About bunnyhopscotch

Ph.D is done, Lucy and I are still flipping pages of imagination, making splotches, humming in and out of tune, dancing around polyrhythmic-chromatic-pandiatonic mental fires, flying and falling, meandering in and out of discombobulation, gazing at pulchritude, picking up sound waves, stroking, caressing, embracing and learning new ways to see. An amazing lifelong journey - What more could anyone wish for?

magic mushrooms

Quackery and snake oil are very much alive and thriving, gyrating wildly, grinning widely with grotesquely shiny oversized teeth in small twisted jaws, snapping the whip with aplomb and slick, well rehearsed movements, shouting salvation to the ‘lost’ with crafted jargon like pork rolls dipped in oil. The Grand Circus of Easy Fixes. Most appealing to the desperate – and the lazy. Yes, the lazy parents who would rather fork out money – sometimes a lot of the stuff – for a facile promise, a quick job, than to engage in thorough research, spend time to learn how to understand their children, open their minds to eclectic paradigms, and listen to adults who have walked the journey and have wisdom to impart.

Autism. ADHD. Dyslexia. Learning disability. Complex needs. High support. ‘Aberrant’ behaviour. Cure it all. Shed it all (like snake skin?). Recover from it. Overcome it. Reverse it. The EASY WAY.

Thanks to the Medical Model – they created monsters that they could not fix, leaving a huge void that is now being filled by quacks and snake oil pushers.

It is a wearying and soul crushing thing, this advocacy stuff. Trying to teach people to think, hoping to educate, change hearts and minds. On one side are the Medical Model tyrants bearing down with pompous disdain. On the other the clever charlatans. Everything About Us Excluding Us. Round and round and round in the miry seething heaving swirl.

Maybe… I should… try… some… magic mushrooms ?

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lo-hei !

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(Online Exclusive – click here.)

lo-hei” – A toss for Happiness, Blessing, Abundance, and, well, all things good! This is the Cantonese term that describes a tradition begun in Singapore of sharing a large salad and raw fish / seafood dish called yusheng“, usually during the Lunar New Year. Everyone joins in with gusto, quite a bit of vim and vigour, to stir and toss the salad into a blended mix. The dish is delicious, a delightfully composed orchestration of lightly piquant, sweet, savoury and ‘umami’, the dish often includes ‘auspicious’ sounding fresh vegetables, pickles, raw fish, highly prized seafood, such as abalone, crab, shrimp/prawn, bound together with a sweet-sour sauce.

This Autistic Bunny is a foodie, and how absolutely, fabulously fortuitous to have a brother-in-law who was a top professional chef and now a food scientist. Never a dull meal when we’re with this chap. Always happy tummies too! Well, folks, the Lunar New Year is almost upon us, so it’s time for food-tasting, reviewing and just enjoying the goodies galore. Some of the dishes are new concoctions and others are variations on a traditional theme. This year, my brother-in-law has developed a new and superbly tasty variation of the traditional “yusheng” salad dish, and we’ve had the good fortune of several previews, in the quest to make it just perfect.

My Foodie Bunny verdict? It’s really delicious! But that’s too sweeping and general, so I’ll provide a quick hyper-sensory AutisticBunnyMe detailed summary of the dish here.

Why do I like “yusheng“? It is a beautiful dish to behold. I also enjoy the way distinct, separate entities blend together, visually and texturally still retaining each their own properties visually as well in texture and taste. Carrot is carrot, turnip is turnip etc, no mushiness (which I detest, hence my dislike for stews and curries), just clean, clear, varying degrees and harmonic reverberations of ‘crunchiness’ and ‘chewability’.

Then there is the raw fish – I have always loved raw fish, not sure why, and raw fresh oysters too. Cooked fish takes on a flaky, dry, ‘crusty’ texture that my tongue rejects upon contact, which is why I need a lot of sauce when eating cooked fish. And I avoid cooked oysters as far as I can. They taste like fishy powder.

