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News: 2011 Conference in Review

November 29, 2011

A few weeks have passed since closing of the AUCD 2011 Conference. "The Journey Continues: 40 Years Promoting Equity and Excellence through Research, Education, and Service" was another amazing gathering of self-advocates, family members, students, researchers, faculty, directors, and the DD Community.

We began our conference by remembering the challenges and accomplishments of the past. The 1960s were "Days of Darkness" for many people with developmental disabilities. Institutions were rampant and there were minimal protections of the rights of individuals. We revisited the significant role that the AUCD network played in advocating for legislation and policies that improved quality of life, in developing new models of service, in conducting the research that led to effective practices, and in preparing the leaders needed to implement high quality services.

From our federal partners we heard about the challenges facing us all and the initiatives being pursued by the federal agencies. In 250 pre-conference workshops, symposia, concurrent sessions, and posters we heard about research, training, and service initiatives that are ongoing throughout the network. These initiatives reflect lifespan issues ranging from early identification of children with autism to inclusive pre-school and school curricula to effective transition planning to employment to providing supports for adults who are aging. We heard about strategies for facilitating self-determination and strategies for supporting families. More than 80 trainees attended - their enthusiasm gave us a glimpse into the future.

In our closing plenary we heard the reflections of a futures panel that encouraged the network to continue to involve diverse perspectives from the beginning of every discussion until we reach that point when "all" truly includes "all." Finally, we previewed a rough cut of the film Education Revolution, which reminded us of the importance of person-centered supports in helping each individual lead a quality life.

We ate some cake...and drank some champagne...and wished the AUCD network a happy 40th birthday with a great celebration.

We hope everyone had a productive and enjoyable meeting. We look forward to the 2012 AUCD Conference on December 2-5, 2012 at the Washington Hilton in Washington DC.

Tony Antosh, AUCD President