Last Saturday, I gave a speech to discuss how autism and poetry allow me to become my own best advocate for the autism community. It was held at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel & Trade Center in Marlboro. I was encouraged to participate in this event by my job coach, Orlando Torres, after seeing an email in my inbox detailing a conference for self-advocates with intellectual or developmental disabilities to participate in and choose the topic of their expertise. Since I have written at least 10 poems in my life, I figured that it would be good for me to join this event since I use my poetry to reach out to others in the autism community and among my neurotypical family and peers as well.
At around 11:30 AM, I gave my speech about autism and poetry entitled “Do It the Write Way!” In the presentation, I mentioned how I use my poems and songs to become a strong advocate for people with autism and how the creative process for my poetry works. I talked about my poetry helps to express my true inner emotions and that I would like my songs to help change people’s perspectives of people with autism. Songwriters like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen have influenced my way of using expressive language to describe my personal feelings about the subjects in which I discuss in the poems. I also mentioned how I like to discuss the rough drafts of my poems with my family and friends to see if I’m going in the right direction with the rhythmic patterns of the poems. In between slides of the presentation, I did a question and answer question to get their reactions of wanting to know how my poetry works. I concluded the session by reciting two poems of mine called “Just a Normal Day” and “Acceptance of Autism” and then asked the audience to try to come up with poems of their own to get a feel of the creative process.
Later on that Saturday, I headed over to Boston to join my brother Brian and his girlfriend Amanda to attend The Dirty Dottys show at the Hard Rock Cafe for the Finals of the New England Music Awards show. The band is fronted by Julie DiOrio, a talented vocalist and guitarist of whom I attended high school with, along with Ellie Foster and Maura McGillicuddy on backing vocals, Austin Arroco on trombone, Jonathan Kessler on the drums, and Danny Teza on the bass. I have previously seen the Dottys at least 5 times, including at Temple Shalom Emeth in Burlington, The Aeronaut Brewery in Somerville for their album release party around Christmas last year, and a few other locations in the Greater Boston area. They had previously won the Semifinals at Hard Rock on September 18th during a battle of the New England bands competition. After winning the Semifinals, I felt obligated to attend the Finals round to continue to show my support the band.
At around 9:30 PM, Brian, Amanda, and I arrived at the Hard Rock Cafe to get ready for the Dottys’ set to commence in the New England Music Awards Finals. We met up with Amanda’s friends Katie Phillips and Allie Miller in the main stage room. After listening to a few of the other runner up bands in the Finals, it was time for the Dottys to take the stage. We were very excited to see them perform and danced and sang along to their catchy soul, rock, and ska infused tunes. The band performed songs such as “Shaky House,” “Not to Call,” and a few other memorable songs. At around midnight, it was announced that the Dottys had won the Last Band Standing prize for bands in Massachusetts. I congratulated them on a job well done and made sure to spread the message to family and friends.