Autism Watch: 2007

Information Overload

Posted on: August 13, 2008

If you’ve ever been to a seminar or a conference, a truly good one, you’ll know what I mean. You learn so much, it’s hard to absorb it all, process it, and do enough with the information. That’s how I’m feeling now. I attended the Back to School: Autism/Asperger’s Conference last weekend in Pasadena, California. WELL worth the $165 registration fee.

I arrived around 7:45am on Saturday, hit up the Starbucks coffee bar in the conference hall first thing, and roamed the vendor booths. I headed for a jewelry booth, where I replaced my car ribbon magnet, badly faded from three years of heavy California sun, and then made my way to the TACA booth, where I was thrilled to snag the last medium “Green Our Vaccines” t-shirt. Score! I’ve been wanting one of these t-shirts since the rally in June, and I grabbed one for dh, too. Then off to the keynote speaker’s initial session, Carol Gray and social skills. Not only does she share wonderful information you can relate to and easily absorb, but she’s got a wicked sense of humor that I loved. I could have listened to her all day, but I really wanted to attend Mark Woodsmall’s IEP sessions. Always good to be sure I know what I’m doing in that arena, particularly with goal setting. I capped the day off with more helpful tips from Carol Gray in regards to friendships and bullying. I wish I could find a brief write-up and share it with my son’s teachers!

As usual, there were far more women than men in attendance. While I think it’s great that couples could attend together, I think I was more impressed that so many dads were at home watching the children so the wives could attend. And women were bonding all over. While bumping into each other at a vendor’s table, we’d share tips on good products to buy. While waiting for a speaker to start, we’d discuss why we were there (parent, teacher, speech path, etc.) and talk about our kids. And there was a lot of nodding going on. You know, “the” nod. The nod that says “I know what you’re going there. I’ve been there. I feel for you.” You can’t get that just anywhere.

On Sunday morning, Rick Clemens covered inclusion with some facets that you don’t normally think about. I only wish I had the money to utilize the services all these speakers offered! (And that some were available within safe driving distance of the black hole that is the Inland Empire. Our pickings out here are slim — and I only have so many vacation days from work, so it’s hard to parse them out to last enough for all the appointments we have, much less any family time that’s so important.) I then moved on to the Healing the Family session, which was a wonderful affirmation that the family truly is entirely affected by an autism diagnosis. There was some sniffing going on there, as the speaker shared an analogy that hit me far more strongly than the Trip to Holland ever has or will. After that, it was a session about anxiety and that session alone was worth the drive that day, though I think I picked a really perfect agenda out of all the things available as every session was extremely helpful. It didn’t take long for me to realize that while I know my son has anxiety issues, there’s a lot of his social skills deficits that are due to anxiety than just social issues. Then to round out the day, a session with Susan Golubock, a professional in the field of Occupational Therapy (and also on the spectrum) was fascinating. And kudos to the person who was brave enough to ask (paraphrased): who are we ‘normal’ people to decide what’s ‘right’ and change you and everyone else on the spectrum?

In the end, I came home with a bag of documentation that I’ll be filing away for future use, samples of supplements that ds just may be willing to try, and names/numbers of people to call if ever needed. I bought a gorgeous “Connecting the Pieces” autism bracelet, and won the grand prize at the TACA raffle, an awesome assessment/appointment for Linda Mood Bell. Can’t wait to use that!

Now I just have to put all that information to good use. I’ve already been working on changes in how I phrase things to ds, and to be sure he really understands what I’m saying, what the question is, and to listen more when he talks before I begin forming the answer in my head. He’s had some pretty significant meltdowns over the last week, but he did tell me this morning he’s looking forward to school starting. YAY doesn’t begin to cover my feelings. He’s already talking about the friends he’ll make, and what he’ll be learning. I will be talking with the school next week to get his teacher’s name, and hopefully a quick tour of the classroom…even better, maybe a quick meet with her so I can alleviate some of the ‘who, where, when, what..’ questions that are everpresent.  It’s been one.long.summer.

1 Response to "Information Overload"

Oh man, it sounds like it was a really valuable experience. 🙂 I wish I could find something like that to attend on SPD. I’m glad it was worthwhile for you.

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