the dilemma of trauma

 

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One week of excruciating physical pain. Stress reaction. A serious one. I was caught by surprise this time, I didn’t expect my body to react so viciously.

I was physically assaulted last Sunday. By someone I know. The person is very sorry to have caused me harm, and he has admitted to me it was a psychotic episode. I am psychologically and emotionally fine.

Last Sunday, I attended a theatre performance. I was standing outside the theatre, in a basement lobby teeming with chattering voices bouncing off pristine white walls, waiting for the show to begin, when a pre-show drama literally exploded in my face. Continue reading

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Reluctant Advocate

Recent thoughts on art, disability and advocacy.

Dawn-joy Leong

I am not an “Autism Activist” – far from it – so, please do not call me that. Thank you. I do support the work of activists, it is a necessary force when things are woefully wrong and a great deal of vim and vigour is needed to create change for the better. It is just that my natural constitution does not fit well with the vivacity required for effective activism. Sometimes, though, I do engage in advocacy. Well, all right, quite often especially of late, but this is not what I deliberately set out to do. I am, first and foremost, an autistic researcher and multi-artist. Unpacking this further, my research interests include (but are not confined to) autism, autistic sensory idiosyncrasies, alternative and elemental empathic resonance, clement spaces of mind and body, and my material practice reflects this research, employing multiple artistic disciplines. I love my research and…

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chumbly

Sensory diary entry: I’ve been gravitating towards a certain texture of food lately. I find a sensory comfort and solace in it, a form of sensorial equilibrium unfolds and settles from inside out, while performing the delicious act. The Cantonese word for it is much more sensorially descriptive: 煙韌 yin ngan (jin1 ngan6). The term has two meanings in Cantonese. One refers to a slightly exaggerated, demonstrative, sweet intimacy between lovers, and the other describes the experiential texture of chewiness, in the act of ‘chumbling’ – I love that old fashioned word. There is a bounciness to this 煙韌 which I love, but I cannot find the appropriate English to do justice to the fulness of the sensation. You’ll have to chew on a 湯圓 stuffed rice ball, like a giant sago ball, or a Japanese mochi ball, to fully grasp the complete expression. A savoury version is the marinated mini octopus, Japanese style, though the octopus dish has less tensile ‘spring back’ in its bounce. Now, I’m hungry. Time to scuttle out for something chumbly.

#AutisticMotherhood Misrepresented

Autistic motherhood misrepresented in horrible ways by non-autistic male playwright. Once again, another hijack. No spoons for this myself, but thankful to the many autistic mothers speaking up. A beautiful piece by Sonia – an important read.

The other side

fullsizeoutput_4bd8 Work in Progress in the Studio © Sonia Boué 2018

I’m breaking a rule by writing about a play I haven’t read or seen, called The Big Things, by Mike Heath, which has recently stirred unease among autistic people, autistic mothers in particular.  The Big Things, is ostensibly about autistic motherhood but from what I hear this subject is never truly examined in the play.

Yes okay, I’m going on hearsay (from autistic women who’ve read the script and one who’s seen the play) but this is more than good enough for me. I feel I’ve given both playwright and production company (Kibo) more than enough of my time in the past few days.

Autistic motherhood, in contrast, is a subject I know intimately from the inside, unlike Mike Heath.

Mike Heath, and Kibo Productions have stumbled into a PR nightmare in taking on this subject (it seems) without…

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sensory expedition

 

Lucy seemed restless this morning. She was lying in bed, watching me work at my desk, and suddenly did a little bounce and let out a mini yelp in my direction. I turned to look at her and she held my gaze, nodding her head, bounced again and made that same yelping sound. Lucy does that when she wants to communicate – she doesn’t bark at all in any other ‘normal doggy’ circumstances. When I first heard her bark, it was two months after she came to live with me, and out of the blue, one afternoon, she did that bounce + yelp thing, asking me to play with her. I’ve learned to recognise that. Continue reading

layers

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Tumultuous ocean, churning depths. Underneath pomp, ceremonious circus, lies dark churning death. Extirpating the soul inside writhing grief, bursting through blessed gratitude too copiously applied. Such ponderous agony, ‘neath layer upon layer of colourful luxury.

