Autism and neurodiversity are terms that are gaining use in everyday conversation. The recognition of the diversity of neurological being represents a paradigm shift. Discussions about this have traditionally been orchestrated in a few countries in the west. This is a problem because it cuts us off from relevant world history, human context and opportunities. Join us as we start building a library of experiences and discuss how we can begin to understand the many challenges and opportunities to learn about autism and neurodiversity. We will be exploring the intersections of autism, culture, material conditions, policy and activism with our speakers in their respective fields.
Wednesday, April 26, 2023, 12:00pm-2:00pm UK time; 7:00am-9:00am EST
Yulin Cheng, scholar and PhD researcher
Karen Muriuki, autistic self advocate and neurodiversity consultant
Rakshita Shekar, educator and consultant for disability rights
To register for the event, go here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/autistic-experience-in-the-majority-world-seminar-tickets-597746745607
A poster for the event can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FXk8Vx-twqwzYCnF2b1TYTQcFSE2mjC1/view?usp=sharing
Donations can be made to Autism People of Color Fund: https://autismandrace.com/autistic-people-of-color-fund/
This event is free and will be held online.
The event is open to everyone who has an interest in autism and neurodiversity.
The event is held in collaboration with Dr Chris Bailey and Dr Robert Chapman of Sheffield Hallam University and Dr Sonia Soans and Peter Marshall of the Afro-Asian Critical Psychology Forum.
Email – email@example.com
Twitter : @AACritPsy
Personal conviction and political challenges in neurodiversity advocacy
In this seminar, I will talk about the reasons that have lead me to become a neurodiversity advocate. I will be using my personal experience as an autistic person to look at the direction my current research takes. Interweaving the personal with empirical and theoretical evidence my lived experience reflexively informs my work. However, researching neurodiversity poses several social and cultural challenges.
Neurodiversity while universal presents challenges that are embedded in culture, it is this tension between the neurodiverse individual and the cultural demands put upon them that my research looks at in the Asian context.
Yulin Cheng is an autistic PhD student and self-advocate. Born in Singapore, she now resides in Hong Kong and shares a flat with Happy the cat.
Her study is one of the few in Asia to look at the impact of the social environment on the lived experiences and well-being of autistic adults. Her work uses an interesting mix of methodologies and critical theories.
A Different Autism in a Different Culture?
Universally, autism is currently defined through its behavioural manifestations.
Autism first gained prominence in the Anglophone world. Much of the research as well as advocacy in this field have been spearheaded by this region. Naturally, most of the medical, and psychological discourse is in English, reflecting experiences and perspectives of the Anglophone culture.
But what if autism meant different things in different cultures?
In this talk, we will hear from an autistic queer woman living in India: a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic nation. We will analyse the characteristic behaviours currently associated with autism through a cultural lens. We will then try and begin to answer the following questions. Can autism present differently in different cultures? Are autistic behaviours perceived in the same way by different cultures? How do socio-cultural practices influence the behavioural manifestations commonly seen in autism? What role do these behaviours play in their micro cultural contexts? In addition, we will briefly explore the speaker’s experiences as a special educator working with autistic children, adults as well as their families. Through this, we will learn about the current therapeutic scenario in India and its fit to the Indian autistic people. In conclusion, we will ponder over the questions: is autism just behaviours? And who is the autistic person.
Rakshita is an educator and consultant for disability rights organisations and schools. She has a Masters in intellectual and developmental disabilities from the University of Kent, UK. She has extensive experience as teacher in both general education and special education. She is a member of two international 3 advocacy organisations. Her work has been presented and published in Indian and international forums. She ardently advocates for autistic children and adults through her and poetry, talks, essays, training programs. She is the first openly autistic person in south Asia to be nominated as a board member of an autism charity – Action for autism.
She hopes to reach society that they can and must rely on disabled people to solve the world’s biggest problems. She dreams of a world where all live and let live.
Overprotectionalism among autistic people and mental health
Autistic people are often treated as perpetual children in their families and society. Overprotection ranges from curtailing everyday activities to restricting life choices such as education, employment, friendships and relationships. In Kenyan society ablelism and sexism have created an environment in which autistic people, especially women are seen as needing constant support. Combined with societal expectations of normality autistic people are caught up in a bind of where they cannot live up to these standards but are also held back from realising their potential.
Autistic people are often coded as unable to understand social norms and inferences drawn from these crudely put ideas. Our experience of the world are seen through a neurotypical perspective do not allow us to thrive on our terms.
Through this talk I will be drawing from my personal experience of growing up autistic in a neurotypical world. Focusing on how overprotection hinders my everyday life and my mental health. I will be looking at internalised ableism, loneliness and trauma that comes from being rejected.
Karen is a black autistic self-advocate from Kenya and works in various organisations such as a neurodiversity consultant. Currently she is on the education and research team at Ubongo TV. Sense International Kenya as a Disability inclusion facilitator, InAble Africa as an Inclusion influencer and Differently Talented Society of Kenya where she is an organising secretary. She is also an International Disability Alliance Bridge Kenya CRPD-SDGs training fellow.
A well-known speaker and organiser in Kenya and the neighbouring regions she has given several public talks and interviews about autism, disability and human rights. Over the past few years she has organised public events including autistic pride for autistic people in Nairobi.