Is it an Autism Conference or a 3 Day Vacation?
I am so excited! I can’t figure out if I am excited to attend this year’s Autism Education Summit(AES) here in Dallas, or if I am more excited about having 3 days with no kids!
When our son was first diagnosed with autism nearly 6 years ago, our world was rocked. Suddenly, the picturesque future we dreamt about was snatched from us in an instant. We began to wonder what form of a “normal life” we would be able to have. For me, I wondered if I’d ever get to teach my son to play a sport, or if he ever would ever sit down and watch a football game with me? Ethan is 9 years old now, and I still have not given up hope that I will see him swing a baseball bat or dribble a basketball one day.
I must admit though, there are times when hope begins to run low. My hope of seeing Ethan on the field turns to a hope that he will just keep his clothes on or into a desperate plea for him to just stop hitting himself. Sometimes, you feel disheartened and discouraged. Sometimes, it is really hard to shake that feeling of hopelessness.
Never fear, one thing a true warrior parent never runs out of is hope. My wife and I consider ourselves to be such warriors. We run exclusively on hope! We believe that autism is a medical condition, and there are ways to help these kids improve. We just have to find the right solution. We try anything and everything (within reason) to help Ethan feel better. When progress is slow however, we began to run on fumes. Every once in awhile, we need our tanks refilled.
The Autism Community
It doesn’t matter if autism affects 1 in 68 children. Sometimes, it feels like you are the only family going through it, but, hope is only a few clicks away. Social networking sites make it possible for us isolated parents to connect. Through sites like Facebook, we help one another. We listen to our fellow warriors and vent to them. We offer guidance and advice. We inspire each other. We have become part of a strong online community filled with like-minded parents all of whom support our family through this journey. In the process, we met fantastic people and built great friendships with people we’ve never even met.
Autism Education Summit
This weekend we are lucky! The grandparents came into town, and they are excited to watch the kids. This weekend we finally get to meet some of our best friends in person! This is what AES provides. We get to learn about the latest autism research. We get to be inspired by stories of healing from doctors on the front lines. All while being surrounded by 700 of our closest friends!!!
What am I looking forward to most this year? As I am reading, “The Autoimmune Solution” right now. I am very much looking forward to hearing Dr. Amy Meyers keynote speech. A good nights sleep is pretty high on the list too. Heather and I have a hotel for 3 days which means 3 full nights of good sleep. (That is, if we don’t stay up too late “mingling” with some of those friends we haven’t seen since last year.) Seriously though, we had such a great time at last year’s at the Autism Education Summit. We expect to learn even more this year and meet new parents and continue to spread the message of hope. At the end of this weekend, Heather and I will be well-rested, inspired, informed, and our tanks will be full! In fact, I suspect they will be overflowing!