On April 20th, Jacqui and I opened the 2012 Utah Valley University Conference on Autism with our keynote address, “Tiny Ripples of Hope: Uniting a Response to Autism.” We chose our topic in the wake of the CDC’s release of the newest autism prevalence numbers, believing that it was timely to give a message of unification as we collectively grappled with the latest statistics. We had a wonderful time at the conference and will be forever grateful to Dr. Toni Harris at UVU for bringing together so many amazing people concerned about autism. Lindsey Nebecker’s heartfelt presentation brought many in the room to tears as she shared the joys and challenges of intimacy for couples on the spectrum. The breakout sessions were also extremely informative and inspiring.
Perhaps the most noteworthy presentation of the day, however, was Dr. Hu’s lunch time keynote discussion on the research she is leading at George Washington University defining pheonotypes of ASD. Her systems approach to ASD points the way to understanding the integration of all the factors that impact gene expression; genetic, epigenetic and environmental. Her groundbreaking research suggests eventual routes for treatment in identified subtypes of autism reducing the need for trial error treatment protocols.
We make it a habit to attend these events as a family. Our children had a great time at Friday’s Kids, a respite care program available for participants in the conference and relished the hot tub and pool at the hotel.
Incidentally, the autism conference shared the date with Kony 2012 “Cover the Night”. We saw evidence that even though the film-maker cracked under the pressure of fame and media scrutiny, his impact was still felt, an international tsunami that reached Salt Lake City as a tiny ripple of hope.