, can be world class in their talents, to untap their ‘useful potentials’.

          • Uncle

            Autistic people like normal people need to be trained to unleash their potentials.

            I agree with Brown who is an animation supervisor like he said. Compare with overseas, our animation and artists really cannot make it. Brown says that our local polys do not train our graduates to the point that they are up to standard for industrial needs.

            I remember hearing this guy called David Kwok in an media fair last year. Mr. Kwok says the exact same thing. His company has the most up to date animation training in the whole of Singapore. He tell me that most of his students are local graduates from Polytechnics who end up jobless in the market becos they are not trained well. Half past six quality portfolios. But his company was able to train them well until most of them can find a job and a career in animation.

            Imagine if this can happen in the media industry, dun even talk about if our local education trains our graduates well enough to enter any type of market.

          • Fiona

            Not even overseas stints help?

  • Yoda

    Sorry it’s none of the local unis accept him…

    • Uncle

      Eh? Are you joking? Then this will be bad news for some of my friends who are parents of kids with autism/ADHD. Most of them are boys!

      • Fiona

        Yes. I know a handful of high-functioning autistic students myself who are definitely more than capable to handle the workload in local universities. Somehow, though, non-academic challenges that they cannot control are their stumbling blocks.

        • Jim

          If the non-autistic challenges include emotional issues derived from their inability to understand social situations, inability to work with others and also perhaps over-fixated interests that may not fit in with societal needs, then they autistics will have to accept unemployment in Singapore. Just like anyone else who cannot ‘fit into’ Singapore’s plans.

          • Fiona

            I think the autistics, though they may not fit into Singapore’s plans, can somehow find a niche for themselves that fit into the world’s plans! But for this, I will have to see autistics myself to know better.

  • terence

    @Bhavan

    this article seems to suggest that one of LKY’s grandsons, who is dyslexic, at one point in his life opted out of the mainstream education system: http://www.singapore-window.org/sw06/060411cn.htm

    that seems to be where the author draws his evidence from, which may admittedly be flawed. Are you aware which of LKY’s grandsons are dyslexic?

    • http://rot.blogsome.com twasher

      terence:

      Besides that speech to the SAS, LKY repeats that fact in an interview with the IHT. You can read excerpts here (scroll down or just search for “dyslexic”):
      http://www.vietmba.com/showthread.php?t=3965

    • Khavati

      @terence

      If say the mainstream is not given the legislation to be more accommodating to children with Special needs, then what is our country leader doing? He’s got a kid with special needs… nothing too shameful, I have a brother with ADHD. However as the leader of the country they should have put more effort into special education.

      http://www.singapore-window.org/sw06/060411cn.htm

      Read the last two paragraphs this was reported in Channel News Asia in 2006

      • Jim

        The rich can do whatever they want, but those in power should recognize and act on the problems they see, in the most rational manner.

        • Uncle

          Exactly, I do not mean disrespect to our leaders. But then it just doesn’t seem right.

          Just to note, since PM Lee knows that our school systems lack facilities for special needs people he should implement a series of plans to allow such children to learn in mainstream schools.

          Instead it took a humble lady called Miss Denise Phua to set up the Pathlight School.

          I believe we should give Miss Phua a round of applause. But all said and done, these autistics will eventually need to enter the mainstream world and Pathlight is merely a sanctuary but it cannot protect autistics forever.

          • Fiona

            Then do you think autistic people need protection?

  • Fiona

    If we can’t take good care of our high-functioning autistics, who are oh-so-near to employment and success, let alone the low-functioning ones?

    • Uncle

      I have a daughter who is autistic, its apparent that her life ahead in Singapore would be extremely difficult. As pointed out by many, there are no institutions in Singapore to assist in education of the child, support for the parent, and programs to help them to be as normal as possible.

      There are only 2 doctors here in Singapore who provide medical care for autism, but proven “cures” from the West are not allowed in Singapore. And most of these medicines are very expensive, I have seen and heard of parents doing all they can to bring their children overseas to seek treatment or a better life.

      As a govt who is really concerned about our lives as citizens of this country, more should be done to help the unfortunate ones, as a country, no fellow citizen should be left behind.

      • Fiona

        I agree totally on the last paragraph.

      • Jim

        I read posts on autism by overseas autistics and researchers, and note that even autistics overseas are split over ‘cure’ and ‘anti-cure’ arguments. I don’t know what are Singaporeans’ stand. But as noted in the article above, the author knows himself that most Singaporean parents are receptive towards a cure to autism.

      • Fiona

        I am interested in knowing more about alternative treatments for autistics that work – if it helps the children’s futures.

        • Jim

          Don’t you know treatment is a controversial issue to autistics?

          • Fiona

            But what if treatment works to help autistics better to adapt to society?

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  • SnowLeopard

    Wha this article won the contest? Congrats Aaron.

    @ Uncle.
    Sir I think you do not have to worry too much about your daughter. Female aspies then to fly under the radar more often than male aspies. But however this will make them just as vulnerable.

    • Fiona

      But females still have the conditions… if they do.

      • Rick

        However according to some psychologists, there are just as much females with Aspergers as there are boys. Rather thant he 4:1 gender ratio. According to one of the founders of a secret adult autistic group in Singapore, he mentions that he find difficulties getting women with ASDs to confess. This is mainly because females have their conditions on a less severe level than boys.

        Women have higher EQ than men. Plus since they say men are from Mars and women from Venus, the condition is going to affect both genders very differently. The women with AS can pass off as Normal most of the time but they do have the same issues as guys. But society treats both sexes differently so you can guess the outcome.

        • Jim

          Will there be a possibility that males can hide their conditions, too?

          • Brown

            Usually it’s difficult it has something to do with the male and female psychology. Both sexes think very different lines.

          • Fiona

            So you think autism is in the Y chromosome?

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  • Jim

    I wished there could be more autistic Singaporeans who achieve and then declare their conditions. However, I look at the comments and the article, and I cannot believe that able autistics are hiding their conditions, for all their efforts to overcome their own issues to do good for the society. Can someone explain why we can’t have more able Singaporeans who say they are autistic?

    I believe, in any supportive society (though I infered that Singapore’s society is not too supportive), they will welcome any autistic who overcomes his (or her) challenges and understand his conditions, while empowering him to do his best.

    • Brown

      @ Jim,
      you are downplaying it. Singapore’s society is not just not supportive but also very eugenist and inhuman. Only good grades and socially successful people survive here. They think that people with Special needs are a waste of resources.

      In west, many of the greatest inventors and great people had some form of autism as so to speak from various accounts in their childhood. Thomas Edison dropped out of mainstream school as a kid and was homeschooled. Albert Einstein was a late talker as a child but he became the man who smashed newtonian physics and invented quantum physics.

      The autistic people whom I spoke to mention that they have to hide their conditions to the best they can like X-men in order to survive, that means that our society is very prejudiced against people with special needs. If found out, these people will be treat no better than ex-convicts.

      • Fiona

        How sad if the autistic had to hide their conditions! I think it’s hard to live ‘hiding’ something.

        • Raymond

          Brown is right. Not just autistics, many Singaporeans with mental disorders like say schizophrenia or bi polar for example are treated with disdain in society.

          I am not surprised if Autistics even if they are proven to be capable in their own fields, they would be ostracized in society. If we cannot respect those who have recovered from mental issues, what makes you think that autistics who are on the high functioning side have the confidence that declaring their conditions will not affect their livelihood. I swear that I have heard of people losing their jobs or not getting hired after they declare they have some mental issues.

          • Raymond

            btw I am not that Raymond who has a wife with schizophrenia. Just to say so.

          • Fiona

            It’s indeed ugly to see John Nash not honored for Nash equilibrium because of mental issues.

    • James

      Jim,
      because we had become a society of arrogant pple,hearts had become callous n we think we had achieved a lot. TYpical singaporean had become inward -looking and self-centered.I’m a volunteer caregiver for special needs people and I had seen the abuse and injustice that they suffer.I had seen a ADHD person acting up in MRT n pple scurried off and someone even say should’nt let this kind of WEIRDOS out. I gave a speech to this person that she will never get forget .
      Let’s all strive to be more accepting to less fortunate and special needs people. this world is as much theirs as ours. maybe even more theirs.

