AspieCon 2018 Review and Recap

AspieCon 2018 was a blast! This year my husband came and it didn’t take long for him to drop his guard and be himself. That’s one of the things I love about going to AspieCon; all who go can truly be who they are, Aspies or not. In fact one thing I love about AspieCon is being surrounded by truly authentic people.

And I mean it.

Back when my Aspie was younger, we rarely got to meet another parent of an Aspie, let alone several. Let alone people who had a clue what this flavor of autism is like. There was no community to take part in. There were no social groups outside of school for our daughter, either. This is why taking the drive to South Charlotte on a sunny Saturday was bliss. It makes us so happy to see families have so many resources, which includes each other. We hope other regions of the county (and other countries!) will hop on board, too.

But a word; this lemon doesn’t fall far from the lemon tree (the lemon continuum concept a la Dr. Frank Gaskill), and I kinda sorta lack a filter at times and kinda sorta have this way of awkwardly blurting things out.  So pardon my enthusiasm while you read more about AspieCon.

What is AspieCon?

What is AspieCon? Right. I should probably explain that. Let me back up a bit. You can head over to my interview with Dr. Kelley Bolton of Southeast Psych for the detailed version or check out the source: AspieCon.com. Meanwhile, here’s the TL: DR – AspieCon is part con(vention) part resource fair. There are panels, gaming, vendors, food trucks, fun photo opps and more. Here is our 2018 experience.

My husband and I started the morning passing by both Barrie Clark’s Ecto-1, (think Ghost Busters) “a fully modified mid-century Cadillac Miller-Meteor, complete with equipment, sirens, and ghost containment unit,” then Amberle Linea’s Mystery Machine (think Scooby Doo) and her Great Dane on the way to signing in. Photo opps were encouraged, helping adults step back in time a little before signing in for the day.

After putting on wristbands, we went to “Turning Your Passion into a Career,” with comedian Eik Eikenberry, artist Jamie Franki, and Jason, aka, GoodBitey (think Twitch). Afterwards, we headed indoors to “Ask the Experts: Professionals’ Perspectives on the Spectrum,” with Southeast Psych clinicians: Dr. Frank Gaskill, Dr. Ryan Kelly, Bea Moise, and Dr. Emma Kate Wright. Both panels were helpful and informative.

A few hours in, and we still hadn’t had a chance to check out the resource room, but lunch called and we took a nice quiet break outside for a picnic lunch. My husband and I are both introverts, and yours truly has sensory processing challenges, so it was nice to step away and have a break before heading to the next panel. That’s the other thing about AspieCon: all here understand sensory overload. They aren’t going to think twice if you head away from the crowds for a moment. In fact, they always have a “cool down tent” for this very purpose.

 After lunch, I was honored to take part in the “Parenting on the Spectrum” panel, along with fellow parents Amy Nelsen and Mark Nebrig, plus Lauren Troche (sibling). It was great to see so many parents engaged in learning what is best for their children. If you are a parent and reading this, trust that you are doing well! A hard truth is that many overlook their child’s struggles, apply inadequate parenting strategies, or merely rely on others to do the hard work for them. (But that’s another post altogether.) Simply showing up and trying is a huge step in the right direction!

 

After the panel, we explored the resource room, which had Star Wars Lego creations and Star Wars fan collectibles to check out, and more. There were gaming sessions, Twitch streaming, and, of course, things to purchase along with professional resources to take advantage of. I was happy to see Your Local Game Store was there again, as I am still kicking myself for not buying one of the gorgeous die I saw last year. There were several artists there, too, and I did purchase a sticker from David Beck even though I’ve never played D&D. He mentioned it focused on nature, which suits me well. That plus I just finished reading a book on Stonehenge… (*cough* Special Interest *cough*) Resources there included Autism After 18, the Autism Society of North Carolina, the Charlotte Geeks, and so many more! (See AspieCon.com for the full list under “vendors”.)

David Beck, artist

My one regret is waiting to make more purchases. By the end of the last session we were tired and ready to go home. I should’ve just bought the Southeast Psych parenting book, “Southeast Psych’s Guide for Imperfect Parents”  while I was there looking at it, along with a few other things. But I didn’t, because I overthink things in the moment. *sigh* Lesson learned; next year, grab what you want when you see it (whatever “it” is: books, t-shirt, art, etc.), or at least before the last panel/activity of the day.

The final panel we attended was “Growing Up on the Spectrum: Q&A with Aspie Teens.” This was incredibly informative. We applaud those four teens for sharing their stories. (For privacy reasons due to age, I am omitting their pix and names.) It takes courage to take on questions in front of a group. They spoke some hard truths, which many need to be open to hearing. (Eg. Sometimes its the adults who bully kids. Sometimes, those adults are in the schools.) This panel provided a lot of food for thought and was well moderated, too.

There were other panels including “The Epiphany School of Charlotte: Where Extraordinary Minds Thrive” and “Intro to Cosplay Techniques with JorrunCosplay and SuperKerri.” There really was a lot to choose from, and it was impossible to check everything out. That’s actually a good thing; this means there should be something for everyone.

We met so many incredible people, too!

If this type of event sounds interesting to you, please let Southeast Psych know. If you are in the Charlotte area, reach out to them and tell them this is something you’d like to see again. If heading to North Carolina is not in the cards, but you’d like to organize something similar, let them know. It takes a lot of work to put together something like AspieCon, but it’s well worth the effort.

So, are you wondering why I promote Southeast Psych as I do? It’s a good question! My family (this includes K, my Aspergirl, and the star of “Asperger’s in Pink”) believes theirs is a healthy way to understand Asperger’s, autism, and psychology, and more places would do well to incorporate their approach to such. I’ve known these guys for a few years now and I can say firsthand the people involved with them seem… happy. Relaxed. Free to be who they are, encouraged to become even better versions of their already awesome selves. That says it all, doesn’t it?

We enjoyed AspieCon 2018 and hope you will consider attending next year, too!

If you have any questions, please post a comment below!

Did you attend AspieCon? Tell me what you thought of it by leaving a comment, too!

All my best,

Julie

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