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  • AuSM Mission

    Established in 1971, the Autism Society of Minnesota is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to education, advocacy and support designed to enhance the lives of those affected by autism from birth through retirement.
  • AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services

    The AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services team works in partnership with you to develop a plan based on your needs.

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  • Social Skills Classes

    AuSM social skills classes foster confidence and self-esteem while participants learn how to make friends and have fun.

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  • Training Tailored for Organizations and Businesses

    AuSM provides a variety of continuing education options for parents, caregivers, educators, direct support staff, business professionals, organizations, individuals with autism, and the community. Experienced educators present on topics that align with your interests and serve to enhance your life.

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  • Uniting the Community Events

    In partnership with area businesses and organizations, AuSM is pleased to offer monthly opportunities for families and individuals with autism to come together and enjoy fun activities in supportive, welcoming environments.

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AuSM announces executive director, Ellie Wilson

EllieWilson2017webAuSM is pleased to announce the selection of Ellie Wilson as its new executive director.

“Ellie brings diverse strengths and experiences to AuSM,” said Jean Bender, AuSM’s Board of Directors President. “Her passion for the Minnesota autism community is evidenced by the great work she has done to support those affected by autism, and her drive and dedication will continue to propel AuSM’s programs and services forward.”

No stranger to AuSM and well known in the autism community, Wilson spent two years as AuSM’s Director of Education and Training before becoming an Education Research and Project Training Center Coordinator for the University of Minnesota Institute on Community Integration. In addition to having led more than 200 professional development trainings in autism awareness and supportive strategies, Wilson has worked in home, recreational, clinical, and educational settings with children, teens, and adults with autism.

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Twin Cities Autism Foundation offers scholarship opportunities

TwinCitiesAutismFndtnlogoAuSM is pleased to partner with Twin Cities Autism Foundation, Inc., an organization that provides financial aid to help families affected by autism gain access to resources. As part of the partnership, Twin Cities Autism Foundation, Inc. will offer scholarships to families and individuals who apply for financial support for AuSM’s education programming, including social skills classes and AuSM summer camps.

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New free support group for parents and caregivers

therapyfamilyAuSM is hosting a new, free, monthly support group for parents and caregivers of school-aged kids with autism (ages 4-21). This group may be a good fit for you if you are dealing with a new ASD diagnosis or family crisis and want to hear from others who have blazed the trail before you; are navigating recurring or unchartered challenges and would like a safe space to vent and let go of your stress; are looking to develop and build meaningful relationships with other people who "get it”; or, all of the above! Regardless of your reason for wanting to connect with other parents and caregivers, we invite you to attend AuSM’s Caregivers of Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder Support Group. The group will be facilitated by AuSM's Counseling and Consulting Services therapist, Jennifer Reinke, PhD, LAMFT, CFLE. Participation is free, but registration is required. Childcare will not be provided. Click here for more information.

Vitals App launches with St. Paul Police Department

VITALSbeaconWEBVitals, a new technology service with two apps, is designed to create safer interactions between law enforcement and people with behavioral, mental health, and developmental disorders. A first of its kind, the Vitals first responder app is a non-intrusive, real-time service developed as a way to enhance policing, give families of vulnerable individuals more peace of mind, and improve the quality of life for people living with “invisible” disabilities.

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Help Texas autism families recovering from Hurricane Harvey

texasHarvey2017Category 4 Hurricane Harvey blew through Texas last week and dumped more than 50 inches of rain over the span of just a few days. Families are facing severe damage to their homes, and many are displaced in the wake of the catastrophic event. The Autism Society of Minnesota would like to help by sending Visa Gift Cards, small sensory items, and cards or drawings of encouragement to the Autism Society of Texas for distribution to their members. Imagine having to explain the destruction, figuring out replacement of favorite sensory items, finding a place to stay, working through the massive reconstruction process. Minnesotans have generous hearts, and we encourage you to help AuSM provide some love and care from Autism Society of Minnesota families to Autism Society of Texas families. Please bring or mail Visa Gift Cards, small sensory items, and cards of encouragement to AuSM's office, 2380 Wycliff St. #102, St. Paul, MN 55114 by Friday, Sept. 22. We will package all donations and send them to the Autism Society of Texas on Sept. 25. Thank you for your generosity!

Kick off your MEA weekend with an AuSM workshop

AdultGroupWEBAuSM invites you to kick off your MEA weekend with an AuSM workshop presented by Glenis Benson, PhD on Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at enVision Hotel in South St. Paul. During "People First! Planning From the Perspective of the Person with Autism", educators, caregivers, parents, service providers, and individuals with autism will learn what it means to put an individual on the spectrum’s own perspective first. Obtain in-the-moment practices that will help you understand the behaviors of individuals on the spectrum. Explore the concepts of executive functioning, sensory challenges, and other underlying reasons for seemingly confusing behaviors. Space is limited. Click here for more information and to register today.

Great Lakes Aquarium hosts Sept. 26 autism training for educators

GLAscreenshotlogoOn Tuesday, Sept. 26 from 4:30-7 p.m., the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth will partner with AuSM to offer "Supporting Students with Autism", a training for educators to learn more about serving students with autism. By learning more about the neurodiversity of individuals with autism, educators can take proactive steps towards support, acceptance, and inclusion. After AuSM's presentation of Autism 101 and Best Practices, participants will head out onto the aquarium’s exhibit floor to focus on applying positive behavior support in a field trip setting.The evening will include a light dinner at 4:15 p.m., and participants will receive 2.5 CEUs. The training event is free, but advanced registration is required. Click here for more information and to register.

AuSM Open House and bittersweet goodbye to Jonah

Staff1WEBThe Autism Society of Minnesota opened its doors last night to welcome our community with appetizers, desserts, beverages, and tours of AuSM's newly remodeled spaces. AuSM board members, the AuSM staff, and many friends and supporters of AuSM filed through the front doors on Wycliff Street to enjoy the festive atmosphere and to connect in person.

The evening was bittersweet as the celebration also included a farewell to Jonah Weinberg, AuSM's former executive director, who will be moving to California this month to be closer to his family. In his four years at AuSM, Weinberg helped grow the organization and touched many lives within the community, building relationships and advancing messages of autism awareness and inclusion.

Thank you for participating in AuSM's open house. We look forward to continued growth and service to this amazing Minnesota autism community.

AuSM Golf Classic a fun day on the greens in support of AuSM

CorriganCharlieweb2017The sun shone brightly as more than 100 golfers tested their skill and luck on a scramble round during the AuSM Golf Classic 2017 at Troy Burne Golf Club on Aug. 7. Golfers enjoyed a Chipotle catered lunch, silent auction, and many fun games throughout the course. Special thanks to our many donors and sponsors including Eagle Sponsors: Allegra Downtown St. Paul; Mike and Pat Esterly with Edina Realty; Family Innovations, Inc.; and McNellis & Asato, Ltd.; volunteers; and awesome golfers. It was a beautiful day in support of programs and services for our local autism community.

9th Annual Ride for Hope, gorgeous weather, generous participants

lineupRideforHope2017A huge thank you to Lube-Tech, Chris and Marna Bame, Robin and Ray Baker, and all of the volunteers, organizers, and participants who put on an amazing 9th Annual Ride for Hope yesterday. The weather was gorgeous, and the riders were generous, giving their time and dollars in support of AuSM's programs and services for our local autism community. Thank you for a fantastic event and for your many years of supporting the Autism Society of Minnesota.

A farewell note from Jonah Weinberg, AuSM's ED

JonahHeroWebThis note is my final message to you before I step down as AuSM's Executive Director. My departure at the end of July is bittersweet. I have loved working for AuSM and the Minnesota autism community during my four years in this position, but my husband and I are returning home to California to be closer to family. While this was always a longer-term goal of ours, a situation arose that caused us to move our plan forward, so now it is time for me to bid you farewell.

My time at AuSM has been extremely rewarding and educational. Although I began my career as a teacher, and then moved on to work in social services, autism was a new area for me. At AuSM, I have been fortunate to work with a dedicated and knowledgeable team of individuals on the spectrum, parents, family members of people with ASD, and other professionals who have worked in autism programs for many years; their insights and guidance helped me better understand the breadth and depth of the spectrum. And while I would never claim to be an autism "expert", I met many experts among the AuSM staff and our members, many of whom I've turned to for guidance over the years.

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Save $100 on your AuSM golf foursome for Aug. 7

troyburnesignToday is the last day to save $100 on your foursome registration for the 22nd Annual AuSM Golf Classic at Troy Burne Golf Club in Hudson, Wis. on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. Take a break from the humdrum of a regular Monday and have fun hitting the links in support of AuSM's mission of enhancing the lives of individuals touched by autism in Minnesota. Click here to register at the best rate!

"Escape Space" popular place to relax at Twin Cities Pride

EscapeSpaceweb2017AuSM was pleased to offer the "Escape Space" during the 2017 Pride Festival last weekend. The quiet, cool tent offered a place for individuals with sensory needs to unwind, self-regulate, and visit with AuSM staff and volunteers during the festival. AuSM supports all in the pride community, with and without autism, as acceptance and inclusion makes our communities better places for all.

Women on the spectrum find a comfort place together

thumbnail Surene and LauraFor some adults on the spectrum, a challenge can be finding like-minded people who want to socialize.

For Surene Henderson and Laura Dettloff, that challenge is made even more difficult by the fact that, as women on the spectrum, they often feel out of place in groups dominated by men.

“Autism presents really differently in women than in men,” Henderson explains. “The way autism is talked about in the media is so guy-centric and kid-centric that adult women get lost. It’s so different to be diagnosed as an adult woman.”

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Taking on the summer bike riding challenge with a smile

bikeskillshopwebA great and determined group of kids and their caregivers converged on the AuSM parking lot Tuesday night as they received bike riding tips and strategies from expert cyclist Alex Uhler. Uhler shared a number of tips for successful bike riding including purchasing the correct equipment, making bike adjustments, breaking down riding into smaller steps, clothing protection, practice makes perfect pedaling, staying positive and patient, and working toward the sense of independence and accomplishment that your child will experience when learning to ride his or her own bike. Click here for a bike riding tip resource.

Arizona and California-based businesses offer scholarships

scholarshipFive Arizona and California-based law firms and one dentist have teamed up to offer six $1,000 scholarships to post-secondary students with autism. Scholarships will be awarded in the form of a direct tuition payment to the educational institution chosen by the winning applicant. This could be a university, college, junior college, trade school, or vocational school. You need not be enrolled in school at the time you submit your application, but the funds must be used within one year after the date of the award. You can apply for all six scholarships. The six scholarships are being donated by Black Wynn Personal Injury Lawyers, the Feldman Law Firm, the Kelly Law Team, the Law Office of David P. Shapiro, RJT Criminal Defense, and Dentistry by John Barras. Click on the following links to learn more and apply. Application submissions are due by Feb. 15, 2018.

Black Wynn Personal Injury Lawyers $1,000 Scholarship Application
Feldman Law Firm $1,000 Scholarship Application
Kelly Law Team $1,000 Scholarship Application
Law Office of David P. Shapiro $1,000 Scholarship Application
RJT Criminal Defense $1,000 Scholarship Application
Dentistry by John Barras $1,000 Scholarship Application

Registration is open for the 22nd Annual AuSM Golf Classic

ausm golf classic logo w 2017Participate in the 22nd Annual AuSM Golf Classic at Troy Burne Golf Club in Hudson, Wis. on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. Take a break from the humdrum of a regular Monday and have fun hitting the links in support of AuSM's mission of enhancing the lives of individuals touched by autism in Minnesota. Golfing foursomes will enjoy 18 holes of golf on the pristine Troy Burne course; a complimentary cart (one per two golfers); entry into contests and games; lunch; and an awards dinner. Click here for more information and to register today.

22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference a great success

GroupwebThe 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference came to a close this afternoon after four days of learning, networking, story-telling, and information sharing. A record-breaking crowd enjoyed keynote presentations from Steve Silberman, Dr. Temple Grandin, Kerry Magro, and Chris Ulmer; 32 breakout sessions on important autism topics; visiting the AuSM Bookstore and exhibitors; and so much more. We are grateful to our sponsors, volunteers, speakers, and staff who worked so hard to support organizing this important event for our community. And we are grateful to all who participated.

Thursday of state autism conference is sold out

16 03 28 MN Autism Conf v4Thursday, April 27 of the 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference is SOLD OUT as of today, April 4. We are no longer accepting Thursday full day or full conference registrations. Registrations are being accepted for Steve Silberman’s keynote on April 26, Kerry Magro’s keynote on April 27, Chris Ulmer’s keynote on April 28, Friday all day, and Saturday morning. Temple Grandin’s keynote presentation on April 27 also is SOLD OUT as of March 29. Thank you for your excitement for this year’s conference. We look forward to seeing you at the other information-packed conference sessions April 26-29 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Minneapolis-Park Place. Click here for more information and to register for the conference.

AuSM celebrates you in April

GirlBalloonsThe time for awareness, acceptance, and appreciation is now. On this World Autism Awareness Day, know that you are valuable. You are loved.

