Last May, I had the amazing opportunity of attending the annual AutismOne/Generation Rescue conference in Chicago for the first time as both a participant and a presenter. If you are considering attending this year—and I know what a challenge it can be to arrange travel, make childcare arrangements and save the money to attend—I want to assure you that it is well worth your time and effort.
Several important things happened to me in the forty-eight hours that I was able to spend at the conference: 1) I found a variety of speakers and sessions about topics related specifically to my son’s healing journey; 2) I connected with an amazing amount of other parents who could understand and relate to my experiences; 3) I found new resources from the amazing amount of vendors present; 4) and perhaps most important, I felt lifted up, re-energized and ready to return home and focus on my son’s healing.
When you look at the conference web site, you will see the incredible gathering of experts who are all working to improve the quality of life for children who have autism and their families. The wide range of sessions offered means that there is something available for everyone. While some of the medical sessions I attended were vital, I was also able to learn from Virginia Breen and her amazing daughter Elizabeth Bonker, who have since inspired us to try facilitated communication with our son to great success. I learned about organic farming communities for adults who have autism, behavior and communication techniques and healing approaches using homeopathy.
Connecting with other parents sharing the journey—whether we were in line to get our books signed by Jenny McCarthy, chatting after a session, or in the bathroom, elevator or hotel bar—helped me to understand myself in a deeper way as part of a community of people on a healing journey. This deep connection has helped me to stay motivated even when we face setbacks with my son’s healing process.
There were several new supports that we’ve integrated into our life as a result of meeting some of the many vendors at the conference. It was helpful for me to talk with people and try samples instead of just reading about products online.
Being at the conference felt like getting an injection of mojo, of being lifted up and looking forward, and I realized that I deeply needed that, ten years into our healing journey. We are a community, and connecting in real time is incredibly powerful.
This year, I am delighted to be sharing my Kitchen Classroom Cooking techniques on Culinary Day. Please come by and experience some simple, fun ways to bring children of all abilities into the cooking experience with your children. This process has been especially healing and helpful for my son on so many levels and I am eager to share what I have learned with you!
Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer teaches inclusive cooking classes for children of all abilities and also trains parents, teachers and therapists in how cooking can boost communication and connection. Check out her GFCF children’s cookbook “The Kitchen Classroom” for helpful recipes and tips—and her new cooking instruction video is coming soon!