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Becca Lory talks about the experience of being a panelist at Denver Comic Con. “I Wore Cat Ears and a Cape to Work Today!”
Most often, the advocacy work that I do takes me to some pretty, unspectacular places. I have seen the inside of my fair share of universities, Conference centers, and board rooms. Usually, I give a presentation, do a little Q&A, meet some people, give out some business cards, and go on my way. Nothing exciting, but all in the name of educating for autism inclusion. That is until a few weeks ago, June 16th to be exact. On that very day, for the first time in my professional career, I got to wear cat ears and a cape to work!
Quite impressive, I know.
Wanna know why? Of course, you do! I am proud to say I had the grand pleasure of presenting a panel at Denver Comic-Con (DCC) 2018 about…AUTISM!!! Yes, you heard it right here. In fact, I got to be part of a programming piece called Pop Culture Classroom, which all began as a seed of an idea I shared with Geek Club Books’ very own Jodi Murphy.
Jodi and I often conspire about how we can best tackle the inclusion monster. Both of us know that inclusion works best when we infiltrate mainstream culture. So, when I saw Denver Comic-Con was a “Con for a Cause” and looking for submissions, I wanted to know what cause. Once I found out that Pop Culture Classroom was the cause, I went straight to Jodi and said “Let’s submit The Mighty League of Acceptance (ML).” This comic-based autism education is part of the GCB family and is available for free to download which makes it perfect for the classroom.
Needless to say, in went the submission.
Sure enough, a few months later and we were notified we were in! The planning began.
Since Jodi and I have created an awesome neurodiverse working relationship, we divided the labor. I would present with my trusty sidekick, Antonio, and Jodi would create the presentation materials. It was going to be my first time calling DCC my local Con, so I was excited to present, we both were.
As the day drew near, the presentation was set to go but we were missing one really, important thing, costumes! Taking inspiration from our co-presenters, The Mighty League of Acceptance, we ran out, got some red bed sheets, grabbed our ML tees, and threw on our sneakers. But something felt off. Quickly, I donned my favorite pair of cat ears and knew I was ready!
The day of our presentation arrived.
We were nervous excited. It was set for the end of the afternoon, so we spent our energy walking the Con floor, taking pictures, buying stuff, and generally having the best day at work EVER!
But time was ticking, and we had to do our tech check in. Once IT was squared away, we took a seat outside our room in true Con fashion, on the floor. We reviewed our presentation and looked one more time at the word autism in print in the DCC program. Our volunteer signaled us in, so we straightened our capes, cleared our throats, and began.
To be honest, we were a bit shaky.
We didn’t have Walter (our Emotional Support Animal), he isn’t allowed, and it wasn’t our material, but we did our best and were rewarded with an amazing Q&A session brought to us by the amazing autism community here in Colorado. We had parents, individuals, and educators all asking questions and sharing with each other. It was magical. I had so many nice chats with folks afterwards wanting to volunteer their time and generally being grateful for the representation.
It was EVERYTHING!!!!
We went home that night and were exhausted. As I took off my cape and put my ears back on the shelf, I marveled to myself about how far our community has come in the six short years since my diagnosis and how very far we still have to go.
This day was just one little step in the giant journey toward inclusion, but it felt like the most genuine step I have ever taken, which is almost better than getting to wear a cape and cat ears to work and feeling like a superhero for a day. Almost.
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