2017 AuSM Educator Challenge winners announced

winnerimageWe are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 AuSM Educator Challenge:

Courtney Hess, Forest Lake Project Search–Fairview Lakes, Forest Lake Public Schools
Heather Jacobs, White Bear Lake Area High School, White Bear Lake School District
Mary Jensen, Leaf River Academy, Freshwater Education District
Angie Young, Stevens Elementary, Dawson-Boyd
Linda Wagner, Willow River Elementary, School District of Hudson, Wis.

Educators in Minnesota and surrounding states were invited to share strategies on how they encourage and motivate their students in the classroom. Winning teachers’ tips included incorporating “brain breaks”; relating to students by learning about students’ special interests; flexible seating options; incorporating a “refocusing zone”; and using optical illusions to show how our brain can sometimes trick us.

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Production company recruits neurodiverse job seekers

EmployableMe2017Optomen Productions, the TV production company behind Employable Me on BBC2, is looking for neurodiverse job seekers to be involved in a new production of Employable Me in the U.S. Employable Me is the series where extraordinary job seekers aim to prove that neurological differences should be viewed as an asset rather than an obstacle in the workplace. With the help of experts who serve as mentors, these neurodiverse candidates unlock their hidden talents and find the job that best suits their unique skill sets and strengths. Optomen Productions is actively seeking individuals on the autism spectrum who have struggled to find employment, and wish to be involved in the U.S. program. If you’re interested in being part of the show or learning more about the project, please contact Sarah Glaser at Optomen Productions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Contact Glaser by Friday, April 7.

Temple Grandin keynote SOLD OUT; registration open for other conference sessions

KeynoteSpeakersImageTemple Grandin’s keynote presentation on April 27 is SOLD OUT as of March 29. We are no longer accepting registrations for Dr. Grandin’s keynote presentation. Full conference and Thursday registrations purchased after March 29 will NOT include Dr. Grandin’s presentation, and registration fees have been reduced to reflect this fact. Thank you for your excitement for this year’s conference. We look forward to seeing you at the other information-packed conference sessions April 26-29 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Minneapolis-Park Place. Click here for more information and to register for the conference.

Hotel rooms added to 2017 autism conference block

DoubletreeDue to an influx in registrations for the 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference April 26-29, 2017, AuSM's block of hotel rooms at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Minneapolis-Park Place was nearly sold out. AuSM wants to accommodate as many educators, parents, caregivers, direct support professionals, individuals with autism, and other professionals for this important Minnesota autism community event, so the hotel has increased the room block for each night of the conference. Please book your room soon if you're coming in from out of town and want to stay at the conference hotel. The additional rooms will be held in AuSM's conference block until April 4. Click here for more information and to register for the conference. 

Exhibit space selling fast for annual autism conference

AuSMBookstorewebExhibit space for the 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference is 50% sold out. Would you like to share your business message with our engaged conference participants including educators, parents, caregivers, direct support professionals, and individuals with autism? Reserve your booth space today to ensure your spot. Advertising and sponsorship opportunities also are available. Click here for more information.

Steps of Hope 2017 is an amazing community experience

CampLadieswebIt was a beautiful morning to bring the Minnesota autism community together for Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota 2017 at Southdale Center. Hundreds of supportive families and friends filled the mall walkways as they participated in the first ever AuSM Flash Dash presented by Accra Care, gathered information from more than 70 resource tables, enjoyed healthy snacks, took pictures with a happy T-rex and Mudonna, and had tons of fun. Thank you to our emcees Mike "Muss" Mussman from K102 and AuSM champion Shannan Paul, Larry Moody as our friendly T-rex, The Royal Sisterhood princesses, Anime Twin Cities superheroes, all of our sponsors, volunteers, the AuSM board, AuSM staff, and fantastic participants. You made Steps of Hope 2017 AMAZING!

Steps of Hope 2017 is March 5: plan to join us at Southdale Center

SOH logo2017Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota, AuSM's 17th annual fundraising fun walk and the state's largest autism resource fair will take place at Southdale Center this Sunday, March 5, 2017 from 8:30-11 a.m. Online registration is closed, but walk-in registrants are welcome! You also can continue to donate to teams by clicking on the below link. We look forward to celebrating our awesome autism community with you on Sunday!

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AuSM 2016 Annual Report

2016annualreportcvr2016 was a year of innovation and growth for the Autism Society of Minnesota. New programs and services were offered while current programs were expanded and further developed to benefit individuals affected by autism in Minnesota. Click here to learn more about 2016 and what AuSM has in store for 2017.

2017 state autism conference has something for everyone

16 03 28 MN Autism Conf v4The 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference will be held April 26-29, 2017 at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel Minneapolis – Park Place in Minneapolis. During the conference, experts, educators, therapists, direct support professionals, parents, caregivers, and people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will connect, collaborate, advocate, and educate.

Held during National Autism Awareness Month, this four-day conference is organized by AuSM, the state’s oldest nonprofit organization focused on ASD, with a mission of enhancing the lives of those affected by ASD from birth through retirement.

With a prevalence rate of one in every 68 people (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), ASD is the fastest growing developmental disability in Minnesota and the U.S., and AuSM believes programs and services are needed now more than ever to serve this increasing population.

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Artists wanted for Autism Awareness Month display at bank

MplsFRBThe Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank is seeking artwork created by artists with autism to feature in its gallery during Autism Awareness Month in April. Artists are welcome to submit a variety of different media, including photography, paintings, drawings, sculpture, and others. If the artwork is intended to be displayed on the wall, it should be provided in a format that is ready to be hung. If you or someone you know would like to submit art for display, AuSM will accept submissions, on behalf of the bank, at its office in St. Paul from Feb. 27-March 24.

Artwork submitted for this display will be on display from April 3-26 and seen primarily by bank staff and visitors; because the bank is a secure facility, the general public will not have access to the gallery. However, artists whose work is being displayed will be invited to an optional special event at the bank on April 26 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Artists must make arrangements for their artwork to be picked up from the bank on April 26. For additional information, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Jillian Nelson at AuSM at 651.647.1083.

Sexuality workshop this Friday at the University of St. Thomas

TeenGroupHangOutwebOnline registration is closed for "Sexuality: Breaking the Taboo and Learning How To Talk About It", a workshop from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 at the University of St. Thomas's St. Paul Campus. Walk-in registration is available on site, space permitting.

This innovative workshop presented by Melissa Keyes Di-Gioia, a Certified Sexuality Educator, will give parents and caregivers valuable strategies for conversing about sexuality, relationships, and values. It also will help educators learn how to talk with families about sharing information on sexuality, as well as how to seek permission for discussing this topic in the classroom. CEUs and certificates of attendance will be available for participants. Click here for more information.

Disability Matters Day at the Capitol Feb. 28

CapitolBuildingWEBOn Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m., join self-advocates, families, and allies to call on policy makers to support funding and services that make independent lives possible in the community. Your voice and presence that day are crucial. Check in at L’etoile du Nord Room in the State Capitol Basement at 10 a.m., and the rally in the Capitol Rotunda will take place at 11:30 a.m. For more information, contact Mike Gude at The Arc MN at 651.604.8066 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Experiences with health care professionals: sharing your story

healthcare2017Carrie Dickson, MS, APRN, CNM, CNE, a doctor of nursing practice student from Minnesota State University in Mankato, is working with AuSM to gather personal stories from people with autism on their experiences with health care professionals. From now through April 15, Dickson is seeking stories from self-advocates with autism, parents, caregivers, and direct support staff about positive and negative interactions within the general health care system, including, but not limited to, emergency room visits, clinics, dentist offices, paramedics, hospitals, ophthalmologist offices, etc.

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22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference registration is open

16-03-28-MN-Autism-Conf-v4We invite you to participate in the 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference April 26-29, 2017. During this event, we will join our voices as a passionate community to inspire learning, hope, and innovation. Here experts, parents, caregivers, educators, paraprofessionals, mental health professionals, service providers, and individuals on the spectrum will have a platform to connect, collaborate, advocate, and educate. The conference will take place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Minneapolis Park Place and will feature the 3rd annual AuSM Gala celebration, Oh, the AuSM Places We'll Go!, on April 29. Registration for this Minnesota autism community event of the year is open. Click here for more information about keynote speakers, breakout sessions, exhibitors, registration, and more. 

VITALS pilot program applications still being accepted

VITALSbeaconWEBAuSM is partnering with Aware Services, LLC and the St. Paul Police Department to offer a free pilot project that uses mobile technology to help individuals with autism and other “invisible disabilities” live more independently and securely in the community.

A new technology-based project called the “Vulnerable Individuals Technology Assisted Location Service” – or VITALS – helps make the invisible visible. VITALS uses a transmitter, or beacon, and a mobile app that allow individuals with an “invisible” disability to voluntarily disclose their diagnosis to emergency responders within a 30-50 foot radius.

Pilot Program in Ramsey County
Ideal pilot program candidates are individuals with disabilities ages 15 and older who live in, work in, or go to school in Ramsey County and spend time in the community, independent of a caregiver. For more information, contact Jonah Weinberg, AuSM executive director at 651.647.1083, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

If you or someone you care for is interested in participating in this pilot program, CLICK HERE to complete the VITALS Pilot Program Application. If you do not live in, work, or go to school in Ramsey County but are interested in having the VITALS service in your community, CLICK HERE to share your contact information so we can keep you informed as this program grows. Pilot program applications will be accepted until program participation maximum is met.

Teachers and parents: learn strategies for talking about sexuality

TeenGroupHangOutwebAuSM, Minnesota Life College, and the University of St. Thomas invite you to register for "Sexuality: Breaking the Taboo and Learning How To Talk About It", a collaborative workshop to be presented from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 at O'Shaughnessy Educational Center on the University of St. Thomas's St. Paul Campus. This innovative workshop presented by Melissa Keyes Di-Gioia, a Certified Sexuality Educator, will give parents and caregivers valuable strategies for conversing about sexuality, relationships, and values. It also will help educators learn how to talk with families about sharing information on sexuality, as well as how to seek permission for discussing this topic in the classroom. CEUs and certificates of attendance will be available for participants. Click here for more information and to register.

Town Hall Meeting on reducing MA/TEFRA fees Jan. 28

advocacylogowebThe AuSM Advocacy Committee invites you to join us for a Town Hall Meeting sponsored by the Coalition to Reduce MA/TEFRA Fees on Saturday, Jan. 28 from 3-4:30 p.m. at the Minnesota Department of Education, 1500 Commerce St., Conference Center A, Roseville, MN 55113. We will provide fact sheets and volunteers will be available to help you tell your story. Invite your legislators to attend so they can learn why this issue is important to you. If your legislator has indicated that he or she is attending, please let us know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

VITALS pilot program application extended to Feb. 3

VITALSbeaconWEBAuSM is partnering with Aware Services, LLC and the St. Paul Police Department to offer a free pilot project that uses mobile technology to help individuals with autism and other “invisible disabilities” live more independently and securely in the community.

Many conditions like autism, traumatic brain injury, mental health challenges, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, epilepsy, and others are referred to as “invisible” disabilities, because there are no physical indicators that others can see that might inform them of the disability. The invisibility of these disabilities can put the individuals at risk, because they often exhibit behaviors and traits that emergency responders can misinterpret as being intoxicated, uncooperative, or evasive.

A new technology-based project called the “Vulnerable Individuals Technology Assisted Location Service” – or VITALS – helps make the invisible visible. VITALS uses a transmitter, or beacon, and a mobile app that allow individuals with an “invisible” disability to voluntarily disclose their diagnosis to emergency responders within a 30-50 foot radius.

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Plan your AuSM summer adventure; catalog sneak peek

NewSummer2017CvrSummer activities abound – swimming, canoeing, arts and crafts, exploring nature, geocaching, science, filmmaking, horseback riding, music, yoga, theater, bonfires, and more. Everyone deserves the chance to take advantage of all summer has to offer. AuSM Social Skills classes and AuSM Camps provide these opportunities – each one tailored to give youth and adults with autism a fun, safe, and exciting experience while they increase self-esteem, expand knowledge, and build friendships that last a lifetime. AuSM also welcomes individuals with other learning differences who can benefit from skills including sensory integration, executive functioning, theory of mind, selfregulation, and emotional regulation. Explore the 2017 AuSM Summer Activities catalog and discover ideas for summer adventure. Registration for AuSM Camps and AuSM Social Skills classes opens Jan. 30.

Technology pilot program to increase safety and independence

VITALSbeaconWEBAuSM is partnering with Aware Services, LLC and the St. Paul Police Department to offer a free pilot project that uses mobile technology to help individuals with autism and other “invisible disabilities” live more independently and securely in the community.

Many conditions like autism, traumatic brain injury, mental health challenges, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, epilepsy, and others are referred to as “invisible” disabilities, because there are no physical indicators that others can see that might inform them of the disability. The invisibility of these disabilities can put the individuals at risk, because they often exhibit behaviors and traits that emergency responders can misinterpret as being intoxicated, uncooperative, or evasive.

A new technology-based project called the “Vulnerable Individuals Technology Assisted Location Service” – or VITALS – helps make the invisible visible. VITALS uses a transmitter, or beacon, and a mobile app that allow individuals with an “invisible” disability to voluntarily disclose their diagnosis to emergency responders within a 30-50 foot radius.

