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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Preparing for IMFAR 2012

I know a few people who attend IMFAR each year, or at least try to.  If I remember correctly, the ladies at The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism will be there this year.  I'm also trying to get there this year.  Most of the time, I can't go to conferences and events like this, due to a number of things.

First is skills, stuff like planning.  Yeah, I'm okay when it's places I've been before, like the anime convention I've been going to for about ten years straight.  With a bit of practice, I can transfer the skills I've learned from there to other situations, like going onto the campus of my school, combined with what I've learned over the years in school.  But a lot of the time, these events take place out of my comfort zone, in areas where I have not clue how to operate or navigate, due to multiple things, like distance, lack of information and support, leading to sheer fear.

Second factor is money.  I'm on ODSP, aka social assistance, and I work part-time.  I just don't have the money for transportation, rooming, food, and registration for these things.  Especially when a lot of them take place over the border.  This leads back to the first factor, but currency exchange is a factor as well.  And again, I just don't have the money, not to do many of them.

This year IMFAR is being held in Toronto, which is only a few hours drive away, and in an area that I'm growing familiar with.  I decided not to let this chance pass me by to take a look at the research and meet some of the people I converse with online.  It comes at a good time too, because I was considering taking a break from my yearly anime convention, and this gives me an extra reason for my break.

Problem is the second factor.  The costs involved with IMFAR is more than a weekend anime convention; registration is higher and it lasts longer, meaning more lengthy stays at hotels and car rental (if applicable).  However, this is not enough to deter my decision.  At the same time, I realize that my own budget is not enough to cover all the costs, especially given that I'm also in school and have tuition to pay.

These are, as follows (tax included):
Student Non-member Registration $225 USD
Transportation by train $151.42 CAD
my share of Hotel $449.74 CAD
= ~$826.16 CAD*

That's not including food, and miscellaneous costs, like the $6 on the subway.  Given that IMFAR is being held in downtown Toronto, I can fully expect between $20-40 a day for food, unless I bring noodle cups along (which aren't very nutritious).  I never expect a venue like this to provide food, or if they do, food that I can actually eat.

Either way, IMFAR pretty much costs more than my month's support cheque, rent and all.  Alone, this would be fairly difficult for me to pay for, and I consider myself pretty privileged.  I'm wondering how anyone of the "traditionally underrepresented groups, including those from ethnic minority groups, and those with disabilities" is suppose to attend. 

 I cannot apply for an Autism Science Foundation travel grant, because I am not a US citizen, nor am I a student in autism-related graduate studies/studying in the US.  I also do not want to burden the costs of this on my friends and family; as much as I appreciate their generosity, I know that they have their own costs and needs that should take precedent over my wants.  Therefore, I turn to the internet communities. 

I am opening up art commissions and donations.   You can see examples of my artwork at my deviantArt account

Commissions will be for digital art only. For simple art (one character or subject), line art is $5, full colour is $10.  If you want something more complex, contact me and we can work on details. 

When you submit a commission, please include the character or subject you want in the PayPal comments box, or else your contact information. 

If you wish to just send a donation, just leave the comments box blank.  Thank You.

Click on the image to donate or request a commission!  All proceeds goes towards IMFAR costs.  If there's any left over, it's going towards tuition!

*rough estimate, given the exchange rate