ASA National Conference Recap (Day 2)

The morning started out with the keynote address by President Obama staff. I was very enthused by the fact that Mr. Lee Grossman, president of ASA, wants to reframe perspective from just medical issues with Autism, but to a whole life, whole person approach. What did not leave me nearly as enthused was the actual keynotes. I was upset by the generalities with no real precision on what the plan is for those of us living with AS. With a mental health system that’s not equipped to handle us rampant throughout the US, housing issues, along with job issues. You’d think some more concrete plans were being laid. Instead, it just showed how ill-equipped this presidency is to help our population. I wish I could work, I really do, but as of now, I can’t and a lot of it has to do with poor social services plans.

I made my “escape” early from the keynotes, when they started asking questions. The poor acoustics plus the frigid air left me in utter pain. Luckily, earplugs handed out during the workshop the day before kept me in there for that long. I’m really glad that by Day 3 they had most of these acoustic issues worked out, but the air stayed frigid throughout the conference. Shortly after the key notes, I found my way to some comfy chairs. I received a tweet from Alex Plank, creator of Wrong Planet and keynote presenter of Day 4, saying to call him. He was doing interviews, but I sadly never got around to giving one. I also met Lindsey Nebeker, who has just opened up her blog Naked Brain Ink which talks about relationships for those on the Spectrum. Along with Jack Robison, John Elder Robison’s son, and Autism Talk TV representative, Alex, and Lindsey, I sat in the lobby and chatted as 4 Autistic people do. I think we may have looked odd to the ‘outsiders’ as one lady got up and walked away at the congregation started. Lindsey did a really awesome interview for Autism Talk TV with Alex. I was particularly amazed at her presentation as she looks quite suave.

Following the 3 hour discussion between the three of us, it was off to view panels I had highly anticipated for the month following up to the conference. First stop was with “Anxiety, Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Bullying on Individuals with ASDs”. I knew going in that I was not their target audience. Having experienced Bullying and abuse from those in my life, I was very pleased with the way they presented it for teachers and therapists who had not thought about it. I think they did leave out a few things, such as bullying from siblings and parents. Things such as bullying from teachers, which my brother suffered, to where it’s difficult to come forward with the abuse. From other students, but not realizing it for years later. I suffered from this kind of bullying. Being naive and innocent, it does not help when you look back on your life. Ignorance is not bliss, and I think they made that pretty clear. Many of the strategies that I am doing with my therapist were the same that they gave example to. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which means so many things, is definitely the psychotherapy of choice that I will continue to use, and if ever needs be, I will have my boys do.

Unintentionally after that panel, I walked around the Exhibition Hall for 2.5 hrs. Like I said, unintentionally, it was however worthwhile. I made a lot of great contacts and got lots of information for pet projects that I’m contemplating. One company, gave me information on creating boundless and sensory playgrounds, which is something within the next few years I really want to do. I spoke with the Director of Programs of ASA for quite some time and some of her pet projects would be incredible for the adult community. I really hope that the rest of the board will some day hear those ideas and pick them up. I will not go in depth for obvious reasons that they are not even on the playing field yet.

Many of the companies that publish books were there. I really wanted to approach one, but did not. So I listened. I was very happy to see Bittersweet Farms there. They gave me information as well. They are hoping to expand their style of adult care across the nation. I think this would be wonderful as it seems like the type of place that my oldest could really flourish. I will be speaking with some local people about that. If you happen to be in the Dallas area and would like to understand more, please contact me.

That evening, while at the Exhibit Hall Opening Reception, I kinda, sorta, bumped into (not physically) Lisa Jo Rudy who has just released a book Get Out, Explore, and Have Fun!: How Families of Children With Autism or Asperger Syndrome Can Get the Most Out of Community Activities. She had given a presentation during the morning hours that I was sitting with the other bloggers. While I had been so disappointed that I did not get to her panel, I was extremely happy to see her. We ended up talking until they closed the Exhibit Hall down. Her most helpful tip that I will definitely be using next summer, is to buy membership for the different museums. That way when someone is about to meltdown (adults or kids in our case, lol), you can leave and not feel you’ve spent a terrible amount of money for only 30-60 minutes. You will be able to go back and enjoy it again and again. Please check the book out. I know I will be!

That was the end of Day 2. And while it wasn’t filled with many panels, I was very happy with how the day progressed. I will be wrapping up my post for Day 3 within the next few days. I hope you all can learn a little bit more.

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