Continue Reading

Autism Day at the Minnesota capitol is Jan. 17

Minnesota Capitol BuildingThe The Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and AuSM are partnering to offer Autism Day at the Minnesota capitol from 9:30-11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17. This is your opportunity to meet with legislators and policy-makers, and provide them with information about issues that impact the lives of Minnesota’s autism community. The event will take place in the MN Department of Transportation cafeteria at 395 John Ireland Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155. For planning purposes, please RSVP to the MN CCD office:  952.818.8719, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Jan. 10 AuSM Skillshop Canceled

Due to inclement weather, tonight's AuSM Skillshop to be held at Merrick, Inc. from 7-9 p.m., "Keeping Aggresson in Check", has been canceled. For more information on upcoming AuSM Skillshops, including the Jan. 24 "Communication Breakdown: How to Resolve Conflicts",click here.

Join the Minnesota autism community for Steps of Hope 2017

SOH logo2017Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota, AuSM's 17th annual fundraising fun walk and the state's largest autism resource fair will take place at Southdale Center on March 5, 2017 from 8:30-11 a.m. Registration to participate in Steps of Hope 2017 (including the autism resource fair) is free.

2017FlashDashAccralogoWEBThe first ever AuSM Flash Dash presented by Accra will kick off Steps of Hope from 9-9:15 a.m. on the first floor of Southdale Center. Feel like a superhero as you power walk, skip, roll, or mosey your way from start to finish on the short, indoor course. All ages, abilities, and mobilities can join in on the fun and earn a medal and bragging rights. AuSM Flash Dash registration is $5 per person. All dollars support AuSM's programs and services for the local autism community. Register for the AuSM Flash Dash by Jan. 31, and your name will be entered into a drawing for a free one night stay (March 4) in a two room suite at the Residence Inn Minneapolis Edina. Prize includes a superhero breakfast on March 5!

SOH2017RegisterButton   SOH2017DonateButton

AuSM is your Minnesota autism community resource in 2017

Happy New Year 2017During these days of busy festivities, altered schedules, and hopefully a few quiet evenings, AuSM board and staff want to take a moment to wish you a Happy New Year. In observance of the holiday, AuSM's office will be closed on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. We look forward to continuing to be your autism information and programs resource in 2017.

Happy holidays from AuSM

ChristmasTreewebDuring these days of busy festivities, altered schedules, and hopefully a few quiet evenings, AuSM board and staff wish you an enjoyable holiday season. In observance of the holidays, AuSM's office will be closed on Monday, Dec. 26, 2016 and Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. We look forward to continuing to be your autism information and programs resource in 2017.

AuSM, MLC, and UST offer sexuality workshop for caregivers, educators

TeenGroupHangOutwebAuSM, Minnesota Life College, and the University of St. Thomas invite you to register for "Sexuality: Breaking the Taboo and Learning How To Talk About It", a collaborative workshop to be presented from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 at O'Shaughnessy Educational Center on the University of St. Thomas's St. Paul Campus. This innovative workshop presented by Melissa Keyes Di-Gioia, a Certified Sexuality Educator, will give parents and caregivers valuable strategies for conversing about sexuality, relationships, and values. It also will help educators learn how to talk with families about sharing information on sexuality, as well as how to seek permission for discussing this topic in the classroom. CEUs and certificates of attendance will be available for participants. Register on or before Feb. 3 to receive the best rate. Click here for more information and to register.

Winter social skills: zoo fun, improv, and talent begin in January

giraffeHoliday break is approaching quickly, and everyone is anticipating a few days away from the usual routine. Before the holiday busy-ness begins and the year ends, we invite you to register for our winter social skills classes that begin in January 2017, including Como Zoo Elementary (ages 8-12): Rainforest Adventures; ComedySportz Improv Skills (ages 14-26); and AuSM Talent Showcase (ages 10-26). Click here for more information and to register.

K102's Muss to rally the crowds during Steps of Hope 2017

MussSOH2017AuSM is pleased to announce that K102's Mike "Muss" Mussman will be our emcee at Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota 2017, to be held March 5, 2017 from 8:30-11 a.m. at Southdale Center in Edina. A self-proclaimed fan of AuSM and the Minnesota autism community, Muss is sure to rally the excitement and contribute to the fun on March 5 at Southdale Center! Registration for Steps of Hope 2017 and the AuSM Flash Dash is open. Click here for more information and to register today.

Learn about reducing aggression and resolving conflicts in the 2017

NewYearFreshStartImageOn Jan. 10, AuSM will present "Keeping Aggresson in Check", an AuSM Skillshop held at Merrick, Inc. that will help participants understand of why interfering behaviors are exhibited and obtain positive intervention strategies. Speaker Stephanie Bruyer also will teach participants about Functional Behavioral Assessments and how the outcome of assessments can lead to the most effective interventions. The AuSM Skillshop will take place from 7-9 p.m. Click here for more information and to register.

During a conflict, tempers may flare, words can have hidden meanings, and body language often is confusing. In the Jan. 24 AuSM Skillshop presented by AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services therapist Beth Pitchford, MA, participants will learn the difference between a disagreement and a conflict and obtain helpful techniques for listening, reading body language, and using assertive communication to resolve conflicts. This AuSM Skillshop will be held at AuSM's office in St. Paul from 7-9 p.m. Click here for more information and to register.

Steps of Hope 2017 and AuSM Flash Dash registration is open

SOH logo2017Activate your inner superhero! AuSM will present Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota, its 17th annual family fun walk and the state's largest autism resource fair at Southdale Center on March 5, 2017 from 8:30-11 a.m. Each participant is an autism hero, rallying for the 1 in 68 individuals living with autism in Minnesota. Registration to participate in Steps of Hope 2017 (including the autism resource fair) is free.

FlashDashAccra2017AuSM is pleased to announce that its inaugural AuSM Flash Dash presented by Accra will kick off Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota 2017. Held from 9-9:15 a.m. on the first floor of Southdale Center, the AuSM Flash Dash is an all ages and abilities quick walk that will be done in a flash. Participants who register for the AuSM Flash Dash ($5 per person) will receive medals at the finish line and bragging rights for completion.

Steps of Hope dollars directly support local families and individuals living with autism, from birth through retirement. Donations stay in the community by funding AuSM's innovative programs and services. Those who pre-register and raise $100 or more will receive a free Steps of Hope 2017 T-shirt. Click here for more information and to register today!

Lindamood-Bell becomes AuSM Premier Partner in 2017

LindamoodBellwebWe are pleased to announce that Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, an organization that believes all individuals can be taught to read and comprehend to their potential, will be an AuSM Premier Partner in 2017. Lindamood-Bell's sensory-cognitive instruction has proven successful for individuals with learning challenges, including dyslexia, ADHD, and autism, and we are excited to share in their support of the Minnesota autism community throughout the coming year.

Readiness for driving is topic for Dec. 8 AuSM Skillshop

driving2016Driving is looked at as a right of passage as we enter our mid and late teens. At the Dec. 8 AuSM Skillshop, "Driven to Drive: Getting Behind the Wheel", learn about the critical skills needed for driving and how autism characteristics may impact safe driving behaviors. Assessment of driver readiness will be discussed along with ideas for supports that can be initiated in the home or during therapies to increase safe driver potential. This AuSM Skillshop will take place from 7-9 p.m. at Lionsgate Academy in Minnetonka. Click here for more information and to register.

Local malls host Sensitive Santa events on Dec. 4

santacatwebMany local malls around the Twin Cities will host Sensitive Santa events on Dec. 4: Maplewood Mall (8-11 a.m.); Northtown Mall (8-10 a.m.); and Southdale Center (9:30-11 a.m.). Avoid lines and visit with Santa in a sensory-friendly, welcoming environment. Participation for these events is free; charges may apply for photo packages. Some events require registration. Click here for more information.

Click here to review AuSM's "I'm Going To Visit Santa" social narrative.

You are AuSM to the Max!

FlashandDashcrop16You heard our call to raise $6,800 on Give to the Max Day, in honor of the 1 in 68 who is diagnosed with autism. You answered it! Thank you to everyone who donated in support of AuSM's programs and services. You helped us raise more than $13,000 for the Minnesota autism community!

Special thanks to the Mud Rhythm Race Series for their generous $3,000 match that doubled donor dollars; Bruegger's Bagels for inviting AuSM to spend the morning at their Gaviidae Commons location and for providing donation incentives; Tin Whiskers Brewing Company for selecting AuSM to be their Pints for a Purpose recipient and inviting AuSM for a fun evening; and 612Brew for donating $1 per pour as AuSM visited with customers who raised their glasses in support of our community.

If you were not able to donate yesterday but would still like to, you can donate by clicking here. Thank you so much for your generosity, Minnesota autism community and supporters!

 

Be AuSM to the Max today!

FlashandDashcrop16Give to the Max Day, Minnesota's state-wide day of giving is TODAY! AuSM's goal is to raise $6,800 this year in honor of the 1 in 68 who is diagnosed with autism. Every dollar collected will be used support AuSM's programs and services for our AuSM community.

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MudRhythmLogo

The Mud Rhythm Race Series has generously offered a $3,000 match donation for Give to the Max Day. Donate on Nov. 17, and your donation will be doubled by AuSM friends at the Mud Rhythm Race Series (up to $3,000)!

AuSM On Location Nov. 17

BrueggersBagels ClrLogo CMYK ASKTAuSM was at the Gaviidae Common Bruegger's Bagels location this morning, greeting our community, collecting donations, and handing out Flash the Cat and Dash the Dog, our stuffed animal mascots for Steps of Hope 2017. They were a huggable hit! Thank you for your support!

TinWhiskersLogowebTin Whiskers Brewing Company (125 9th St. E., St. Paul, MN 55101) will donate $1 to AuSM for every pint sold between 4-10 p.m. on Give to the Max Day. Stop by Tin Whiskers and enjoy a tasty beverage. AuSM will be there with resource materials, too; be sure to say hello!

612BrewWeb612Brew (945 Broadway St. N.E., Minneapolis, MN 55413) will donate $1 to AuSM for every pint sold between 4-10 p.m. Hang out with AuSM at 612Brew and raise your glass in support of the Minnesota autism community. Bonus: It's trivia night!

Join us for some fun in support of the Minnesota autism community! Be AuSM to the Max!

Call for Papers 2017 deadline extended to Nov. 23

KeynoteSpeakersImageThe 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference Call for Papers deadline has been extended through Nov. 23, 2016. Educators, parents, caregivers, siblings, therapists, direct support staff, and other professionals, submit your proposal today to present during the largest annual educational event for the Minnesota autism community on April 26-29, 2017.  Click here to download, complete, and submit the Call for Papers 2017 proposal form.

If you have questions about a presentation topic you'd like to propose, please contact AuSM's event staff at 651.647.1083 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Explore apps that can enhance your life during Dec. 2 AuSM workshop

girlstabletscolor2016Tablet and app technology expert Mark Coppin, MS, will present "Tech Tools and Apps for Students and Adults with Autism" on Friday, Dec. 2 from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Royal Cliff Banquet & Conference Center. If you're a parent, caregiver, educator, service provider, or other professional who works with individuals with autism or if you have autism, this AuSM workshop will help you learn about apps and technology that can make a difference in your life. Participate in hands-on activities on the iPad while learning about apps for communication, organization, planning, storytelling, reading, writing, behavioral support, and much more. Click here to learn more and to register.

Free workshop Saturday, Nov. 12

kidorangebackpackAuSM and the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota (EFMN) are partnering to offer a free workshop and resources for parents and caregivers of children with special needs. "Navigating Mental Health, School, and Social Safety" will be presented on Nov. 12 from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Wilder Center in St. Paul. EFMN's presenters, Michael Zaccariello, PhD, LP and Katherine Nickels, MD, will speak about "Maximizing the Learning Potential". Participants will learn about specific learning disorders and how epilepsy and medications affect learning. AuSM presenter, Sara Pahl, MS, BCBA, NCC, will present "Social Safety: Strategies for Navigating Online and Offline", which will include a discussion about navigating the hidden curriculum, bullying, and online safety. The free half-day workshop includes lunch. Registration is required and space is limited. Click here for more information. Click here to register.

Join the coalition to lower MA-TEFRA parental fees

MNStateCapitolAuSM is a member organization of the Coalition to Lower MA-TEFRA parental fees, and we invite you to join us in support of this initiative.

Many families of children with disabilities struggle to pay the parental fees associated with MA-TEFRA. These fees can cause undue financial hardship for families already facing the high cost of raising children with disabilities. In some cases, the fees are a barrier to insurance coverage for necessary treatments and supports. This legislative session, several individuals and organizations are joining together to form the Coalition to Lower Minnesota MA-TEFRA Parental Fees. The Coalition seeks to meaningfully lower MA-TEFRA parental fees, with the longer term goal of eliminating these fees altogether. While the 2017 legislative session may seem like a long way away, the time to get organized and act is NOW.

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Coalition to Lower MA-TEFRA Fees

MNStateCapitolNov. 2, 2016

AuSM is a member organization of the Coalition to Lower MA-TEFRA parental fees, and we invite you to join us in support of this initiative.