The Premium set which I’ve been taste-testing has a plethora of yummies from the sea: Amaebi (sweet shrimp), Kajiki (swordfish), Salmon, Hotate (scallops) and Kanifumi (crab sticks) and juicy Abalone. Abalone is yet another favourite of mine. My grandfather used to give us cases of the stuff every year during the Lunar New Year season, and one of my favourite memories is opening a tin of mini abalone and stabbing at the little chewy things with a fork. All to myself, no need to share, straight out of the tin! (Of course there may be others who dislike the eccentric textures and tastes of seafood presented this way, if so, there are other variations of the dish available.)

Then there is the ‘Pork-sperity’ version that comes with bakwa – thinly sliced, tender barbecued pork jerky, another traditional favourite among the Chinese. (Our Singapore version has my top vote, I think we do it best here.) Lightly sweet and savoury, there is a mild smokiness that lingers in the mouth. I’ve never had bakwa in this dish before, it’s a new sensation to me, and since I love bakwa, this addition is a welcome change.

What struck me most was the addition of local fruit in the ‘Fruit-licious’ version: Guava, Pomelo, Mango, Pear and Rose Apple (we call it “jambu“). A quirky, unique combination, refreshing in texture, taste and fragrance. This is such a surprisingly excellent synthesis, especially as I absolutely love tropical fruit!

I’m not fond of the mandatory traditional crushed peanuts or the little puffy crackers poured on top of the dish, but they do lend added texture to the richly endowed experience. I tend to pick out the puffy crackers as I feel they interfere with my exploration of taste, texture and smell, but almost everyone loves the stuff, and it’s an auspicious symbol, so it stays.

OK, I’m almost done with my glowing review. One last thing, and a very important one: that secret recipe yuzu sauce, whatever is in there, it’s amazing! I’ve never tasted any other yusheng sauce like this one. Kudos to my talented brother-in-law. The sweet-sour traditional sauce pales in comparison to this one. This is the sauce that binds everything together into a grandly orchestrated uplifting ‘zing’ – a perfect reward for all the gung-ho efforts put into tossing the yusheng in the lohei tradition.

My personal recommendation, especially for a largish crowd? Get the Premium set + Fruit-licious set – blend and toss! Add your own bakwa if you like too. The best!

Here’re some photos from the many taste-testing sessions we’ve had. I usually dislike festive seasons, but this Lunar New Year, I really am looking forward to doing the lohei and tucking in!

(Work in Progress… arranging the components is an art in itself!)

 

(All ready for the secret sauce, and then lohei!)

 

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Mine! All mine! Now to retreat into my corner to tuck in.

Happy Lunar New Year, Every Bunny!

Show me the money! Autistic speakers and speaking gigs 

Important, key fundamentals from Jeanette Purkis.

My own experience since returning to Singapore has been a mixed bag of outright exploitation and subtle disrespect. There’ve been people demanding I speak for free at their terribly named ‘Autism exposing’ events because it will give me “exposure” (as if I needed to pay out of my own pocket for any exposure in their tiny weeny blatantly exploitative event), people writing books and asking me to contribute a chapter but refusing to either pay an honorarium or a percentage of royalties just as gestures of respect (I actually told them frankly that they ought to offer some respectful gesture, but “I don’t make much from it” was their paltry and stolidly unmoved excuse), and organisations using an autistic person with a PhD as a token mascot, always polite and always ‘nice’ but no pay whatsoever, not even reimbursement for transport.

There also have been organisations asking me to speak and offering one-tenth of market rate because of ‘budgeting issues’.

As outlined by Jeanette, there are the obvious ones to avoid, but also many less obvious ones that perhaps genuinely cannot afford market rate – or perhaps their bosses do not want to sign the cheques for something deemed of lower value. The spirit of neuro-colonialism is dominant here in Singapore. Autistics are deemed unfit to work in certain professions, no matter how qualified or experienced (where experience is garnered overseas). And in general, an autistic person with a PhD is in their eyes worth only one-tenth of a non-autistic person with a PhD.

Change is needed. But it is no easy task to unravel all the knotted threads of entrenched discrimination and disrespect. Autistic adults and professionals need to practice what we preach, but we also need to have a joint vision for the future supported by non-autistic allies, especially parents of autistic children. Is this marginalising status quo what you parents wish for your autistic children to face when they grow up, or do you want something better? Time to wake up, stand up, eschew all the inspirational porn videos being churned out to make you all feel so gooooood, and start asking for equity and respect. For us now, and most of all for your children’s future.

