I made the trip to NYC yesterday to attend the Autism and Advocacy conference that Jim Fisher organized at Fordham University. It was an incredibly uplifting day. Both the speakers and participants reached out to each other throughout the day and I felt a sense of community moving through the group as if it were contagious. It began before the conference as Jim struggled to move the community from one room to another to start the presentations. It continued long after the conference was over, even as the staff was breaking down tables at the reception. For me, it even extended to train back to Connecticut. It was the first time that I literally broke bread with friends on a commuter train. Looking back, I see how that symbolism was consistent with the rest of the day.
I’m thrilled that I was able to grow some relationships and start new ones. After meeting Kim and Sara earlier in the week, I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know them better. Sharing our experiences as parents helped us connect and exchanging Monty Python quips while dodging buses in the middle of 42nd street didn’t hurt either. I found out that Mike and I work in the same industry and share some common colleagues. I was also able to tell him how I saw my own son in Katie’s eyes. I had the chance to talk to Kassiane again and meet Scott who hails from my alma mater Penn State. I shared perspectives with Joe and wish I had the chance to talk with him more. I met Kristina and Jim, even if we could only talk for a brief time. There were others, and although I may not have learned or remembered their names, the sense of community was still there.
Some things that are contagious are good for us. Some even nurture us.
Jim and Kristina, thanks!