Funny how it happens, but every year my children grow older, as do I. My two kids with nonverbal autism—Jonny, a strapping young man of 19, and Sophie, an energetic 12 year-old smile machine—will surely outlive me, and before that, outlive my ability to care for them.
No amount of yoga classes or kale salads can ward off the harsh reality that inevitably my earthsuit will crumble, leaving my severely disabled, hyper-vulnerable kids as adult orphans. This sucks. It’s terrifying. They need and deserve perma-parents who can safeguard and support them, but unless an ageless Mary Poppins of Autism appears out of nowhere, no such miracle is forthcoming.
The grim truth for most of us is that we face crushing responsibilities — to help our kids today and into a distant future — responsibilities that often feel impossible to discharge. We are often case managers, conservators, IHSS managers, IPP advocates, SSI payees, special needs trusts trustees, trainers, employment supervisors, ABLE managers, hair washers, cooks, iPod fixers, launderers, medical advocates, recreation leaders, and of course, panicky prognosticators. Against this backdrop, just making it to Stanford for a one-day conference can seem quite the ordeal.
Nevertheless we convene each year precisely because we know that pragmatic planning and advocacy today can help our children tomorrow. Even if Mary P. floats down from above, we need robust public benefits, solid legal and financial plans, strong IPPs, a community that understands and supports our special kids, the widest array of living, work and supervision options. Our theme this year reflects our community’s yearning for a true “Spectrum of Choice” to address the immensely diverse lifespan needs.
We are incredibly fortunate to feature five keynote speakers discussing intentional communities for adults with I/DD from across the country as our keynote speakers, and all four Bay Area regional center directors addressing pressing issues facing our community, in addition to honored guests, including Dr. Michael Policar from UCSF, Lauren Libero and Tiffani Andrade from DDS, Steve Keisman from Identifor, and many others sharing ideas and insights for financial and legal planning, housing, transition, employment, and health care.
We are grateful to our generous sponsors, talented speakers, conference committee, tireless board and volunteers, and the Stanford Autism Center at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. SFASA is a volunteer-run nonprofit aiming to build a stronger autism community here in the Bay Area, and we could not do our work without you.
President, Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area
Event page here • 16-Page Conference Program here