About the Author
Hello from Tim Chan.
I am a 25 year old Chinese Australian, diagnosed with autism at 3 years old, and have been non- speaking after 14 months of age. After intensive extension of my limited skills and picking up a means of communication via partner assisted typing at 9 years old, I became opened to the possibility of connecting with people and with the life I would like to live.
I have kept working on understanding how my challenges can be transformed into capacity and strengths. This journey has been supported and scaffolded by my social network.
Some of the highlights of this journey include graduating from mainstream schools to study at University, giving a TEDTalk when I was 18, presumably the first by a nonspeaking person with severe autism.
I am working with organizations that advocate for autism including I Can Network, Children and Young Adults with Disability and Reframing Autism.
I have also been part of the COVID-19 Working Group at Youth Disability Advocacy Services looking at the impact of the pandemic for disabled young people and a youth led recovery plan.
I am excited to be part of the self advocacy movement driving disability rights to a new level of relevance.
I have learned to see Autism not as a disorder but another way of being in the world. Although the effects of autism can be debilitating, seeing the world with different eyes and in different ways more than compensate.
We function differently in mind and body.
As a visual thinker, everything comes into my head as pictures. It was not until four years of age that I discovered that people use speech to communicate. I have worked hard to learn to use language and to communicate by typing with support.
Because of hypersensitivity, everything can be too bright, too loud and too raw. But we become resourceful in finding ways to manage constant sensory discomfort and overload.
The thing is, we see things that people may miss because of heightened sensory and other processing ability. We are good with details, and we work at putting things together in a big picture.
From this unique perspective, I find that I can make contributions in my own ways. I have written and launched my autobiography on my journey with autism, entitled Back from the Brink, and sharing my story is one of the ways I can contribute to increase the level of understanding and acceptance of Autism.