But, nevertheless, met some interesting people.
AASCEND stands for – what? –
let me look it up…
AASCEND. Here. Look it up yourself. Merely attending the conference yesterday still has me frazzled. “Autism, Asperger’s Coalition for Education and Networking Something…
Since I carpooled with one of the co-chairs of the organization, I was there before it started at 9:00 AM. We arrived around 8:00. Too early. I should have known what would happen later.
[Cue ominous pentatonic chord]
Found I could not actually sit in the main hall – too crowded, noisy and hot – but wandered round and even spoke up – from the edge of the crowd – in a “breakout” session, a small, planned topic of discussion. The one I chose was about social media in our lives. I said Twitter and the online world have been the best things to happen for me; I have met so many other autistic people there; some, like Jamie, who can’t speak yet write beautifully. Or, Christie, who I encouraged with her writing last night, a bullied young autistic woman – and let’s not forget the awesome David Snape, who, also autistic, at 26, has a successful radio show and is already purchasing his own home. This online community, which I have only in the past few months, discovered, has done wonders to boost my self esteem and sense of purpose. I can help and be helped in this venue, whereas out in the world does not work for me.
The 20016 AASCEND Conference kicked off with Commander Robert Moser of the San Francisco Police Department and the police training video they made to teach officers how to recognize and deal with autistic individuals.
Commander Robert Moser, SFPD.
I really wish something like this had been implemented when I was an assaultive teen young adult – I have had many episodes – none since 1999 – of being restrained and even beaten by police and first responders who merely escalated my violent behavior by improper handling. This was my favorite presentation. The ones about dating, marriage and children and work simply did not apply to me.
I am simply too reactive to what I consider unpleasant sensory bombardment and my behavior too unpredictable to be out with others for more than an hour or two.
In fact, I felt out of place at this conference – nobody else was engaging in the self-stimulatory and hyperactive behavior I do. To me, many of them seemed like garden variety geeks with poor manners. I did not like most them.
One guy was walking around leaning close to others’ faces and staring obnoxiously at them. He said he liked the reflection of their glasses. Well, I like reflections as well, but I carry around my own stim objects, and if someone says it is bothering them , I buzz off.
At Autistry the other day, Dan informed me in no uncertain terms to “Put that away right now!” because the light flashing off the DVD which so enchants me, was flashing blindingly in other people’s eyes. I didn’t think of this before flicking it, but, once corrected, I put it away.
One guy who is habitually late must wait until everyone else has eaten before he has lunch. Does he have a hissy fit? No. He waits.
So I told this animal staring in my eyes wasn’t going to work and to get lost. He did.
My point is, though these are supposed to be high functioning individuals, I know many “Low Functioners” who are better behaved.
Then I met Jill Escher, president of The SF Bay Area Autism Society and her son, who was flicking his special object constantly and listening to his music on his beloved phones – four of them! He did not speak and was as restless as I. An ally!
Thank you, Jill, for the much appreciated walk and private discussion, and thank you, Johnny, for helping me feel not so alone – I identify with you, Bud.
I am in a no man’s land of middle – sometimes less, sometimes more – function with a genius IQ, and this is depressing sometimes.
I left early, and pretty upset after misplacing my $80 earbuds and having a minor decomp over it. Had my support person come pick me up, which was frustrating as well, as I did not know the area.
What I did instead of participating. I wore this ghost out – totally trashed him.
Final verdict? I am glad I attended, but am also relieved it is only once a year.