Much has happened since Eric started on his autism work in 2002 as the first autistic autism advocate in Singapore (and probably Asia).
2006 marked the year when a Singaporean autistic first spoke overseas. 2018 marked the founding of Singapore’s first autistic-led community by autistics exiled from another chat group. 2019 marked the year that adult autistic advocates were included as full contributors in an autism conference as well as the successful organising of an autistic-led autism forum hosted in Singapore.
Throughout these years, Eric has pondered deeply about the viable solutions that can solve the needs of the autism community. He decided to lead by example by pioneering new initiatives and working to develop his full potential.
Eric notes that the vast majority of existing solutions are based on the charity mindset, focus on caregivers’ concerns and rely on non-autistic professionals for implementation. This is likely because most people perceive autistics as too emotionally immature to take seriously and assumed that they are too incompetent to be able to support themselves.
As a result, changemakers make no efforts to develop the leadership potential of autistics, preferring instead to make their behaviours manageable. This creates a cycle of dependency where autistics internalise low expectations to always expect others to help them whenever they encounter challenges and to prescribe to them instructions on how to live.
Meanwhile, international autistics focus solely on advocacy work. Much of their advocacy is adversarial; instead of seeking peaceful collaboration for creating solutions, they aggressively attack those they disagree with. This creates a spiral of negativity in the autism community and provides inappropriate role models for the younger generation of autistics on how to handle conflict.
As part of Eric’s effort to create Strategic & Sustainable Change, the Action For Autistics Masterplan (AFAM) aims to develop prototypes to overturn ableist assumptions and provide an alternative to adversarial advocacy. It was first conceived and published by Eric as Project 7A (Autistic Affirming Actualising Advancing Autism Action Alliance) in 2019. Having undergone a few iterations after consultation with various stakeholders, it is finally ready to be shared with the world in April 2021 to collect feedback from the public.