ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

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Thursday, July 13, 2006: 11:00 AM-12:15 PM
Providence Ballroom II
#2242- Our Life In A Nutty Shell II, More Living With Autism and Loving It
This will be a follow-up of our presentation at last year’s conference. The new session will share what has provided for our son’s success, our family’s triumphs and challenges, and how ASD is a natural part of our lives. We will also show how humor, love, and understanding bring about a soothing brand of acceptance. Previously our presentation evoked tears, laughter, and a feeling of what just being positive can do and we hope to provide more this year.

Presenters:Carolyn A. Gammicchia, Mother, Wife, Friend, and, Adv, LEAN On Us, Police Officer and Executive Director of LEAN On Us - Carolyn is mom to two teens who are both her pride and joy as well as her reason for being here. Nicholas fourteen has autism and Alexander fifteen is proof that a teen can age his parent ten years in just two. Carolyn has been married to Andrew for sixteen years and this year was presented with the "Parent Advocate" award f 2005 by the Association for Children's Mental Health for her assistance of many families in Michigan. Carolyn has also been active in ASA National for many years serving on local boards as well as several national committees.

Andrew W. Gammicchia, Father, Husband, Advocate, LEAN On Us, Police Officer and President of LEAN On Us - Andrew prides himself in being a very involved Dad and his biggest accomplishment in life thusfar. Being a father to two teens, one affected by autism, has also provided him a catalyst to educate his chosen profession law enforcement about the disorder. An officer for over twenty-two years, he prides himself in being able to share positively what ASD has brought to his life....and to also make others aware that there are specific needs of individuals with ASD. He too is married to Carolyn and refer's to himself as Carolyn's husband as a standing quip within the ASA community.

Alexander S. Gammicchia, Brother and supporter of Nick Gammicchia - Alexander is eighteen and will be heading off to college this year. As Nicholas's brother, he has provided to conference attendees in past presentations a valuable insight to sibling issues. He is also an avid advocate of autism awareness.

Nicholas C. Gammicchia, Teen, on, a, mission, to, assi, 8th grader and community volunteer - Nicholas is a fourteen year-old who loves his family, loves his friends, is a Disney maniac, is a great artist, and has autism. He was honored in 2004 with a national Temple Grandin Award for his community involvement and academic achievements, and is one of the hardest working volunteers within his community. His dreams for this year are to start dating and learn to drive.....the same things that are giving his parents nightmares.

This year's presentation will build on the things that attendees from last year's presentation found to be inspirational, educational, as well and deeply meaningful emotionally. The format will be much the same in that we as a family will provide a glimpse of our lives through a journey that encompassed a variety of travels.

We will be focusing on several specific areas with the objectives being:

To provide an overall view of what transpires from initial diagnosis to acceptance. Showcase interventions and methodology that worked and provided vast results in the areas of health, education, and planning for the future. Illuminate a series of snapshots vignettes to show the affects on parents, family dynamics, and the individual with autism. Sharing methods of getting past the negative aspects which a disability may create to mold those into characteristics which can lead to lifestyle choices within self determination. Examples of “Breathing” and how to let go, providing opportunity, as well as how an entire family may view self-determination differently. “Winning Plays” will showcase how individual family members can support the team in supporting individuals with ASD and how winning the game is within reach. The future is NOW! Providing options on how to plan past planning. When does real self-determination for a person with autism click in. Starting as a child and transitioning that into adulthood. Dreams for “Our Life In A Nutty Shell III” Living with Autism and Making the Most of Loving It. Providing a path for dreams for every attendee.

The goal of this presentation is to show how provided opportunities via education options and choices, community involvement, and building a natural circle of support can lead to a fulfilling, and positive life for any individual with autism no matter when a person may be on the spectrum.

Our goal is to also do what we were able to accomplish last year. Show that every family will be as unique as their child with autism and that each one is able to provide a foundation to make it with the love and support from each other and what benefits having a loved one with autism within a family may bring. We want to change the death sentence mentality into a life with parole after acceptance into what will be a very rewarding existence for everyone involved and lucky enough to be touched by an individual with Autism……the loving to is the icing on the cake.

See more of The ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)