I have just returned from an amazing conference – the Aspect Autism in Education conference in Melbourne (Australia). Both autistic voices and non-autistic voices were heard and great stories and research were shared and discussed respectfully and with a clear desire from participants to support autistics to achieve their potential. Not one whiff of snake oil or cure talk at all, what a fantastic change for the positive.
I also got to meet up with my mentee and catch up with the great plans he has in life. Being able to pay it forward through mentoring is such an honour, I know how much my own mentors have meant to me and how their advice and guidance has helped me to walk forward even when things were hard. Right now the rain is coming down in waves, the wind is raging and our normally storm phobic dog is sleeping calmly, which seems a perfect representation of how torrents of emotions are buffeted around for autistics at autism conferences often, but this time a calmness seem to prevail due to the genuine acceptance and valuing of autistics that was on display by the organisers, stall holders and individual participants.
I hope that this sets the tone for all future autism conferences in Australia. Last year I attended and spoke at one that was just as well run and positive in Auckland (New Zealand), hosted by the excellent Altogether Autism. I think that the neurodiversity and autistic pride movements have reached a point where our voices are strong enough that change has started and should hopefully coalesce going forward – at least in this part of the world. If it is not there yet where you are, keep strong and keep forming positive associations with groups and people who value neurodiversity and see the strengths as well as the support needs of autistics.
On another note, please have a look at the book page for reviews of my recently published books, which seem to be having really positive impacts on people in a number of ways, with recent comments to me being around how much they are helping family members to understand and accept autistic adults day to day experiences in terms of a range of issues.