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From Inside the Puzzle: Raising a Child with Autism Blog

Adventures at DragonCon

Published December 8, 2015 3:45 PM by Devon Alley
On Labor Day weekend, we took the whole family to Atlanta, Georgia, to completely immerse ourselves in geek culture at an event called Dragon Con. For those of you who don't know, Dragon Con is a large, multi-genre convention geared at fans of science fiction, fantasy, comic books, and pop culture.

This year, a little over 70,000 people attended this convention. That's almost half the entire population of the city we currently live in.

Of our family of four, I was the only one who had previously attended Dragon Con, and it had been almost a decade since I donned my geek stripes and pushed through its sweaty crowds of costumed fans. It was a little overwhelming at first. I don't even have the same sorts of sensory issues that A. has to deal with, and I felt absolutely suffocated by the noise and chaos.

Fortunately, we quickly adapted to our surroundings. A. got her bearings and was able to navigate the sprawling, confusing crowds very well. We were greatly helped by the fact that we had a hotel on site at the convention, which allowed us to quickly retreat to the room any time we needed a break, a snack, or just some quiet time away from so many people. One of the big benefits of staying at a convention hotel is something called Dragon Con TV. This is a closed network channel that plays on the hotel television throughout the duration of the convention, giving us coverage of events, live shows, and comedic spoofs on the culture itself. A. greatly enjoyed chilling out in the hotel room, watching Dragon Con TV.

What A. loved most, however, was wandering around the lobbies of the hotels in her Portal 2 Chell costume, talking with other cosplayers, watching people in costume, getting compliments on her getup, and taking in the culture that surrounded her. I would turn around, and there she would be in an impromptu dance party with several other people in the corner of the lobby, and I'd turn around again, and she'd be belting the lyrics to Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog with another attendee in an extemporaneous duet. I have never seen A. more in her element than I did that weekend. She had a blast.

Unexpectedly, the experience also brought her much closer to her little sister. Without her own space to retreat to or walls to hide behind, A. was forced to interact with her sister throughout the day. As the weekend went on, she became much more interested in K., and would reach out and initiate interactions with her. It was a major stepping stone in helping improve their relationship - a much welcome side effect to an already awesome weekend.

Needless to say, we already have plans to go back next year.

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