Many families of children with disabilities struggle to pay the parental fees associated with MA-TEFRA. These fees can cause undue financial hardship for families already facing the high cost of raising children with disabilities. In some cases, the fees are a barrier to insurance coverage for necessary treatments and supports. This legislative session, several individuals and organizations are joining together to form the Coalition to Lower Minnesota MA-TEFRA Parental Fees. The Coalition seeks to meaningfully lower MA-TEFRA parental fees, with the longer term goal of eliminating these fees altogether. While the 2017 legislative session may seem like a long way away, the time to get organized and act is NOW.

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Girl's birthday wish supports her friend with autism

LilyKateLetterwebAuSM received this thoughtful letter from a young lady named Lily Kate who chose to donate her birthday dollars in support of the Minnesota autism community, a community that includes her friend, Riley. Thank you for your kindness, Lily Kate. Your big heart is a true gift.

Lily Kate's letter reads:

Dear Autism Society,

Hi my name is Lily Kate. I am 9 years. I am in 3rd Grade. I have a friend name Riley. He is in 6th Grade. He loves pizza, waffles, garage doors, Justen Bieber, and giving hugs. He also has autism. For my birthday party, instead of presents, I donated money my friends brought. So I can help kids with autism. Like my friend Riley.

Halloween tips and tricks from the Autism Society of America

puzzlepumpkinHappy Halloween from the Autism Society of Minnesota!

Halloween can be a wonderful and exciting event, but the lack of routine and hidden faces may be among the stressors that make Halloween less fun for our loved ones on the autism spectrum. With the spooky night creeping up on us, the Autism Society of America has compiled a few tips and tricks you can use to help make Halloween fun for the whole family! Click here to read the complete article.

Couples class offered in early 2017

couplegroupweb"We're In This Together," a class for couples featuring strategies for supporting and celebrating neurodiverse relationships, will be offered at AuSM from 6-8 p.m. on five Mondays, Jan. 9-Feb. 13, 2017. This class will guide neurodiverse couples through understanding autism, family rules, arguing, non-verbal communication, parenting, and executive function in regards to priorities and time awareness. Learn about diagnosis disclosure and who needs to know about autism. Classes will follow curriculum from The Asperger’s Couples Workbook, and will be instructed by Beth Pitchford, MA, an AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services therapist. Click here for more information and to register.

Sold-out Attwood workshop brings learning and laughter

Tonyweb16More than 300 parents, educators, therapists, direct support staff, and other professionals filled the Schulze Grand Atrium on the University of St. Thomas Minneapolis campus Oct. 19 and learned and laughed as Dr. Tony Attwood presented "An Aspie's Guide to Life's Challenges".

We extend a heartfelt thank you to all who participated in this exciting educational opportunity. Special thanks to our sponsors: Hampshire Country School, the Sundance Family Foundation, Minnesota Life College, Autism Advocacy & Law Center, LLC, the Focus In Neurodevelopment - FIND Network, Plymouth Psych Group, and AuSM Board Member Larry Moody.

TonyCrowdweb16AuSM has more exciting workshops coming up in November in December, with locations including Duluth and St. Cloud. Click here for more information.

AuSM offers Beyond Sex Ed class for adolescents with autism

couplesgroupwebIn AuSM’s Beyond Sex Ed course, students with autism ages 13-18 will learn how to manage privacy, boundaries, and infatuations to help them live healthy, create positive relationships, and be safe. Topics will include puberty, private versus public, unwanted affection, intimacy and dating, body boundaries, and consent. Instructors will tackle nuanced and complex issues by building upon more simple, concrete concepts. Classes will run for six Mondays beginning Nov. 7 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at AuSM's office in St. Paul.

Prior to registering their son or daughter for Beyond Sex Ed, parents/caregivers should contact AuSM's education department at 651.647.1083 to learn more about the class and to determine if it is the right fit for their child. If the class is a good fit, AuSM's education department will provide a registration link.

Kindling Workshop for Entrepreneurs Nov. 12

KindlingWkshp2016On Nov. 12 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., join AuSM, Autism Works, and Celebrate Edu for a fun, interactive workshop that introduces the idea of entrepreneurship and teaches the basics of starting a business. During this workshop for individuals with autism ages 18+, meet a local entrepreneur, discover your entrepreneurial traits, and understand the key elements of a business venture. Also work in small groups to design a popcorn business, determining customers, competitors, and competitive advantage. The workshop, held at AuSM in St. Paul, is $15 per participant and includes lunch. Click here for more information and to register today.

Registration open for Minnesota Special Hockey

MNSpecHockey2016Minnesota Special Hockey is an adapted ice hockey program for players of all ages with developmental disabilities. This organization exists to enrich the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities through increasing their personal development and self-confidence on and off the ice by: having fun, learning team work, gaining friendships, and increasing physical activity.

The program for boys and girls of all ages supports more than 180 hockey players on 10 teams across Minnesota (Alexandria, Blaine, Burnsville, Duluth, Edina, Moorhead, New Hope, Plymouth, Rogers, Woodbury). No previous hockey experience required, and Minnesota Special Hockey offers scholarships and can help find donated gear. The season begins Nov. 6 and all practices and games are on Sundays (during the day) through the end of February. Click here for more information and to register.

Chris Ulmer to present at state autism conference

ChrisUlmerwebAuSM is pleased to announce Chris Ulmer, special education teacher, motivational speaker, and founder of Special Books by Special Kids, will be the Friday, April 28, 2017 keynote presenter at the 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference. Ulmer completes the event's expert-packed keynote line-up that includes autism community icon Temple Grandin, PhD; Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes; and Kerry Magro, award-winning disability advocate. Click here for more information and to view conference pricing. Registration will open in early 2017.

Call for Papers
Want to be included as a speaker at this important conference? AuSM is accepting presentation proposals through Nov. 14. Click here for more information.

Chaska dog biscuit company employs adults with disabilities

AuSM members Angie Gamades and Kyle Gallus create employment opportunities for adults with autism and other learning differences.

FinleysBarkeryTeamwebA new business in Chaska, Minn. hopes to send the unemployment rate for people with disabilities straight to the dogs.

With a model that includes baking, bagging, and distributing all natural dog treats online and at events, Finley’s Barkery helps young adults with autism and other disabilities find employment, grow socially, and use their talents to contribute.

Finley’s Barkery co-founders Angie Gamades and Kyle Gallus created this business model because they believe in investing in human potential. “We want to make the community aware of the incredible capabilities of our employees,” Gamades said.

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Let's Play Unified fun for families, officers

PlayUnified2016photoThank you to the Minneapolis Police Department and Special Olympics Minnesota for a fantastic fall fun day. Let's Play Unified, held at the Police Special Operations Center yesterday, allowed families affected by autism to meet, build relationships with local emergency responders, try a new sport with Special Olympics Minnesota, and access resources from AuSM. 

Visit AuSM's Uniting the Community Events page to find more fun activities to participate in over the coming months, including Skatesville's sensory friendly skating, Second Saturday's at TPT, the AuSM Pumpkin Patch Trolley, and more.

AuSM hires two new therapists

AmyCarrisonwebJenCroppedwebIn order to meet demand for counseling services, AuSM is pleased to announce an expansion of its AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services (ACCS) team.

“Nearly every day we hear from families and individuals who are looking for a mental health professionals who understand autism,” AuSM executive director Jonah Weinberg said. “While there are quite a few providers who are experienced working with younger children, many are at a loss when it comes to working with adolescents and adults.”

The demand for diagnosis, testing, and counseling services has grown significantly in recent years. Weinberg said AuSM is responding to this need by hiring additional mental health providers.

“We’ve recently added two qualified, dedicated therapists who make it possible for us to serve more clients and offer new services, while maintaining the levels of care and compassion for which AuSM therapists have set the standard.”

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Pokemon Go: making the community and social interaction accessible

pokemon go logoBattling Blastoise for control. Running to capture Dragonite. Going a distance to evolve a Pidgey. All of these actions are motivation to get off the couch and out of the house.

For some individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the thrill of the Pokemon Go chase and the rewards of character collection and evolution are perfect incentives for getting out of their comfort zone.

Pokemon Go, a virtual reality game that lets players use their smart phones to capture Pokemon and battle for gyms in real world spaces, requires players to leave the house, walk long distances, and explore their communities. The game often puts players in contact with other players searching for the same PokeStops, Pokemon, and Gyms.

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AuSM's website goes mobile-friendly

New Website LaunchThank you for bearing with us as we work out the kinks of organizing and unveiling the new AuSM website. Our goal is to bring you the content you need at the touch of your fingers, whether they're typing on a computer keyboard, wrapped around your smart phone, or busy with a tablet. The site is still under construction as we add photos, more content, and additional programs and services, but we're very excited to share what we have so far. Please visit this site often, enjoy the updates, and find many resources, services, and programs that will enhance your life.

Navigating Mental Health, School, and Social Safety

kidorangebackpackAuSM and the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota (EFMN) are partnering to offer a free workshop and resources for parents and caregivers of children with special needs. "Navigating Mental Health, School, and Social Safety" will be presented on Nov. 12 from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Wilder Center in St. Paul. EFMN's presenters, Michael Zaccariello, PhD, LP and Katherine Nickels, MD, will speak about "Maximizing the Learning Potential". Participants will learn about specific learning disorders and how epilepsy and medications affect learning. AuSM presenter, Sara Pahl, MS, BCBA, NCC, will present "Social Safety: Strategies for Navigating Online and Offline", which will include a discussion about navigating the hidden curriculum, bullying, and online safety. The free half-day workshop includes lunch. Registration is required and space is limited. Click here for more information. Click here to register.

Cam's Ride 2016 full of smiles, fun, and AuSM support

camride2016webAuSM was proud to be a part of the 10th annual CAM's Ride 2016 on June 25. The weather was melting hot, but that didn't stop the huge crowd from having a great time and raising money in support of the Minnesota autism community. Thank you to everyone who organized and participated in this awesome ride!

2017 Conference Keynote Speakers Announcement

The 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference will take place April 26-29, 2017. In addition to opening the Call for Papers 2017, AuSM's events team is working on securing keynote presenters for this educational event of the year for the Minnesota autism community. Keynote speakers in 2017 will include autism community icon, Temple Grandin, PhD (photo courtesy Rosalie Winard); Steve Silberman, best-selling author of Neurotribes (photo courtesy Keith Karraker); and Kerry Magro, award-winning disability advocate. More details and speakers will be announced soon and registration will be open in February 2017.

RWTempleweb  SteveSilbermanKKweb  KerryMagroweb

Conference Call for Papers Open Now Through Nov. 14

16-03-28-MN-Autism-Conf-v4The Call for Papers for the 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference is open now through Nov. 14, 2016. AuSM is opening the Call for Papers process earlier than usual to allow more time for submissions. The deadline also has been moved up to November instead of January so the conference schedule can be made available in early 2017. Submit your proposal to present during this largest annual educational event for the Minnesota autism community. The Minnesota Autism Conference Education Committee will evaluate proposals and contact those who submit proposals by Dec. 20, 2016. Click here to download, complete, and submit the Call for Papers 2017 proposal form.

Happy Father's Day 2016

dad2016Quiet calm in times of distress. Words of encouragement in times of challenge. A hand to hold in times of uncertainty. Silly jokes in times when smiles are needed. Gentle hugs in times when love is shared. Dads. Grandpas. Uncles. Brothers. Friends. Thank you for all you do to make our lives fun, full, and amazing.

Register your child for Wahode day camp in July

ausm camp logo WEBThis July, make sure your son or daughter has an exciting summer camp experience. Both sessions of AuSM's day camp, Camp Wahode, open to youth ages 6-12 with autism, run Monday through Friday and offer many ways to discover, grow, and have fun. Campers will experience outdoor activities including swimming in an outdoor pool, horseback riding, use of a ropes course and climbing tower, group games, hiking, sensory crafts and gross motor activities led by a registered occupational therapist, music groups led by a board-certified music therapist, boating, and sports. Click here for more information and to get registered.

AuSM's Give Twin Cities Challenge through June 30

GiveTwinCities16webAuSM is pleased to be a part of the first annual Give Twin Cities Challenge, a fundraising competition organized by Minnesota Monthly magazine from now through June 30, 2016. Throughout the fundraising period, participating nonprofit organizations will be competing to raise the most dollars via Crowdrise. AuSM encourages the Minnesota autism community to rally, donate, and ask others to give in support of local families and individuals affected by autism. Donations made through AuSM's Give Twin Cities Crowdrise page (including individual donors and teams) will be totaled at the end of the challenge, and nonprofits raising the most dollars during the challenge period will be awarded prizes: 1st Place: $25,000; 2nd Place: $15,000; 3rd Place: $10,000. Click here to donate today.

Anime Twin Cities supports AuSM with Premier Partnership

AnimeTClogoAuSM is pleased to announce that Anime Twin Cities is AuSM's newest Premier Partner! Anime Twin Cities conducts educational, charitable, and social activities related to the promotion and study of Japanese culture, specifically animated movies and television programs ("anime") and graphic novels ("manga") as well as the study of the Japanese language as it is used in anime and manga. Anime Twin Cities has supported the Minnesota autism community with Trolleys and Treats and Steps of Hope in 2016, and we look forward to their continued partnership in the 2016-2017 season. Click here to learn more about AuSM Premier Partnership and see a list of current AuSM Premier Partners.

