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Connie Lau
Emotion, Equality, diversity and inclusion, Sex and gender

One on one: Connie Lau

We dipped into the Society member database and spoke with Connie Lau, a Specialist mentor with the Disability Resource Centre at Cambridge University.

07 October 2022

One film

I love Pixel’s film Inside Out. It portrays the emotions, using five characters named Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear, experienced by an 11-year-old girl called Riley who struggles to adjust to life after moving to San Francisco. It is a fantastic film for children to learn about the effects of emotions and to promote emotional literacy. More importantly, it teaches us that it is perfectly normal to feel sad and embrace our emotions.

One moment that changed my career

I volunteered with a charity supporting children with diverse needs when I was studying for my undergraduate degree in Music. One of my clients was a young girl on the spectrum. After a few months of working with her, she started to open up and accepted me into her bubble. It was a truly incredible and rewarding experience. Little did I know that it played a big part in motivating me to study educational psychology.

One hope

Growing up, I have always been drawn to characters like Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory. I very much relate to their struggle in navigating social interactions and many more (even though they are not meant to be accurate representations of autism). Later I learnt that autistic traits in females present differently from the classic male presentation because of the camouflage effect. Females on the spectrum are better at masking their autistic traits and blending in by copying others’ behaviours. However, it also makes it harder to detect and diagnose females on the spectrum. More research has been done recently to study the sex and gender differences in autism spectrum disorder. My hope is for psychologists to better understand, identify, and support females on the spectrum in the near future.

One inspiration

I did not know what I wanted to do in life when I was a teenager. I only knew that I wanted to support people in need. My Christian faith has taught me to be a good Samaritan and care for people. It’s a real privilege to share the clients’ journeys and support them at difficult times.

One challenge

I knew little about the concept of ‘internalised racism’ until recently. Pyke (2010) defined it as the ‘internalization of racial oppression by the racially subordinated’. Being born in British Hong Kong, it is hard not to notice the influence of white supremacy and the presence of white privilege within our culture. It affects how we view ourselves from our beauty standard to our accent. It is difficult to overcome these beliefs instilled in us in our upbringing. It is even more challenging for me to pursue a career in psychology where diversity is still improving.

One proud moment

One of the most memorable moments was when a client told me,‘You’d be really proud of me’, and carried on telling me how they applied the techniques that we’d explored. I was particularly pleased because they were proud of themselves. This is the aspect I love most about my work – empowering people.

One lesson learnt

I learnt that psychologists and other healthcare professionals need to be very mindful of taking care of ourselves because of the emotionally taxing nature of our jobs. Compassion fatigue can affect our ability to care for others and our overall wellbeing. It is important to know what self-care routines work for us and to recharge ourselves regularly. We cannot pour from an empty cup!