GRASP’s 16th Annual Event was an amazing experience and we are excited to share it’s success. This year we focused on bringing the expertise and experience of Autistic adults to share with the community. The presenters’ topics were both timely and relevant and gave a glimpse into their lives through their employment, relationships, and passions.
Jesse Saperstein told us of his struggles to gain meaningful employment; he now has an incredible job working for The College Experience Program at the College of Saint Rose in Albany. He stated that even though the job presents challenges, he works diligently in his position and he makes a difference everyday with his students.
Brian Liston describes his journey to become an author with his book of poetry, “Through Autistic Eyes”. He explained that even though getting to the point of finishing and publishing his book was long, and sometimes arduous, it was worth it. His passion for writing and his desire to give back to the community led him to create a literacy program for disabled individuals in the Hudson Valley.
Archie Brechin discusses his enduring passion and innate talent for languages and that it was incredibly important to find the intersection of passion and interest. He also very aptly stated that special interests should be re-titled as “specialized” interested as many Autistic adults truly specialize and focus on their given area of expertise. Examples he included were Einstein and Newton, among others; without these individuals’ focus and dedication, the world would be a different place. Archie states that Autistic adults share that same focus.
Emanuel Frowner spoke about how being both Autistic and multiracial has influenced his life. He illustrated his journey toward his diagnosis and the difficulties of broaching the topic with his family, given that as he stated many individuals in his community often are reluctant to acknowledge Autism and other conditions. As he learned more about Autism and himself, he pursued a college degree and successfully graduated and now has a great job at the Seaver Autism Center.
Nadya G gave an amazingly moving speech about her journey to becoming the facilitator of her social and activity group called Artemis, a community for Autistic women and femmes in New York City. She discussed her interest in finding a supportive group of like-minded people. After some group experiences in the city, she decided to create her own group. After some early success with membership, she now has over 150 members. Many of her members were in attendance and attested to her incredible leadership and supportive, compassionate group environment.
Amy Gravino gave a rousing presentation on Autism and sexuality. Amy has spoken on this topic for years in both national and international settings, as well as in a Tedx Talk in 2016. Amy shared with the audience some of her early experiences regarding relationships and encounters with adept eloquence and witty banter. The audience members appreciated her honesty regarding the topic. Amy outlined the importance of frank discussions with Autistic teens and adults about sexuality and encourages dialogue; her presentation was a great step toward that end.
We are so grateful to our wonderful presenters, engaging guests, and generous donors. Thank you for another amazing event. We are looking forward to the all of the fantastic programs and events in the upcoming year!