From conception, the intention for Love & Autism has always been about sowing the seed of love through everyday actions. Focused and determined, I set out to find a collection of people that shared my vision. And I did. Because no matter what, love is available to us. All of us. Since 2014, our celebration of love & autism continues. Growing and evolving, each year enthusiastically striving to outdo the prior conference.
I left Love & Autism 2016 with the same sense of purpose and hope that I do each year. Then it shifted....it stalled. To be very candid, I got lost in my vision. I hesitated and felt paralyzed. When creating this year's conference, at first I felt downtrodden. Conference planning for me begins in November. November took the wind out of my sails. I struggled to find the vision, the motivation to plan. I felt frustrated and worried, as I wondered what 2017 had in store.
So I reached out to my support network, asking them for loving guidance to help remind me what I stood for, what love & autism stands for. The stories came pouring in. Each story grew my motivation, expanded my heart, reminded me of my why.
Out of the loving support from my community, our theme emerged...Stories that Grow Us!
I’m so excited about our theme for Love & Autism 2017, Stories that Grow Us! I promise you, stories do grow us!! This year, we will again feature many autistic people and their loved ones to help shape our collective narrative around autism. Because how we talk matters. What we say changes the world's view of autism.
We will focus on what matters most in our lives, on creating purpose and meaning for ourselves and our loved ones. Living the life we all dream to live, on cultivating love through everything we do.
Sound too far fetched? I know...I hear that jaded part of me rejecting this sentiment too. But, not to be a pollyanna, I believe love is the answer.
So how do we make love an action? How do we reject an oppressive narrative? How do we grow a sense of community surrounding a new set of values? How do we create a world where it is the commonplace narrative that autistic people are worthy and lovable just as they are; that autistic people deserve respect and dignity; that there is real struggle and strength in each of us...
For me, it begins with the stories we tell. Storytelling .....
The stories we tell ourselves, about our own human condition, about our lovers or advisaries...these all matter. In fact, the way we tell our stories matter quite bit.
For the first year, love & autism has a theme...The Stories that Grow Us! We are helping to rewrite the narrative of what it means to be autistic. What it means to love someone with autism. What it means when you think of autism.
Come to the conference.
Tell your story.
Love & Autism
Jenny Palmiotto - Founder of Love & Autism