What do I think about autism conferences?
Well, I really believe that both parents and professionals should get themselves out, from time to time, and attend some autism-related conference if your child is on the spectrum.
I didn’t do this at first.
Early on, my husband and I focused on helping our child. We read books and talked and learned from the therapists in our lives, but, for the most part, we kept ourselves isolated.
Finally, about two years into our new autism journey, I wanted to get out there.
I contacted Autism Speaks and met with a representative. He recruited me to help out with their upcoming Los Angeles Walk.
But, that what’s enough for me.
What did I do?
Around this time, I realized I was hungry for knowledge.
Not the kind of knowledge that some parents go through.
What do I mean by that?
In my experience, some parents of newly diagnosed children on the autism spectrum go through a strong desire to find out “Why?”
I didn’t go through that. I wondered about the “why” but what I sought out at this time was knowledge about how to help my son. I wanted to know more about helpful programs, alternative behavioral strategies, and assistance on how to move forward with my son’s life in regards to typical things like potty training and combing his own hair.
Where did I go?
I ended up at conferences for autism.
How did I find them?
I got online and I talked to my new Autism Speaks friends.
I think my very first conference was near me in Pasadena. It was called The Back to School Autism/Asperger’s Conference. It was two days long.
I remember the feeling of that very first conference. I listened to experts talk about autism, and I was sitting amongst moms and dads just like me.
I ended up with a double whammy, I was able to begin to expand my knowledge while talking to parents who had their own experiences.
That wasn’t all—there were booths of vendors of all types of autism-related services. Yes, some vendors where there to “sell their stuff,” but others were there to talk to you about their services, what they offered and how they could help.
Truth be told, it was quite overwhelming.
What do I do now?
For several years now I’ve made it a point to attend, at least, two autism-related conferences or some type of related talk.
This year, for example, I attended a talk by a special needs attorney as well as a talk about how our kids can adapt to new learning techniques (aka Common Core).
Plus, this past weekend I spent half a day at a conference in Los Angeles called Tools for Transformation sponsored by the Special Needs Network.
How do I attend conferences?
I have my opinions about the why and how to get yourself out there, and I shared them with a fellow Aut mom that I met up with at this latest conference.
She told me that this was her first conference.
I told her that it was good to get out to these conferences every once in a while, and that she should keep trying to do it.
And, here’s the advice I always give out: Some conferences are free to attendees.
The conference in Los Angeles that I just attended was one such conference. It was free.
All you have to do is make the time.
And, my advice is to make that time.
What if conferences aren’t free?
I have volunteered my way through numerous autism-related and writing-related conferences. I’ve lost count of how many.
Again, you can make the time to do this.
And, that is what I told this friend, you can make the time.
You need to get yourself out there to listen. You also need to get yourself out there to meet other parents like you.
There’s a time and a place for shutting yourself up and applying what you know, and then there’s a time for getting out there and learning.
I’ll never be done learning.
That’s just my way.
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