Each year I have the privilege of inviting individuals who support the value and intentions of what Love & Autism means. This year each of our speakers embody what it means to embrace the power of authenticity. What better way to introduce everyone to the Love & Autism 2018 speakers than to let them speak for themselves. These quotes were chosen because they capture our speakers intention. Be they funny, poetic, or powerful, each is an example of our speakers being true to who they are and it is Be-YOU-tiful.
Alix Generous – Leading the way the autistic community needs to be shaped. For autistics, by autistics.
“In terms of having asperger’s it can be viewed as being a disadvantage, and sometimes it is a real pain in the butt, but it’s also the opposite. It’s a gift, and it allows me to think innovatively.”
Clay Marzo – A living example of being authentically you, even when the larger community says you should live differently.
“To me it means that you are just into a certain thing, you are just more in tune with what you like and what you love. I was just super in. That’s what made me different.”
Jill Marzo – On the importance of parent acceptance and the freedom this offers.
“You ask for a label, a condition…I can only say that life out of the water doesn’t come easy for Clay. He very much lives in the present. The way most of us want to be.”
Moreinke Giwa Onaiwu – Reminding us of the invisible barriers that shape experience and the importance in hearing each person’s story.
“According to popular opinion, autistic people didn’t/don’t look like me; autistic people didn’t/don’t sound like me. Autism = (white male presenting) toddler wearing a Thomas the Train t-shirt; autism = (white male presenting) quirky teen gamer; autism = (white male presenting) geeky computer programmer; autism = (white male presenting) adult rocking and staring off into space… a ready scapegoat for all their caregiver’s life disappointment; autism = Temple Grandin, puzzle pieces, ABA therapy, and Autism Speaks.”
Samantha Craft – On the peace that comes from living authentically YOU!
“Successfully integrate all Aspergers traits back into the whole of my personhood. No longer in need of self-definition to exits. Breathing is divine. Flowers are in full bloom in garden. Welcoming beauty. Anchored in awareness. Seeing others as a reflection of my perceptions. Continue to learn.”
Melanie Yergeau – On the importance of loving your autism.
“If you were to take away autism, you’re taking away the person you’re talking to. It’s how you process information. It’s how you communicate. It’s how you sense the world. It affects your movement. I don’t know who I’d be if I did not have autism. I wouldn’t be me.”
Michael Ryan Andolsek – On spotlighting the value of autistic minds in the workplace.
“Not everyone is aware of the challenges and the incredible skills people with autism have. Not all employers and educators are adequately informed. They don’t all realize that by hiring an individual with autism, they are hiring someone who will concentrate on their work and excel at it. They will commit to their work with a strong determination to see things done correctly and efficiently. An employer is missing out by not employing a person like this.”
David Finch – Recognizing the liberation that comes from understanding yourself better.
“Learning as an adult that I fit the Asperger’s profile might have been shocking or unsettling. But it wasn’t. It was cathartic and eye-opening. I had always understood that I was different, and I had always felt that I was struggling with things that didn’t seem to be a challenge for other people, but I never knew why. With my diagnosis, I was given insight into how I work. I felt empowered and full of hope, which is a great feeling for anyone with such silly-looking thumbs.”
Daniel Wendler – Reminding us why it’s important to advocate for those who are not yet in a position to advocate for themselves.
“From the time I was 7 years old and I felt like my school was a battleground, where everyone else was on the opposite army and I didn’t know why or how to fix it. That was my life.”
Kyler Shumway – Helping us recognize that all it takes is one friend to make a difference and that friend can come from anywhere.
“Parents may feel as though they cannot find a friend for their child, or perhaps the child has difficulty connecting with her/his peers. I strongly encourage parents to be that friend.”
We hope you can join us this year at our conference.