  • Issac

    “This is where I won’t feel alone…..”

    I believe the author doesn’t like the song, Home by Kit Chan. He would probably say ,” This is where I feel so alone….”

    • Fiona

      Not just that, I feel. If autistics just feel uncomfortable here, I wished I can do something to cheer them up.

      • Issac

        Yeah… however I did heard of rumors of an adult autistic group based in Singapore. The head is said to be an aspie who has made it in life in Singapore but keeping a very low profile.

        Can someone confirm the rumors?

        • Fiona

          I am puzzled. If the autistic can ‘make it in life’, why does he need to keep a very low profile? Isn’t overcoming autism a great achievement?

          • Apollo

            @ Fiona

            Hi guys, I managed to read a book by a singaporean mother who has a son with autism. Come into my world: 31 stories of Autism in Singapore by Brenda Tan

            http://www.come-into-my-world.com/home

            One of the adults with autism has provided his email to his secret group that Issac was talking about. I believe we can email him at bigcat(at)live.com to ask him about his group and such.

            I have emailed him over similar concerns as Fiona but he has yet to reply. Maybe Fiona can ask him a few questions?

          • Fiona

            @Apollo

            Sure. Would like to hear from an autistic on his life experiences.

            My feelings, I am sorry if it could not be interpreted as it is, is that there will always be people who appreciate the gifts and talents of these autistics, despite their limitations.

            In addition, isn’t the Singaporean government already very supportive of the special needs community (particularly ARC)? The special schools are quite well-funded as compared to their American and British counterparts, the in-charge of Pathlight School is a Member of Parliament herself (yes, I saw her reply to this post) and more importantly, there are autistics with great talents, including this writer and that Aspie ‘who made it in life’, from what I gleaned from this article.

            I am sure with autistics revealing their conditions as they are, especially the able ones, it will hopefully inspire us and remind us constantly that there are people who bring wonders to our Earth. I am sure other non-autistic readers will also share my sentiments. I regard this article, though, as a step forward in showing, truthfully, the state of mind in autistics.

            And for these ignorant people who just take advantage of these autistics, this act is despicable, and I am sure society will not accept it.

    • Fiona

      Now I am curious, how ‘alone’ is ‘alone’? I thought our society is already considered quite encouraging for people with special needs?

  • Striped Panther

    Hello,

    I am the guy Apollo was talking about. Fiona, if you have any questions about this subject. You may speak to me directly at [email protected]. I may be slow due to my busy work schedule as a trainer.

    Just to introduce myself, I am one of those few ASD cases in Singapore that managed to “successfully” transition into normal life without the label, Autism/ ADHD, affecting my life as it did as a youngster. While we wish that autism awareness would lead to less discrimination, my group’s founding members have concluded that the best way for ASDs to survive is to keep a low profile. It would be a problem if our conditions are exposed as there will be always be people with malicious intent around here.

    Unless we can be assured that declaring our conditions will not affect our livihoods, my group’s policy is to keep mum about it.

    This is a cruel fact of life

    • Fiona

      There will always be people of malicious intent and they will go against people who looks or feel weird. For the people who are out of sync with society, either they try their best to adapt, in which I think the group Striped Panther try to do, or accept that they are still weird.

      In my thinking, the problems of the hearing impaired and the autistics are similar. The deaf look and feel differently from the other people, but I don’t think they do the same things as what the autistics do. True, this will cause them to suffer from some discrimination, but at least they accept their deafness and try their best to make themselves better. So they disclose their disabilities, even though revealing alone harms them.

      As for Striped Panther, best wishes to you, I just want to openly share my feelings on this issue with this article’s readers. Will email to you another time.

      • Striped Panther

        Thank you,

        However my accomplishments are nothing if my brethern are not helped and treated fairly by society. I managed to transition well in to adult life due to supportive parents who had been my pillar of strength. My experience has told me that many of the character flaws I see in my group were stemming out of loneliness and the desire for acceptance.

        And who says that autistic people do not desire friendship and cannot form relationships?

        However, I agree with you that there will always be people of malicious intent who will bully the weak and the needy. But the problem is… Is the society doing anything about it or are they following suit?

        Judging from past incidents and my member’s experiences. Singaporeans are in fact following the example of people of malicious intent. Out of fear perhaps of being marginalized for standing up for what is right?

        What is society coming to? I will share my member’s experiences in email. I do not wish to talk too much in the open.

        • Fiona

          I have emailed you, Striped Panther.

          I am also concerned with the issue of ‘Project Work’. If everyone else is doing it, even though autistics are disadvantaged because of their inability to work in a team, isn’t it better for the autistic to be supported in his work, instead of trying to be exempted or something like that? If the autistic just cannot pull through teamwork, even though he’s just unable to interact well with the rest of his group, he has to realize that if there is no teamwork, he has to accept fewer opportunities lying ahead. That’s just the way it is. Teamwork, in all counts, is definitely a necessity in almost all work settings I can think of.

          If autistics, due to their conditions, cannot accept or competently complete his team’s work, then it’s just like a person with parosmia (no sense of smell) trying to be a cook. This is nearly impossible. Then they will have to exclude themselves from a lot of settings, by their conditions.

          Much as i want to sympathize on Aaron and other autistics, I believe this is what I honestly think of autistics. I hope autistics do not just go around complain on what they do not have, and try to tell us what we should give them. We will give them the attention if they’re worthy of society’s concerns, like having extraordinary talents or something like that. They will have to earn our respect.

          I have to assert again, though, although I consider this article to be flawed and there are some areas I think the author can improve on, I have utmost personal admiration for the author and Striped Panther, for really taking effort to share their experiences. Kudos to them.

          Maybe one day, there will be some autistic in Singapore, who just goes all out, shares about living with autism and his attempts to overcome his conditions, and learn the ropes and skills to conquer more adverse conditions.

          • Striped Panther

            @ Fiona,

            I will reply more day after tomorrow after work.

            While I totally agree with you on the part that Autistics have to try their best to learn to fit in, what if say they have already tried their best? It’s like asking a Down’s Syndrome to get smarter than what God made him. It’s theoretically impossible.

            There is a huge imbalance between what societal expectations and the needs of people with special needs. We need a more inclusive, humane and accepting society. I will share more in my reply to you, Fiona.

            Meanwhile I thank Aaron for presenting what my group has not dared to write to the public at large.

          • Fiona

            I may want to listen how autistics have done their best and still cannot ‘fit in’. And while there is a gap between what society expects of people with special needs and their needs (which, from this article, showed that these people need more than lip service and sympathy), what do you, an autistic, want others to help you better, in terms of support to help you be your own best?

            I wait for your reply here and email.

  • Fiona

    With regards to another article I read earlier, you got to accept that Singaporean society is a closed society that only puts people in business, medicine, law, engineering and perhaps teaching. Except for perhaps engineering (which is also getting more team-oriented), all of the industries require competencies in interpersonal skills.

    What is there to complain? If autistics are gifted in other areas but are unable to seek employment, they have to either try to work in a team, or, if impossible, just accept welfare help from others if they really cannot work. What’s wrong with welfare for really really unfortunate people like autistics?

    • Kelly

      Wow so this Striped Panther is that guy known as anonymous in the book 31 stories of Autism?

      @fiona
      Well you remember that singapore is not a welfare state remember? But I think autistics thrive in a more open and accepting society. How else do you explain the fact that many of the great autistics whom became famous people like Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Vincent Van Gogh.etc are people from the west.

      So far there are very few autistics who reached this level in Asia not to mention in Singapore.

      • Jim

        Singapore is not a welfare state. So Fiona, do you think that the autistics here should just accept the situation that they cannot get welfare benefits, and how are you sure that these autistics can somehow survive?

        In addition, I am thinking that instead of trying to be normal, which will somehow be apparent slightly to observant people who just wants to ‘screw people up’, why not let the autistics be themselves and let them be free to do whatever they like, so long as it’s something that counts as a healthy interest?

        • Brown

          Jim is right.

          I think it would be better like what the article on Charles Darwin. We let our kids built their career on what they are good at.

