AFAM » Taking Action » Total Defence

Total Defence goes beyond just discerning allies from enemies. It refers to our ability to protect ourselves against the full range of threats that includes psychopaths, extremist ideologies, mental illness, technological obsolescence etc. It also emphasises self-reliance and self-determination – we must be responsible for ourselves and develop the ability to take care of ourselves because only we can be counted on to protect our interests.


1) Military Defence: a strong and active organisation that will protect the autistic community, fight for our welfare and deter threats.

The autistic community needs an organisation that allows autistics to be represented as equal partners among all the other stakeholders, of which everyone of them is socially, economically and politically far more powerful than the average autistic.

At the same time, autistics have to do their part to strengthen this organisation by paying membership dues and participating actively, akin to how male Singaporeans serve National Service to ensure that Singapore has strong and well-trained armed forces. While Singapore does not ever wish to engage in warfare, it must have a credible defence capability to deter potential enemies and to resist political pressure by other powerful nations. Likewise for the autistic community.


2) Psychological Defence: developing resilience towards setbacks, living a meaningful life and avoiding threats to mental health.

The most dangerous enemy is that from within ourselves. Each of us has to confront self-defeating and counterproductive attitudes that perpetuate our dissatisfaction with life, specifically our sensory desires, needless worrying, revengeful malice, self-doubt, and dismissive apathy.

Working on improving our mental wellness and participating in leadership training helps us to live a purpose-driven and satisfying life. It is only when we can settle the drama in our personal lives that we can find the capacity to support others in need of help. Likewise it is only when Singapore has a stable political system can it then prosper and become influential.


3) Social Defence: collaborate with other stakeholders to develop win-win solutions and help look after each other’s welfare.

We need to guard against extremist ideologies, hatred and prejudice that will derail our relationships with other stakeholders. This includes autistic advocates with extremist views.

Unity is Strength, Equality is Empowerment. Each of us has to promote and live Inclusive Equality. Presuming competence, we should befriend, accept, and respect all stakeholders including those who have different opinions from us. When we encounter conflict, we should try to find a tactful way of resolving it rather than a destructive way that makes everyone worse-off.


4) Economic Defence: creating employment opportunities for ourselves including with the help of our allies.

Just like everyone else, we must keep improving ourselves continuously and remain competitive, so that we can take care of ourselves.

If we depend on others to support our daily needs, then we will have no choice but to comply with their demands, thus losing the freedom to determine our future. Just as Singapore focused on self-reliance, it is essential that we can provide for ourselves so we remain independent.

At the same time, we must also ensure that we give a good deal to our partners, clients and employers. We must be aware of their needs and be agile enough to support them so that they will continue to invest in us. Just like Singapore, we must stay relevant and competitive to ensure our survival in this world.


5) Civil Defence: be prepared; anticipate and take effective precautions against potential threats – be they psychopaths, physical illnesses and accidents.

Take charge of our life as self-reliant adults: study financial literacy to make our lifestyle sustainable, accumulate sufficient savings, obtain comprehensive insurance, read up about our legal rights etc. Examine our worries and know what we can do to ally our fears effectively, for instance, depending on a data backup system that can hedge against data loss from both digital and physical threats. Read the stories and experiences of other autistics to know what we should look out for.

Since we are both highly disadvantaged and often misunderstood, it is up to us to protect our interests. To ensure our survival and independence, we leave our lives neither to chance nor to other parties.


6) Digital Defence: the extension of Civil Defence into the online environment.

Social media is perhaps the most complex and difficult medium to master. It is tempting for autistic people to try to dispel their loneliness by becoming highly active on social media, but this can come at great cost to their personal reputation. We need to be careful with what we share online, whom we talk to online, and how we expose our computer systems to open networks such as the Internet.

We also need to be careful of our speech and behaviour in public or else it may go viral online and create a disproportionate disaster for ourselves.


As a whole, the autistic community lacks the ability to defend itself now. It is necessary to provide support to foster Autistic Total Defence capabilities.

A) Self-Defence: being able to care for personal needs (e.g. physical, intellectual, social) and welfare

B) Team Defence: taking care of team responsibilities. For families, it will include earning money and sharing housework

C) Community Defence: supporting the community with peer services, volunteering and promoting autism awareness

D) Ideological Defence: supporting the ideology of Inclusive Equality through setting personal examples, conducting strategic research, organising events and workshops, participating in policymaking and publicity efforts