Sunday, May 29, 2011

Autism One Conference - My 1st time experience

Last week was the Autism One Conference  and it was my first experience going to a conference devoted to Autism period. I think a few weeks ago I mentioned my trepidation about going to this because 1) I am not a huge fan of crowds and 2) well I may in general be new to this I don't necessarily feel that my opinions are valid by many who have been doing this for years so it makes me uneasy.  While I felt that way still after the conference I felt even more overwhelmed by all the information I had been given.

A few weeks ago I printed out the conference schedule with the seminars and it was 15 pages long for 5 days. There were many seminars that were happening at the same time of other seminars I wanted to see so it was hard to put a priority on certain things.

The first day I went was Wednesday and I had 3 seminars I wanted to attend and only 2 happened because of a family emergency for the last presenter.

So I went to a seminar called Communication Solutions for children with Autism. This was very informative since it revolved around communication devices for nonverbal kids. Excellent presentation with great information on how to go about getting one of these for your kid.

The second presentation was called It's a Geek to me: iFun with Function. This was basically a seminar on how to use your Itouch, Iphone or Ipad to make a variety of items that normally can cost you a lot of money through extra apps. The speaker showed us how to make schedule boards, task boards, social stories and video modeling just to name a few things. You can find her directions on her website: Proudd1 - my favorite i products. It's in a pdf. form called idevices on a budget. It was very informative. I was sitting in the seminar texting my husband to make sure we could still use our old phones to do this for our little one.

I then went to lunch and had a couple of these:

I had another seminar scheduled but that got canceled unfortunately. It was about planning for the future of your special needs kid. Bummer that it got canceled.

On Thursday I returned and was set on attending only 1 seminar. It was an all day event called Special Education Law Day. ALL.DAY.LONG. This was the most informative of any seminar I went to. If you have a special needs kid in general and they need an IEP this is a seminar you should attend. I wished I had this seminar 10 days earlier before Avery's IEP meeting.  I also wished I had Avery's IEP with me to ask questions specifically for it. There was just a lot of information to absorb after 8 + hours.

I only had one of these at lunch:

Because I knew if I had more than 1 I wouldn't be able to sit through the afternoon having to get up and pee all the time. Darn tasty ice cold beer. What made Thursday hard was that it was Avery's 3rd birthday and I didn't get to see her that much before I left and almost didnt' get to see her before she went to bed.

I was able to get this out of her before she went down for the night:

That was the best part of my day!

When I returned on Friday it was the last day that I could be there and I finally purchased something for Avery and that's called a Hug Chair it should arrive in a few weeks. I am hoping she love's it. I was able to spend some time going around to a lot of the booths since almost all of the vendors finally showed up. I found Avery's OT's companies booth and sang her praises to the members staffing it. She truly loves going there and I dread the day we might have to change things.

I only attended 3 seminars that day and they were spaced out a bit. My first one I attended was called Functional Communication. It was a 2 hour presentation that had a small hiccup. It was booked into a small board room that had tables set up in it. They had to remove the tables, find chairs and the room was packed to more than capacity. It said 24 on the wall and I counted about 50 people in the room, sitting on the floor when there was no chairs left. There had to have been about 20-30 other people turned away at the door that's how important people thought this was going to be. It turned out it was very important. The speaker herself had Aspbergers and has 2 children on the spectrum. She basically showed us a better way to incorporate using a PECS type system with our children. She broke it down very easily and very logically from a view point of how our children are seeing it from us. After hearing this presentation it just made me realize what was missing from Avery's therapy this whole past year. Sigh.

I was able to squeeze out of that meeting in time to get to the restaurant to have lunch before it got packed. So I met my dear ale friend there again:

The second one I went to with my friend was called GFCFSF Diet on a Budget and it was very simple. It did have good information about writing off some of the costs of this diet on your taxes. You can find out more information on the diet help here on TACA Now's website. Which that is another thing. The Talk About Curing Autism  was awesome. They gave me a huge book about resources and basically it's a getting started with Autism battle book imo. If you have not contacted them and have just started on your "journey" please do.

The last meeting I attended was called Daily Toxic Exposure and It's Impact on Health and Behavioral Development. I pretty much felt that I wanted to live on a farm in a bubble. shudder. I ordered the book Detox Diet's for Dummies while I was sitting in the seminar. This book outlines more about what is wrong with our food chain and our environment. I really can't wait to get it.

To sum up my experience I left the seminar after 3 days feeling that I wasn't doing enough for Avery, feeling overwhelmed with all the information and feeling more sad for some of the other parents. There were parents and grandparents in these seminars trying desperately to help their children/grandchildren that you just wanted to hug them.

Another thing I noticed and I don't blame anyone for this but everyone I talked to kept referring to my child as "he" and I had to keep correcting them and saying no I have a daughter. I guess we are the minority here. 

The worst part of it was on Thursday after the IEP strategy meeting aka Special Education Law Day. There was a Mom there that was Asian whose English wasn't very great and she came to the seminar looking for help for her son. We (my friend and I) tried to give her information for advocacy groups in our area because she was from our state and the lawyer and parent advocate who were presenting were from California. I just couldn't imagine how difficult it was for her trying to put her words together so that someone would listen to her and help her. The TACA booth wasn't set up til Friday but if it was set up on Thursday I would have marched her right over there and set her up with them. I didn't even know about TACA until I read about it in the booklet from the lawyer on Thursday but had no idea they would be at the conference until I walked past their booth on Friday. I hope she finds the help she needs for her son. I feel horrible for not thinking of giving her my email at least to help her but I can't go back in time now to do that. I'll just keep her and her son in my prayers that they get the help they need.


  1. How many conferences have I been to that I could chronicle the days in beer? LOL. Love it.

    Thanks for sharing your trip here. I really appreciate being able to vicariously get some tips and information from you!

  2. Geez, my head's ready to pop off from just listening to all the stuff you went to/did at the conference! I think I'd have like 3 of those drinks lined up...each night. :)

    Thanks for all the info.