          • Jim

            I hope so. If only we have more supportive parents!

          • Fiona

            But they got to do ‘socially acceptable’ things.

  • Issac

    @ Jim

    I agree with Jim on the part on being normal but I have to mention that mental disorders can be extremely problematic because it affects your mind, thoughts and your freewill. It’s more than just “try your best to adapt to normal life”.

    I believe many autistics and as a whole, mental patients, tried to change to the best of their ability but failed. When they fail to adapt, cynical people say that they have not tried their best. I really dun think it’s fair to them. Some of them even develop other more severe mental issues during the “adaptation” process. Like say because people keeping forcing them, some of them may have obsessive compulsive disorder or even in a case in Brenda’s book, schizophrenia.

    As long as autistics are not doing anything bad, why should they be ostracized and treated so unequally? It’s like you know you discriminate someone for being born this way like that hairy girl from thailand.

    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/weird-news/2011/03/01/wolf-girl-i-m-proud-to-be-the-hairiest-girl-in-the-world-86908-22958253/

    Is it her fault that she is born with so much hair? It’s the same with autistics, is it their fault that they are born with weaker social skills?

    I believe you cannot blame Striped Panther and the writer for keeping such a low profile even if they are successful people in society. I have seen people with mental illnesses once they kena declare. They lose the job, lose the family in some cases or even cannot even buy insurance. If society does not give them acceptance, declaring such will only make them lose everything they have. In chinese call Shen Bai Ming Lie-身败名裂.

    what we need is a more tolerant and accepting society.

    • Fiona

      Well, let’s accept it! Society will never gonna give them acceptance. But that talk that ‘people should take care of themselves first’ should die out, because only if they have suffered first then we can have more room for a more tolerant and accepting society.

  • Fiona

    Well losing everything is a risk well taken, because it only makes the world more reflective and knowledgeable about autism, even if it makes some of us look stupid and unfeeling.

    • Issac

      Well I have little to say if your attitude is like this. I believe Striped Panther and the writer has made his stand clear.

      Until society changes to accept not just autism but people with special needs like mental illnesses, those guys will continue to have to hide.

      However to be frank, dun you feel any pity for these people? If you say things like this?

      I believe as I post, the members of his Striped Panther’s group are watching with anger.

      • Fiona

        They ought to, because they will have to accept that they have to make a sacrifice to really better the world.

  • Kelly

    However I think we normal, healthy people just need to give way. Those special needs people have given more than enough “way” to accommodate us, to the point of desperation and insanity.

    Is it that hard for normal people to do so to come down from our high places to talk and befriend them?

    Striped Panther might not be willing to reveal himself even though he spent a lifetime fighting his condition and learning about normal people. I believe he has a lot of lose if he does so.

    However knowing that he set up an autism group in Singapore, I believe that he’s sacrificing a lot for the community. If I was a normal cynical singaporean, who would be in the right mind to spent time with autistics.

    Especially so for recovered autistics, why should I hang out with “losers”?

    No offence to the Striped Panther.

    • Fiona

      Then wouldn’t it take a loser to not see that even these ‘recovered’ autistics have autism, based on their medical criteria?

  • Jim

    Please give Striped Panther and the author some slack. Let us respect their decision with regards to not disclosing their conditions.

    • Jim

      Sorry, it should be ‘cut… some slack’.

  • Fiona

    Jim, you won’t know the meaning of ‘social externalities’ as well as I do. Society needs some people to really suffer in order to remind us constantly that we need to be compassionate, even in the supposed smart but autistic ones.

    • Jim

      All I can say, Fiona, is that you are an uncaring SOB.

      • Striped Panther

        @ Fiona

        I would hate to see this topic turn into a war of words. However you are free to email me on regards on what you dun understand…

        I get the feeling that you think that people with special needs are not trying hard enough to adapt. Just to let you know, the parents who are members of another special needs group are irate about some of your comments.

        • Seleste

          Hi Fiona,
          Perhaps this website (Page 64 onwards) will tell you how people with autism are persecuted, even when they are just children:

           http://www.kiasuparents.com/kiasu/forum … 854#344854

          • Fiona

            Do you have the full URL of the forum?

          • Seleste
          • Fiona

            The article mainly mentioned about the lack of attention to children and students in general, not just autistics, to lower-functioning autistics whom the parents know that they need even more attention.

            To both parents, just face it! The world is not just you and your child. All the more, to those unfortunate autistics who just simply needed more help than the non-autistic child.

            While I see your point, this shows that our society doesn’t appreciate any deviation from societal behavior. Autistics, whether they declared their condtiions or not, have to accept this. Either they give up, declare their conditions and suffer from exclusion (which our society seems more than ready to do, I will not weigh in the ethical costs though I’m unhappy about it), or they still have to be jeered for weirdness.

            I also implicitly sense a sort of discrimination of higher-functioning autistics over their lower-functioning counterparts. This is why I thought, are autisitcs trying to show that they are the best in front of other autistics? I hope someone can sort that out.

        • Fiona

          If you cannot adapt, why don’t you admit it?

        • Fiona

          If you claim the parents are not satisfied with what I said, feel free to share with me their links. I would want to hear from them their own concerns. I got the feeling that the parents are the ones who are scared that their children’s autism will distort their children, to people that they cannot control.

          Allow me to say that families are built on the very foundation of societies. If societies cannot accept the autistics that they are, then just say they are autistic. I guess discrimination, or rather putting the autistics to where they belong – a corner from the rest of the society, would fit them the best.

  • Fiona

    I am confused by what the autistics are saying. I don’t understand what autistics are saying when they want to hide their conditions.

    However, I think it is because autistics think their conditions are poorly understood.

    While I still stand my opinion that only openness help the world help us understand autism better, now we do not have a full medical understanding of autism, what causes it, what is it like and whether there will be a ‘cure’.

    Based on my understanding with low-functioning autistics from what I know, and the exchanges with Striped Panther, perhaps this explains the main debates of autistics, to cure or not to cure? What is acceptance and what can autistics try to ‘adapt’ to society? And should autistics reveal, or not?

    Without really understanding autism, revealation of one’s conditions does really no use. It has to work in the framework of understanding.

    However, as conditions are not ripe, autistics have to do their best to ‘fit into’ the society, which I presume they can’t.

    • Kelly

      I dun think autistics really think that their conditions are poorly understood because they are the sufferers themselves. Having to go through all of the mental eccentricity day by day and conquering them bit by bit takes a lot of hard work and encouragement.

      Also I admire the courage of this Striped Panther as well as the writer in overcoming their inborn conditions. But I saw in his post, “supportive parents who had been my pillar of strength.” in society, there ain’t a lot of encouragement. Some people are single parent, have abusive or overzealous parents who result in bad cases like the slashings in Downtown east or Bukit Panjang. I believe Striped Panther’s group might be helping society cleaning up the MESS that we had made to autistics. I don’t believe that given the state of affairs here, Striped Panther might be counselling autistic members who might be suicidal or even having character flaws like “me against the world ” attitude.

      Also I think it is quite wrong to say that “successful autisitcs trying to show that they are the best in front of other autistics?” This sounds very insulting to Striped Panther if I might say so. If we look at this objectively, Striped Panther where ever he is, has no responsibility to help other autistics.

      If I was Striped Panther in a cynical way, if you ask me to help other autistics, I might say “Why should I help them?” or “Why should I hang out with losers?” As what Fiona is implying. correct me if I am wrong.

      But however the fact is Striped Panther following what the society accepts as normal and no other way, he decided to go away from the flow in secret and come down to mix with what society apathetically calls as “loser” or “wimps who cannot social well”.

      I think we need to give this young man or woman around of applause.

      • Fiona

        Also note that autism is defined by the wider non-autistic community, not by the autistics themselves. I hate to say this, but autistics have to be helped under the normal, typical non-autistic framework.

        • Striped Panther

          But what right do normal people blessed with social skills have to judge intelligence based on their own set of discriminative criteria? That is not an objective way to look at things if you ask me.

          Autistics are not as “retarded” as what many people believe or assume. Autistics or even Down Syndrome people might see things in a perspective that normal people just dun understand or wish to understand. They just say that we are freaks and do all sorts of terrible things to us.

