Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Last week began my summer session. I headed off to Colorado to help out at the Autistic Global Initiative (AGI) retreat. AGI is a program part of the Autism Research Institute (ARI) run by autistic self-advocates to create dialogue and promote positive change in the world. When I went, I was an on deck leader to their youth program and was also going to help out with shuttling participants.

There was a theme to the retreat which is very special to me and the reason I was invited: Trauma and Survivorship.

I've spoken about and made allusions to different types of trauma on my blog so far. I've openly spoken about my head injury, which still can be difficult to talk about, and have also talked about some of the toxic relationships I've found myself in. So this past week I relived some of my trauma in order to get a better understanding of how I have healed.

It was an intense week for me because I had to expose a still vulnerable part of myself to better help others never have to go through what I have been through. If one person can get out of a negative relationship, learn to heal, or prevent trauma from happening the emotional toll will be worthwhile.

On Sunday, the last full day of the retreat was designed to the Youth Leaders. We had a facilitator come in to help create a visual representation of how trauma affects a person. I've attached the photograph below so you can get an idea how our conversations went. The AGI Youth Leaders are a diverse group with many different life experiences, but unfortunately we have some traumatic things in common. Although this project was specific to the Autism Community, many if not most of these feelings or reactions are universal to the human condition.

Visual Graph of Trauma from the AGI Youth Leaders, 2014. Photo by Chantal Sicile-Kira.
It was an amazing experience to participate in this Think Tank and there will be some amazing things to come out of our hard work. While at the retreat, we were also being filmed for a few video project relating to survivorship and sensory needs. This material, as well as a great art project designed by my amazing mother, will be put together into a Think Tank packet other groups can use to have their own conversations.

I'm also very proud to announce I was made an AGI partner after the retreat and will be working to help affect lots of positive change with the other partners. Although I will not have an active role in the work the Youth Leaders are doing related to the Think Tank work, I am so excited to see what these amazing self-advocates create. The world is ready for these young leaders to make their voices heard and I'm very happy AGI will be helping make their voices heard to a wider audience.

If you would like to find out more about AGI, please visit their website at where you can sign up for their free newsletter with lots of useful information.

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