AutismOne 2013 – A Newbie’s Perspective

Booty KickerThis 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 metLJ Melanie CatJam 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.

Melanie and WakefieldI 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 walkLuke Madonna Ritz 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. TMR LukeThen, 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!

book signing group pic


~ B.K. (The Booty Kicker)

For more blogs by B.K., please click here.

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13 Responses to AutismOne 2013 – A Newbie’s Perspective

  1. Sunflower says:

    This was my 2nd Autism One Conference. It’s wonderful to be among such an amazing group of families who care. Having such great Doctors to hear and who genuinely care about our children is equally refreshing. There is always an energy/excitement in the air at Autism One. This year was different as we had Congressmen there. I’m sure they were equally impressed with the caliber of the conference and the number of attendees. It was so great to finally be able to meet you in person BK. I was ready to kick Autism’s behind once we returned, just like your name, Booty Kicker. Looking forward to next year. The camaraderie among us is very special. Thank you for all TMR is doing, the book is excellent.

  2. Wow! Thank-you so much! I’m honored and humbled to be mentioned in the same breath as Ginger Taylor and Andrew Wakefield. And equally honored to have so many amazing Thinking Moms (and Dads) as friends. This was also my first AutismOne Conference – and it won’t be my last. I have to say that meeting your beautiful son was a highlight of the week for me. It was such a pleasure to spend a few moments with him, and to have the opportunity to hug your neck.
    I can’t wait to see you next year.
    Love and blessings to you, and to all the Thinking Moms!

  3. Marcella Lemos says:

    I’m so glad I got to meet you and everyone else I encountered at the conference. I love that you can be by yourself at the conference and just start talking to the person next to you; because you feel like family. This was my 2nd conference, but like you, I was soo excited for it to be right around the corner. My husband came this year and was upset that there were no “Thinking Dads” t-shirts or vendor table lol

    • Professor says:

      I think we should come up with a “Thinking Dad” version of the T-shirt. I love it when I see a guy in our shirts, but I can understand any reluctance they might might feel. 😉

    • B.K. (The Booty Kicker) says:

      I totally agree; I felt like everyone was a friend. SO much love and understanding all around.
      The shirt is a GREAT idea!

  4. Jaelyn says:

    I love this post! I would love to go next year! The good Lord willing!

  5. Mama bird says:

    Was awesome to meet al of you especially after reading most of the book… On really crappy days sometime the blog is the only thing that got me through with most of my sanity…

    • B.K. (The Booty Kicker) says:

      Thanks Mama bird – the fact that what we are doing here helps you means more to us than you could ever know. <3

  6. I’ve never been before either, and I really wish that I could have gone this year. It sounds like we really are at the tipping point! I loved everyone’s posts from AutismOne, and I could feel the excitement of what it was like to be there. I hope to see you there next year!

  7. Karen says:

    I LOVE this post! It was wonderful meeting you, too!

  8. Kaelynn Wilson says:

    B.K. Like you I was a newbie this year to the Autism One conference and did it blow me away on epic proportions. My daughter was diagnosed in March and I was told about the conference a week later and knew then I had to go. I didn’t care if it interfered with others in my household I was determined to go. I saved and took the time off work and knew I needed to learn how to best help my daughter. It has been an uphill battle for 2 years and when I walked away from AO this year I learned I hadn’t even begun to catch the surface of my daughters disability. I was blown away by all the “celebrities” and all the medical personnel and wanted to know more, however, at the same time I didn’t know what the others knew. So I sat in the back of the room. Took notes until my ADD kicked in and pulled everything I could out of the conference. Like you I plan to attend and bring my best friend whose son was also diagnosed this year. There is so much I can do for my daughter that I haven’t started trying yet so my to-do list is made and I’m ready to grab autism by the horns and tell it to give me my daughter back. Thank you to TMR for an inspirational book I have to put it down to go to sleep every night and I don’t want to read it too fast because it is just so wonderful! I learned so much and am learning so much. It is wonderful to have a community of people I can turn to!

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