Executive dysfunction is a very real phenomenon – not to be scoffed at. The veneer of steadfastness belies gritted teeth, foaming nausea, weeping silently, hapless, atop mighty pedestal. Who sets the heights, lengths, and breadths for performativity? The Autistic in a constant state of unstable flux – crushed, tossed, fluffed, buoyed, then crammed into discomforting contortions – seeks determinedly for clemency of space, breathing in every small fleeting moment, as if a last and final breath.

Too much struggle brings chaos to sensory reception – hyper senses become all the more acute, but yet bizarre in rhythmic jaggedness. The brain seems to switch off some signals, while others hurtle along as if out of control. A multi-dimensional existence, so markedly conflicting, it is a wonder that there are not far more collisions and collapses.

Demons screaming at the door, thinly veiled agony that nobody sees, nor ought they to be cognisant of in case of unknown, volatile consequences.

monachopsis

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Wriggling… awkward shifting, shuffling… navigating frothy nausea… think, dank fog…

How to craft Clement Space inside a constantly assaultive alienation? Minuscule foci. Small things. Split-second moments. Carpe diem! Each tiny aperture is a precious molecule.

Lucy.

Home-cooked nosh.

Friendship.

Music.

Art.

Goodness.

Kindness.

Droplets of mercy and grace notes of consideration, respect and gentleness. These all are Clement Spaces, in the midst of monachopsis.

Talents

Truth. Multidimensional abilities. But… because… unable to fit into the Grand Neurotypical Circus Libretto…

...autisticook

There are so many things I can do, and do well at that.

A picture of freehand nail art, done on my own nails using nail polishes, showing a drawing of a small gnome with a bright red hat, surrounded by berries and flowers, on a green to brown gradient background

I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on my nail art, for starters, and a lot of people have suggested I could do this professionally. I don’t think I’m at the level yet that I’ve seen from professional nail techs, but it’s a special interest and I’d probably get there within a year.

I’m a good cook. Not at restaurant level (mostly because my presentation sucks), but if someone asked me to cater an event for 30 people, I’d nail that. I’m really good with taste and texture and what foods work well together. And I rock beer pairings.

I’m a damn good writer. Mostly blog posts, sometimes essays. Even release notes and user manuals. I’m detailed and structured and I have an awesome command of language. I know how to grab someone’s attention.

I’m a good carpenter…

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clemency & space

 

This morning, I travelled across my little island home from the central region where I live, to the western coast, to the Yale-NUS College library to set up my miniature Clement Space in the City (revised, 2018) installation. It is an impressive campus, not for its size, as it is a small one, but for its compact superficial beauty. There is a sense of crafted tranquility in its manicured greenery, right in the middle of smart modern buildings. Meandering around clean, crisp corridors, trying to find my destination, I wonder about the lack of clear signposts. Is it a deliberate exercise in subtle exclusion, a quiet ‘hint’ to outsiders that we are not exactly warmly welcomed into this carefully constructed environment for the elite? I do not really know, but I did have the thought that Lucy would’ve loved a nice run around the green grass patches, though she’d probably create bald muddy holes in the wake of her greyhound strides. Then another thought following this one was, “Is this beauty something to merely behold, or can we actually use it, run around in it, hug the trees, roll in the manicured grass, laugh, flap, stim and lie on it?” Continue reading

crucial assistance

 

 

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Lucy came with me to the Arts & Disability International Conference today. It was a huge blessing to have her with me, well worth the small ‘inconveniences’, like having to take her outside for potty each time we had a break and thus missing out on food and beverage.

When we first arrived, I made the mistake of choosing to sit in a busy area where people were walking or wheeling back and forth, standing around chatting, and even striding over Lucy, who was laying on her mat next to me at my feet. The lights in the rooms were confronting, to say the least. Lucy took it all in with grace and quietude, and she kept a discreet whisker out for me all the time. I began to feel nervous and agitated from the constant noise, movement and frenetic energy buzzing round and round, and Lucy got up to indicate that we should move to a less busy spot. She led me to the far corner on the other side of the room, and we settled down comfortably there, until lunchtime. Continue reading