          What autistics need is a more accepting world, one that is willing to accept them.

          I take one famous example from the movie, Avatar.

          Neytiri is an alien and Jake is seeing her alien world in a human perspective, which is very skewed perspective.

          Neytiri at first tells Jake that “No one can teach you to see!” But Neytiri’s mother, the shaman of the tribe, said to Jake, “My daughter will you our ways, Jake Solly…”

          We need more people to say, “We will teach you our ways….” rather than, “No one can teach you how to socialize.”

          • http://greens.org.au/ Fiona

            It is more socially just to do what Striped Panther exactly wants – which I also wanted.

            It’s not that we non-autistics refuse to teach autistics to socialize. On the contrary, without you autistics telling us what are your conditions like and letting us knowing your conditions as they are while you hide your conditions, how can there be a social awareness of autistics? But then, revealing of autism is a moot point, as other people are not as fortunate as me to be non-autistic, as well as having indirect contact with autistics here.

            I read the articles on autistics’ state in Singapore. It is heavily skewed against the low-functioning autistic and I remember the last article about high-functioning autistics. I don’t know whether it is an issue, but I see that there is a huge need for autistics to try to ‘fit in’, in which they can’t.

            I wonder whether we could induce social change without bloodshed. Peaceful, nonviolent change is possible. The first step for autistics to achieve gradual change is, in my opinion, either make your lives harder – or, in my view, just tell us what is it really like to be autistic – with more revealation of your conditions. Autistics could first achieve that with anonymity. Gradual change would be good.

  • wawa

    How old is Fiona?

    All I can say is your strongly-worded opinion will change once you have an autistic child of your own (your flesh & blood) – Much as you are vocal and passionate about your views, your understanding is skewed cos you have never personally dealt with an autistic – an true blue autistic (not high-functioning) who is close to your heart. You will then “naturally” understand why some people “hide their condition” – it is not so much about “hiding” nor having an inferior complex…it is more about society’s pre-conceived narrow mindset towards autistics that made some of them less forthcoming in sharing their condition (they weren’t “hiding”)

    Til the day comes, it is hard to rub sense into your mind since it is heavily one-sided brought about by a blessed life. God has been nice & understanding to you…. Good if you can extend the same understanding & wisdom to the disadvantaged.

    • http://greens.org.au/ Fiona

      Personally and practically, knowing that I cannot afford to have a child under all circumstances due to the high cost of living in Singapore and the lack of social support system that I have to accept (as compared to other countries), I do not see the point of having a child, even though I can settle in a relationship at any period of time.

      I am too blessed to not see your points clearly, I really cannot understand the autistics, and I do not see myself against autistics in specific. I just hope that the article had been more balanced, and there will be more opportunities for people who do not know much about autism, like me, to understand autistics better.

    • http://greens.org.au/ Fiona

      Looking back, I cannot help but to laugh at you for various reasons, such as your ignorant doubts of my sincerity in helping autistics.

      • Kelly

        @ fiona

        Now now please I dun think that is a nice thing to say. Wawa if I am right, probably has a kid with issues. Your comments indeed are a bit judgemental and sound ignorant and offensive if I must say so.

        You lament that you have not seen a true blue Autistic, have you taken the time to go to find out more about autism? Striped Panther has put his email here at the risk of he being exposed for your sake.

        In light of the yesterday’s SPD charity show, I would feel more sorry not just for those disabled people, from blind to deaf to handicapped on stage but more for those whose plight are not heard nor sympathized; the autistics and mentally ill.

        • Jim

          Yep Fiona, don’t take it too far.

        • Fiona

          No one would care people who do not add value to society anyway.

          • Kelly

            Autistics especially the high functioning ones can contribute to society only if we let them.

            I believe what Striped Panther and his group are seeking is equal treatment by people rather then just merely hiding their conditions.

            However I believe there is a limit to how much can they hide their conditions.

            We need to speak with Striped Panther on this topic. Can someone email him with a question?

          • Fiona

            Autistics do add value to society, and it’s not related to their conditions’ drawbacks. But to build a more just society, some who suffer need to be helped – and even this form of help is debateable.

          • Numbers?

            Well consider these:

            – 90% of America’s families bankrupcies are caused by health issues, job loss or family changes such as divorce/death. 20% of total bankrupcies have all three factors in, while 70% have 2 out of the 3 factors. (No similar data is given in Singapore.)

            – And just one single autism diagnosis can induce job loss (because one parent has to give up his/her job to take care of the child), divorce (because of differences of opinions in raising the child), and autism itself is a health issue – that could result in people not being able to claim insurance for their autistic child’s treatments.

            – Once people disclose their autistic child’s autism, they most likely to get treatment – but they are stuck in dead-end jobs when they grow up.

            – From this article, there had been a few high-functioning autistics (who are relatively more fortunate to share similar conditions, but at a less severe form, than those parents who have to pay for state-subsidised treatments in Singapore) who claim negative stereotypes against autism that really stop them short in revealing their conditions, even though they might want to (to increase awareness for autism).

            – In addition, people may not realise that autism is indeed, for the time being, a disability that cannot be treated totally.

            Now I think much as Fiona had been unreasonable (are there really kind-hearted souls will say implicitly that autistics do not add value to society?) But also, perhaps before criticising anyone any further, let us take some time to see what we can do to help the disadvantaged further.

          • Fiona

            Do we have the money to do so, given our current dire economic position?

  • Jim

    How can we give hope to our autistics?

    • Striped Panther

      This autistic kid has taken a stand against bullying….
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VpxP-7TSDI

      I can imagine if this will happen in Singapore if Autistics have been pushed too far by normal people.

      • Jim

        I can’t watch the video for now. Dead link.

        • Striped Panther

          I got to know this from a member of my group who gave me the link, the australian government is doing all it can to censor the video out of Youtube.

          But no one confirmed whether Casey Haynes is autistic or not. But his father spoke up to the media that Casey has been bullied a lot.

          • Jim

            The world must stand up to bullies.

          • Fiona

            Well, most autistic people are disadvantaged…

  • Puzzled

    What do you think the ignorant non-autistics out there really think on the issues autistics face?

    • Striped Panther

      @ Puzzled
      I must say the attitudes of normal Singaporeans and even the some Singaporean parents of autistics are quite daft or very childish or lack of compassion, understanding and commmon sense. If the parents can be such people, you can only imagine that outsiders would do more hideous things like what Aaron has written.

      For example: I have heard of a mother who forcefully send their autism child for acupuncture on the brain in their lost cause to cure their son’s autism. His son has had violent temper outbursts due to the treatment.

      Another case where the father attempted to cane the “autism” out of his son.

      There is another mother who told the school that her son has autism. The teacher told the principal and the students about it. For decades in his life, that member suffered tremedous psychological torment and physical violence. When his former bullies enter the same secondary school as he did, the bully became worse. My group’s members are his only friends in his entire life that have accepted him and treat him as a “real friend”.

      These are real life examples and they are not just mere isolated cases. Ths is why my group had to adopt the policy of hiding conditions; to be treated as a equal in society rather than treat as a inferior or a lower caste.

  • Something to consider

    So what do you think the autistic people want non-autistics to do? How can we help them better?

    • Kelly

      Striped Panther has spelled it out pretty clearly; to be treated as an equal. But I hope he’s watching this space.

      Those examples he posted in his reply…. I was pretty speechless to hear such atrocities or outrageous acts done by normal people on autistics from Striped Panther’s mouth.

      So our squeaky clean image of our society is a lot more dirtier than it seems.

      • Something to consider

        I see. Hope we can have a more equal society.

        • Striped Panther

          Just to let you know those examples I put forth are just only the tip of the iceberg

          If you were like Case no. 3 where he suffers bullying, societal rejection with no friends in his entire life. I bet with you, that a normal person’s personal growth and character development would be badly affected by such turbulent events. Do not even mention autistics.

          In Case no. 3, I have to admit. Despite that member being a very rash, irrational and sometimes seemingly angst and has done some things that almost wrecked my group. But my co-founder and I chose to listen to him rather than kick him out. That member is victim of circumstances. This is not his fault that he is marginalized by our society.

