Cutting Edge..... yeah right!!!!!

Not so long ago I saw an advertisement for a course on autism, not just a plain old course BUT one that was 'Cutting Edge'. I debated about attending!  Let's face it, my child is 12 years old and I have been to a few conferences.... BUT this one was 'Cutting Edge'!! 

If I did go, it would mean leaving my family for two nights. It would mean taking a plane. I would have to hire a car and drive around Johannesburg (which in itself can be a bit scary!). I would be all by myself. Hang on a minute, I could meet my friend Sarn for lunch.... at SANDTON!! I could stay with my lovely friend Brenda! I could also meet up with two Durban friends at the course.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought how can I miss the opportunity to attend a course on autism, especially when I could also have some fun and perhaps do a little bit of shopping!

Therefore, I duly left my family to sort themselves out! Did they manage? I don't know ~ I didn't bother asking!! :)

Anyway, back to the course.....

Our day was jampacked full of speakers, covering a variety of topics. I am not going to give you a blow by blow account of it all, otherwise this will turn into an extremely long post! Excluding breaks, we sat for just over seven hours *listening*, shuffling in chairs, sneaking out for a quick loo break, whispering to the neighbours, sucking on mints, rummaging through the handouts, checking out who was wearing what!

To be honest, I have to say that the course was NOT cutting edge and although the speakers seem like really nice people, their lectures were just a bit out of date!  I can't really expand on that, otherwise I am sure to be shot down in flames!!!! 

However, I do have one thing to comment on! How could I not!

I was quite excited when the following was mentioned by one of the speakers (in fact, I pinched it from the handout!). 

“Children with ASD found to experience particular difficulty with: gaze shifts, shared positive affect, joint attention, using a range of communication means and functions, use of gestures/non-verbals, reciprocity, social affective signaling and imitation.”

How fantastic, we were going to hear about new 'Cutting Edge' ideas on how to help children with everything mentioned in that one paragraph! I sat eagerly on the edge of my chair......

and waited
and waited

Not once in those seven hours was anything mentioned that related to that one paragraph (or what I perceived that paragraph to mean!). Sure, child development was discussed, BUT each and every therapy spoken about, looked at the child from an academic point of view and what needed to be done to make the child successful at school. 

People, I think the point is being missed here! We need to go back further and further to the beginning stages of child development. Don't we want our kids to be dynamic thinkers? Don't we want to give them the opportunities to communicate in an experience sharing way? Don't we want to have a *real* connection with our children? I know I do.............. and if that means accepting that my child has missed out on all of those important steps when he was a wee tot, well then, so be it..... I am going to go right back and address those developmental milestones that he didn't pass!  After all I have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

As for the autism course, I don't think I will be attending another one in a hurry, unless of course I need to find an excuse to visit lovely friends and go shopping!!

Oh, by the way.... the only thing I bought was a small parachute for Kids First!! :)



  1. Sorry the course wasn't entirely what you wanted....but glad you made the most of it!! Don't share this story at home. That way you can insist that every Autism course that is on near your friends is 'cutting edge' and can attend!!

    Personally I think it's important that therapies help children develep to their full and true potential, whatever that is. If that includes academically in a mainstream school then so be it. If not then fine. It's each child's individual potential that counts. I think.

    xx Jazzy

  2. So glad that you shared a bit about your disappointing conference :-( I was so curious??!!

    But the bright side ... you are smart enough to be doing it differently ... and empowered enough to know why you have to!!

  3. Susan, you are so right, thank you! :)

    Jazzy, let me know if you have a cutting edge conference near you!! Of for sure, we all need to learn the 3 r's, and if our kids can fit into a mainstream school, that's great. (Mine can't but such is life!). What I was trying to focus on in this post is that I battle to find people who realise that addressing those early days of development can make a huge difference in the life of a child with asd and the people around them! :)

  4. Maybe you should be the one speaking at a conference. You could teach the presenters a thing or two.

  5. Thank you for your comment AE, funnily enough a friend just mentioned to me "Isn't it time some of us joined up to put together a valuable and insightful workshop? I would love to!" :)

  6. I'm sorry to hear this but unfortunately not at all surprised. As a good friend mine says " It's old wine in new bottles". New labels, new language, but the same tired taste.

    If you are not doing it already Di, you should get out there and host your own workshops. It's the only way. Thanks for sharing

  7. Thanks Declan, what an apt description, I like it! :)
    Thank you for the vote of confidence, however, I find public speaking VERY scary!!

  8. I've been accepted to give a presentation at the ATIA Orlando 2012 conference and speakers (who must pay a fee to attend) have the opportunity to get their presentations evaluated and accredited by the association of occupational therapists.
    you have to put in a description like:
    "By the end of this program, learners will be able to.."

    Sounds like your presenter forgot to actually adapt their powerpoint!

    I hope the next one you attend is much better. xx

  9. Lisa, I seriously think that you need to make a trip here ~ your presentation will shake everyone up! You won't need to pay a fee..... just your airfare ~ I will supply the bed!! :)

  10. Build a conference and I will come!

  11. Well I never!! Of course I have heard of the Grace App..... although *blush* haven't got it for my son!! Best I check it out now!
    Re: conference... now you have me thinking!!

  12. I used to wonder why parents of older kids with autism rarely came to conferences. Now, I am one of them. You basically find your niche and what works and then you "specialize" in the conferences tailor-made for your needs. The same thing is true for homeschooling. I don't go to the mega-state conventions. I go to the small cozy conference with relatively low attendance in comparison to the convention where I know I will learn something useful.

    Sadly, the goal to mainstream kids is a red herring. It gives you a false sense of security that your kid will be okay. Then, they get their diploma and degree and still can't live independently because the 3R's were more important than dynamic thinking and social and emotional development.

  13. Tammy, I am swiftly coming to the same conclusion, forget the large conferences, find my niche and go with it!
    I know a few young adults who are 'sitting at home'... it is a very sad reality!

  14. By the way...I expect to see something with that Parachute in your next submit! :) It does go with the current objective ya know...just sayin! :) Kathy Darrow

  15. Ah Kathy, why didn't I think of that!! :)


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