As I sank into one of the sumptuous sofas during the lunch break, armed with delicious buffet food and my very own autism story, I looked across the highly polished coffee table at the woman opposite. We swopped stories, others joined in. Smiles, laughter and tears followed. I left to circulate amongst the exhibitors. Stories were also exchanged, contacts made.
Isn't this what it's all about?
Validating another persons feelings and letting others acknowledge ours.
I wonder how many of us went home a little lighter, a little less alone and having learnt something new from the fantastic speakers we had listened to.
Dean Beadle spoke about growing up with Asperger's. He was very funny, honest and entirely relevant to many people's situations. Nodding heads and bursts of giggles punctuated his memoirs of childhood, education and his transition into adulthood.
As a parent, 24/7 autism is an extremely challenging journey. It's highs and lows are so individual that the road is mostly unchartered.
So, when I don't know how to stop the after school tears or wipe the endless anxieties away. When I have to continue with the rest of my day after being flattened by an outpouring of fear before breakfast. When I'm laughing uncontrollably at an amazing idea that's developed into a logical solution for a neuro-typical problem. (How we do need the unique autistic thinking!) That's when I'll remember to get out there and eat, laugh and learn with my friends, colleagues and anyone who will listen.
You never know what's coming next!