Tag Archives: 2010

My experiences at the Autism Society of America Conference from my first talk on a Keynote Panel and a good link to the IACC meeting in July

First, here is a very good meeting from the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee!

IACC 2010

Next, here are a few pictures I took.

On Saturday July 10, 2010, I went to Dallas, Texas to speak at the Autism Society of America conference. I woke up eager to go and see what doors will open up for me. This was the first time I was traveling by myself. The Autism Society arranged for a driver to take me to the airport. It really took the burden of driving to the airport at 4a.m. off my mind. There were many things to figure out on my way to the airport. I was nervous and started to wonder, How was I going to do every thing myself? Who was I going to meet? What kind of experience was I going to have? For every fear I had, I faced the fear and went through every door I was expected to go through.

When I arrived in Dallas I immediately met my driver to ride in a sedan to the Hyatt Regency Dallas; the home of the Wolfgang Puck restaurant 560. When the hotel was approaching I immediately saw this long tower with a globe at the top. It looked beautiful. The driver told me it was a restaurant. When I arrived in the lobby I immediately walked to the counter to check into the hotel. I was told that I could check into my room. It made me feel more relaxed since I was concerned about having to lug my suitcase around with me all morning. I finally made it to my hotel room which was quite large with a King Size bed and free wifi. I set my clothes on the bed, fixed myself up and went downstairs.

I checked in to the conference. My first impression was to take a deep breath and walk through the large exhibit hall. I was given a badge to wear when I met Sarah Mitchell from the Autism Society. It was nice to be welcomed to the conference by her. I wanted to meet with the other panelists who will be presenting with me the next day. I felt it would be good to do a run through for the next morning. As I navigated through hallways, I introduced myself telling people to have a great day. Two days earlier I had spoken to Sandy Yim, a blogger who would be on the panel with me. When I was talking to Valerie Paradiz and a friend of hers, Sandy Yim spotted me and went over to me to introduce herself. I didn’t realize the speed of what was going on. Every time I met someone new at the conference, I was curious to know if I was transitioning the conversations appropriately, but every one told me I was not being rude. There were many people who wanted to talk to me.

Two days earlier, Sandy Yim asked me if I wanted to walk through the exhibit hall with her. I told her “that would not be a problem.” A couple hours later, she and I did walk through the exhibit hall together. We took our time walking through the exhibit hall even though I did briefly walk through it before I met her. When I was walking around by myself, I came upon a conversation between Jack Robison and a toy maker named Bud. I started listening to the interesting conversation about how Bud, who is on the Autism Spectrum, is a Visual Thinker who creates toys for children with Autism. Very interesting toys by the way!! There are many ways a person like myself thinks in Pictures as I began to tell them how I think in Pictures too and that is why I like Anatomy. Every thing seemed to go right when I spoke to any one there. When I was walking thoroughly through the exhibit hall with Sandy Yim, we stopped at the Seamless Socks exhibit. I had never heard of Seamless Socks before. When they knew we were both bloggers, they told us we can review their socks on our website after they give us Seamless Socks to try on. I am still waiting for my pair of Seamless Socks to arrive in the mail to try on and review.

Every time I spend my time talking to another successful Autistic person, I feel proud of what I accomplished so far. Sometimes when I see an Autistic person who is struggling to succeed with their many sensory issues, I think to myself, Why me? Why do I succeed as an Autistic? I am still Autistic, but many people who are ignorant don’t think I am. It is like people don’t generally feel Autistic people can succeed because of the stigma AutismSpeaks represents. I feel it is my goal to show the world the beauty of Autism and how Autistics CAN succeed.

One of the most interesting set of people I met at the conference were the people working the Google exhibit. I even took a picture with the Google people which you can see. They helped me create a Google Sketch Up from my fiction story Gregarious Revolution which hopefully many of you are eager to read more about!

I didn’t know what to expect for the next morning and I really felt a little nervous. The meeting that the other panelists and I had to run through before the presentation helped me become more comfortable with my surroundings. As I stepped out of the keynote presentation room after the meeting, I felt good walking around trying to talk to people. I kept on thinking I want to see what is inside the top of the dome at the Hyatt. Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant looked very interesting on the outside. All I got to see was how interesting it looked on the outside. I was wearing my Neurodiversity Tee Shirt with my Autistic Pride infinity symbol and met Melody Latimar who I communicated with by email a few weeks back about a few poems I wrote. When I met Melody, her first response she said to me was “You’re wearing my creation!” I didn’t know what to say, but she seemed to feel good about her symbol on my Tee Shirt I created.

