This originally ran on May 29th, 2013. For many of us, AutismOne 2013 was the only time we got to meet B.K. in person. We’re missing her a lot this year at AutismOne and thought we’d rerun her perspective on the AutismOne Conference.
I spent weeks, if not months, stimming on Autism One this year. After watching my Facebook friends go year after year and seeing their amazing pictures and listening to their stories of the things they learned and the fun they had, everything finally came together for me to attend this year. So, for weeks ahead of time, I planned and prepared and was as excited as a kid anticipating her first trip to Disney World.
It did not disappoint! First of all, I was the only official Thinking Mom who had never met any of the other Thinking Moms in person. And I was not surprised to discover that each one is even more lovely in person than in cyberspace. Beautiful women, both inside and out, not to mention The Count! He is just a warm, friendly, funny person – and fits in perfectly among 23 women. But this is not limited to just TMR – each person that I knew from Facebook that I met in person was just as amazing as I imagined. There was nothing awkward about meeting someone for the first time – it was as if we had known each other for years, because really, we have.
I was pretty much starstruck the very first day, just amazed at all the “celebrities” I saw. “Look! There’s Ginger Taylor!” “Look! There’s Dr. Wakefield!” “Look! There’s Marcella Piper-Terry!” So many of my own, personal heroes, all in one place. And the vibe around the place was beautiful – no longer did I feel like the “odd duck” as I sometimes do with my non-autism friends; everyone around me knew the same things that I did and lived a similar life as mine. It was like we were all family. There was so much love and support all around. We all seemed to “get” one another. Priceless.
The presentations were wonderful. There was a little something for everyone: AO newbies could see all the big, famous doctors; people new to biomed altogether could see the basics of starting biomed treatment; and more experienced biomed parents could see some of the latest intervention presentations. This year, particularly Friday, had a political focus, with a Congressional Panel in the morning and a keynote by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that night.
I traveled with my family to the conference, and on Saturday I took an hour or two to walk my son around. I got to introduce him to some of my favorite people, and I was delighted that everyone knew exactly how to approach him and speak to him. He was very obviously valued and loved by everyone he met, and it was also obvious that he felt that. That was such a blessing to me!
Now that it’s over, I can only think one thing: I’ve got to go back next year! I am already scheming and planning ways to raise money. First step: I am going to get one of those piggy banks that you cannot get money out of unless you break it. Then, every time I get a five dollar bill, it is going to go into the piggy bank. Who will join me? I think every autism mom should go to Autism One. Just plan it, and do it, and don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for it. We live a life that is stressful and not for the faint of heart. We need something for ourselves, and taking that one weekend a year to gather as a group and give one another support and love and to even learn some new things to help our kids in the process may be just the “recharge” you need that gives you strength to keep you going through the next year.
One last thing I want to say: On behalf of TMR, I want to thank every single person who took the time to talk to us. Whether you stopped at our table, came to the book signing, talked to us in the elevator, in the hallway, anywhere – you introduced yourself, you shared your stories, you told us you liked what we were doing. That truly meant the world to us. It told us that what we are doing is touching lives, and gives us the energy and the focus to keep doing what we are doing.
Please continue to be a part of the Revolution! Send us your guest blog submissions, send us your comments, post to our Facebook page, tell us the things YOU are doing – because we are ALL a part of this. We want to hear from you!
See you in Chicago next year! Viva la Revolution!
~ B.K. (The Booty Kicker)
For more blogs by B.K., please click here.