The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons with autism spectrum disorder. The ASP has been in the forefront of providing services and training to families living with autism.

03 November 2010

Human Irrationality

By: Eric Chen, person with autism, author of “Star Child on Earth”


I used to look with disdain when I encountered human irrationality. Why would people sacrifice themselves for love? Why do people like to worry about things they cannot control? Why are people so attached to certain other people in their lives? Why can't people just pursue their life passion and do what they like? What is so interesting about romance and marriage? Why can't we just forgive each other and establish World Peace?


I am no longer a detached observer writing about how those silly human beings run their lives. I am one of them now. Looking at uncertainty in the eye, I can no longer be confident in my choices. I can feel hatred and resentment in the words of other people, and experience the same emotions towards them.


My autism work is now relegated to a small corner of my life in favor of my day job, social life and other projects. I have became... too human, too ordinary. I have transitioned from being treated differently to being treated equally. People in my life now have great difficulty applying the label of autism to me.


Eric Chen in Singapore

(photo courtesy of Eric Chen)


Truly, equal treatment means that you are expected to confront manipulative colleagues, demanding bosses, irate customers and unexpected emergencies, just like everyone else. You will have to balance between following your passion, fulfilling family obligations, managing friends, cultivating romance, finding a job you can handle and developing the resilience to handle constant uncertainty and failure.


The many choices in the past have now led me to an impasse in my life, where I am forced to change my identity to adapt. I also realized that there is a price to pay for the equal treatment sought by many persons with autism and their supporters. When I wake up everyday, I greet the world with a solemn silence, because I am in danger of losing my dreams in the face of cold, harsh reality.


I admit that my life feels like it is in a big mess right now. I study part-time for my BA in Psychology, yet I have to find a new job by November. Despite my special background, no one is offering me a job as a coach, teacher or counselor to teenagers or adults with Aspergers. Studying full-time for a degree in Singapore and going to Australia for a two year Waldorf Education is also beyond my means.


It will take three years of struggling to balance full-time work, part-time studies and my personal and family life. Alternatively, I would love to work full-time as a photographer, but I only have a Diploma in Logistics, and I don’t have a two-year full-time photography experience or a degree in media communications. Perhaps I might have to take another uninspiring job again.



Looking at the masses of people in Singapore who are struggling in jobs they hate, to pay for housing installments, cars, helpers, school fees, overseas tours, family dinners and branded goods etc, "reality" seemed like an unpalatable alternative. Autistic or not, I cannot see any value running on a corporate treadmill to earn some digits in a bank book.


Yet, a person without dreams is like an angel without wings. I dream of going for teacher training and experience the magical childhood that I never had with many other children. I dream of traveling the world, helping people to let go of their emotional blocks and move on with their life. I will start a global franchise to produce dirt cheap nutritional supplements to end poor nutrition and eradicate many diseases. I will develop new technologies to help prevent and reverse natural disasters. I continue to dream. The next question to answer is “How do I live my dreams?”


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Eric Chen has published 2 books, made his autism website, created original autism materials. He lends his inner voice to help parents, teachers and social workers get in touch with the experience of autism. Eric Chen’s book “Star Child on Earth” is available at the ASP Library.


ASP Library has more than a thousand books on autism, plus educational videos. Be an Angel for Autism. Visit us at Room 307 ML Building, #47 Kamias Rd. Quezon City. Like Eric Chen, you can also donate books to ASP Library. Email us at autismphils@gmail.com or call us at 9266941 or 9298447.

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