Beginning Wednesday, May, 25, 2011, the AutismOne/Generation Rescue Conference will begin at The Westin Hotel in the Chicago suburb of Lombard.
The five-day event concludes on Sunday, May 29 and will contain a vast amount of information and resources, as well as give parents and caregivers the opportunity to reach out to each other and recharge their batteries. Over 7,000 people are expected to attend and there is a sense that this could be one of the best conferences of its kind to-date.
This is the third year I have volunteered and wear many hats, which include participating on the publicity team to help raise awareness for the event.
I cannot adequately put into words the number of individuals in so many fields that will be in attendance. For starters, there will be 150 autism experts speaking on six special content tracks. What struck me in the past was how accessible all of these figures were and how down to earth they are. It’s one thing to read stories about them in the media, but it’s entirely different to actually visit with, eat with and engage those who are involved in fighting and asking for answers on behalf of the autism community.
I have been awarded a Buick Enclave by the good folks at General Motors to drive to Lombard and will be surprising some families at the airport. Additionally, I will serve on the security, introduction and auction teams, helping to set up various events. I’ll be attending as a featured blogger for Generation Rescue and reporting from the conference with news and interviews. I’ll also be involved in unveiling an extended trailer of a new movie entitled "United States of Autism" ( http://www.usofautism.com ).
The purpose of the conference is to be the ultimate summit of knowledge and support for families and professionals working and dealing with autism. In addition to the speakers, there will be presenters, authors and vendors, as well as official credits and units available for doctors, nurses, therapists, teachers, lawyers and first responders (CME, CLE, & CPDU).
Families should consider attending because this is a chance to see, hear and feel the power of the autism community. It will be an opportunity to learn alongside and interact with professionals and those who are traveling down similar roads. This year’s conference has virtually eliminated the expense for local families to attend. Registration is free and there is only a small fee for conference materials. Professional child care will be available if one were to bring the entire family. Everyone in attendance is understanding of those on the spectrum and families are welcome to participate as this is definitely not a parent-only event.
As parents of children on the autism spectrum, ours can be a lonely existence at times. Let us join hands, hug, laugh and weep together until we are not lonely anymore. I know we have many miles to go before this mystery is solved but I believe this convergence of like-minded individuals is a giant step forward in keeping us in touch with each other and making breakthroughs that we never thought were possible.
I am also in the middle of 50 days of prayer to help bring churches and service groups to the conference and would personally like to invite each and every one of you to attend and would be honored if you took some time to stop by and say hello. I am looking forward to meeting with you in person.
See you in Chicago.
Tim Welsh a.k.a. @TannersDad