Thursday I was blessed to be able to attend the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence OCALI annual conference. This website is also a fantastic resource for parents, even if not located in Ohio.
As a parent it was only $100 to attend the whole conference. I had originally planned to go for a couple of days but with his recent issues I decided that was not a good idea. Which was a good choice because Thursday morning he refused to go to school. I eventually convinced him to go and he was only 5 minutes late (yay us!) After he left I realized he left his book behind. Sigh I was really going to be later than planned and I honestly almost just said forget it but I am SOOO glad I didn’t. I have summarized my day below but for some of the information I do not want to go into too much detail since I do not have permission and feel weird discussing too much.
Session 1- Sensory Issues
The first session I attended was Simple Sensory Spaces for Diverse Settings and Populations. It was a wonderful presentation given by Susan Mckinley of Tangible Alternatives and Brenda Horne, the principal at Hite-Saunders Elementary School. As we all know sensory needs are very important to address for any diagnosis. Especially diagnoses of Autism or Anxiety. They did a wonderful job explaining how to set up sensory spaces in the clinical setting, classroom, at home, or portable. In any space it is important to make sure you address storage or portability as your needs may be. Another important thing you make sure to address is where you will be set up. For example gooey ooze is great in the clinical setting or classroom but not necessarily at home. Although my son loved it when we made Ooblek in the back yard. The other important thing to address is what your child needs. For example my son doesn’t like loud noises so loud sensory toys are not going to relax him! This session was worth the price of the conference all on it’s own. They were very informative and even passed out toys for us to play with. I also learned that you can buy weighted vests at Target for $20.00! Who knew!
I have attended many conferences in my professional life and this Exhibitors Hall was one of the best ever! Maybe it is time to change my career 🙂 There were of course service providers and Autism Speaks, and Autism Society but that was not the best part. The best part were the exhibitors with Sensory Toys to sell! It was great because I could play with them there and test them out before I brought them home. I bought the following toys from Got-Autism who can be found on Twitter. She was very helpful in discussing the items with me.
My husband really likes the purple & blue Tangle. I like the green,orange and yellow tangle, in fact I took it to work. My son said he didn’t particularly like it and I figured it would actually be a good message to him that I was not embarrassed to take it to work. We all really like the “Ball of Whacks”, it comes apart and has magnets in it. The instructions say that it is only for people developmentally over the age of 14. I did not notice till we got home so I will have to supervise my son. I think he will be okay, he just can’t eat the magnets inside of it. His favorite of course is the Putty Buddy. It is like silly putty only there is a lot more in the tin. To him he says it is the same. The tin says that it is non-toxic and GF/CF which prompted him to ask what GF/CF means. He found this interesting since no one would eat it. I found his comment interesting since he puts all kinds of non food stuff in his mouth. By the way I was not paid in any way for this endorsement and I didn’t even think to say. “Hi, I blog, can I have free stuff?”
Session 2- Sex Ed
The next session that I attended was by Melissa Dubie, M.A. about Sexual Education with Autistics and Asperger’s. This was a very interesting session about how detailed they need the information explained to them. She also collaborated on a book for the curriculum called “Intimate Relationships and Sexual Health: A Curriculum for Teaching Adolescents/Adults with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Social Challenges” and it can be found on AAPC. The book also contains information on relationships, including friendships, and dating. I have not read the book yet but I will be reading it soon. I think it has wonderful information and straight forward teaching methods. I just need to figure out if I am going to work with him on this or enlist his case manager somehow. The book is written to be used in a group setting or also 1:1 for parents.
Session 3- Regional Transition Council
The last session that I attended was about getting involved with the Regional Transition Council. I didn’t know what it was but the words Transition and “get involved” in the same phrase compelled me to go. In Ohio we have the State Support Team which is the Ohio Department of Education Ohio Improvement Process. I had been reviewed to the group in my region before for seeking assistance with parent mentoring, transition planning, and also for their Parent Advisory Council. I did call and spoke to someone and received the calendar for the Parent Advisory Council. They are during the day and looked more like education materials. I can always use more education but there are many education seminars to attend and since they were during the day I hadn’t gone before. Apparently there is a Regional Transition Council where they discuss how to improve the transition services for kids. At the seminar they discussed how they want parents to be involved to help improve the services. At the seminar I brought up that I think they are doing great work but this needs to start much sooner than high school. I have lots of ideas and I am happy to report that the next council in my area meets in 2 weeks. I will provide more information as I get more involved with this exciting endeavor!
I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and can’t wait until next year. If I had the means I would attend multiple conferences on similar topics throughout the year! I plan to at least attend multiple days of this conference next year.