“You die when you have read all the books!”

A bookshop in Ohio, America called the Book Loft.

The Book Loft in Columbus, Ohio, is a huge, sprawling shop in an old house with many rooms and many treasures to be found. Too engrossed in the shelves to know what was happening around me, I’d taken one step back and stood on an old woman. She just smiled and said, You die when you have read all the books! We both agreed to keep reading the books.

Columbus? I was there to present a paper at Ocalicon 2014, the premier Autism event in the US and consistently one of the best Conferences I attend, (other than the Medica cpd day conferences in Glasgow, of course.) Over 2000 delegates (all of whom want to talk about Autism), over 100 sessions by more than 250 presenters, all the pizza you can eat.

Prior to the main events beginning on the Wednesday, I was invited by Shawn Henry, Chief Executive of Ocali and a man with so much knowledge of Autism, to the National Autism Leadership summit reception where I met many interesting people from all over the States.

The next day the Conference kicked off with a superb presentation from Dr Ami Klin who discussed a ground breaking new method of identifying children with ASD as young as 6 months old and showed the impact that intervention as early as that could have.

The range of presentations over the three days was immense.

 Notice Boards of Speakers at the Ocali Conference Ohio 2014

A sample of the sessions attended;

  • Enhancing the Language Skills of a Toddler with Autism through A Matrix Training Procedure
  • Supporting our Adult Population: Selecting the Best Assistive Technology
  • Outsmarting Explosive Behaviour
  • The Dog Ate My Homework :Technology to Support Executive Functioning (good to see that Oor Wullie is still working with us..)
  • Pathways to Improving Practice in Classrooms and Beyond (some Scottish guy…?)
  • Pete Mills‘ Jazz Jam night at Park Street Tavern
  • Autism in the Arctic

This last one was of particular interest in that the presenter discussed having to travel over 18 hours in some cases, to have a two hour session with a teacher. Her challenge (and her funding depended on it) was to make an immediate and lasting difference in each class. What was it that made ALL the difference? Good question.

The keynote on the next day was Dani Bowman, an 18 year old college student with Aspergher’s who is an animator and illustrator. The opportunities given to so many young people on the Spectrum is a feature of the conference and Dani had a huge impact in front of a huge Auditorium. Check out her work and her presentation at Ocali 2014.

A long way to travel but so inspiring and thought provoking. A different culture, some familiar issues and some innovative responses.

If anyone wants to know more about anything from the Conference, drop me an email.

Maybe the old woman in the book shop was nearly right. Maybe you die when you stop being curious and stop wanting to know more.

Pete Mills Jazz Band plays at the Park street Tavern in Columbus, Ohio