Why not attend a conference?

russ2This week’s blog has been one of the more difficult ones for me to write, probably because I have a specific purpose in mind that goes beyond some light reading that might be educational. This week I hope you will give some thought to attending the Living with Autism conference in Lisle this October. This is an annual conference organized by The Arc of Illinois, and it will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Lisle on October 9. TAP has worked with The Arc of Illinois as a sponsor of their Annual Convention for many years, and is a sponsor for the Living with Autism conference as well.

Before any of us takes time away from work or family, we want to know that it will be worthwhile – that there will be a benefit that is at least equal to the cost of this time away. Let’s look at the benefits available from attending this particular conference:

  • A common feature of ASD is difficulty in communication. Visual aids can not only improve communication, but can be useful in helping young and old complete tasks with greater independence. The afternoon session is all about understanding and using visual strategies.
  • Every person with ASD is unique, and each person’s needs and abilities change over time. If you live or work with a person with ASD, you know what it is like to sometimes run out of ideas for providing the most appropriate and effective support. The second morning session will provide you with a variety of simple support strategies that you’ll be able to use immediately.
  • When we look at any individual with ASD, we typically see only the very surface traits. Historically, it has often been assumed that someone with ASD is also intellectually challenged or has no empathy or understanding of feelings because of their communication difficulties. The keynote speaker (Arthur Fleischmann) will talk about his family’s experience with Carly. Told that her intellectual development would not go beyond that of a small child, Carly now uses the computer to communicate and provide a view into her world through conversations and a blog read by thousands.

In addition to these specific benefits, there are benefits just from attending a conference related to ASD:

  • A conference such as this reminds each of us that we are not alone – there are others who have experienced many of the same challenges and frustrations we’ve experienced.
  • Not only might you find someone whose experience can help you, but your experience can help others.
  • You will leave the conference with resources and supports about which you were unaware.
  • For most of us, a good conference leaves us feeling rejuvenated and hopeful about the future. The Arc of Illinois conferences are good conferences.

To see or download the conference brochure, click here.

You can register for this conference on The Arc of Illinois website. The conference isn’t free, but there are consumer stipends available for self-advocates and family members. To find out more about stipends, contact The Arc of Illinois directly at 815-464-1832 before you register.

Russell J. Bonanno, M.Ed.
TAP Program Manager

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