This is a blog post by Chris Childers, single dad of three (one with ASD). Chris is engaged to be married to a single mother of three (one with ASD). He is striving to expand his knowledge of treatments and programs available to improve his ability to advocate for his children to ensure they can reach their maximum potential.
The 2013 National Autism Conference was a monumental educational experience for me. I was amazed at all of the programs available that can benefit my children as well as the vastness of the research that is being conducted. I now have a greater insight as to potential health problems my children may face as well as the resources to reach out for help. One of the biggest things I took away from the conference was what an amazing resource the ATN is. My son only recently got involved in the ATN program. Before that I was the one tracking down each doctor, trying to find someone who could provide therapy and interact with medical assistance. I was very impressed to learn the scope and complete involvement the ATN will take in the treatment of my child. Besides the information and presentations that were part of the conference I must say the most significant and impactful portion of the weekend for me was the conversation with both of the keynote speakers. I was able to have a private conversation with Dr. Stephen Shore regarding the best way to explain to my nine year old son he has autism. Dr. Shore gave me advise on how to ensure this conversation empowers my son into realizing some of the amazing things he can accomplish because his autism makes him highly skilled in the areas of computers and electronics. He also provided me ideas on how to capture that the challenges my son faces can be overcome by being aware of his own tendencies. This was a life changing conversation for me as my son is at the critical age where he is realizing he is different from the other kids but does not fully understand why. Thanks to Dr. Shore I am confident I will be able to explain to my son what an amazing life he can have because of his autism. I was also able to speak privately with Dr. Paul Carbone. We talked about our children and some of the similarities they shared. It was just a fantastic down to earth conversation between two dads. We talked about the ups and downs of our children participating in sports and the things kids do to make us smile and shake our heads.
Both of these conversations shared one single amazing trait. I was able to talk to each of these experts in an informal non clinical environment about my child. There was no office pressure or concerns about the next patient. I was able to speak to these two autism experts about my child. This was the most special thing I could have ever experienced as I have never had a doctor take that kind of time to discuss my children.
Learn more about the Autism Speaks National Conference here.