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Convention organized by autistic adults, for autistic adults held in Provo

A groundbreaking convention called “Autcon” took place in Provo on Saturday, creating an inclusive space for autistic adults to come together and celebrate their unique strengths and experiences.

The event, which was the only one of its kind in the country, aimed to challenge the perception that individuals with autism are defined solely by their diagnosis.

Utah has one of the highest rates of autism in the United States, with nearly 3% of adults falling on the autism spectrum, according to a recent study by the CDC.

Against this backdrop, Autcon emerged as a significant gathering, offering a platform for autistic adults to connect, learn, and thrive.

The convention was spearheaded by program director Jair Its and presenter Samantha Easter, both of whom were diagnosed with autism later in life.

Their personal journeys and newfound self-awareness inspired them to create an event that would empower and support other adults on the spectrum.

For individuals like Samantha Easter, receiving a diagnosis has been life-changing.

It provided a sense of belonging and self-acceptance, allowing her to embrace her uniqueness rather than feeling alienated or broken.

Autcon aimed to foster a community where autistic individuals could connect with others who share their experiences, rather than relying solely on neurotypical perspectives.

The convention featured a range of activities, panels, and opportunities for friendship.

It also welcomed individuals with related neurodevelopmental differences, such as ADHD and dyslexia, encouraging an inclusive environment where attendees could feel comfortable and understood.

Autistic adults had the chance to ask questions specific to their challenges, seeking answers and building connections that alleviate the feeling of isolation.

One key aspect that set Autcon apart from other autism conferences was the emphasis on lived experience.

Instead of having professionals and experts who lacked personal understanding, the convention showcased the power of autistic individuals speaking to each other and relating to one another’s journeys.

This approach allowed for a deeper level of connection, as those with shared experiences could truly understand and empathize with each other.

The overarching message of Autcon was the desire for society to move beyond labels and preconceived notions about autism.

Participants aimed to highlight that autistic individuals possess incredible strengths and talents, even if their behaviors or communication styles may differ from the societal norm.

By embracing and celebrating these differences, the hope is to create a world that values diversity and recognizes the immense contributions that neurodiverse individuals can make.

Autistic adults often march to the beat of a different drum, thinking and perceiving the world in unique ways.

Autcon served as a reminder that these differences should be embraced and celebrated, encouraging a more compassionate and inclusive society.

The convention left a lasting impact on attendees, fostering a sense of belonging, empowerment, and hope for a future where autism is understood and accepted without judgment.

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