I decided to write about my experience at the National Autism Conference which was held in the Grand Hotel Malahide on Saturday 21 October 2017. The Theme for the conference was Autism and Expectations. Firstly this was not my first time attending a conference, so I knew what to expect and how they worked and how they were all typically very Autistic unfriendly. From the start when I registered for this conference online I knew this would be different
Last night while l lay awake thinking about my life I thought about all my expectations, if I am honest I really don’t feel l will ever be able to execute them, probably down to past life experiences. Do I feel like I will ever get a job? To be honest I don’t I feel like I will ever get a job or have a girlfriend. Do I feel like I will achieve anything in life? No I don’t. I spend most of the night lying awake to the early hours of the morning wondering will I ever achieve something great like everyone else around me seems to have.
The theme of this conference was Expectations in the Autistic world. Going into the conference I am not going to lie, and say that I had high expectations for the conference, because to be honest based on past experiences I thought I was just going into another conference (I have attended plenty). I very recently attended a sports conference in Croke Park where the sound system was very loud and before every speaker came out they would play loud music which is not autistic friendly at all. At the Autism conference they had no loud music, they also handed out ear plugs to everyone before they came into the room. People were instructed on when and for how long they should clap as Autistic people are very sensitive to noise. This also gave Autistic people the chance to leave the room or pop in their ear plugs or play music through their own ear phones.
They did so many simple things to make it easier for someone like me to attend, from the moment I arrived I felt more relaxed than I typically would at a conference, they had a Sensory Room with Fidgets, low lighting and comfortable seating where you could relax. There was a separate registration area you could go to if you had pre-registered – this was a very good idea. It would be fantastic if all conference organisers could look at the organisation of the Asiam National Autism conference and make future conferences a lot more inclusive for all.
Overall, I am glad that I attended this conference and feel that it came at a very good time for me in my life when I am struggling, wondering will I ever get a job etc. I am glad that I attended as I came away feeling a lot more positive about myself. I would encourage everyone to go to future Asiam conference’s as it will greatly help you with your understanding of Autism and how it affects the lives of millions worldwide.