Sunday, June 22, 2008

All Quiet on the Western Front

Yes, all is quiet today on the Western Front. But not for long...

You see, as I write this post there are Autism Hub bloggers on the way to San Diego. From 2 countries, from 3 states we are converging at University of San Diego to participate in and present to the "Work With Me, Not On Me" conference.
At this conference, there will be discussion of all kinds of aspects of Autism, with an emphasis on how we can provide appropriate and effective education and supports to autistics over their entire lifespan.
Issues of movement, of language, of societal inclusion, of self-image and self-esteem, of fulfilling potential - all of these will be discussed, with respect for autistics as a guiding principle. While I understand the need to look at many different facets of autism and ways to promote a positive outcome for autistic individuals, I am proud to be contributing to this school of thought as I feel it can directly benefit autistics in the long term. There are those who disagree with the importance of toning down the rhetoric, of using positive terms, of emphasizing strengths, of dispelling myths about autism. I submit that we can accomplish these goals without ignoring the challenges of autistics, and while fully respecting the efforts at overcoming the myriad disabling aspects of autism. My good friend, Bev, may have put it best when she wrote in an open letter to parents:
"But I am not your enemy. If you have a child on the spectrum and are hoping to cure him or her, hoping to get rid of the autism, I don’t want to argue with you. Most likely, you and I don’t even use the word “autism” to mean the same thing. If you are one of these parents working to change your child, know that I am working, too. If your quest to change the course of autism fails, perhaps the quest to change societal attitudes will fare better. In which case, your autistic child might have a less hostile world to live in.

That is why I do this."
Thanks for that, Bev.

So today, then, is a quiet day (all quiet...) that precedes a whirlwind of activity. I have always been a huge fan of quiet days around the house, and the proverbial apple seems to have not fallen far from the tree. A little while ago, I walked by J's bedroom and saw the following scene:

Apparently, he is going to read all of those books. There are probably 30 books there. Don't put it past him - he devours books at an amazing rate.

Some other members of the family can't even muster the energy required to be read to. Evidence, Baby C:

So I will continue to work on the various presentations and discussions we will be part of at USD over the course of the day, my fellow bloggers will complete their journeys, and tomorrow we will converge and hope to begin to help some parents, self-advocates, and professionals understand who we are, what we stand for, and why we do what we do. Understanding, of course, that this group is anything but homogenous and represents a huge diversity of opinions and emphasis on different topics.
We also may have a surprise in store. More on that later.

It occurs to me that over the next few days there may be many new visitors to the Autism Hub and to this blog. For those newcomers, here is a brief tour of some good posts from this week that I consider "recommended reading":

Joel Smith writes about how certain autistic strengths may, or may not, translate into employable skills.
Alex blogs about his new personal best in 5K.
Amanda Baggs discusses some difficult communication issues.
Kristina Chew has numerous good posts this week - I would recommend this one about the importance of riding a bike.
Kev writes an Open Letter to those who aggressively promote the vaccine hypothesis.
Club 166 gives a day in the life of the typical autism Dad. Notice its a pretty good day.
Bev recommends some new PECS cards.
Estee celebrates her son moving to 1st grade. This hits home, as J also finished K this year. He tells everybody all about it - I mean everybody. Not much fluff, just in a loud voice with a sidelong glance - "I graduated Kindergarten!". This is currently his pat response to any question asked in public by a member of the community.
Michelle Dawson asks why Autism Speaks seems to have trouble with epidemiological figures.
Ari asks for input for the Autistic Adults Planning Committee.

There is more, so much more for people to learn about from reading these pages.

I'd like for any interested Hub Blogger to consider pulling your favorite post, on whatever topic you wish, and re-post it tomorrow. I have reason to believe that we may have a good number of people wanting to take their first look at what we have to say, and it seems that this might be a good opportunity to put our proverbial best foot forward. If you would like to do so, please re-post your favorite blog entry sometime tomorrow, the earlier the better.


Club 166 said...


Thanks for the link, and good luck with the conference.

I know what a big job it is to organize things like that, and appreciate what you are doing to raise the consciousness of those outside the "autism blogging" community to different points of view.


jypsy said...

Have fun y'all, I so wish I could attend. Looking forward to hearing about it.

I'm going to plug Alex's post of the week here too - a Personal Best 5K race, bettering his previous PB by half a minute!

How wonderfully diverse the Hub is....

kristina said...

Looking forward to a report on the conference! Thanks for the link----btw, Charlie likes to spread out his stuff on his bed in the same way.

Steve D said...

@ Joe and Kristina - Thanks for your comments, as always. I hope we do a good job and make the Hub proud.

@ Jypsy - I totally agree about the Hub's diversity, and have edited my post to include Alex's personal best. I'll also be mentioning Alex's blog during our presentation.

Cynthia said...

never posted before....but wanted you to know three more of my staff will be there at USD this week....3 saw you in January! Also...did you see this article/story on Good Morning America a few weeks back? Finally a positive story about autism:


Steve D said...

Hi Cynthia -
Thanks for commenting! To my other readers, Cynthia is the owner/founder/director of the service provider where my son has been an active learner from age 3 - present. He currently goes to their social play group, which has been a really good experience for him.
Cynthia, I'm glad you are investing the resources necessary to have some of your staff attend the USD conference. I think it is particularly valuable for people entrusted with supporting and educating autistics that they have a balanced view of the kids they work with. In other words, deficits in autistic kids/people are definitely present, but do not represent the whole, dynamic essence of them as people.
And, yes, I did see the GMA piece. Both people interviewed are Autism Hub bloggers, and both are linked to in this post as "recommended reading", coincidentally. The are Ari and Kristina.

Thanks, and feel free to comment any time!

Ms. Clark said...

Hi Steve,

I'm glad you are having a calm day. I tried to send you an email last night via gmail and I think maybe you didn't get it because I didn't get a response... I have a feeling that gmail isn't working because I got one piece of email today (I think...).

Things are pretty calm here, too. :-)

Anonymous said...


Here's my "favorite" (it was hard to pick just one!): Enjoying the Scenery.

Hope the conference goes well.

Anonymous said...

Steve, though I haven't posted before I am familiar and read often the Autism Hub bloggers. I just returned from Michelle Garcia Winner's first annual providers conference and was pleased to be in a room that was full of kindred spirits. I await my staff's reports on their return from USD. 12 of us have attended a USD conference out of a staff of 20!
Take care, Cynthia

Sharon said...

Oops, I have not been reading for a few days and missed this. Great idea though! Hope the conference is going well.

Great photos of the children too!