The decision to organise Life After Death Autism Forum also meant the public disclosure of my autism status.
Life After Death Autism Forum (LAD) is the first autistic-led autism event in Singapore. The forum will cover topics that are pertinent to the well-being of the autistic person after the demise of the caregivers.
Eric Chen, known as the first autistic autism advocate in Singapore, is the organiser of LAD. During the forum, he will speak on the topic of inclusive equality and share his views as part of the panel. We went behind the scenes to understand Eric a little more before we meet him at the forum on 28 September!
Hi Eric, tell us a bit about your adult life.
For over a decade, I worked extensively with IT troubleshooting, programming and psychometrics. I have stayed with my current employer for over 7 years.
I am interested in self-improvement work and finding ways to create strategic change in this world. I would like to help solve Humanity’s problems in the most effective way possible with the least amount of resources.
I believe in living a simple drama-free life focused on fulfilling our true purpose.
What is a quote or mantra that you live by?
This was from my secondary school classmate – a charismatic leader who tells us all to create a new path where there is no path.
It is only when we have come to a place where we do not know where to go, that we have truly started on our journey.
It is only when we have come to a situation where we do not know what to do, that we have truly began our work.
For us to truly live, we must choose to be adventurers, not tourists.
What is one book, podcast, or lecture that you think everyone must read or listen to?
Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a great book that will benefit most people.
Why did you decide to organise the Life After Death Autism Forum?
I organised this forum to begin the process of Strategic Change in the Singapore autism community, after waiting quietly for over a decade for Singaporean society to be ready to receive my work.
The inclusion of autistics in the APAC 2019 conference, a first in Singapore, shows me that the time is ripe for me to relaunch my autism work again.
Rather than acting defensively by hiding my autism status, I now choose to go on the offensive to tackle discrimination by educating the public about inclusion and collaborating with stakeholders in the autism community to create win-win solutions.
What is the main idea that you hope the audience will take away from your sharing?
Most people have grossly underestimated the potential of autistic people because those that they see in the media usually have obvious autistic traits as well as intellectual and behavioural challenges.
Given a suitable work environment, people like myself can opt not to disclose and our colleagues will never know, because we have found ways to adapt to mainstream society by ourselves.
It is very sad that an autism diagnosis is considered a stigma in Asian societies where it causes job and insurance discrimination, while it opens the door for appropriate support and accommodation in Western societies.
It is a huge risk (and cost) for me to disclose my autism status publicly because I am likely to be discriminated against if I need to find a new job in the future.
Join the dialogue with Eric and other adult autistics at the Life After Death Autism Forum on 28 September 2019. They will discuss solutions for adult autistics to continue thriving even after their caregivers have passed on.
The cover photograph belongs to Eric and may not be reproduced, copied, or manipulated without the written permission of the owner.
To read our interviews with the other LAD panellists, click here.