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I recently posted on social media about how I feel people delivering a service as a public speaker should be paid for it, regardless of whether the person is autistic or allistic. I understand that there are a number of considerations around being paid and maybe it isn’t always as simple as ‘pay me,’ so I thought a post unpacking some of the issues was in order. 

In some instances there is a really clear case of injustice and exploitation. I remember being invited to speak at a conference some years ago. When I asked about my fee the organisation said they couldn’t pay, so I asked about having my flights and accommodation paid for and they apologised once more before telling me that the non-autistic expert speaker was charging several thousand dollars for their appearance and they had no money to pay other, autistic speakers. Needless to say…

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reflets dans l’eau

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stille nacht

2018 was unexpectedly obstreperous and brutal. A vast, swirling, seething, somewhat inebriated ominous monstrosity ingurgitating every attempt at hopeful rejuvenation, each ounce of vim and vigour slowly inhaled into its impenetrable mucilaginous dark cavern, leaving limp, brittle skeletal remains crackling in the sizzling heat of unrepentant tyranny, unrecognisable construal of once fierce passionate and spirited determination.

Advocacy has extracted its ponderous price. What irony, for one who never set out to be an advocate anyway. It is too arduous and violent for gossamer wings, too loud for tender ears, too rough for quivering fingertips.

Yet, where there is life, there remains slithers of flickering hope. And my life is not yet over, albeit saved time and time again by a Canine Angel whose existence beside me surpasses all reason, all logical apologia.

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whispering hope

My minuscule whisper to the grand cosmic gyration for 2019? Time to reflect, rest, and retreat gracefully into Clement Space: art-making, embracing pulchritude, tasting each nuanced fluttering of time moving rhythmically through wordless interstices.

Myths that help keep the autism indu$try in bu$yne$$

Reblogging an excellent article about the harmful perpetuation of myths about autism and autistics.

Since returning to Singapore, I have myself come face to face with so much ignorance and lack of progressive understanding about autism, and blatant exploitation – I call it the Autism Grand Circus Industry – with non-autistics ranging from superbly brilliant to the crass and loud all frenetically peddling a range of autism cures (CD water, ASEA water etc), myriad programmes aimed at ‘normalising’ autistics, and events claiming to “Expose” Autism, all without real autistic professional consultation. This of course leads to a stubborn ableist culture where many non-autistic parents are either making money or getting high on publicity for claiming expertise in autism based on their third-party observation of their one or two autistic children which they may or may not truly understand anyway, or parents more happy to be fleeced (some programmes cost up to $20K!) by unscrupulous promises of ‘recovery’, ‘healing’, ‘overcoming’, and of course, ‘cure’, than to pay to consult actual qualified Autistic Autism Professionals who offer concrete help to better understand autism and better support autistic people of all ages and all needs that are respectful of the actual autistic paradigm.

Autism is a very serious money-spinning industry. All over the world. And the people profiting are not the autistics.

Autistic Collaboration

Currently the most visible way in which autism contributes to the economy is by providing a substrate from which a growing autism industry can extract profit.

What CAN be misunderstood WILL be misunderstood. Unless you are autistic there is no difference between “cure” and cure. Sadly, there is no shortage of “autism professional advice” and “cures” that amount to a sarcophagus for autistic individuals. The result is a bullet proof technique for creating mental health problems and selling further “treatments”. The first step towards progress could not be simpler:

Let the set of cures remain empty, and reduce the set of “cures” to the empty set.

To identify the “cures” it is important to understand the myths that are still perpetuated by the autism industry or by individual “autism professionals”.

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Myth 1: Autists lack empathy

Reality: There is a double empathy challenge.

It is not only the…

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a clement Christmas

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Clemency is hard to find. Clement Space is an ongoing quest. As is the Endeavour of Empathy.

Looking back, contemplating crashing fortissimo and lifting appoggiatura, soul crushing depletion and spiritual strengthening… Artaud and Wagner, humour, beauty, gritty determined ‘dogliness’… Lucy has once again carried me through yet another year with her gentle, wordless steadfastness of spirit and embodied grace.

