Today I attended my first ever autism event; Understanding Autism: Individual, Sibling and Parental Perspectives.
It was held at Caldwell College in Caldwell, New Jersey. The facilitator was my friend, Nicole Turon-Diaz.
The keynote speaker was a young man with autism. His name is Taylor Cross. Taylor created a film called Normal People Scare Me.
It was a treat to view the film, which is available on YouTube, Taylor gave a speech and he along with Amy Gravino, conducted a question and answer session.
Taylor and Amy are two young people with autism. Two talented, bright, and articulate people with autism. I enjoyed meeting Taylor and hearing about Amy's book project. Amy is a graduate student and she is writing a book called The Naughty Autie. Her book will deal with socio-sexual issues of young people with autism. I think that is awesome and I can't wait until her book is released.
Keri Bowers, the mother of Taylor Cross, also participated in the presentation. She is an advocate and she produced a film called The Sandwich Kid. her film gave perspectives of siblings of people with autism and other disabilities.
The program was informative and I could relate to Keri Bowers, as the mother of a son with autism, our stories had similarities. She believed her son was born with autism. Her son also suffers from hypotonia. She talked about how important advocating for your child is. I agree with her 100%.
Taylor and Amy conducted a question and answer period. They gave their perspective of what "worked" for them. I found it interesting that both of them stated that they did not like someone "getting in their face" to teach them something. I will remember that.
While I enjoyed the presentation, the truth is that both Taylor and Amy are exceptional people. Their autism does not make them exceptional, hell, they would be exceptional in the non-autistic world. They are both uber-smart and charming. Unfortunately, most of "our" kids are not Taylors and Amys. I think few neuro-typical people are at their level of achievement. I know I'm not. I would have liked to see perspectives of parents of children all through the spectrum in diffrent age groups. I know that both Taylor and Amy lived in that autism hell and were able to overcome and they, along with their parents should be applauded for that, but at this point in my experience with autism, I don't know if that will be true for my son and my family. My son is still very young, I have hope, but I am also a realist. I guess I am still hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst.
Taylor is on tour, so google him to see if he is coming to a location near you. I think you will enjoy hearing him speak as I did.