All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there...Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking. If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison...I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

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05 October 2010

World Autism Interviews: Mei Ye/Portland, Oregon

Mei Ye is the mother of an autistic son, and the wife of a self-diagnosed autistic husband. She is trained in multiple engineering fields, and works as a system software engineer for the computer industry. Mei grew up in what she describes as the ascetic pre-industrial era of the 70s and 80s in China. She has spent most of her adulthood in the States as an observer and thinker.

E: Autism is often stigmatized in American culture. Do you feel autism is a stigma or taboo in Chinese culture? If so, why?

Mei: Yes, most Chinese have little knowledge of autism. They most likely consider it as a mental disorder. Family pride is deep-rooted in Chinese culture.

E: Have you ever felt misunderstood by family members or friends who expect your son to behave in a specific (or traditional) way?

Mei: Yes. Years ago, a Chinese woman scolded my son--who was then four years old--for not sharing with her two-year-old at a party.

E: How did this make you feel?

Mei: I forgave her ignorance. I discussed autism with her. She is an understanding person. Years later, I heard that her son was diagnosed with autism too. The rate of autism occurrence is indeed astonishing.

E: Is there anything that frustrates you in regards to how your son might be perceived by other Chinese people?

Mei: I am a person who does not care about other people's perceptions. I have jumped many hurdles in my life. I am always learning, thinking, and looking for my spiritual and intellectual allies.

E: Does anyone else in your family have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition? If so, have they expressed similar cultural struggles?

Mei: My cousin in China observed autistic behaviors in her two-year-old. Her family is in dismay and denial. There are very few specialists in China who can diagnose autism.

E: In general, do you feel most Chinese parents are likely to look into further diagnostic testing if either they or others (e.g. teachers, relatives) notice atypical development in their child?

Mei: Chinese care deeply about the wellness of their offspring. Chinese people are good followers. If one of their respected relatives or friends sets a good example, they will follow. So it is very important for families like mine to be open and honest on this issue.

E: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Mei: I am passionate in finding the best education model to grow and harvest the giftedness part of autism.   

1 comment:

  1. I love that last statement. What a great metaphor. Go Mei!