          My group is considered by him the only people except for his own father to actually care about him and treat as a friend.

          I do not mean to be rude really. If you people have a conscience, why do you see my friend being bullied and you just stand there not helping or join in with the bad people??

          Two cents.

          • Kelly

            That’s very magnanimous of you, Striped Panther. I certainly would have kicked that fore-mentioned member out.

            Looks like your friend did not have a very good childhood. You mentioned irrational, rash and “angst”. So you believe that his family and societal background was responsible for making him the bitter person he is today?

          • Fiona

            I’d consider his dire societal conditions in the first place if I were Striped Panther

        • Something to consider

          “if you think Singapore is good, then you obviously have not seen Australia support and services for Autistic children.” – Expats

          If we cannot even attracts expats with autistic kids, let alone our local kids who are suffering…

  • Striped Panther

    @ Kelly

    Yes and No. Because there are a Yin to every Yang and a Yang to Every Yin.

    With familial and societal background so discriminative with ” the world is against you” as what that member has experienced, you would expect two outcomes;

    You end up as a person with low self esteem and you end up killing yourself or wished that you never existed.

    The other end of the spectrum, you become like Genghis Khan; a person with super high self esteem with arrogance, inconsideration of others and mule-like stubbornness and with a angry, rebellious nature. While it’s true that he could channel this energy into something productive but in the case of my member, he has channeled it into unrealistic pursues.

    Either extremes are not good.

  • Something to consider

    Do you think the wrecks would have happened if society just accepts autism a little more?

    • Striped Panther

      Not a little more but accept it totally. But such wrecks could still happen but they will not be alone like in that member’s case. He could have found at least 1 friend instead of being alone. That member spent his entire 20 odd years without a friend until we came in.

      • Striped Panther

        But to be fair to normal people from bad screwed up families, such wrecked lives are not unique to autistics but to any kid.

        It can take years or even a lifetime to mend the scars from bullying, bad familial conditions.etc.

        • Something to consider

          So do you think autistic people are more in need of help then other people, like say those who are blind or deaf?

          • Striped Panther

            I would be a devil if I say no…

            Just to tell you, based on my friends who have relatives who have such disabilities. ALL of these people regardless of disabilities need our help to intergrate into society…

            “The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members.”

            As Gandhi says, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”

          • Something to consider

            Everyone knows that, but they got their self interests.

          • Kelly

            All said and done these people need help lah…

            But the number of autistic people cannot be ignored. Recent statistic say that the number of autistic people will exceed the number of HIV, cancer patients by the next decade or so.

            Scientists are still figuring out why.

          • Something to consider

            So if this happens that people with autism outnumber those with HIV, should we view them as people who help us, or people who will pull us down?

          • Striped Panther

            I am afraid that whatever the cause of autism is, if the research is true that autism is on the rise. Normal people will be forced no matter what to accept autistics. This will create more strife and more rejection. But by that time, autistics will have the numbers to

            I fear however that it could be sign that lower functioning ones that will out number even the high functioning autistics.

        • Klark

          Hi Striped Panther,

          In summary, I find the society here was simply built without enough “caring” for others. The education, the society, the awareness to respect and care for others beside themselves are so limited. I respect your effort and courage to achieve what you are today. Rather than staying low profile or hiding your true identity, I would say you have managed the conditions well and overcame many obstacles in life.

          • Something to consider

            Well this implies that being autistic is a weakness while living in this society. I am not sure whether this is true in other places

          • Striped Panther

            Not just autism as long as you are weird you are deemed unworthy to be a friend to them as some normal people believe. It is sad.

            Believe it or not, while people are watching the X-men:First Class. They are unaware that the movie’s themes of abandonment, acceptance, discrimination and rejection are all around us.

            Just like the X-men, autistics deserve to be treated as humans not as superior or inferior beings. They deserve equality.

          • Roxanne Lee

            Aren’t we all human beings? Isn’t this what we known all along? If you’re given an animal or disabled human being to help, who will you help first, if you have equal expertise to help ’em…

  • Something to consider

    Do you think autistics can influence our society politically?

    • Striped Panther

      Is that even possible in a country with one party rule?

      • Something to consider

        Has your group considered working with the party, to give them even more support?

        • Striped Panther

          My group’s council and I believe that our group must remain politically neutral, sensing the animosity between the ruling party and the opposition here. I personally do not trust that that politicians can help much. However if anyone from any party can try to help us to protect our rights, I say go ahead and do it…

          My group personally believe that autistics have to learn to stand up by themselves without reliance even from the government. But before we can make any impact if any at all, my members and I are looking into the issue of improving our lot in order to prove that we are people with talents worthy to be treated with respect But this will mean some inconvenience on the autistic side, having to accommodate more again.

          All said and done, if Society can be more accepting. My group doesn’t have to clean up after what normal people have done to us.

          • Something to consider

            If autistic people can be politically aware, it will be sweet. And if there are people who support the autistic people, why not support them?

  • Striped Panther

    @ something to consider

    You would be surprised. During this year’s GE, we have a few autistics who voted for the opposition.etc They are not as naive as my group and I told.

    This article has remained very active for a long time since it was published here. I am very surprised.

  • Something to consider

    Just curious, Striped Panther, why most of the autistics in your group vote for the opposition? Some factors, as I read in this article, are not within the control of the autistics, aren’t they?

    • Striped Panther

      My group is politically neutral and we dun discuss which party to support.etc

      But one new member has mentioned that there are autistics outside my group who are supporting the opposition. However amongst my own members they all agree that some factors have political origins.

      • Something to consider

        I just feel that few governments actively involve the interests of autistic people like Singapore’s.

        • Striped Panther

          Since when have Singapore’s government involve the interests of autistic people? They don’t even care about the plight of people with mental illnesses?

          • Something to consider

            They do – they are one of the few countries to open schools for autistic students, and what’s more, different types for different levels of functioning. I thought they’re doing ok? As for societal stereotypes, it takes time to change, and I have hope that autistics will be well taken care of in future.

          • Striped Panther

            All said and done however, the government has only using a bandaid to fix a widening wound. Schools for autistics can only solve a part of the problem. These fellows are not going to remain kids forever. They will grow up and have untold difficulties.

            Those schools for children with special needs can only help a portion of the disabled community. There are people who cannot afford to send their disabled kids to such schools. PLus, there is discrimination for people who spent their childhood in such schools in society. So many kids with learning disabilities are forced to fit in with the mainstream, like putting a square peg in a round hole.

          • Something to consider

            Maybe you and your group can speak to other autistics in Singapore, even those outside your group. Maybe tell us non-autistics what exactly the non-autistics can do, and give us specific alternatives of what we have – that we consider well functioning.

          • Striped Panther

            Of course, you have to ask the right questions too. ^^ My email is right above in previous comments. Just email me any queries?

          • Something to consider

            Will think about it.

  • Something to consider

    What do you think of the comments:

    “I do not want to have autism, it looks something bad to other people”

    • Striped Panther

      That sentence you have mentioned is a reflection of one issue that my group is tackling, low self esteem.

      Many autistics especially those that are high functioning sometimes wished that autism was never discovered. So as to avoid being labelled and easy targets for those with malicious intent.

      • Something to consider

        I know autistics, to a seemingly reserved, socially awkward guy who is quite smart, I said I want to be his friend – because he has talents. I don’t care whether he’s an autistic – if he doesn’t tell me so, even though he may look ‘weird’.

        The challenge could come if the other party says ‘I am autistic’. How do people react? I guess people will ask, is autism a disease? It doesn’t seem so, it is defined in websites as a neurodevelopmental disorder.

        • Striped Panther

          Depends on the individual. When I was young and I was forced to reveal. The Teachers do not believe me.

          • Something to consider

            Be lucky that you missed the point.

  • Something to consider

    No… Striped Panther, I mean, everyone in the autism spectrum is different. I’ll need to know a variety of autistics to know things better.