8th Annual Joey's Ride: kickstands up tomorrow

joeyridewebTake advantage of this beautiful weather and hit the open road for Joey's Ride tomorrow. Registration at Fury Motorcycle begins at 9 a.m., and the ride begins at 11 a.m. The cost is $20 per rider or passenger. The after party will take place at Tav on the Ave from 4-8 p.m. and will feature a taco bar, raffles, 50/50, music, drink specials and more. Join us for this family friendly event supporting the Minnesota autism community! 100% of proceeds will be donated to AuSM. Click here for more information.

Thank you, conference and gala participants

The 21st Annual Minnesota Autism Conference was a great success, providing 35 expert-led sessions, exhibitors featuring products and services for the autism community, the AuSM Bookstore, and opportunity for our community to come together to share stories, strategies, and camaraderie. Celebrate AuSM Inspirations, AuSM's second annual gala held on April 29 provided time for fun and entertainment. Thank you to sponsors, exhibitors, volunteers, speakers, and participants for making the conference and gala experiences informative and rewarding.

"Autism Cop" St. Paul Police Dept Officer of the Year

ZinkAward2016The St. Paul Police Department honored Officer Zink as the Officer of the Year during an awards ceremony yesterday. Officer Zink began the C.A.R.E. (Cop Autism Response Education) program and is dedicated to creating positive police interaction experiences for individuals with autism and their families. If you'd like to meet Officer Zink in person, join us for the CARE Carnival in St. Paul on April 19. Congratulations for this well-deserved honor, Officer Zink!

Autism Awareness 2016

ribbonApril is Autism Awareness Month. At AuSM though, every day is for autism awareness, acceptance, and inclusion. Every person in our community is unique, amazing, and needed. The world is a better place because YOU are in it!

National autism rate unchanged says CDC

CDClogo2016webToday the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the national autism prevalence rate remains unchanged at 1 in 68.

As with the previous report in 2014, this latest estimate is based on a systematic review of health and educational records of 8-year-old children living in designated communities that have been selected to be part of the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. Minnesota was recently added to the ADDM Network, although local children will not be included in CDC prevalence rates until the 2018 update.

“This prevalence rate is important because it demonstrates the continued, concrete level of need to people who determine funding-levels and available resources for people with autism, ” said Jonah Weinberg, Executive Director of the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM).

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AuSM and the Epilepsy Foundation MN collaborate

EFMN AuSMgraphic2016

EF MinnesotaCommitted to helping community members reach their full potential, the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota (EFMN) and AuSM are partnering to offer resources and educational opportunities in April.

People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a higher than average risk of having epilepsy. About 20 to 30 percent of children with ASD develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

EFMN is offering a Health & Wellness Expo on April 16, and AuSM's 21st Annual Minnesota Autism Conference will include a session presented by EFMN: 10 Things You Should Know About Seizures and Epilepsy. Click here to learn more about the EFMN/AuSM collaboration.

Thank you, Autism Heroes!

Super thanks to the hundreds of sponsors, volunteers, teams, individuals, and other Autism Heroes who walked in support of the autism community during Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota this morning at Southdale Center. Goldy Gopher, the The Royal Sisterhood, Anime Twin Cities, KFAN's Paul Allen, the Duluth Police Department, Shannan Paul, and many, many others provided entertainment and encouragement as our community united for a great morning of fundraising, resources, and support. Thank you!
 

KSTP supports Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota

JonahKSTPSOH16Steps of Hope 2016 and the Duluth Police Department were highlighted on KSTP-TV news this morning. Tom Durian interviewed Jonah Weinberg and they talked about AuSM's community friendly Steps of Hope walk and the unveiling of the AuSM autism awareness police car. Join us for Steps of Hope at Southdale Center tomorrow from 8:30-11 a.m.

Duluth squad car unveiled during Steps of Hope 2016

DuluthSquadLogosweb

It's slick. It's quick. It's a ride for REAL heroes, and it's coming to Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota on Sunday, March 6 from 8:30-11 a.m. at Southdale Center! For months, the Duluth Police Department has been working with Elite Tinting & Graphics to produce this AuSM Autism Awareness squad car, and it will be unveiled outside of the second level Rojo Grill mall entrance during Steps of Hope. On your way into the walk, stop by for a car replica sticker, an Autism Hero badge sticker, and the chance to see this amazing car up close!

Steps of Hope is Sunday

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Though online registration for Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota 2016 is closed, we invite you to join us as a walk-in registrant on Sunday, March 6 from 8:30-11 a.m. at Southdale Center. Steps of Hope is the state's most powerful walk for autism and will feature a colossal autism resource fair. Participants will walk at their own pace while gathering resources and enjoying a stage show emceed by KFAN's Paul Allen, face painting, balloon animals, free snacks, superheroes and princesses in costume, Goldy Gopher, and so much more.

AuSM heroes swoop into the KARE 11 Backyard

KAREbackyard3web

AuSM's Autism Heroes had a great time with Belinda Jensen in the KARE 11 Backyard! Special thanks to Nemer Fieger for coordinating this fun appearance where we unveiled our super walker T-shirts!

Register today to join AuSM on March 6 at Southdale Center for the state's most powerful walk for autism featuring a colossal autism resource fair. Recruit family members and friends to join your team and fundraise for the Minnesota autism community. Teams and individuals can register through the Steps of Hope 2016 Crowdrise page, AuSM's new, easy, and fun way to join in this event of the year for our community.

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AuSM advocates for you

advocacylogowebAuSM is committed to being your voice at the Minnesota legislature as well as creating public policy by maintaining a presence on key committees, task forces, and organizations. AuSM's Advocacy Committee will be focusing on the following issues in 2016: monitoring Olmstead Plan implementation; reducing or eliminating parental fees for families on TEFRA; monitoring implementation of Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI) Services Benefit; supporting Best Life Alliance (previously 5% campaign); promoting training for paraprofessionals, direct support providers, parents and advocates; eliminating “Zero Tolerance” rules in schools; supporting adequate funding for special education; and expanding self-directed employment and adult services through consumer direction. Click here to join the forward-thinking group of advocates on AuSM's Advocacy Committee or to sign up for AuSM's Advocacy Alert list.

AuSM annual meeting

AuSM-45-Anniversary-logo-v4eDuring AuSM's Annual Meeting last night, the board, staff, and AuSM members went through 2015 at a glance and discussed AuSM's financial report. After recognizing Todd Schwartzberg for his many years of service to AuSM as a volunteer, board member, and board president, the board voted into office Jean Bender, President; Paul D'Arco, Vice President; and Marc Berris, Secretary.

Click here to read AuSM's 2015 Annual Report.

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Vikings voice "PA" to emcee Steps of Hope 2016

PaulAllenwebAuSM is pleased to announce that KFAN FM 100.3's Paul Allen, the voice of Vikings football, will be the Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota 2016 emcee! 

Register today to join AuSM and PA on March 6 at Southdale Center for the state's most powerful walk for autism featuring a colossal autism resource fair. Recruit the family members and friends to join your team and fundraise for the Minnesota autism community. Teams and individuals can register through the Steps of Hope 2016 Crowdrise page, AuSM's new, easy, and fun way to join in this event of the year for our community.

 

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Learn communication and future prep in February

iStock 000014432495SmallOn Tuesday, Feb. 2, AuSM therapist Beth Pitchford, MA, will present "Focus on Unspoken Communication" from 7-9 p.m. at Lionsgate Academy in Crystal, Minn. Individuals with autism, parents, family members, caregivers, educators, and therapists are invited to learn about facial expressions, microexpressions, and larger body movements and how these unspoken forms of communication add meaning to spoken communication and deepen the value of interpersonal relationships.

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, join us at AuSM's office in St. Paul from 7-9 p.m. when Jason Schellack, Esq. presents "Preparing for the Future: Guardianship and Supplemental Needs Trusts." Learn the process for establishing legal guardianship for adult children with disabilities and how to qualify for free legal assistance. Also learn about supplemental needs trusts and how they can help provide for your loved one with autism while still maintaining eligibility for government benefits.

Click here to learn more and to register for the February AuSM Skillshops.

Share your message with the MN autism community

MN-Autism-conference logo w date v1AuSM invites you to make an impact at the Autism Society of Minnesota’s 21st Annual Minnesota Autism Conference. The conference, held April 27-30, 2016 at the Doubletree by Hilton Park Place Hotel in St. Louis Park, Minn., is the ideal platform to share your organization’s story, products and services with our community. When you participate as an exhibitor, sponsor or advertiser, you can expect to reach hundreds of parents; special education teachers; speech, physical and occupational therapists; mental health professionals; program managers; direct support professionals, and individuals with autism. 

Reserving your sponsorship, advertising and exhibit space by April 5, 2016 will secure your inclusion in the conference program. Click here for more information.

Photographer with autism Artist of the Month at Affinity

stpaulskylinewebAffinity Plus Federal Credit Union in Minneapolis has named photographer Larry Mack Artist of the Month. Mack has selected 14 of his photography images to share through a display at the Affinity Plus branch in January.

Mack, who has been interested in photography since he was 14, said his images are inspired by “whatever comes up”, and his display includes prints of trains, cityscapes, and nature.  Mack also believes his photography skill is enhanced by the autism diagnosis he received in 2012.

“I am not an autistic artist; I’m an artist with high functioning autism,” Mack said. “I have a capability and see things a little differently.”

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AuSM in Health Partners insurance network

healthpartnerslogoAs of Jan. 1, 2016, the Autism Society of Minnesota is in the Health Partners Open Access Network. The Open Access Network is Health Partners' broadest network and includes Medical Assistance and Minnesota Care. Contact Health Partners Behavioral Health Navigators at 952.883.5811 to confirm that AuSM is in your network plan.

Strike an AUTISM HERO pose for Steps of Hope 2016

SuperJonahwebcallingallwebAuSM's executive director, Jonah Weinberg, invites you to unlock your inner autism hero! Flex your hero muscles and show us what a true AUTISM HERO looks like. Pose in civilian clothes, or go all out with a cape or costume! E-mail your photo to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or post your photo to share with your networks on Facebook or Twitter with the tag #autismhero.

Register today for the state's most powerful walk for autism featuring a colossal autism resource fair. Recruit the family members and friends to join your team and fundraise for the Minnesota autism community. Teams and individuals can register through the Steps of Hope 2016 Crowdrise page, AuSM's new, easy, and fun way to join in this event of the year for our community.

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AuSM wishes you happy holidays in 2015

ornamentOn behalf of the Autism Society of Minnesota staff and Board of Directors, we wish you and your family a safe, fun, and happy holiday season. AuSM will be open until noon on Dec. 24, closed Dec. 25, open until noon on Dec. 31, and closed Jan. 1, 2016. We look forward to serving you in AuSM's 45th anniversary year!

If you'd like to make a tax-deductible contribution to AuSM by Dec. 31, please click here. 100% of your donation will stay in Minnesota to support programs and services for our local autism community. Thank you!

CommVault event raises money for AuSM programs

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AuSM partnered with Microsoft and the Hockey Helping Kids (HHK) Foundation for the CommVault fundraising event on Dec. 17. This event, held at the Excel Energy Center, included a silent auction, dinner, a MN Wild game, and other activities to raise money for HHK and AuSM. More than $5,000 was donated in support of AuSM's programs and services for our community. Thank you!

Creating fun, inclusive holiday environments

ChristmasTreewebThe holidays are a time for family and friend gatherings, parties, and plenty of extra sensory input. While the festivities can be fun, they also can bring stress and anxiety. Below are links to articles about making environments inclusive, tips for traveling by car or air, and preparing the individual with autism in advance for gatherings. 

Twelve Tips for Helping Individuals with Autism Have a Happy Holiday Season
Creating Fun, Successful, Accessible & Inclusive Holidays

Autism and the Holidays: Sensory Overload

ASA comments about San Bernardino tragedy

ASA50logoScott Badesch, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America, shares his thoughts on the horrific event that took place in last week in San Bernardino, Calif.

What is the value of the Autism Society in helping individuals and families impacted by autism? That is the question I often am asked as CEO. Part of my response includes talking about how we have a national network of 104 grassroots affiliates working throughout the nation helping individuals diagnosed with autism maximize their quality of life by providing support, information, programs and advocacy all aimed at helping a person have the opportunities of life most people take for granted.

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St. Cloud officers learn about autism first-hand

stcloudpolice15AuSM loves to train police officers and has worked successfully with several departments across the state to increase awareness and improve strategies for emergency responders.

In November, AuSM was especially grateful to a very special St. Cloud family for contributing to our training at the St. Cloud Police Department. Lt. Tom Justin and his wife Heidi introduced their 9-year-old son to dozens of participating officers. Their son showed off his talents, characteristics, and needs to officers eager to understand children and adults with autism who communicate and behave differently than neurotypical individuals. Officer Jake Walters, the young boy's older brother, invited officers from surrounding departments, including the Sartell Police Department.

Tom and Heidi also are strong advocates for Project Lifesaver and are working hard to make services available to Sterns County and the City of St. Cloud. Way to go, Justin family! And, thank you to their son for making a difference in your AuSM community! Click here to learn more about AuSM's autism training programs.

Sensory accommodations help everyone feel welcome

boygirlpaintwebWith a diagnosis rate of 1 in 68, autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in Minnesota. Often, the sensory differences and social challenges of autism make it difficult for families and individuals affected by autism to integrate into the community. In order to accommodate those touched by autism, many organizations and activity planners are responding with sensory friendly programming that allows for community engagement and the development of connections with others.

