A ground-breaking Autism Forum - Creating a New Tomorrow
We concluded a "Life After Death" Autism Forum on 28th September 2019
Being a groundbreaking first of its kind initiative, this marks a significant milestone for the Singapore autism community. Here is why:
- It is Autistic-led, something never done before in Singapore. The main organiser who initiated this is an autistic adult. All the panellists are autistic adults. Volunteers are made up of both autistics and neurotypicals (of course it is good to have neurotypical allies, especially those with a genuine heart for the autism community and those with experience in event management)
- The Forum's focus is a very different spin compared to other Forums and Conferences attended in the past. This Forum focuses on Inclusive Equality which is a concept of novelty. Coined by the main organiser of this event, it is defined as promoting autistics as equal partners with allies, as opposed to being the needy ones. Empowering autistics to take responsibility for our own cause and to do things for the autistic community
- The Forum is run entirely by volunteers, expecting nothing in return in monetary form or any other tangible form. This speaks of their heart for the autism community and cause
- The tickets are donation-based where there is no fixed price of tickets (unlike typical forums and conferences) and participants can donate any amount. Thus, the donations collected testifies of the support they give to this initiative
- The event is seeks to be inclusive of not only autistics but of other special needs, with various accomodations from a calming room to allowance for people to step out anytime they need a break to accomodations for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (e.g. live transcription on the screen) etc.
I was heartened by the turn-up rate of around 160+, and to get support from Ms Denise Phua, Mayor, Central Singapore District. She is one in the political arena who champions the cause for special needs in Singapore, and her voluntary turn-up at this event, expecting nothing in return, also shows she is one who is committed to this cause and walks the talk
It was my first time being a keynote speaker at any event, and my first time speaking at an Autism event as well. In addition, I was a panellist. I am happy to do all these for the greater good of my people in the autism community whom I hold dear to my heart. I am heartened by my group of autisitic friends who rallied together to make this happen, as fellow panellists and volunteers. Credits to one of them for being a photographer to capture the moments with a million pixels!
Right after the Forum, we had a number of people signing up to join our Singapore Autism WhatsApp Chat Network, a chat network co-founded by myself and the main organiser of this Forum, comprising of 20 over chat groups of different topics-focused. We also had people coming forward expressing interest to be our potential allies to further our cause.
The Forum is a very memorable event and point in history for us. The Forum may have ended but it only marks the beginning of a new chapter, a new legacy, and a new age to come for the Singapore autism community.
"The best way to predict the future is to build it together" (quoted from Ms Denise Phua @ the Asia Pacific Autism Conference (APAC) 2019). Come, join us in Creating a New Tomorrow, beginning today!