ASA National Conference Recap (Day 1)

Making a Name for Myself: Developing Individual Self-Advocacy and Leadership Skills

Ms. Zosia Zaks was unable to present at the conference, for undisclosed reasons. As a result, Dena Gassner presented the morning portion of the workshop. You may not be aware, but you may have seen Mrs. Gassner if you’ve watched any PSAs put out by the Dan Marino Foundation and ASAN. She was a lovely woman who had a lot to share about learning yourself so that you can effectively navigate and advocate for yourself.

This was not that unfamiliar with myself, but I could tell a lot of “new” Aspies had not thought of this before. As a result, a lot of people shared about their personal experiences when it comes to social inadequacies and sensory issues. This discussion was ended with a tour of the entire ASA conference “grounds”. There were 3 floors, several hallways, several stops, and a quiet room (which turned out to be not as quiet). I ended up having a very easy time learning the layout because of this tour. This also gave us an opportunity to speak with the different ASA representatives who were able to help us in case we needed anything.

Following that was a boxed lunch in a general hall for all workshop attendees. I should have known to take my lunch elsewhere, but I didn’t. This is my own fault. I ended up sitting in the room with several hundred other guests. I did end up meeting a lovely woman who is a teacher in Round Rock. She and her co-teacher sat with me to talk and I was more than pleased with how inquisitive they were. I ended up leaving early as I became overwhelmed quickly.

The latter half of the workshop was not nearly as insightful as the first portion. We were able to do Art projects that were displayed all conference long. I did not finish mine, but as it did not show my name on the front, I was not ashamed to have it show. (Now that I think about it, I never got it back.) We listened to another lady who’s name escapes me now. She has had a tough time advocating for herself, and gave us examples and tools to help advocate for yourself and when needed have others advocate for you. Again, I think a lot of people, this put some perspective on how difficult it can be. I was happy to see others making note. Her daughter, Missy, also gave a small speech. She’s a junior high student on the Spectrum. Very nice for her first public appearance.

Lars Perner ended the day. While I was delighted with his jokes, I had hoped he would delve more into Aspie humor, than how Aspies don’t often get humor. Alas, that did not happen. Nor did the Leadership portion because of our unattended presenter. I really hope to be able to get more information on Leadership skills, but perhaps later, or next summer.

I know there was very little to this day, but there were more the other three. I will have those installments as I have time. Because of the energy exhausted during the 4 days at the conference, I ended up having to take a week off from most major duties. As a result, my memory is trying to lapse into “long term” from “short term” in these events. I did leave out some of my more unfortunate experiences as they weren’t because of the conference, but just happened to occur at the conference.

Until next time….

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