There were sessions I was really keen to see – and the ones today did not disappoint.
In particular it was wonderful to hear Jacqueline Roberts talk about the changes to the DSM5 (which I blogged about here) and clear up some of the big concerns that I know a lot of parents share when she said “there will be NO expectation for those with existing diagnosis to be re-diagnosed, the new DSM5 system will be inclusive”. She followed it up confirming “that if kids are already funded, it won’t change, the VAST majority will still meet the criteria”.
I also really enjoyed Tony Attwood, as he spoke about girls on the spectrum and the challenges they face as they hit adolescence. Some of it was quite confronting, especially when he touched on the high rates of depression, self harm and eating disorders, but he delivers in such a way you can’t help but have hope, that with support, our girls will be ok.
But in some ways, I wasn’t prepared.
At one point in the day, at about lunchtime, I felt overwhelming sad. Sad I was there, sad I was there because it was MY child. I wasn’t there as an aide, teacher or professional on a development course; it was my little girl that the statistics were referring to. Sad that we still have so far to go. Sad and panicky about our chances of meeting those challenges and retaining our sanity.
I rang Husband, he told me to take a deep breath and stop panicking. She would be fine, of course she would be.
Then I went into the final session of the day with the amazing Petty family. They spoke of overcoming the challenges of having two boys on the spectrum; one, Jonathan is both autistic and blind.
While they spoke honestly and rawly of the challenges they have faced, the hard times and the times they both wanted to walk away from it all – they also spoke of the joy their boys bring to their lives and how proud they are of them. How they wouldn’t change a thing.
And neither would I.
I will be heading off to day two tomorrow – you can follow the tweet stream at #VAC2012.