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The AuSM Minnesota autism community is a blessing

thanksgiving2015webAs we ready ourselves for Thanksgiving, AuSM is grateful for all of the individuals with autism, parents, grandparents, siblings, caregivers, educators, business professionals, first responders, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, direct support professionals, and the countless other community members who strive each day to make better lives for those affected by autism. What you do matters, and each of you is a counted blessing. 

In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, AuSM's office will be closed Nov. 26 and 27 and will reopen on Monday, Nov. 30.

DHS drops contract with UCare for Medical Assistance

UCarelogo15The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) announced its intent not to contract with UCare for the Prepaid Medical Assistance Program (PMAP) or MinnesotaCare beginning Jan. 1, 2016. Coverage and benefits of those currently enrolled in UCare will continue until Dec. 31, 2015.  

If you currently are enrolled in UCare, review your re-enrollment packet. The forms in the packet will let you know if you need to select a new plan for 2016 as well as which plans are available in your county. If you do not select a new health plan, you automatically will be assigned to a new health plan. 

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CDC releases new study showing increase in autism prevalence rate

CDClogowebA new study was released yesterday by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, which identified a prevalence rate of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as 1:45. This study is getting a lot of national attention, but it is important to note that this new number was not arrived at by the same methodology that led to the 1:68 finding, as identified in 2014 by the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. What does this mean? In short, the two prevalence rates cannot be compared as “apples to apples.”

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You gave to the max for autism in Minnesota

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Thank you to everyone who donated and and shared AuSM's message in efforts to encourage donations during yesterday's Give to the Max Day, our state-wide day of giving. Because of your generosity, AuSM raised a total of $8,373.68, far surpassing our goal of $6,800! Donations ranged from $5 to $1,000, and every one of those dollars will be used support AuSM's programs and services for our AuSM community! Thank you, too, to AuSM's newest Premier Partner, Cub Foods, for their matching gift that doubled donations up to $1,000.

If you were unable to give yesterday, but still would like to donate, please click here. 100% of your donation will stay in Minnesota to support our local autism community by funding AuSM's programs and services. Thank you, Minnesota autism community!

The Common Man supports AuSM on Give to the Max Day

DanColewebOne of AuSM's biggest fans, KFAN FM 100.3's Dan Cole The Common Man, has chosen AuSM as his Give to the Max pick. Thanks for your AuSM support, Common Man! Click here to see The Common Man's Give to the Max web page.

Celebrate the individual with autism who has touched your life by donating to AuSM today. 100% of your donation will stay in Minnesota to support our local autism community by funding AuSM's programs and services. 

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Support AuSM on Give to the Max Day 2015

GTMD15LogowebThursday, Nov. 12 is Give to the Max Day! Celebrate the individual with autism who has touched your life by donating to AuSM. 100% of your donation will stay in Minnesota to support our local autism community by funding AuSM's programs and services including support groups, the Autism Direct Support Certification program, emergency responder training, mental health services, social skills classes, summer camps, workshops, AuSM Skillshops, the annual state autism conference, sensory-friendly community events, customized training, and much more.

Click here to donate through AuSM's secure website; call AuSM at 651.647.1083; or send your donation to 2380 Wycliff St. #102, St. Paul, MN 55114. Donations received through Nov. 12 will be counted toward AuSM's $6,800 Give to the Max Day 2015 goal. Thank you!

Brenda Smith Myles offers transition strategies

BSmithMyles2015webThank you to AuSM's partnering organizations, Minnesota Life College and the University of St. Thomas (UST), and to participants who attended the "To Graduation, and Beyond" workshop today at UST's Minneapolis campus. World-renowned researcher Brenda Smith Myles, PhD., shared a lot of valuable information for parents, caregivers, educators, and individuals with autism and other learning differences during the day-long workshop.

AuSM joins Community Health Charities

CHClogo2015AuSM is pleased to announce its membership in Community Health Charities (CHC), an organization that unites the nation’s most trusted charities through workplace giving. Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, employees who want to designate their pre-tax, workplace giving dollars to support the Minnesota autism community may choose AuSM as a recipient.

“Being selected as a CHC member is a testament to and a validation of the important work we do at AuSM,” Jonah Weinberg, AuSM Executive Director said. “Our mission of serving Minnesota’s growing autism population, from birth through retirement, continues because of the support of this generous community.”

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Sensory friendly "The Jungle Book" Nov. 13

CTCJungleBook2015AuSM is partnering with the Children's Theatre Company (CTC) in their offering of sensory-friendly programming to the Minnesota autism community this season. CTC will offer a sensory friendly performance of The Jungle Book on Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. Join us for this fun evening of following Mowgli, a rambunctious and curious, scrappy, and silly boy who is lost in the Indian jungle. Mowgli is adopted by Baloo the bear, Bagheera the panther, and all the beasts who call the mysterious wilderness home. Click here for more information and to order your tickets today.

Autism in Business offers idea sharing and strategies

Autism-in-Business-v5dThank you to sponsors, resources, speakers, and participants who made Autism in Business 2015 a place for idea sharing, networking, and a discussion of strategies for employing and retaining individuals with autism. Business professionals, state agency representatives, and autism advocates came to TIES in St. Paul with open minds and a desire to learn more about the autism community’s untapped talent pool. Garth Johnson, Meticulon CEO and keynote speaker noted, "Individuals with autism don't need help - they need an opportunity." Click here for more information about AuSM's employment training opportunities.

Harvest sale brings smiles and dollars for AuSM

JonathanFriendswebAuSM extends a huge thank you to Jonathan, a friend to AuSM, who hosted his 5th Annual Fall Harvest Sale on Oct. 2 in Woodbury, Minn. Jonathan sold pumpkins, cornstalks, indian corn, gourds, and squash, all grown at his grandparents' farm in Wisconsin. He and his friends raised nearly $1,000 in support of AuSM's programs and services for the Minnesota autism community. Thank you so much for your hard work, Jonathan!

Pumpkin trolly a smashing success for those with autism

boygirlpaintwebMany families and individuals with autism participated in the Pumpkin Patch Trolley for Families with Autism on Saturday at the Minnesota Streetcar Museum. Held in partnership with our generous sponsor Thrivent Community: West End, the event featured free trolley rides, a pick-your-own pumpkin patch, face painting, and treats for all participants. The event was the perfect way to welcome fall!

What's so special about special education?

MplsPublicSchools15In collaboration with AuSM, Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) will host a presentation on the changing landscape of special education policy in Minnesota from 6-7:30 p.m. on Oct. 6. Jean Bender, AuSM Board Vice President and the Chair of AuSM’s Advocacy Committee, will walk through the changes occurring at the state and federal level. Following that, Sara Stack and Amy Johnson of MPS will explain how those changes impact students at the local level. The presentation will take place at the North Regional Public Library, 1315 Lowry Ave. N., Minneapolis. Click here for more information.

AuSM's role in this meeting is to provide information about current happenings at the federal and state levels regarding special education. AuSM will not be advocating for or against any particular program, but rather will share information relevant for families, students, and educators.

AuSM's fall classes begin soon: Are you registered?

ZooSkillsrainforestwebAuSM social skills classes foster confidence and self-esteem while participants learn how to make friends, fit into a group, take part in conversations, ask appropriate questions, and have fun. Register for these classes that take place in a low-stress, accepting environment.

Como Zoo Skills
Saturdays, began Sept. 26
Creatures of the Night (elementary, ages 8-12)
Exhibit Design (teen, ages 13-18)

Ocean Commotion at the Minnesota Zoo
Sundays, began Oct. 4

Fidgety Fairy Tales: Beauty and the Beast
Theater opportunity with the Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health
Rehearsals begin Nov. 1
(ages 13-18)

AuSM Aquarium Camp at the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, Minn.
Saturdays, began Oct. 3

October AuSM Skillshop focus on executive function

discoveryfamilyThe Oct. 6 AuSM Skillshop, held at Lionsgate Academy in Crystal, Minn. from 7-9 p.m., will focus on executive functions, a variety of “higher-order” mental processes and behaviors that help the brain organize and act on information. These skills enable a person to plan, organize, remember things, prioritize, pay attention, and get started on tasks. In this AuSM Skillshop presented by Mary Beth Kelley, learn strategies and interventions for the different executive functioning areas. The focus will be on students in grades K-12. Kelley, a professional who oversees the Learning Disability Association’s assessment program, has been in the field of special education since 1990, serving in a variety of roles in public schools as well as non-profit settings. Click here for more information and to register.

Your donations to AuSM benefit the local community

biggive2015ASAwebThank you, Minnesota autism community members, for donating in support of AuSM during the Autism Society of America's Big Give for Autism. 

If you did not participate in The Big Give for Autism but would like to donate in support of AuSM's programs and services in our local community, click here.

To Graduation, and Beyond!

Planning for Success in Transition and Employment

BSmithMyles2015webThank you to AuSM's partnering organizations, Minnesota Life College and the University of St. Thomas (UST), and to participants who attended the "To Graduation, and Beyond" workshop on Nov. 6 at UST's Minneapolis campus. World-renowned researcher Brenda Smith Myles, PhD., shared a lot of valuable information for parents, caregivers, educators, and individuals with autism and other learning differences during the day-long workshop.

Click here to view the Hidden Curriculum presentation.

Click here to view Dr. Smith Myles's handouts. 

The Big Give for Autism is Thursday, Sept. 17

biggive2015ASAwebOn Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, AuSM will join the Autism Society of America (ASA) and more than 100 communities across the country for The Big Give for Autism, a 24-hour crowd-funding event celebrating 50 years of ASA.

A portion of donations made by Minnesota donors on The Big Give for Autism day will benefit AuSM. Click here to donate on Sept. 17.

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Autism in Business will feature inclusion strategies

Autism-in-Business-v5dOn Oct. 22, AuSM will bring together Minnesota’s top corporate leaders, business professionals, state agencies, and autism advocates for Autism in Business, a forum focused on providing positive strategies for employing and retaining individuals with autism. Held at TIES in St. Paul, the event aims to help businesses and employers learn more about the autism community’s untapped talent pool. 

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The Mighty highlights AuSM's Duluth social skills

zoogroupwebAuSM's social skills programming received national attention when a reporter from The Mighty contacted us to learn more about last week's AuSM Zoo Keeper Camp at the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth. This program was partially funded by a grant from the Lone Wolf Fund of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. We are proud of our participants and are thrilled to share this story! Click here to read the story and view photos from the class.

Click here to learn more about registering your son or daughter for AuSM's Social Skills programs for the upcoming school year.

AuSM's 2015 summer camps - it's an AuSM wrap!

ausm camp logo WEBFor nearly four decades, AuSM's summer camps have offered excitement and adventure to individuals with autism. The 2015 summer camp season has come to a close, but the memories made will carry on for years to come. We are pleased to share this AuSM summer camp recap. (Don't miss the clips music video at the end of the article!)

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AuSM to launch blog; writers with autism welcome

BloglogowebAuSM is getting ready to launch a blog, and we are interested in receiving stories and submissions from individuals with autism. Do you have a story to tell about your life with autism, opinions about neurodiversity, or thoughts about current events in the autism world? Please get in touch with us! All ages and abilities are welcome to submit blog stories and information. We also are glad to help in the creation of a piece as needed. Regular contributors welcome! Please e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Night of music and entertainment builds awareness

IMG 0314webAuSM thanks Chirch & The Dirty Thought, Miss Shannan Paul, and all other organizers and volunteers who helped with a Night of Autism Awareness at Famous Dave's in Minneapolis last night. The event featured music from Lawrence Miles & Courtland Pickens, Chirch & The Dirty Thought, plus surprise guest Kyle Rooker, the star of AuSM's inaugural gala! Proceeds will benefit AuSM's programs and services.

Education catalog available

educatalog15 16CvrFor 45 years, AuSM has supported individuals with autism, families, caregivers, educators, employers, tehrapists, and other community professionals by offering a welcoming place to learn, access services, receive training, and develop skills for navigating emotions, information, and life.

The 2015-2016 AuSM Education Catalog includes information about special interest-focused social skills classes that engage youth and adults; AuSM Skillshops that focus on discussion and problem-solving; and specialized training tailored for organizations and businesses, including the Life with Autism Series and AuSM Autism Direct Support Certification.

Explore the catalog to find AuSM programs and services that suit your needs and enhance your life.

Sunny day for the AuSM Golf Classic at Troy Burne

IMAG0033webThank you to our sponsors, volunteers, and participants in yesterday's AuSM Golf Classic at Troy Burne in Hudson, Wis. It was a beautiful day for a round of golf, even if the golf balls strayed from the greens (AuSM sold a record number of mulligans!). Lunch from Chipotle was enjoyed by all, as was the dinner sponsored by Fox Sports Net. All dollars raised will support programs and services for the Minnesota autism community. 

Ride for Hope raises money for AuSM programs

tripwebThank you to Lube-Tech, volunteers, organizers, ride stop hosts, and all of those who participated in the Ride for Hope today. It was a warm one, but that didn't deter the crowds from going kickstands up for those affected by autism in Minnesota. Proceeds will benefit AuSM's programs and services.