  • Mum

    I am a Mum of a high functioning autistic son. I came across this article through a friend of mine. Yes my son had his ups and downs in life but both of us persevered through all hardships. It was no smooth sailing and not a bed of roses but today my son is doing his degree. I can proudly say he is a gem of a person with a focused and structured way of doing things. He does has his sense of humour too. As a mum I still do worry about him and his future but I believe there is a guiding person above us who will guide him to his journey. I am not shy to tell about him being autistic. All his teachers right down to his poly lecturers know about his condition and as a result we were able to work together to bring out the best in him. There is still a lot need to be done for autistic adults.

    • Striped Panther

      @ Mum

      Hello there, congratuations on your son going thru so much and conquering it bit by bit. However you and I are considered lucky cases where you and I meet teachers, mentors who are understanding.

      In my group, my co-founder and I have to deal with autistics who are chronically traumatized and sculpted by bad life conditions. One thing my group is doing; just to clean up the poop that society has made, but also to spread some compassion. One issue we find is that most autistics who have succeeded either do not have the compassion to help their fellow autistics who are stuck and depressed. My co-founder and I have come down from our ivory towers to help but many successful autistics just do not want to be associated with us. Out of selfishness or self-perservation my co-founder thinks.

      Perhaps your son and I can be friends? my email is [email protected]

      • Mum

        Thanks for your offer. I will ask my son to email to you. He also has a facebook account and in it he has stated that he is mild autistic and requested others to accept him for who he really is.

        • STriped Panther

          Liek that rash member I membder earlier, your son will find acceptance in our group.

          • Something to consider

            He is who he is, there is no dispute for that, imo

    • Something to consider

      Good for your child, he’s done a lot and he’ll achieve a lot in life.

      • Striped Panther

        @ Something to consider

        I must say however, Mum’s son and I amd a few others are among a minority that managed to transition well in normal life.

        Most of them are in waist deep in trouble.

        • Something to consider

          Autistic people are human beings. If they look or feel different, they will definitely have to suffer.

        • Something to consider

          oops.

          However, if more is given to the autistic people, it would be better. Just how?

          It seems to me that autistic people want to be accepted by the mainstream, but are hindered by their inability to socially relate and function with others. And I know being human being, it is hard to understand and accept that one is different.

          Plus, some people just do not want to be ‘great’ at the expense of other people, don’t they.

          • Striped Panther

            In regards to looking differently, it’s a rather complicated story for autistics. Most of them except forsome cases look nothing abnormal. But as my co-founder says, it is the vibes that Aspies give out that normal people find replusive.

            If Singapore can promote racial harmony among different races. Why not promote acceptance and tolerance between normal people with healthy minds and bodies and those who are different but not inferior?

          • Something to consider

            You’re talking sense here.

  • Something to consider

    If you think that it is important for autistic people to stay out of trouble, then logically it would be good to ‘segregate’ them in the form of autism-only settings, like schools. But practically, autistic people, being human beings, cannot escape from a bigger, non-autistic world.

    And from what I understand from the web links above, autistic people do desire to be part of the bigger world, so ‘segregation’ is not possible. Plus, even without the consideration of autism, autistic people are not perfect.

    Something to consider: how can we ensure our autistic community stay safe as what they are, without really ‘changing’ our community in a forced way?

    • Striped Panther

      My group is one of those who will be looking to find that answer. Finding that answer is one step the next is to implement it.

      If you have any good ideas you are free to email me. It is best to hear concerns from otherwise two opposing factions.

      • Something to consider

        I am sure we will have more points that we agree than to disagree.

        • Striped Panther

          I hope so… As I set up a group like mine. My co-founder is also aware of the paths that made other similar groups overseas to fall into a dark path of hatred, fear and anger.

          But I understand the emotions involved and I do not wish for my group to fall to such a level.

          • Something to consider

            I believe hatred, fear and anger result because their governments are also helpless in dealing with most autistic people in their countries.

          • Striped Panther

            @Something to consider

            Not exactly, in the US well yes, some autistics will cause a bit of problem but I have to say that most of them are seen as equals in their society. Just that some of them are undiagnosed or even diagnosed only after they had reached a level where not even discrimination can touch them.

            You take a look at James Durbin! He is just doing whatever his normal peers are doing! He has aspergers and tourettes but he was judged on the content of his character and his skills and potential and not his disorder. This is what I wish to see in Singapore one day.

          • Something to consider

            They have the Bill of Rights, some here are always wronged for doing the right thing.

  • Striped Panther

    Btw I know it’s fictional and movie magic. The themes of the movie, X-men First Class, applies also to the conflict between normal people and autistic people in Singapore. Each character is a symbol of each facet of the conflict. It is as complex as I discover for myself.

    • Kelly

      I think I get what you mean. After watching the mutants and their life experiences in this movie, I get a better idea what is going on with autistics here.

      But I believe the X-men just spelled it out that there is a friction between autistics and normal people. We normal people have a lot to reflect on.

      • Roxanne Lee

        Make all our citizens First Class first, before going into the details.

  • What the heck???

    Throw autistic people into an island, they cannot thrive.

    Throw autistic people into the mix of normal people, they also cannot thrive.

    Throw in acceptance in normal people, autistic people are happiest but this is the hardest to do.

    But you know best what society can do… It’s as if autistic people haven’t done their best?

    • Rick

      You seem to have experienced such.

      However I totally agree that society here have already pushed people with special needs and mental disorders beyond their limits of tolerance.

      Just recently a guy named Raymond Anthony Fernandez’s wife has got her most recent relapse of schizophrenia. However except some people, no one cared about the couple and their plight.

      Can you imagine what can happen with our autistic counterparts as adults?

      • What the heck???

        I am not just saying for those with autism, mental disorders or such. We are saying about things that we must do now, so that we won’t regret in future for not doing so…

  • What the heck???

    Everything else is Bullshit… except action for our autistic friends, to help them lead dignified lives.

    • Striped Panther

      Hello What the heck,

      It appears you feel for our autistic friends and I thank god that people like you have the heart to care about their well-being. you are free to email me to chat about it if you do not mind.

  • Jackass Wee

    We cannot blame the education system, we can only weep at our misfortunes of being so small, with no resources.

    • Roxanne Lee

      Life isn’t determined by GDP alone.

    • Striped Panther

      @Jackass Wee

      I have to disagree here however. HK has a much smaller land mass in terms of usable land area but they achieved first world status too! They acheived this even before China took over in 1997.

      It depends on the resourcefulness of the citizens and their creativity. But autism awareness in HK is growing slowly. Maybe Eric Chen has a hand in this.

      • Jackass Wee

        I thought HK is a city with a bigger country supporting them? Singapore refuses to merge with Malaysia?

      • Roxanne Lee

        Kudos to Eric Chen! Why ain’t no one here proudly hire Eric Chen as the autistic organization’s advisor?

    • Huh?

      Do you mean, setting up a welfare system like land or social security?

  • Roxanne Lee

    Is it possible for a poor country to even help its autistic people?

    • Striped Panther

      A simple acceptance in society is just enough sometimes….

      If Singapore can promote racial harmony, why not harmony between normal people and people with special needs?

      • Jackass Wee

        I thought acceptance for the disadvantaged is the logical consequence of racial harmony? Wait a minute, kiss my puet, I don’t think we’re racially harmonious at all despite what we see on the surface.

        • Roxanne Lee

          What, to you, is acceptance?

          • Striped Panther

            I still feel that this aspect of Singapore is quite a success unlike the US or some other countries.

            As far as acceptance goes, I believe acceptance means tolerance, respect and exchange of different ideas and opinions without discrimination.

            It has been several mths already since this article came out and it has been continuing to garner attention? I am very pleased and surprised.

          • Striped Panther

            I was talking about racial harmony btw when I was comparing that with US.

          • Jackass Wee

            US and Singapore? Same same in racial harmony lah.

          • Jackass Wee

            As long as you’re here, so do I.

          • Striped Panther

            But at least our people do not kill each other becos of racism right? In the US they still do.

  • Roxanne Lee

    Should we fund autistic people more than other groups of disabled people, and even more to the higher functioning ones – on education and training? Just curious, this is what I seem to get from you guys.

    • Striped Panther

      We might need to do that. As one commentor mentioned and also my beliefs, this group of people definitely are very very close but yet still far from reaching the standard where they can intergrate successfully with normal people or even exceed them if the chance allows. It is apparent in western societies.

