I started the autism side of my blogging almost 2 years ago. If you had asked "Reneé from 2 years ago" where it would lead, I am quite certain she never would have guessed it would be where I am now. I honestly started writing to kind of announce where we were and what was going on with our family life. This is the link to that blog. I figured I would get a few obligatory likes from family. I never thought that our journey would resonate with so many and connect us to other autism families and professionals. I'm truly amazed. I was invited to the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta to participate in an exclusive screening of "The A Word" a new show from the UK that centers around a little boy who is diagnosed with autism in the first episode. It airs July 13th and is really quite fantastic!! There were a lot of moments during the show that struck me emotionally. A lot of what the show depicts in the way the family reacts to receiving the diagnosis is true to life. I don't want to give it away, but I do want to encourage you to watch it because it gives a great perspective into the family of someone on the autism spectrum. After the screening I was on a panel with Dr. Cheryl Klaiman, Senior Psychologist, Research (She is a "big bean in the burrito" for the research study that Dawson originally participated in, the eye tracking study) as well as Cheryl Rhodes, Care Coordination Program Director (She is the "big bean in the burrito" for helping provide support and information to families after receiving an autism diagnosis) Then, there was me. I was in the middle. As for my credentials, I am the "big bean in the burrito" of the Being Awesome program here at #teamBritt.... In all seriousness, I was the voice of the parent & family, sharing my perspective of the diagnosis process and how "The A Word" portrayed it as well as participating in the question & answer session with the 60-ish professionals from Marcus & Emory. If I was being completely transparent I would tell you that I felt extremely honored and a bit underqualified all at once to be on this panel. But, lets just keep our focus on the extremely honored side of my feelings. The opportunity to affectively show the human side of Autism and potentially help professionals connect differently and better with the families they interact with is greatly rewarding for me!! If I can help, or our family story can help even just one more family it is totally worth it!! Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Well, after sharing, discussing, tearing up, answering questions, and a little more tearing up, I can say with certainty that our #teamBritt perspective affected this room of professionals. When I walked into this conference room I really had no idea what a Momma out of a little town could offer up to this crowd. This crowd of professionals whose very job focused on some part of Autism, diagnoses, treatment, research and advocacy. But, by the time I walked out, I realized that a Momma CAN make a difference. I gave a human perspective to research. I shared the emotion of the process of diagnoses. I shared how families find a way to connect, even through autism. I touched on what it's like to share our diagnosis to those who are unaware. I talked about the guilt and grief that happens after receiving a diagnosis. I talked about the love that doesn't change with a diagnosis... I talked about seeing the kindness behind peoples actions even if the words they choose are not what you would like to hear. I talked about how much I hope when people see my Dawson, our totally Awesome Dawson, that they are able to see all of the things that are wonderful about him, not just the things that are tough for him. 1 John 4:16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. Today, I was able to share my view, through the eyes of love. And as much as today's discussion & screening benefitted those professionals, it was so very beneficial for me. Days like today help fan the flame in me to continue to share, try to make a difference, and help families like ours. I am so grateful for the "Reneé from 2 years ago" that started this blog to help document our Autism journey, to connect people, to spread kindness and awareness. Thank you SundanceTV. Thank you Marcus Center, Especially to Taralee Hamner, Dr. Chris Gunter & Dr. Ami Klin. Thank you for all you do and continue to do for families like mine.