Autism Society 43rd Annual Conference a Success
August 2, 2012
By Autism Society
The 43rd national conference took place in San Diego, California last week, July 25-28. More than one thousand people attended, their backgrounds ranging from individuals on the spectrum, to parents, educators and other professionals, such as BCBAs and SLPs. There were four distinguished keynote speakers, 60 breakout sessions, and an exhibit hall featuring more than 70 businesses and service providers. Attendees will be able to view the recording free, as always. Check back at www.autism-society.org/conference at the end of August for more information about purchasing conference recordings.
The Autism Society kicked off the event on Wednesday, July 25 with a preconference that consisted of an Autism Society chapter leader meeting, in which Autism Society leaders nationwide convened to review present strategies for supporting families at a local level, and direct future national initiatives. Later that day, the Autism Society gathered various experts, both self-advocates and individuals who work within a related field, and held working groups focusing on national projects that can affect five major areas: employment; bullying and acceptance; quality of life (with a focus on housing and transitions); the growing prevalence of ASDs (with a particular focus on disparities of diagnosis in minority populations); and chapters and community collaboration. That day was just the beginning, as dialogue about these projects will continue. On Wednesday evening, the exhibit hall was highlighted during a reception. Attendees enjoyed learning about new autism treatments, resources and support groups by walking through the hall.
On Thursday, July 26, the 43rd national conference began with keynote presentation from distinguished professor of special education and director, beach center on disability, University of Kansas, Dr. Ann Turnbull. Dr. Turnbull shared the inspiring story of how her family created a community of support for her adult son, Jay. She described a group solution-finding process that she and her family used which involved forming reliable alliances to generate energy and joy in creating supports for inclusive living. “My son's best social security was not from the government, it was people. Friends. People in community,” she said.
After a full day of breakout sessions, the Autism Society Panel of People on the Spectrum of Autism (PSA) and Panel of Professional Advisors (PPA) held an event to discuss key issues affecting the autism community and answer questions. Look out for a transcript of this event as it becomes available!
On Friday, July 26, the conference opened with an award ceremony in which we honored annual award winners nominated by Autism Society members. Then the first keynote television sports journalist Dwayne Ballen took the stage and talked about his family’s journey with autism. Ballen’s son was diagnosed with autism at age four. "Autism was not in my playbook for my first son. I'm sure there are other fathers feeling that way, but I came to learn: it's not about me,” Ballen said in an emotional end to his presentation.
The second keynote presenter of the day was Dr. Stephen M. Shore, assistant professor at Adelphi University and an individual with autism. Dr. Stephen Shore told his story as an individual with autism from his childhood to adulthood. His presentation examined how deficits and challenges so pervasively attributed to autism can be reframed as strengths. Dr. Shore was once told by a teacher that he would never be able to do math. Now, he teaches university statistics, he told the audience. Dr. Shore also shared his model of achieving employment success by examining a person’s personal characteristics and preferred job attributes in order to determine possible employment positions. For example, an individual with challenges in verbal and nonverbal communications may prefer or excel at a job with few communication requirements, perhaps stocking shelves.
On Saturday, the final day of the conference, the Autism Society was pleased to present a keynote presentation called Autism and the DSM-5 from Dr. Bryan H. King, director of the Seattle Children’s Autism Center and member of the DSM-5 workgroup. Dr. King took us through the definition and diagnosis of autism from the beginning and showed us how diagnosis has changed throughout the years. Dr. King also discussed the rationale for the DSM-5 changes being made and showed the changes that have been made since the public comment period in June. The DSM-5 will move diagnosticians away from checklists to clinically informed criteria. He also said that diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s syndrome and PDD-NOS are so similar that diagnosis tends to depend on the “eye of the beholder.” When we receive official recordings of the keynote presentations they will be posted online for all people to view.
April 10, 2013
The Autism Society, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots autism organization, has chosen Pittsburgh as the host city of its 44th annual conference on autism spectrum disorders.
April 5, 2013
Individuals with autism can attend the Autism Society National Conference and Exposition (in Pittsburgh) for FREE this year! Learn more: www.autism-society.org/conference.
April 3, 2013
Monarch Teaching Technologies, the makers of VizZle®, web-based educational software for visual learners with autism, will give one-year of free VizZle to every new (or renewing) Champion Member during April.
April 2, 2013
Read the Autism Society’s digital magazine about autism spectrum disorders!
April 2, 2013
Today, throughout the world, individuals will come together highlighting the needs and dreams of people living with autism.