So, I’m doing the autistic advocate panel at the CASDA Leadership Summit in Ottawa this year. (I was part of it last year, as CAPP’s last gasp, but it seems I only wrote stuff down about it on Twitter rather than this blog. But they liked us so much last year that they requested a panel by autistic adults this year too!)
I got into it a bit late, because I hadn’t even realized about the sponsorships available, but in time to join the panel. There are three others who were part of CAPP with me, and there were two other autistic advocates whom I’d heard of but not met. Unfortunately, the friend of one died recently, so he’s had to skip the conference to deal with that. (*my sympathies to him*)
So, long story short, I got in. I’m sharing a room with Patricia (like we did for the Exploring the Spectrum conference in Halifax last year), so that’s all good. (Saving what money we can!)
So, had to leave my place at 3:30 this morning (2 am Ottawa/ED Time), and was unfortunately up for 2 hours before that because my brain wouldn’t shut down after two and a half hours of sleep. (Yikes.) St. John’s airport was fine, and to my amusement, I ran into my first St. John’s psychologist in the washroom past Security. (This gets even more amusing later.) And I had good seats – row 12 window all the way through, though there was more legroom in the flight to Ottawa than the one to Halifax.
Also unfortunately, assuming that my St. John’s plane arrived in Halifax in time, I had 14 minutes to switch gates before boarding started for my plane from Halifax to Ottawa. And we landed a few minutes late, and then it took about 4 minutes to get the plane door open once the gate passageway had hooked up to the plane. It was a good thing that I had taken an Ativan while we were in the air (I prepared for this, because I knew it would be close), or I likely would have had an anxiety meltdown right in the middle of the plane aisle.
So once I got off (finally), I proceeded to run from Gate 24 to Gate 20 in Robert Stanfield International Airport, only to have to slow down and breathe heavily as I walked from Gate 20 to Gate 12 (because I can never run very far even at the best of times). I was in Zone 3; I reached the gate just as they were boarding Zone 2. Just in time!
Settled in, all was good, pleasant flight with less turbulence than the previous leg. And it wasn’t until I was in the washroom at Ottawa airport that I found out Cynthia Carroll (the ED of CASDA, who was also the chair of the CAPP board) was on the same flight. (Yes, I met her in the washroom. I told you that you would find my meeting with my psychologist even more amusing. 😉 )
So we took a cab to the hotel together, and I came up to the room to meet with Patricia. We then chatted for a bit, had brunch, and then she went off to Parliament Hill to have a tour and meet with her MP, and I took a nap. (Didn’t end up going to the “Fulfilling Lives at Work” workshop, but I was just too wiped.)
After she came back (I woke up minutes before she walked in the door), we relaxed for a while longer, then met with a new friend (for me, Patricia knew her already) from NB, as well as Corey (known from CAPP). We then chatted for a while longer, and went out to eat dinner at Zak’s Diner, which is just a short walk from the Novotel where most of us are staying. We had a great time, and I’ll have a picture of the four of us with our milkshakes (Zak’s is famous for their milkshakes) up here sometime over the next few days (I’ll send out a Twitter update notice when I do that).
Then we walked back to the hotel, and we were going to go swimming, but it was really too late and I wasn’t feeling up to it with everything else that had happened today. (Busy, busy day.) I’m definitely planning to go swimming Thursday evening, though, if not tomorrow night as well. (Depends on when dinner with the cousins finish.)
So an interesting and busy start to the conference. Tomorrow is the first day (I’m not going to Autism on the Hill or to the reception after the conference – the latter in part because I’m having dinner with my cousins!), so hopefully some interesting stuff. Our panel is the last panel on the second (the last) day – a prestigious spot! The topic is “The Unspoken Price of Advocacy”, so it’s definitely something quite relevant to us personally as well as being advocates in general.
I may or may not have a report about tomorrow, but I will definitely be posting about Thursday’s part, if only to talk about our panel. 🙂