      However our modern fast paced society has given normal society a rather steep learning curve to an High functioning autistic’s viewpoint. Some helps has to be given or else they will never catch up.

      As for other disabilities, I say that they also should be given funding only to ensure their survival depend on what conditions and how severe it is. Low Functioning autism belongs to this group. This makes people very confused with autism.

  • Allen Sun

    We aren’t a welfare state, we got many people to support (5 million and counting), and our biggest pressure is actually the elderly people. But then, they might not be able to take care of their children, particularly if they’re helpless to take care of themselves…

    • Striped Panther

      Then there must be some help that is affordable to ensure that theses people can eventually stand on their feet.

  • Roxanne Lee

    Do you think autistic people have larger, loftier ambitions than the rest of the world?

  • Jackass Wee

    We are a meritocracy, sadly, we view autistic people as mere pariah outcastes

    • Kelly

      But you look at the countries that have accepted autism somewhat? Like USA, they made leaps and bounds in technology and innovation. Is it any surprise that some of their greatest minds and inventors are on the autistic spectrum.

      And you look at Singapore or Asia, are inventing anything new at all? Is it any wonder why we are so backward and have stagnated for centuries? But there are some asian countries such as Japan who have accepted autism and benefited from acceptances. I am not Japanese so I am not sure if there is discrimination in their society.

      • http://www.facebook.com/applerocks9 Ng Ruenn Sheng

        Well, some people are geniuses, they’re original. Some high-functioning Autistic people, from my understanding, are indeed hardworking.

        But Asian societies are more favorable towards cutting, copying and pasting ideas. Why don’t they. The price they pay is just peanuts, for the inspiration and progress they make.

        I hope the author of this article can feel more hopeful that eventually, there will be people appreciating his unique points. It’s just that he’ll have to hold on his uniqueness – for as long as he could

  • http://profiles.google.com/zerolionlaker Tim Tebow

    “Our society has to be more gracious and more sympathetic not only autistics but to those with disabilities”

    This line gave me hope.

  • Alex

    With all due respect, may I respond to you please. I am writing as someone with a family member who is quite severely autistic, so I do have first hand experience dealing with someone affected by autism. I am also writing as a man who has paid his dues and served his NS back in the 90s. 

    You wrote that “NS is not for us autistics” – well, NS is not for a lot of people. Many young men do suffer upon entering NS because they are unprepared and unable to adapt to the new environment. I didn’t have an easy time myself as I had gone from the comfort of being a JC student to becoming a soldier – it wasn’t easy for me, it wasn’t easy for any of us. 

    The fact is NS is not for a lot of people – non-Chinese Singaporean suffer racist discrimination in the SAF, yes it happens whether the SAF likes it or not, but can Indian-Singaporeans then claim “NS is not for us”? Gay people suffer a lot of homophobia in the SAF (despite their progressive stance with the 302 rule) – can gay people then claim “NS is not for us?” Fat and unfit people suffer disproportionately as the SAF tries to whip them into shape through rigorous exercise and diets, can they claim too that, “NS is not for us”? The list goes on. 

    I agree that the SAF should make better provisions for autistic people and raise awareness of the issue of autism – they already have a PES status system to try to ascertain the ability of the individual to serve within the system. You can say that this system needs improvement and I would agree, I would go further and say that the SAF needs to understand their personnel better and put them in the right vocation to get the best out of them. For example, you’re autistic but clearly, you’re very eloquent and write very well – surely the SAF can benefit from having someone like you in the right capacity. I have memories of those really badly written newsletters from my days and you could have been so useful in the role of the journalist/writer. However, to simply say, “no it’s not for us, we should not be doing NS at all” – really? Is that even a fair assessment? Aren’t you guilty of giving up on yourself and writing yourself off?

    Sure the SAF is not autism-friendly as it is – but surely you should be asking the SAF to become more autism-friendly, rather than be excluded for it altogether. NS can be a difficult time – but it can be a great rite of passage for Singapore young men to mature into young adults. It would be sad if autistic young men were excluded from that experience – and that is why I disagree vehemently with your statement that NS is not for you. The SAF has it’s share of problems and I have witnessed plenty of that in my time – and bullying remains a rife problem, not just for autistic people. Goodness me, everyone who is a soft target can become of bullying – from ethnic minorities to gays to the specky geeky JC nerd to fat guys – everyone can potentially be bullied. Surely the response is to see how we can work together to stamp out bullying rather than saying that because bullying happens, anyone who can be a potential victim of bullying should be exempt from NS. Really? Who’s going to be left to serve NS if we follow that logic? 

    The SAF has an old school culture of ‘tough love’ – ie. military discipline will do the young men a lot of good. Even I have to agree with that – you learn the meaning of team work, you learn how to get along with people you wouldn’t normally befriend but are forced to work with, you learn to be diplomatic and deal with unreasonable people – there’s so much about people I learnt through my time in NS, lessons which serve me so well in life today, more than anything I could have learnt in the classroom as a student. SAF’s ‘tough love’ does work – it’s not a perfect system, it does have its problems but even I have to defend it when you appraise it unfairly like that. I for one, am looking forward to my nephew doing NS because I am hoping (perhaps naively) that military discipline will improve his condition. We’ve tried everything else with very little success, so hey, maybe this will work. 

    I know things are difficult for autistic people – I see my autistic family member suffer a lot at school where he has no friends and is constantly bullied. I worry a lot about what is going to happen to him when he has to serve NS. I have seen many people suffering from other kinds of disabilities struggle through NS and life in general, many of them struggle against the odds to make a better life for themselves. What I find rather sad is the fact that there isn’t really a point to your article ‘Aaron’ – reading it left me waiting for a punchline, a gem of wisdom or a proposed solution – but you didn’t give the reader one. It was just one long pessimistic whinge about how hard life is. OK, it’s not that I am unsympathetic, I am VERY sympathetic, but hey, autistic people are not the only ones who face discrimination and challenges. Many disabled people go through life facing great challenges too and it’s not that I want to underestimate their challenges, but they help themselves by adopting a more positive attitude towards life. Your pessimistic, negative attitude, blaming everyone from society to the SAF simply isn’t constructive, nor is it pragmatic I’m afraid. 

    I’m no expert, but I was really hoping that you would’ve made a greater effort to try to suggest how best we can help you. Instead, all I got was this long whine about how terrible society has been to you – I’m sure your family has gone out of their way to try to help you cope. Think about them, after all they have done for you – you still call your existence Hell On Earth? Geez. Don’t be your own worst enemy, yes life is tough for you, but you can do without that kind of pessimism. 

    All the best,

    Alex

    • http://profiles.google.com/zerolionlaker Tim Tebow

      I believe the same could be said for Project Work and real life work. In addition, perhaps autistic persons may not be as focused as non-autistic people in whatever they do (or so I see).

      Being autistic makes it hard to socialize, but surely it does not make it harder to really clearly define what is one’s personal success. I think perhaps Aaron could say, ‘Just give me some room for failure. Let me do it. I will surprise you with what I can do.’

      Tim.

    • Adam

      To add on to Alex:

      Aaron, do you know the streams of people who do, indeed, leave Singapore because of their religious beliefs alone?

      NS is not an issue specific to your group – but accept that for most of our society, we cannot do away with NS.

      If you feel so threatened by NS, then please go ahead and do whatever you can – we can’t help you with this.

  • Claw

    @ Alex 

    I understand your fate of your family member. However I fully endorse what this writer said even if it’s negative. 

    Even if this article just a whine, if you have a wider horizon and took time to volunteer like I did. You will see this article reenacted on the ground, this is the fate of autistics in our meritocractic society. Some of us got lucky like Aaron that he barely scraped thru. What about those who don’t make it, the one I have to counsel one a daily basis? I really dun think that it is entirely their fault that they are in the predicament they are in.

    • http://profiles.google.com/zerolionlaker Tim Tebow

      Society really needs more Claws.

  • Ahmad

    I agree with Claw. Some Autistics or even ADHD and even people with mental illnesses are ostracized in society. They even have to hide their conditions from employers. What about those who kena discharge early or exempted. 

