The ampersand’s (&) origins date back to 1st A.D. and appeared in our English language in the 19th century to mean “and.” It actually evolved from the Latin word et which means ‘and’.  Interestingly, the character itself came from connecting the e and t, to be what we now see it as today – &.  Another fun, and odd fact…it was actually part of the alphabet until the early 1800s.  That means if you were in school during that time period your alphabet song would go “X, Y, Z, &”.  This is where the name ‘ampersand’ came from. Like ‘The Artist Formally Known As’ (for those of you not that familiar with pop history, I’m referring to Prince, who changed his name to some weird symbol back in the 90s), children had to call & something as they sang, so they would say, “and per se and”.  Time evolves, language gets mushed, and the result is it this sign is now called ‘ampersand’.

While this is all well and good – and hopefully you find yourself somewhat entertained by this impromptu history lesson – this was not the reason we decided to write this blog.  To those of us working to develop the Love & Autism: A Conference with Heart, the ‘&’ was chosen for a very specific purpose.  Actually, this character is likely the most important piece in our logo.  Today, the ampersand is commonly used to suggest a partnership or collaboration.  A union, if you will.

When autism is discussed in the media and even in our own community, the language used can be discriminatory. When success stories of autism are detailed, it seems that more often than not, autism is represented as something to “overcome” or  “recover from.” It’s as if a person can’t achieve the thing associated with quality of life & have autism.  The common story:  “Despite having autism, such and such was able to do something remarkable” needs to be advanced. I believe the ampersand is just the symbol to do that! This is why at Love & Autism: A Conference with Heart, we celebrate the partnership between autism & quality of life.

We have so many talented speakers who have chosen to collaborate to with us to share their personal ampersands.  And this year, we have such an incredible line up of speakers.  All of who embodies what it means to unify Love & Autism.

On September 26 and 27, 2015 join Dr. Stephen Shore, Anita Lesko, Abraham Nielson, Alex Plank, David Finch, Dr. Peter Mundy, Anthony Ianni, Lindsey Nebeker, David Hamrick, and Dr. Jenny Palmiotto as we work to show the world what Love & Autism means.   Together, we can change how the world views autism spectrum disorders. Join us for two days of Love & Learning at Love & Autism: A Conference with Heart. To register, click here.  Be sure to visit our website to find out about more about our speakers, their topics, funding resources, and the very special all-autism wedding being held on September 26, 2015 at 4:30pm between Anita Lesko and Abraham Nielson.  This is one autism event that is not to be missed!

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