I went to the DSM V committee meeting at the conference and came out of the meeting feeling good because I believe the changes are a first step to better understanding about Autism even though they should make a note in the DSM V about people currently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and PDD-NOS. Autism is a long a continuum in a spectrum, but many people already diagnosed with Asperger’s and PDD-NOS should not have to seek out a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum from a professional when the DSM V finally is published. They need to make sure people already diagnosed with Asperger’s and PDD-NOS can get their services still.

During the evening, I was talking much with Sandy Yim, other tweeters and met some other bloggers as well. I also met many This Emotional Life fans! Some of the fans were asking about my mom, but she was not at the conference. We talked a lot about how twitter helps Autistic people communicate better, how to live tweet, and other interesting topics sitting on the lobby couches. When it came to nighttime, we moved to the bar upstairs to meet some more people. At this point I was getting hungry for dinner, but at the same time I wanted to get know other people. The night felt good as I met new friends.

One of the topics we talked about was how Blogging and Tweeting are important tools to connect Autistic people like myself to be able to interact better in public by being more spontaneous. It makes it easier because we don’t have to see faces. When we do finally get to talk face to face, we can express ourselves a lot better. We also talked and laughed about many other things. When we all did eventually get dinner, I ordered a steak because I was so hungry with potato, corn, salad, and a Ginger Ale.

After I ate, I eventually felt so tired after 9pm Central time. I decided to go to my hotel room to get ready for bed. I wanted to do well at my presentation. Unfortunately, I could not attend an event I was invited to at the conference in the downstairs lower lobby. I felt if I had not been tired from traveling all day, I would have definitely went and enjoyed myself.

The next day I woke up actually around 4:30am Central time, but had a wake up call at 6:30am Central time. I began rehearsing what I needed to do in the hotel room. I had free wireless hook up, but I didn’t have a laptop with me. When 6:30 approached, I picked up my wake up call, walked to the elevator, and walked in to the lobby area. I ate a big breakfast of a stack of pancakes, bacon, and fresh squeezed Orange Juice. I could not finish my meal and ate as much as I could. I walked down to the keynote area where I saw what looked like a big auditorium with an amazing background with 2 screens on the sides. It was my first time being on a keynote panel, but certainly will not be my last.

It felt good being on the panel. Whenever I try something new especially having a whole audience watching me talk, my nervous-excited senses try to overwhelm me. Once I have done anything once, the succeeding times always gets much better. After the panel was over, many people stood up with cheers to honor the panel I was a part of. I had been amazed about how many people loved the presentation. I keep on inspiring others to become better equipped in life to do great things and it makes me feel proud.

Afterward, I was talking with a few people I met for a long time. Unfortunately, I could not attend many event meetings because I was busy talking with many people. I did in fact go to another talk about ‘Other Neurological causes of Autism’ which was given by a geneticist at Montefiore Medical Center.

I eventually had to head back to the airport where my flight was delayed for over an hour. The flight home was very good. At first I thought I had a whole row to myself, but the stewardess suddenly put a lonely young boy in my row. It felt good making a child feel better on the airplane since he was all by himself. He showed me how to use Nintendo Gameboy DS and showed me some of his games. Afterward, I had taken out my word puzzles to show him where we both did a few puzzles together. It was fun! When the flight landed finally, I knew my trip was finally over and back to reality.

Overall I had an amazing time meeting new friends who blog/tweet and many other people as well. I am very happy I was able to go through a door which has the potential to open more doors for me.

I also wanted to go to Autreat 2010 the week before, but I could not take two vacations two weeks in a row. There is always next year for Autreat 2011.


Back to daily living after I made many connections at the Autism Society of America conference

Bringing life back together again today and every day moving forward. Life is generally filled with surprises, but you never know what’s going to happen next. You just have to live your daily life continuing to strive passed challenges and continue to do what you have always done in life: being fulfilled. Life may throw you curveballs or even screwballs, but you need to try to hit the ball. You may just one day see a not so perfect pitch and hit a home run like Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols. Life is an unexpected journey, we just have to soak up ourselves in the shower to get ready to meet the world around us.

I had a great time at the Autism Society of America conference in Dalla, Texas. I met many other bloggers, twitterers, fans of PBS’ This Emotional Life, and other great fascinating people. I am getting ready to start my week now, but no need to worry I will be posting about my adventures in Dallas at the conference soon with pictures as well. Just 2 words to say in regards to the panel I was on: Standing Ovation!