    One thing I dun see eye to eye is the fact about this pro-NS attitude in the employers. How relevant is a sales job got to do with NS? I got a cousin who just kena exempted from NS.  He spent like 1 year looking for a job in Singapore. Of course 6 mths before he left he was trying to apply to NUS all the local unis, they dun accept him!! Now he is in Australia and employed.

    I suspect the writer might have survived NS. But rather the after effects of his autism or Aspergers as he said might have spilled over many times into his adult life and even got him into some trouble…

    • Claw

      Thank you. Just to point out, NS or autism is not the real matter. The real matter is if the person survives it and can get on with life without these past demons affecting you. And if those past demons affect your adult life, it is more than just negativity.

  • http://profiles.google.com/zerolionlaker Tim Tebow

    How can we (as a special needs community) stop blaming, start believing in success and keep challenging the special needs people to keep succeed?

  • Eric Chen

    I have written a reply to this article at
    http://iautistic.com/autism-making-a-difference.php

    • Adam

      Eric, you may not understand these:

      – Aspies don’t owe others a living. Aspies need to be more able, if they need acceptance. But there are indeed able Aspies who just need more acceptance, for them to achieve and contribute to our world.

      – “asking the opposition parties to take up his cause or starting initiatives to
      help others with autism”

      • Adam

        Who knows
        Aaron already knows about the pitfalls of politics (who knows, it may divide
        more than heal society, and note it’s written before the 2011 GE) or… that,
        perhaps, help other autistic people may be just to create conditions ‘ripe’ for
        him and his Aspie friends, to thrive in our world?

        “it is even better if some people can come together to create a
        sustainable social enterprise”

        Do you think, given that Aspies take up as many as 1 in 30, 40 people, that
        this is even possible?

        “One of the keys to success is to focus on
        something that we can do, instead of complaining about something we cannot do
        anything about”

        There is little that Aspies can do without NS, group work or even, well,
        school. I believe in one part of your article, you did mention ‘unless I have
        fantastic grades…’ this ain’t happening in Aspies! Yes, we have tuition, but
        it doesn’t solve Aspies’ issue of really doing something we don’t like, for low
        pay, and things that take Aspies away from their innate talents.

        “1) Do autism advocacy work

        2)
        Volunteer at an autism organization

        3)
        Become an autism professional or work in a related occupation

        I know
        Aspies who tried 1), 2) and 3). Nothing works. Aspies don’t do anything much if
        they do 1), 2) or 3) – they may have all the certificates of merits or AAAs
        they want. But to organisations, people skills are now number one – I mean,
        people skills to ‘follow instructions’ and to ‘meet organisational goals’. Name
        me any Aspie who can do this – it defeats the whole point of being Aspie in an
        NT world eh?

        4) Achieve success outside the autism community by focusing on one’s
        personal development

        Well, good
        luck. Ability will lead to acceptance. But do we even have the acceptance to
        have people to be more able, to meet societal goals? Our choice is to overwork,
        over-stress and isolate Aspies from the rest of society. Now, this isn’t
        value-adding for our society.

        How about
        you, Mr Chen? You yourself may have chosen to advocate for autism, but have you
        walked a step in others’ shoes, to see the tremendous amount of obstacles some
        Aspies have to make even if they try to develop personal development? More on
        that later…

        “I did not list building our own autism organization as an option. Almost
        all the people with autism who suggest such an idea to me never follow through
        with their plans. Of those who do, they usually end up creating a small online
        forum that lasts for less than 2 years.”

        I have to
        laugh at this. We want both acceptance and assurance that as long as we do
        something, we will succeed (this being societal approval). What’s more, I have
        the intuition that such organisations fail because, precisely, people decide to
        discredit others rather than building the organisation. What a shame for you
        and the Singapore autism community, they deserve better.

        “I would also like to remind readers on the spectrum, that most of us have
        some degree of executive skills handicap. This means that we may not have the
        instincts to make good long term decisions; even our dreams and aspirations are
        still developing. The adage “follow your heart” may not be a good idea for us
        until we gain more worldly experience.”

        My goodness
        – if you are the world leader in World of Warcrafts, you don’t actually do
        anything else. Do you have the idea whether you’re the best in the world to do
        what you are doing? If you don’t, go do your day job instead of complaining
        that someone complains more than you.

        “He
        sought to follow his dream to study urban planning at a prestigious university
        in the USA.”

        You may not
        know that ‘prestigious university in the USA’ is an oxymoron. But it’s true
        that only Britain and the States offer urban planning. And Singapore doesn’t
        has urban planning, perhaps it’s a way to say, ‘I’d rather be a pauper in the
        United States rather than a 2nd class citizen in my homeland’.

        “His
        family is well off but not wealthy. His parents have probably noted that urban
        planning is a specialized subject which is harder to find employment, and which
        require the social skills to network with a broad base of people such as
        politicians, residents and business operators.”

        Who knows, they
        might even be poor!

        That friend
        has the option of bankrupting himself, since special needs people, to my best
        of understanding, have shorter lifespans than others? Do you want to over-work
        to death, or do you prefer a long but sorrowful life?

        “Reasoning
        that my friend is most suited to freelance employment, they told him to study
        accounting at a low cost local university instead. Accountants are always in
        demand by businesses, and many of them work freelance. This is excellent for
        him, who could not hold down a day job. Accounting does not require much social
        skills, and he is more than capable of crunching the numbers or following the
        rigid rules of accounting.

        However, accounting is a terribly boring subject to my friend. He resents
        not having the chance to follow his dreams overseas. I told him that the person
        who pays the bills has the right to decide how the money is spent; if he so
        desires, he can still earn the money to follow his dreams in the future. At
        this moment, it is wiser to follow his parents’ plan until he becomes
        financially independent.

        His parents did not explain their reasoning, but when I heard his story, I
        instinctively knew what his parents were thinking. I remembered my struggles
        with my mother, who insisted that I find a full-time day job instead of trying
        to make a career in autism advocacy. She went as far as to call my work
        substandard and my efforts a waste of my youth. I thought that my mother was
        simply having a negative attitude and ignored her.

        Although I achieved far more than what my mother expected, her main argument
        remains valid. Unless I have powerful academic credentials, much wealth, or am
        living in a large “Western” country supportive of artistic expression, there is
        simply no way for me to make a living out of autism work. In addition, the
        stresses of constantly not having enough resources and having to follow my
        sponsors’ every whim took a heavy psychological toll on me.

        It is financially safer, and much less emotionally stressful, if I find a
        day job that I can tolerate and do autism work part-time. The real life
        experiences have provided me with valuable insights to enrich my work. I still
        plan to follow my big dream to bring Humanity to its next stage of development.”

        Autism work
        is not something serious if you can’t have a full-time job.

        But because
        circumstances force us to, we can’t keep finding our job. Because creating
        acceptance, to the Aspies, is the day job, for them to survive, for them to
        lead the life their talents would deserve had not they been autistic in some
        sort. Is autism a damned disability that means, Aspies cannot lead a meaningful
        life?

        My suggestion is to both Aaron and Eric:

        Is it true you really enjoy autism work?

        Focus not on autism work, it has failed and it will fail.

        I guess you’d been forced to advocate rather than do it.

        Let professionals, trained in standing up for the disadvantaged, do the job.

        Like maybe Chee Soon Juan, M Ravi or your Denise Phua?

         

        Focus, instead, on the outcomes of what you can do.

         

        If you seek an alternative world, go ahead, it had been done. In the past, Churches
        do form their own schools when top schools don’t accept their own adherents.

        If you want to adapt, go ahead, it also had been done. You get all the high
        grades anyway.

      • Adam

        Maybe if you guys ‘fail’, good luck, try again. We’ll all go to Heaven anyway if we believe in Him.

    • Adam

      http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt143082.html

      You may wish to read this – if you haven’t read this, you may not know the context of the situation Asian Aspies are in

      • Adam

        Eric, I don’t know the guy who wrote that (if I do, I’ll put that username on WP, but here’s my real name), but I believe Asians are our future – and yet we don’t do enough for Asian Aspies to thrive in our brave new world.

      • Adam

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC0fvMFu-D8

        A song that could sum up your feelings as an Aspie, I guess?

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