SPD Symposium Wrap Up (3 of 3)

Dr. Lucy Jane Miller PhD, OTR/L signing books.

If you haven't red the first two posts, I encourage you to start there -- they are below this one.

5:30am hit again.

This time, I was not so eager to get out of bed. I was plotting in my head how to sneak out of the conference to take a nap. Logistically, that was harder than getting my three kids to three different schools every day, so it didn’t happen.

But as I squished my now bruised feet back into my heels for a third day, I did have one plan: Find time to talk with Dr. Miller.

I arrived at the hotel once again and was greeted by the now highly anticipated breakfast buffet, which I supplemented with some hot tea and honey. I was tired, my throat was scratchy (from talking too much, I know, you’re shocked) and I was afraid that the lack of sleep was catching up with me by way of a cold. But, this day had some great speakers, and I wasn't going to miss them!

Standing room only for Dr. Stobbe's talk -- first
time I had heard someone talk about development
over the life span that actually applied to my son.
I listened to Dr. Gary Stobbe’s lecture on Autism and Sensory issues across the lifespan – and I have to say it was so incredibly nice to hear someone talk about life as a whole. Not just the transition times: Preschool, high school, adult hood – but to talk about my child as a whole being. It was wonderful, and he had a PACKED house. Dr. Stobbe has a charming way about him, he speaks with true heart and an obvious understanding of those he works with. He told many anecdotal stories, but my favorite was a local 16 year old with Aspergers who is interviewing colleges. This young man’s mother was talking on the phone with a representative from MIT, and she felt that she needed to be honest about her son’s diagnosis so that they knew what to expect, “My son has Aspergers, so I would need to know you can accommodate that.” To which the man at MIT laughed out loud and said, “So does half my department!”  Now I know where to send Matthew.

During Dr. Stobbe's talk I sat next to a wonderful Occupational Therapy student from Australia. I tried inviting her to come live with us and be our nanny, but as luck would have it she seems convinced that she is going to be an Occupational Therapist. I did tell her if she ever wanted to do an internship here in Seattle, she could stay with me. That would rock. So if you are reading this, the offer still stands: email me.

After that session, they reminded us of the raffle they were holding. Tons of amazing things were up for grabs, like a SPIO suit, an iLS Kick Start set, autographed books and games, plus a dozen more things were up for raffle. I decided to head over to the SPD Foundation’s table to scope it out.

Dr. Miller’s husband was there, and when I asked him how much tickets were, he said $1 each or 25 for $20. I pulled a twenty out of my wallet and handed it to him with a smile. Once I had my tickets in hand, I got to choose which of the giveaways I wanted to enter. I put a couple in the SPIO suit, gave one to my friend Emma who tried for the iLS Kick Start (but there were TONS already in there), put a few in the sensory game bag, and then dropped the remainder in “Lunch with Lucy”. Because that was the one I wanted the most.

After the next break, I was just leaving the exhibitor area to grab a seat in one of the lectures, when I watched as Carrie and Michelle, one of the conference coordinators, walk out of their respective ‘Tracks’ and met in the hallway.

“The winner wasn’t in my room,” said Carrie.

“Mine either,” said Michelle, “Maybe they stepped out?”

“Maybe I won.” I throw in casually while drinking my tea.

“You have to buy tickets and enter.” Carrie said with a smile and a touch of sarcasm.

“I did.” I laugh.

I pull my tickets out of my purse, as they read off the winning ticket number to me.

“Yep, that’s me.” I say excited to see what I won.

They both look surprised.

“You won Lunch with Lucy.” Michelle says. “Here is the menu, make your selection.”

Outside I was cool. Inside was feeling like a tequila-induced-dancing-on-the-tables-celebration. But I casually marked the turkey club on the menu and handed it back to Michelle. I am pretty sure my ear-to-ear grin gave away my excitement.  But maybe not....

Before I could make it to lunch, I checked the raffle table.  I won the SPIO suit too.  Can you believe it?  I was totally livin' right that day.  I am never this lucky! 

Lunch came quickly, and I joined Dr. Miller down on the second floor in a private room with a view of the neighboring shops. It was cool and cloudy outside, but the floor to ceiling windows gave the room charm.

Since there was no photo of me taken with Dr. Miller,
I just took the liberty of pasting my head on Katy's body
so that you all could get the IDEA of what it looked like.
So, should there have been a camera, our photo
would've looked something like this. : )

Dr. Miller and I talked about a lot – about my family, my kids’ diagnoses, my husband’s job, the Foundation and how I can continue to support them, and the amount of sunshine in Denver. We talked about my 30 SPD Stories in 30 Days Fundraiser and about This is Gabriel Making Sense of School. We laughed about the creative ways we moms get sensory input for our kids (like unloading groceries) and how important getting good information to parents is. I felt like she really understood us special needs parents. I was impressed to say the least and walked away feeling a new sense of dedication to SPD Awareness.  Before I met Dr. Miller, I knew that the SPD Foundation was doing great things to help kids like mine, but after meeting her, I now know that they are individually as as passionate about helping families as I am.  Inspiring!
After the lunch, I checked out Dr. Minson’s lecture on Integrated Listening Systems (iLS), but to be completely frank, the room was so full there were people sitting on the ground in between the tables and chairs, they were lined standing up around the back and sides of the room, and there wasn’t much room for me. I listened to as much as I could then bowed out to make room for others.

When the lecture let out, the iLS table in the exhibitor’s room was bombarded with parents and therapist all eager to try out their system. It was a real rush of excitement as everyone was clamoring to learn more about a therapy that could benefit so many kids.

Dr. Minson's iLS lecture (and that's Emma
in the red shirt there -- Hi Emma!!)

As the evening came to a close, and everyone was saying their goodbyes, I was exhausted. My husband went from Friday’s call of over-achieving happiness:  “It’s been great! I took the boys to the sculpture park, then took the dog to the dog park, and then we watched a movie” to worn-out-and-done:  “When can you be home? I need to work on my school work now.”  The time had come to go home.

I said goodbye to all of the amazing people I had met along the way. Hopeful to stay in touch and even more inspired to keep advocating for SPD Awareness!

The next SPD Symposium is in Austin Texas, from March 31st to April 2nd 2011.  I will be there -- will you come and join me this time?  Who wants to help plan the SPD Parent Dinner?  Email me!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Anonymous said...

wow! you had like 4 opportunities of a lifetime packed into one weekend! fantastic recap. thanks for sharing it all with us!

Patty O. said...

This is soooo great!

I broached the subject of the Austin conference with my husband and he got this panicky, how can we pay the bills look, so I'm thinking it's not in the cards for me this year. One day....