It’s Christmas Eve. I recall with gratitude and fondness, the most precious Christmas gift from our sojourn in Paddington, Sydney. It was 2013, a quiet Christmas Eve, early morning when the summer air was still cool and crisp. Those roses, tossed out by someone, still fresh and beaming with a brilliance I’ve never yet seen nor witnessed again in a bunch of flowers. Put into my hands with a gruff greeting, from our friend Michael, an eccentric old man who lives in a rickety van. We met when Lucy and I were out walking, Lucy chose to say hello to this elegantly dressed solitary figure, smoking and reading the newspapers on the park bench just by our grass patch we call “dog patch”. I miss Paddo. I miss our neighbourhood, our friends, and I think of them often. Especially Michael. I hope he is well. One can never be sure. Michael comes and goes. Nobody knows where and when. I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again. He was choking back tears when we last said goodbye, too proud for a hug, we did not even make eye contact. But I hope he knew how much we would miss him.

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This Christmas Eve, Lucy and I are ‘home’ with mum, my baby sister and brother-in-law, their two little furry children, and our helper Nula. Lucy has over-eaten again, too many treats and a giant lamb bone from her aunt who thinks she is too thin. (Though I keep reiterating that Lucy is a Greyhound, they are naturally lean.) We are waiting for Christmas Eve dinner – yet another private gastronomic feast by my amazing brother-in-law. The over-fed Canine Angel is asleep in bed, next to me. I can hear her rhythmic breathing, and she opens her sleepy eyes occasionally to check on me.

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I reflect on Christmases long past, and I realise how peaceful it is now. Without any more pomp and ceremony, no more need to dodge snide remarks and undercurrents of bitchery or witchery, no competition for whose gift is the most expensive or who has achieved the most success in the year. Those are now distant memories, and juxtaposed with our recent ones, they stand as reminders of how much goodness has come along since I walked away from all that mire.

We had our pre-Christmas dinner with extended family and friends last week. It was a very merry one, noisy and overloading but not at all emotionally or mentally exhausting. A pleasant, happy, kind of overload. And, of course, the food is always delicious – how could it not be, with a top professional chef and two F&B professionals in the party?

This year, I slogged away all week to finish my handmade gifts to mum, baby sis, Mini-B and Tiny-T. A welcome restfulness of spirit and blessedness of mind – taking time away from a surfeit of advocacy work, campaigning and proposals – just to touch, feel, and flow with the patterns and variations so clement to the senses. ‘Making’ is a beautiful activity for me, calming and restoring. I’ve named my jewellery line “LaLaLouBelle” – after Lucy and my childhood nickname for baby sis. Every piece is made up of vintage and antique components, collected through my early years of avid travelling or handed down to me from mum and granny. Each one a narrative of love and filled with meaningful history.

Oh, yes, and Little Mini wee-wee-ed on Lucy’s bed yesterday, so I’ll have to buy Lucy a new bed. Mini is a spunky little (fat) button, with a penchant for Lucy’s bedding.

We’re all set! I’ve put up a miniature tree, with tiny lights and trimmings. Our presents are all ready for the ritual tonight. – we open ours on Christmas Eve.

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A peaceful and clement Christmas Eve wish to all from Lucy and me!

shifting sands

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2018 is coming to an end. Another year has gone by. Laboriously long yet flashing by almost unnoticed. Ironic and paradoxical, yes.

What is “family”? Who are “friends”?

The frames have shifted through the years, sometimes shuffling along unfolding slowly and other times abrupt and sharply decisive. People once considered family have now drifted into the nebulous dark mists of hell and damnation, frothy flotsam and jetsam, haphazard filigree patterns on a dirty old blanket. Demarcations have moved, and others once existing in a blurry background now come into focus. Friends, too, have come and gone, riding wave upon wave of change.

This Autistic Bunny is happier than ever before, more content with the noshments on the buffet table than any previous memory serves. The ghosts of Christmases past still flit around, awkwardly slashing the benign atmosphere as if in feeble attempts to remind me of their continued existence on a blighted and beleaguered earth. Yet, they fail to cause any real damage to Clement Space – an ecology of grace, comfort and wellbeing.

