It's taken me a week to be able to pull my thoughts together about my experience speaking at the ASA conference in Providence, RI. And it is likely these observations will only be my narrow window on the conference, as I only attended for a small part of thursday and saturday--the days my two panels were scheduled.
I have already blogged about my frustrations regarding speakers *paying* to speak, so I won't say anything more about that here.
I took part in two panels, one about being a parent 'on the spectrum', the other a writer's panel. (In my other life, I'm a poet and aspiring novelist)
The panels were modestly attended; the family one more than the writer's panel. The audiences were respectful and attentive.
I had mixed feelings about the conference itself. While I applaud the ASA for including individuals with Autism in its governance, I felt as if the organization has a split personality.
I spent some time walking around the exhibitor's area and was dismayed to see so many booths focused on quasi-scientific autism 'cures' and 'treatments'. Supplements, therapies, and hyperbaric chambers, oh my.
There was a booth by either "CAN" or "DAN" (sorry, walked past it so quickly, I didn't register which acronym it was). If the ASA is taking money from these organizations, then there is at least the tacit agreement that autism is something that needs to be 'cured' or 'defeated'.
I have very mixed feelings about the hordes of bio-medical treatments that separate desperate parents from hard-earned money for questionable scientific proof.
I want to see barriers to function, understsanding, and employement 'defeated', ignorance 'cured'.
I don't think the ASA can adequately represent Autistic voices and Autistic lives until it resolves this conflict.