Thoughts and prayers to Elmi family as they mourn

HamsaElmiphotoOur thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hamza Elmi, a 6-year-old boy with autism who wandered from his home Thursday night. His body was found in the Mississippi River Friday morning. Our hearts are heavy, and we hope the support of the Minnesota autism community will bring comfort during this tragic time.

Local teen with autism builds video arcade game

NateArcadeGame15Video games can mimic real life. Just as a game’s missions can include moving from screen to screen, collecting things to increase life capacity, and leveling up to be more effective, people in real life move from day to day, collect resources to improve life, and gain knowledge to contribute to society. And just like video games, life can come with obstacles.

For Nate Allard, a 15-year-old from Chanhassen, Minn., obstacles don’t stand a chance at keeping him away from his life’s missions, including creating, designing, and building a video arcade game from scratch, a feat he accomplished despite some challenges. 

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Trolley event fun and ice cream much appreciated

trolleywebThanks to Anime Twin Cities and other financial supporters, many families and individuals with autism were able to take a free trolley ride yesterday during the All Aboard! Trolleys and Treats for Families with Autism event at the Minnesota Streetcar Museum (MSM). In addition to experiencing the thrill of riding a trolley, participants met other families and cooled down with an ice cream treat from Sebastian Joe's. The event was a great success, and AuSM is planning a future trolley event - watch AuSM's website for more information!

Tips for making the Fourth of July more enjoyable

fireworkThe Fourth of July brings fireworks, barbecues, patriotic band music and lots of flag-waving crowds. For families of some individuals with autism or sensory processing difficulties, this holiday "fun" can be a challenge. Click here to read The Washington Post article that includes tips for making the upcoming holiday more enjoyable.

In observance of Independence Day, the general AuSM office will be closed on Friday, July 3. Mental Health Service appointments scheduled for that day will take place as planned.

Cruisin' for Autism in Minnesota - a great Cam's Ride

motorcyclewebA huge thank you to HalfBreed Motorcycles, Sadie Llama deSigns, and all organizers and volunteers for the 9th Annual Cam's Ride that took place on June 27. The sun was bright as participants went kick stands up for autism in Minnesota. Participants enjoyed a great ride, food and giveaways at each stop. Proceeds raised will benefit AuSM's programs and services for the Minnesota autism community.

TED Talk: autism history

TEDautismhistoryDecades ago, few pediatricians had heard of autism. In 1975, 1 in 5,000 kids was estimated to have it. Today, 1 in 68 is on the autism spectrum. What caused this steep rise? In this TED Talk, Steve Silberman points to “a perfect storm of autism awareness” — a pair of psychologists with an accepting view, an unexpected pop culture moment and a new clinical test. But to really understand, we have to go back further to an Austrian doctor by the name of Hans Asperger, who published a pioneering paper in 1944. Because it was buried in time, autism has been shrouded in misunderstanding ever since. To listen to this informative TED Talk, click here.

New York pig roast raises dollars for AuSM

JohnColpoysSignwebAuSM thanks Kim Burridge, the Patriot Guard Riders, and all of those who helped plan and organize a New York pig roast fundraiser in memory of Msgt. John Colpoys Jr. on Memorial Day. The event included drinks, food, games, and an auction. Organizers raised more than $6,600, an impressive amount that will be shared between the Patriot Guard Riders and AuSM.

In honor of autism community grads

WendyCottermanwebAuSM is pleased to share this message sent in by a proud mom in our community:

"This is Wendy, my daughter. She has autism. Wendy graduated with honors on Saturday from East Ridge High School in Woodbury. She plans to attend the Next-Step program next year and hopes to go to art school and live either on her own or in a group home. Graduation was an awesome thing, and the fact that she graduated with honors is absolutely awesome! I'm very proud of my daughter and very thankful for the awesome special education teachers who have worked with Wendy throughout the years."

Congratulations, Wendy! Your future is bright!

Wrestling event raises money for AuSM programs

wrestling15groupwebSpecial thanks to the American Wrestling Federation, the Western Minnesota Autism Supporters and all of those who supported the wrestling event fundraiser on May 23 at the Montevideo Senior High School Gymnasium. The family-friendly event was action-packed and fun for all! A few kids even had the opportunity to step into the ring to see things first-hand. Todd Schwartzberg, AuSM's Board of Directors President, was honored to be a part of such a great event in support of AuSM's programs and services.

Trolleys and Treats free family event on July 12

MNStreetcarLogoA FREE event sponsored by Anime Twin Cities featuring Minnesota Streetcar Museum trolley rides and Sebastian Joe's ice cream.

Experience the thrill of riding a trolley, enjoy some ice cream, and spend some time with Minnesota autism community friends during this exciting, family-friendly July event. AuSM will offer two free half-hour Como-Harriet Streetcar Line ride times on July 12: one at 10:30 a.m. and one at 11:30 a.m. This event is open to families with autism as well as adults with autism. Space is limited; register early! Click here for more information.

Last chance to order Twins tickets for Autism Awareness Day at Target Field

twinslogoTo celebrate Autism Awareness Day at Target Field, MLB, the Minnesota Twins, and AuSM have teamed up to offer discounted tickets to the May 17 Twins game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Join us to cheer on the Twins with your family and friends! Grandstand or Home Run Porch View seats are $16. $3 per ticket will be donated to AuSM. Ticket holders also will be invited to participate in an on-field parade before the game. Wednesday, May 13 is the final day to order tickets for this exciting event. Click here for information on ordering your tickets today!

2015 Autism Awareness Day with AuSM at Valleyfair

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As part of its partnership with AuSM, Valleyfair will host Autism Awareness Day on Sunday, May 31. Discount tickets for the day are $25.99 - a savings of more than 40% off regular gate admission! A portion of tickets purchased through this link will be donated to AuSM. 

Joey's Ride 2015, great weather, great success

RonnieHugwebThank you to all organizers and volunteers for planning a fantastic Joey's Ride Saturday! The weather was perfect, and the camaraderie the best for the great motorcycle ride. All proceeds will benefit AuSM's program and services for the Minnesota autism community.

What are you going to do for fun this summer?

ComoZoowebThe end of the school year is approaching, and now is the perfect time to get registered for some summer fun. AuSM has a wide variety of summer social skills classes available for youth and young adults with autism including Como Zoo SkillsOutdoor Adventure Skills with Eastman Nature CenterAuSM Camps with the Minnesota ZooAuSM Artists with the Minneapolis Institute of ArtsAuSM On the Town (co-ed session is full; females-only session has openings); AuSM Social Connections in the West Metro; and Islands of Brilliance, a design technology-focused class. Summer sessions are filling quickly; click on your class of interest and register today!

Give Local America Day

GLAwebToday is Give Local America Day. Though nonprofit organizations can benefit from these national and statewide days of giving, today we encourage you to donate not because it's Give Local America Day, but rather because AuSM has somehow made a difference in your life and in the life of your loved one with autism. Dollars donated to AuSM stay in our community and build programs and services essential for our individuals and families affected by autism. If you don't have a dollar to give, consider doing something nice for someone today. Donations of time and help are equally important - AuSM is incredibly grateful for our volunteers!! Click here to donate to AuSM.

Thank you, Minnesota autism community!

Thank you to the volunteers, sponsors and participants who helped make the 20th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference and AuSM's inaugural gala, Celebrate AuSM Inspirations, a huge success! Thank you to K102's Muss for being a fantastic emcee, and congratulations to those honored during the program for inspiring our community:Mary Powell,Phil SieversColleen WieckAnne Dudley and Ronnie Sprigler.

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State autism conference begins today at DoubleTree

2015conflogowebThe 20th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference begins with this evening's keynote presentation by James Coplan, MD at 7 p.m. The conference will continue with a keynote presentations by Patrick Schwarz, PhD, John Miller, and Kari Dunn Buron, MS; dozens of breakout sessions on cutting-edge topics; autism-focused exhibitors, networking opportunities, and AuSM's inaugural gala, Celebrate AuSM Inspirations, on May 1.

Online registration is closed, but walk-in registrants for the conference are welcome. The gala is sold out. Click here for more conference information.

Design technology camp offered August 3-9

islands.logoAuSM is proud to partner with the creators of Islands of Brilliance to offer a unique design technology-based social skills summer camp to youth with autism Aug. 3-9. Classes are designed to engage students and assist with focus and socialization, while providing them with a sense of accomplishment through the completion of a creative project. Camp participants will be paired one-to-one with professional designers. Click here for more information and to register.

Step of Hope grants fund autism projects

SOH grayscale 75-0-100-0 NoDate RIn 2003, AuSM’s Board of Directors created a support grant program with a portion of the proceeds from the Steps of Hope fundraising walk. It was the directors’ intent to broaden AuSM’s ability to meet the needs of individuals or organizations supporting people with autism. The goal of these grants is to stimulate creativity, encourage successful programming and expand opportunities for children and adults with ASD across multiple settings for many years to come.

2015 Steps of Hope Support Grant applications for projects supporting individuals with ASD are due July 1. Click here for more information and to download the 2015 application form.

Spend May 17 with AuSM and the Minnesota Twins

twinslogoIt's Autism Awareness Day with the Minnesota Twins! Major League Baseball, the Minnesota Twins and AuSM have teamed up to offer discounted tickets to the May 17 Twins game against the Tampa Bay Rays! Join us to cheer on the Twins with your family and friends and enjoy all that Target Field has to offer. Grandstand or Home Run Porch View seats are $16. $3 per ticket will be donated to AuSM. Ticket holders also will be invited to participate in an on-field parade before the game. Click here for information on ordering your tickets today!

Final day for early registration rate for state autism conference

confbroch15coverimageToday is the last day to get the discounted registraton rate for the 20th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference. Click here to register today and save up to $25 per day.

Need help with conference session planning? Click on the links below for a suggested schedule based on what you'd like to obtain during this milestone year of conference.

Educators
Therapy Professionals
Parents and Caregivers
Transition-Age Individuals and Adults with Autism

Thanks, CommVault!

RandyDeMenochecktoAuSMwebAuSM is grateful to Randy DeMemo and CommVault Systems​ for supporting AuSM and the Hendrickson Foundation through the fourth annual Hockey Helping Kids event held at the Excel Energy Center earlier this month. Special thanks to sponsors, including Microsoft​ and RBA Consulting​, volunteers, and event supporters for the evening of socializing and having fun with raffles, prizes, and auctions.

Community inspirations to be honored at May 1 gala

winecheers2webJoin AuSM for Celebrate AuSM Inspirations, an exciting evening bringing the community together for fantastic food, drinks, games, a silent auction and a celebration of those serving as true inspirations to individuals affected by autism. During the gala program, emceed by K102's Mike Mussman "Muss", AuSM will recognize the following individuals who have inspired and supported Minnesota's autism community while going above and beyond in the areas of leadership, education, advocacy, volunteerism and community: Mary Powell, Phil Sievers, Colleen Wieck, Anne Dudley and Ronnie Sprigler.

The gala will be held May 1 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Minneapolis Park Place hotel during the 20th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference. All gala proceeds will benefit programs and services for the Minnesota autism community. The gala is SOLD OUT. We look forward to celebrating with you on May 1!

Find mindfulness and calm in Duluth tomorrow

ZPuppetsGuywebJoin AuSM and Z Puppets Rosenschnoz for the sensory-friendly performance of the Monkey Mind Pirates tomorrow, April 11 at 11 a.m. at the Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth. Come at 10 a.m. to enjoy a family "happy hour" with crafts and mindfulness activities for the kids. Online ticket sales are closed, but tickets will be available at the door for $7.50 each. Click here for more information.

Join us for the Celebrate AuSM Inspirations gala

celebratelogoIn celebration of the Minnesota autism community, the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) will host its inaugural gala, Celebrate AuSM Inspirations, on May 1 from 6-10 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Minneapolis Park Place hotel in St. Louis Park. Held during the 20th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference, the gala will bring the community together for fantastic food, drinks, games, a silent auction and a celebration of those serving as true inspirations to individuals affected by autism. 

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Monkey Mind Pirates play in Duluth this weekend

ZPuppetsGuywebAuSM and Z Puppets Rosenschnoz are partnering to offer a performance of the Monkey Mind Pirates on April 11 at 11 a.m. at the Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth. Sail along with Captain Fitz as he sets out for the Legendary Island of Calm. When the unruly Monkey Mind Pirates hijack his ship with anxiety, depression and distraction, the Captain goes overboard where learns to change his “Arghs” into “Oms” and tame the Monkey Mind Pirates. Come an hour early to enjoy a family "happy hour" with crafts and mindfulness activities for the kids. Click here for more information and to purchase your tickets today!

Open your little one's world to stories, puppetry, music and movement at Children's Theatre

CTClogoChildren’s Theatre Company and AuSM are partnering to offer a series of interactive family workshops modeling art-based strategies to engage your whole family. Specially designed for parents and/or caregivers with a child or children ages 3-5 with autism and their siblings, each workshop will explore theater activities that facilitate self-expression, creativity and imagination-play.

The first session, held April 19 from 2-4 p.m., will focus on Storytelling. Step into a favorite book! Build empathy and imagination as you use your face, body and voice to explore characters’ emotions, act out their stories and imagine different ways the story could turn out. Click here for more information and to register.

