This week’s guest on Women’s Radio Station’s weekly show ‘All things Autism’ show is Cherry Cheung. Cherry is a mum to a 7-year old autistic boy and also has an autism spectrum diagnosis herself.
Cherry is a Senior Lecturer and a Course Director at London South Bank University (LSBU). She qualified as a solicitor before joining the academia around 10 years ago. Her current research focus is on exploring entrepreneurship in challenging circumstances and leads a research group. Cherry has multiple publications in some internationally renown academic journals.
Cherry organised an academic conference on autism and entrepreneurship at LSBU in November 2018 and co-organised an Economic and Social Research Council funded workshop with the University of Essex to provide training to aspiring autistic entrepreneurs in February 2019. She has also just got involved in the Additional Needs Ministry at her local church.
Dr Anna Kennedy, OBE interviewed Cherry this week to talk about her personal experiences as an autistic woman, mum to an autistic boy, researcher, mental health and well-being issues and her new volunteer role at the local church. Cherry states that all views are personal.
Cherry shared that she sought autism spectrum disorder/condition (ASD/ASC) diagnosis due to her long-standing mental health problems (depression, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsiveness disorder) and the similar challenges that she encountered and still encounters as her son does. She also hopes to relate to her son and the autistic community and to encourage one another with her diagnosis and experiences.
Cherry shared about her new academic research linking autism and entrepreneurship trying to find the ways to bridge the employment gap in the autistic adults via running one’s own business.
Cherry believes that the stigmas around autism, ASD/ASC and mental health conditions could silence us from seeking help, so we should not feel ashamed about those conditions. Cherry explains: ‘If there is no shame in having a flu, a cold, a diabetes, why should there be shame about having autism, on the spectrum or having mental health conditions?’
Cherry said that making disclosure is likely to increase people’s awareness and understanding about autism, ASD/ASC and mental health conditions. She also shared about the reasonable adjustment that her employer made for her when they recently moved to an open-plan office.
Cherry shared four practical tips: exercise everyday, create meaningful social communication with people who mean something to us, do something that we find nurturing and pleasurable, and do the tasks that we need to do but keep putting off doing,
These tips came from her therapist who advised her on what to do promote her mental health and well-being. Cherry also shared that she personally found prayers, meditating on Bible verses and knowing that God loves her. She shares that these things calm her and believes that the intrinsic religious practice, medication and therapies collectively together.
Cherry’s family searched and settled down in a local church that has an Additional Needs Ministry as her son likes running including during the church services. As the coordinator and her family were just called to another church recently, Cherry and her husband volunteered to take up some of the roles and planning (subject to the leadership and ministerial teams’ approval) to organise a family and siblings club for all families with additional needs children to get together and worship God together, following Champions Clubs model.
If you missed Cherry’s interview its is available to listen to everyday at 1pm until Monday at Women’s Radio Station. You can connect with Cherry’s on on Twitter. You can also see her published works on ResearchGate.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the world’s first blog psychologist and founder of Psychreg. He writes for the American Psychological Association and for other online publications.