Saturday, January 22, 2011

My First Autism Conference

This past week was special for me. In the past I have been to local support group meetings, read articles, followed my imaginary friends on twitter and/or facebook, as well as other bloggers and their websites. But there's something to be said for having a person in front of you whom knows exactly what you are going through and can answer your questions plus give you examples, on the spot.

Our local support group sponsored their 10th annual conference that was over a two day period. The first day featured Emily and Lisa Iland. A mother and sister to a person with autism. They spoke about their lives and experiences with Tom, and how they had conducted their own research studies on autism. Their presentation was informative. I asked them both a couple of questions and was surprised to learn that I was approaching a few of my son's issues in a manner that was intended for another type of characteristic. I have already discussed this with Puppy's teacher and we are going to revisit this more carefully.

The second day of the conference had a special guest speaker, Eustacia Cutler. Yes, she's probably the most talked about mom in the autism community since the movie about her and her daughter came to HBO and Hallmark last year, Temple Grandin. She spoke so eloquently about her life and that of her family. She is a wonderful storyteller. I felt myself lost in a trance as I was listening to her every word. She made an strong impact on me. I'm not even sure why. I pray that others will not have to go through the difficult struggles she did because of the lack of studies, diagnosis or education on autism as when she first learned of her daughter's disability.

During the afternoon session of that second day, Lisa Rogers, a Behavior Specialist of San Antonio, also made a presentation. Some the techniques and therapies she spoke of I have or am already was using with Puppy. I feel we may have started a little too late, but I see the progress my son has made throughout the years. It may take a little longer, or maybe not. Only time will tell.

I am glad to have attended and learned new ideas from each of the presenters. I think that maybe I waited too long to seek help from others in our community, but now there is no turning back. Only I can be the best advocate for my son. I also promised to continue learning myself.