Autistic hosts take to the airwaves on RTHK to raise awareness of the disorders in Hong Kong
Presenters and producers of A Child? A Guy! aim to combat stereotypes of the autistic community
They often find it difficult to fit in to society, but instead of living in cocoons, these four autistic men have decided to share their experiences and speak for their community over the airwaves.
Box, CY and Leben (not their real names) are three of the four hosts and producers of A Child? A Guy!, a local radio programme that highlights the challenges faced by autistic people in Hong Kong.
The show aims to educate the public by sharing the daily experiences of those living with the disorder, from difficulties with job interviews to love life.
“We want to show that we might be odd, stubborn and a little bit different from other people when it comes to social interaction, but we are in no way a burden to society,” Box said. “We are just like other working people in Hong Kong.”
All three are employed full time and make use of their spare time to produce the radio programme, which is part of the Community Involvement Broadcasting Service under RTHK.
The trio, aged between 24 and 35, were diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when they were young children, except CY, who a school social worker discovered had it when he was 15.
A 2014 census report showed there were 10,200 autistic people in Hong Kong.
Asperger’s syndrome is a type of autism spectrum disorder. It is a developmental disorder characterised by difficulties with social interaction and non-verbal communication. Individuals with Asperger’s are usually educated in mainstream schools as their intelligence quotient, commonly known as IQ, is typically in the normal to “very superior” range.
“Because of the lack of knowledge of autism, not many people, including my parents, understand the symptoms. They thought I was just being a rebel who was hard to communicate with,” CY said.
Box said the idea for the radio show first came to him last October, and since then he had been taking the lead on the project as he felt the autistic community had been misrepresented by the media.
“Whenever one autistic person does something bad, the headline blows the issue of autism out of proportion. I came across one headline which said an autistic man found holding a gun had previously been involved in sexual assault. And they had to tell readers he was autistic. It’s this kind of sweeping assumption that gives others a very bad and wrong impression of us,” he said.
Box also said that one of the most challenging aspects of organising the programme had been to find like-minded people willing to come forward to share their experiences.
“They are either too shy or don’t feel there is a need to talk about it,” he said.
Sharing Box’s views, CY said some people didn’t have faith in the trio before the programme was launched.
“They were afraid we might say something inappropriate on the show and misrepresent the community, which is understandable as we often do when speaking in front of a large group of people,” he said.
But since the programme was officially launched in July, the trio have been striving to help the public better understand autism. Listener Bernard Tang described it as “a very good show letting outsiders know about the struggles of individuals with Asperger’s”.
Leben said autistic adults were often neglected in society because the focus was on autistic children.
The three hope to set up a non-governmental organisation in future to fight for the rights of autistic Hongkongers.
A Child? A Guy! is broadcast in Cantonese on RTHK every Thursday