The world rages ever on and on, angry swirls of unmet expectations, unfulfilled striving, and the quest for more and more, and yet more – bringing with it a vicious cycle of destruction and chaos, jealousy and meticulously sharpened hatred.

Yet, for now, despite and perhaps even because of the trepidation and uncertainty, tribulation and impecuniosity, threat of loss and prospect of stark challenging change, a ‘newfound’ (over the last decade or so) clarity has arrived, of the various components and constituents of love, goodness, loyalty, acceptance and undeserved favour.

And… for now… very much treasured, every single moment of this blessing, I have Lucy Like-a-Charm.

Meandering thoughts for the season. Thank you for wading through this with me. Wishing Every Bunny a Beautiful Holiday Season!

Sensory Overload –

A frank & honest look at autistic sensory overload – the setting here is the office, but overload can happen anywhere. Christmas and New Year season can be especially triggering for us. And overload is not a fanciful thing “just in your head”, it is real, palpable and painful with long-lasting biological effects (often even trauma to the body).

My Autistic Dance

A pan boiling over on a hob

There I was at the office, sat at my desk. A normal day. Listening to music through my noise-cancelling headphones: some classic 90s Manchester tunes from the likes of James, New Order and Happy Mondays.


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only an expert

The Autism Grand Circus Industry has grown out of proportion. Tiresome and tiring, depending on where one happens to be standing. Everyone claims expertise – from the Autism Mom who has written a few books based on their observation of their own child/children and now goes around giving talks and dishing out sage advice about autism, to the learned non-autistic professional with many degrees in Autism, everyone is an expert dealing with the Autism Problem. Everyone, that is, except the Actual Autistic person. Autistic people are mysteriously ignored and sidelined in the Autism industry. A phenomenon so strange that it is almost eerie.

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Can magic mushrooms cure autism?

Talking about bone-chilling, I recently found this in a webpage of a business specialising in “treating” autism. The alarm bells rang loudly when I saw “Chelation” and “CD Water”. Then I did some research on the various “Dr” people named in this letter, and found them all to be promoting expensive dubious ministrations aimed at “shedding”, “recovering” and “overcoming”. Some of these involve injecting the autistic child with unregulated substances, others focus on dietary interventions, all couched in complex-sounding pseudoscientific terminology. Is your blood curdling yet?

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An autistic friend of mine has been valiantly trying to educate parents about snake oil sales pitches, dodgy programmes and harmful approaches to fixing the autism problem. Very brave person indeed, because he was variously derided and chided, treated like a foolish child, instead of someone worthy of respect. I often wonder, do these same parents even have the mindfulness to ponder this: If you treat autistic adults this way now, what kind of world are you preparing for your autistic child to grow up into? Is this how you’d want others to treat your autistic child when they become autistic adults? Or are you gambling all you’ve got on the great “cure” casino floor, thinking it’s going to be fine, your child will be rid of autism by the time they become adults, and hence they will not have to face this kind of demeaning and crushing ableism?

I honestly find it difficult to fathom what goes on in these parents’ minds – there, I admit it, I lack Neuronormative Theory of Mind! It is excruciatingly difficult to be thusly illogical and unthinking. Yet, I am told I should empathise a little more, “slow down” and allow others to catch up. My doctor says it’s good for my heart – you know, that strange squishy squashy rhythmically driven organ responsible for pushing blood around the body? Yes, that one.

Perhaps 2019 will be a year of “slowing down”, but in a different way: that is, finding Clement Space inside gentle things, wondrous connections and conversations with the material universe. I love my autistic world, it is a pulchritudinous eco-system, but the crass, grating vibrations of the normative realm is at odds with autistic tranquility. Too many experts. So little space for Beauty.

antinomy

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Starlight, star bright, what will you be tonight?

“You can’t be autistic! You have such good eye contact!”

“No, you’re not autistic are you? You’re so articulate and intelligent!”

“Amazing, you have such excellent credentials, I don’t believe you’re autistic!”

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Teetering on the edge of whose asininity?

“Oh, we’re sorry but we have a policy never to employ autistic people here.”

“Our apologies, but you do not suit.”

“I’m afraid autistic people do not qualify.”