I really am very thankful I was be able to speak at the conference in Dallas this year. It was a wonderful opportunity for me.

Have a Fantastic day!!

posting soon,


Riding in Trains with Asperger’s- A very good article from my friend in Adaptations, David Morris

David Morris

Riding In Trains With Asperger’sby David Morris

Like millions of New Yorkers, I commute on the Long Island Railroad. In many ways, my trip is an easy one. My home is within walking distance of the Douglaston Station of the Port Washington line, which makes getting into Manhattan a breeze, mainly because this train has one of the most reliable schedules in the LIRR system. Furthermore, I arrive at nearly all of my Manhattan destinations by way of Penn Station, which makes going home an easy task. However, my commute is complicated by one seemingly insignificant problem in my genetic makeup — I have Asperger’s syndrome.

For those who may have missed the recent spate of movies and books addressing it, Asperger’s is one of the autism spectrum disorders or ASDs. Like all ASDs, the symptoms of Asperger’s vary from person to person, and may include problems with sensory overload; poor social awareness involving personal habits and interactions with others; difficulty concentrating; the inability to discern speech patterns and non-verbal communication; and the inability to deal with changes in routines. Though I’ve probably had this disorder my whole life, I didn’t become aware of it until I was 16.

So how does having Asperger’s affect my commute by train? For me, the symptoms manifest themselves most when there is a change in my routine — such as when the train deviates from its printed schedule.

It used to be excruciating for me whenever I was late because of track work, or when the train had to stop mid-journey because two trains were occupying a single track. For most people, it may seem relatively insignificant whether a train arrives exactly where it should, exactly when it should; but  when you have Asperger’s, delays are intolerable and can lead to anxiety and outbursts. And because there is usually no one person responsible for the delays, my frustration can end up being directed toward anyone. I still remember a few years back, when my train stopped between the Auburndale and Bayside stations for nearly an hour. To cope with my aggravation, I ended up walking up and down the length of the car, snarling at anyone who approached me.

The problem of maintaining my routine becomes even more of an ordeal when I choose to dine on the train, usually at the end of the day.  Even though Asperger’s is not the same as obsessive compulsive disorder, I know that I have demonstrated symptoms of it in my eating rituals: I don’t start eating until we pull out of Penn Station; I can’t have the meal more than half finished before presenting my ticket to the conductor; and the meal cannot be finished until I’ve gotten past Woodside. Oh, and the dining process must be carried out across an entire row of seats. This last part is so important that I have been known to pace the length of the train, searching for a vacant row that will support crucial detail.

Maybe all of these things sound like minor inconveniences. But these nuisances have quickly escalated to major issues when I have occasionally forced my position on innocent passengers, to my own detriment. One night, a couple of years back, I was on my way home, having picked up my dinner at McDonald’s. I had gotten on to the train, just a couple of minutes before it pulled out of Penn Station, and consequently was having trouble locating an empty row. I felt myself getting more and more fed up as I passed through one car after another. Finally, I took out my anger by yelling at a group of passengers near the corner of the train car, before sitting down. I don’t remember what exactly I said, but evidently I was intimidating enough that one of the passengers spoke to a conductor. That conductor walked over to my seat and told me that he was going to have to call the police. This scared me into timidity, and I begged and pleaded with the conductor to the point where he reluctantly acquiesced and let me go.

This taught me an important lesson: Never get angry with people on the train. I do sometimes still get frustrated with security guards, conductors and the occasional fast food vendor at Penn Station. I started to make significant progress in overcoming this issue when, two and a half years ago, I began seeing a therapist entirely for the purposes of anger management. For years, I had been resistant to any change in my position that I was right and that my nemesis, the LIRR, was wrong. On some level, I knew how unreasonable this was, but I maintained it for a long period regardless. Like many people with Asperger’s, when I reached my 20s, I began to achieve a greater understanding of how the world works, rather than only considering my own point of view. I believe that the progression of the syndrome, combined with the therapy, has enabled me to get to the point that I no longer have outbursts on the Long Island Railroad

.Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m “cured” and I still follow the same routine on the train as much as possible. But I don’t think of it is as a dangerous place anymore. And to me, that feels like a victory.

(David Morris received his bachelor’s of arts/science in 2002  from Adelphi University. He is pursuing his goal of working in journalism or publishing with the help of YAI/NIPD’s Employment Initiatives Department.)