‘We are not alone.’ Richland autism conference offers education, connection - courtesy of the TCH

Amanda Crawmer first attended the Northwest Autism Conference when her boys were toddlers – maybe 2 and 3 years old.

They’re 10 and 11 now, and Crawmer hasn’t missed a year since.

“I learn something new every time,” she said.

She’ll be on hand this week when the conference once again offers parents, families, educators and others the chance to hear from experts, to network and connect.

The conference is Aug. 9-10 at Bethel Church in Richland. It’s put on by Kadlec Neurological Resource Center.

This year’s presentations range from reducing power struggles to language-based strategies.

The keynote speakers are John Medina, a brain specialist, and Alexis Wineman, the first-ever Miss America contestant diagnosed with autism.

Crawmer, who was Miss Washington in 2002, will interview Wineman after her keynote address as part of the program.

Crawmer said the conference is a “phenomenal resource” for the community.

Christine Lindgren agreed. She’s director of Responding to Autism Center in Kennewick, and she’ll present at the conference.

“Knowledge is power,” she said.

Through education, “we can learn new strategies and tools to change the way we interact with (people on the autism spectrum) and their environment. We can learn new things about autism and the way it affects people,” she said, adding that has a ripple effect of helping people throughout the community and beyond.

“(The conference) is a big asset to the community,” she said.

For Crawmer, whose sons have autism, the conference also offers a chance to connect with other parents and families.

“It’s easy to feel alone. The fact of the matter is, we’re not alone,” she said.

Tickets start at $95. Scholarships are available. To sign up, go to kadlec.org/autism or call 509-943-8455.

By: Sara Schilling, reporter, Tri-City Herald