Autism and me: a lifelong quest for Beingness and Clemency of Being

Here is a lecture I delivered in August. As my work evolves, grows and develops, my own paradigms and attitudes have become transformed. This lecture reflects the transformation. I used to obediently defer to the constructs of established neurotypical perspectives on autism, the meek subaltern to the imposed colonial framework telling me who and what I am, and should be. However, all endeavour worth the undertaking bears the marks of change, sometimes small progressions, other times seismic. But my goal remains: It is not my intention to ‘fix’ what is ‘broken’ but to empower Beauty…

Dawn-joy Leong

Autism and me: a lifelong quest for Beingness and clemency of Being.

Guest lecture, 27 August 2015, School of Education, UNSW, Australia.

Thank you, Dr. Iva Strnadova, for inviting me to deliver this guest lecture since 2012. It has become an annual event I look forward to greatly.

I promised Iva I’ll tell as many personal stories as possible within the time limit, and so I shall. But before I launch into the dramatics, I’d like to begin with some basic terminology.

When I first began on my research journey, I adopted the prevalent deficits-focused, pathological perspectives and terminologies, because that was all I knew at the time. However, I henceforth prefer to use the term “Autism Spectrum Condition” instead of “disorder,” because this better describes the neurological culture that autism actually is. I also no longer use functioning labels – “high” or “low” functioning – as they are not…

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