Adults and autism

supportThe Spring Life with Autism: Adults class has been postponed. Please consider registering for the June 2 AuSM Skillshop: Understanding ASD in Adults. This AuSM Skillshop will be taught by Dr. Barb Luskin and will provide an overview of the common features of autism and Asperger's Syndrome in adults and how they manifest as characteristics. This session will help adults and their families understand why they do things differently and how to turn challenges into assets. Click here to register today.

Partner with AuSM for Autism Awareness Month

AwarenessMonthlogowebAuSM has a special opportunity for businesses and organizations to show their support for the Minnesota autism community during the month of April, National Autism Awareness Month. Partner with AuSM to raise autism awareness spread acceptance. Partnership is tailored for each business and organization, and can be as minimal as hanging a small poster and as involved as selling puzzle pieces in support of AuSM's programs and services. Click here to learn more and to become a supporting partner for National Autism Awareness Month! 

Muss and Belinda take on the Twizzlers Challenge

MussBelindaTwizzlersK102's Mike Mussman "Muss" and KARE 11's Belinda Jensen took on the Twizzlers Challenge for AuSM this morning. The two laughed through their sharing of the sweet treat, all in support of our local autism community. Chase on the Lake came through with a $5,000 donation, and individual donors contributed to make the challenge possible. Click here to watch the segment. Thank you, Muss and Belinda!

Ready to take on your own Twizzlers Challenge for AuSM? Be sure to send us a picture or video! After you take the challenge, extend it to another pair - let's keep the momentum going for autism awareness and our Minnesota autism community! Click here for the official AuSM Twizzlers Challenge donation form! 

Muss and Belinda Twizzlers Challenge is on!

Muss2015BelindaJensen2015Let's raise awareness about autism while helping K102's Mike Mussman "Muss" convince KARE 11's Belinda Jensen to join him for the Twizzlers Challenge! Your donation brings Muss closer to his $5,000 goal and the sweet challenge while supporting programs and services for our local Minnesota autism community. Donations benefit the Autism Society of Minnesota. The Muss and Belinda Twizzlers Challenge will happen live on KARE 11 Saturday (in the 8 a.m. hour) if Muss can reach his goal! Click here for more information and to donate today! twizzlers

AuSM is pleased to welcome Muss as our emcee for AuSM's inaugural gala, Celebrate AuSM Inspirations, on May 1! Click here to register to be a part of this special event for our local autism community!

Steps of Hope 2015 Support Grants: two options

SOH grayscale 75-0-100-0 NoDate RAuSM is pleased to announce that 2015 Steps of Hope Support Grants will have a dual purpose. In addition to funding programs that encourage team building and supporting individuals on the autism spectrum, AuSM also will offer the gift of knowledge through five grants for single registrations to the 20th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference. Conference registration grant applications are due April 17; the second grant option applications for projects supporting individuals with ASD are due July 1. Click here for more information and to download the 2015 application forms.

Monkey Mind Pirates steal hearts and ease minds

wkshpchorus2webZ Puppets Rosenschnoz and AuSM teamed up to offer a Monkey Mind Pirates performance at Children's Theatre Company today. The performance, featuring families from our local autism community, included catchy tunes and great choreography. Thank you to participants, volunteers and the Z Puppets crew for a fun afternoon!

Z Puppets Rosenschnoz and AuSM are taking the FREE Monkey Mind Pirate mindfulness workshops to Duluth in April and to Rochester in July. Registration for both cities is open now - register today to ensure a spot for your family and get prepared to bring on the calm! Click here for more information.

It's a monkey weekend

ZPuppetsGuywebZ Puppets Rosenschnoz and AuSM invite you to join us at Children's Theatre Company on Sunday, March 22 at 2:30 p.m. for the sensory-friendly performance of the Monkey Mind Pirates. This award-winning musical tale of a sea captain navigating the stormy seas of stress will feature the Minneapolis company of Z Puppets Rosenschnoz and youth and families from AuSM guest starring as the Sailor Chorus.

 

Treat your family to this show featuring award-winning, catchy, original songs and lovable Monkey Mind Pirates puppets. Come early for pre-show activities beginning at 1:30 p.m. during Family Happy Hour. Online registration is closed; tickets ($7.50 each) will be available at the door for purchase.

AuSM does not solicit donations by phone

The The Autism Society of America recently received a report from a Minnesota donor who received a call from a Michigan number soliciting donations in the name of the "Autism Society". Neither the Autism Society of America nor the Autism Society of Minnesota shares donor lists or solicits donations by phone. If you receive a call asking for donations to the "Autism Society", please report the call to AuSM or ASA as soon as possible. We value your support of AuSM and are diligent about protecting your personal information.

Caring Bunny event at Southdale Center on March 29

easterbunnySouthdale Center will host its Caring Bunny event on March 29 from 9:30-11 a.m. Caring Bunny provides a subdued and welcoming environment for children with special needs and their families. Be sure to stop by the AuSM resource table at Caring Bunny! Appointments are required. Click here for more information.

Caring Bunny 2015 at Southdale Center

easterbunnySouthdale Center will host its Caring Bunny event on March 29 from 9:30-11 a.m. Caring Bunny provides a subdued and welcoming environment for children with special needs and their families. Be sure to stop by the AuSM resource table at Caring Bunny and say hello! Appointments are required. Click here for more information.

New summer social skills classes in the West Metro

WebsiteLogoAuSM is pleased to partner with Connections Social Skills Camp (CSSC) to present two social skills day camp sessions for youth with autism and other learning differences in August. Five half-days of fun, West Metro-focused activities will be provided by the founders of CSSC. Make friends and practice social skills during exciting community outings! Click here for more information and to register.

Hottest ticket of the season

winecheers2webOn May 1, join us for AuSM's inaugural gala, Celebrate AuSM Inspirations. Held during the 20th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference at the Doubletree by Hilton Minneapolis Park Place Hotel, this exciting evening will bring our community together for fantastic food, drinks, games, a silent auction and a celebration of those serving as true inspirations to individuals affected by autism. All gala proceeds will benefit programs and services for the Minnesota autism community. Click here to get your tickets today!

20th Annual MN Autism Conference registration open

confbroch15coverimageThe 20th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference will take place April 29-May 2 at the Doubletree by Hilton Minneapolis Park Place hotel. The conference is where we join our voices as a passionate network to inspire hope and innovation. Here speakers, educators, paraprofessionals, therapists, psychologists, professionals, employers, caregivers, parents and individuals on the spectrum have a platform to exchange knowledge and ideas with one another - all with the goal of enhancing the lives of those touched by autism. The event will feature four keynote speakers, dozens of breakout sessions, exhibitors, networking opportunities, a gala and much more. Click here for more information and to register today.

Become an AuSM Member this spring and reap benefits

memberbroch15coverFor the past 44 years, AuSM has offered a place to learn, access services, and develop skills that enhance lives. AuSM membership connects you to a common community that acts without judgment, nurtures potential, advances knowledge and builds awareness. Now is a great time to join our supportive community. Members who join in March and April will be entered into a drawing for two tickets to AuSM's inaugural gala, Celebrate AuSM Inspirations, on May 1.

Click here to learn about AuSM's membership benefits and then click here to become an AuSM Member!

Steps of Hope at Southdale a huge success today

SOH grayscale 75-0-100-0 NoDate RThank you to all of our volunteers, sponsors, performers, teams and individual walkers who participated in Steps of Hope 2015 at Southdale Center on March 1. Hundreds teamed up to raise money for the Minnesota autism community, visit with sponsors, gather information at the state's largest autism resource fair, and have FUN. Special thanks to KFAN's Dan Cole The Common Man for emceeing the stage show, KS95's Crisco for bringing the KS95 prize wheel and giving high-fives to the crowd, and Mudonna and Goldy Gopher for keeping everyone energized!

If you weren't able to attend Steps of Hope but still would like to make a donation, click here.

Steps of Hope 2015 today

SOHclrNoDateRwebSteps of Hope 2015 is today! Join the Minnesota autism community for this great family-friendly walk and the state's largest autism resource fair from 8-11 a.m. at Southdale Center in Edina. KFAN's Dan Cole The Common Man and KS95's Crisco will be there along with Goldy Gopher and Mudonna from the St. Paul Saints. Bring your friends, family and networks for an awesome morning of fun. If you haven't registered, you're still welcome. Everyone's in for Steps of Hope 2015!

Steps of Hope 2015 is Sunday at Southdale Center

BooBomberswebOnline registration for Steps of Hope 2015 is closed. Walk-in teams and individual walkers are welcome to join us for this family-friendly event and Minnesota's largest autism resource fair from 8-11 a.m. at Southdale Center. Everyone's in! Donations can continue to be made online at www.SOHwalk.org or can be turned in at the walk. We look forward to walking with you on Sunday!

Action Alert for Feb. 27, 2015

Tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, the United States House of Representatives will vote on the Student Success Act (HR 5) to reauthorize and amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (formerly No Child Left Behind). AuSM and our federal partners have some concerns about the bill. Click here for more information about our concerns and a sample script for using when you call your legislators.

Steps of Hope 2015 Adventure Guide available

SOH grayscale 75-0-100-0 NoDate RThe Steps of Hope 2015 Adventure Guide is hot off the presses and ready for our walkers at Southdale Center on Sunday, March 1! Check it out and plan your exciting Steps of Hope adventure. Click here to see the guide. Haven't registered yet? There's still time! Online registration for Steps of Hope will be open through Thursday, Feb. 26. Those who register online are eligible for some great prizes including a jump party at Sky Zone! Click here now to register as an indivdual walker or as a team. We can't wait to walk with you on Sunday!

AuSM talks about Steps of Hope on KSTP today

JonahKSTPSOH2015AuSM's executive director was interviewed on the KSTP 5 Eyewitness News this morning. He invited everyone to join us for Steps of Hope at Southdale Center on March 1. The fundraising walk is only one week away. Click here to watch the KSTP news segment. Click here to learn more about Steps of Hope and to register to walk with us. 

Public hearing on restraint

ribbon2On Monday, Feb. 23 at 9 a.m., the MN Department of Human Services (DHS) will hold a public hearing on Rules Governing Positive Support Strategies, Person-Centered Planning, Limits on Use of Restrictive Interventions and Emergency Use of Manual Restraint, and Repeal of Rules Governing Aversive and Deprivation Procedures. The hearing will be in the second floor conference rooms designated 2370 and 2380, Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building, 540 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155. Click here for more information.

Public Hearing: Support Strategies and Restraint

TAKE ACTION NOW: Public Hearing Monday, Feb. 23 at 9 a.m.

The MN Department of Human Services (DHS) will hold a public hearing on Rules Governing Positive Support Strategies, Person-Centered Planning, Limits on Use of Restrictive Interventions and Emergency Use of Manual Restraint, and Repeal of Rules Governing Aversive and Deprivation Procedures in Minnesota Rules, 9525.2700 to 9525.2810; Revisor's ID No. R-04213.

The rules that DHS is considering require the use of positive support strategies and govern the emergency use of manual restraint. DHS is also considering the repeal of rules governing the use of aversive and deprivation procedures now prohibited by Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 245D. 

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Team up for AuSM!

SOH grayscale 75-0-100-0 NoDate RSteps of Hope is just a little more than a week away! Are you registered to walk with the Minnesota autism community?
We look forward to walking with you in 2015 at Southdale Center in Edina on Sunday, March 1 from 8-11 a.m.! Team up to raise money for autism programs and services in our community, visit with sponsors, gather information at the state's largest autism resource fair, and have FUN. Register today, fundraise, and join us for this great event with the Minnesota autism community!

SOHRegister15   SOHDonate15

Dojo Karate ice fishing fundraiser for AuSM

DojoFish2015Join fishing pros for this exciting ice fishing tournament on Buffalo Lake in Wright County, Minn. from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Feb. 22. Fishing equipment will be provided, but bring your own chair or bucket. Hot dogs and hot chocolate will be available. The entry fee is $10. All proceeds will be donated to AuSM. Click here for more information.

Autism conference keynote speakers announced

2015conflogowebThe 20th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference will be held April 29-May 2, 2015 at the DoubleTree Hilton by Minneapolis Park Place Hotel in Minneapolis. Here, speakers, educators, therapists, psychologists, employers, paraprofessionals, caregivers, parents and individuals on the autism spectrum have a platform to exchange knowledge and ideas with one another - all with the goal of enhancing the lives of those touched by autism. Keynote speakers will include:

James Coplan, M.D. is an internationally recognized clinician, author, and public speaker in the fields of early child development, early language development and autistic spectrum disorders. 

Patrick Schwarz, Ph.D. is a dynamic and engaging professor, author, motivational speaker and leader in inclusive education, special education, general education, educational leadership, and human services. Dr. Schwarz is co-author of four books: From Disability to Possibility, You’re Welcome, Just Give Him the Whale and Pedro’s Whale. His new book is From Possibility to Success.

John Miller is the author of Decoding Dating, A Guide to the Unwritten Social Rules of Dating for Men with Asperger Syndrome, a book that offers individuals with autism practical guidance on the more baffling aspects of dating.

Kari Dunn Buron, MS is an Autism Education Specialist who taught in the K-12 public school system, working with students on the autism spectrum for more than 30 years. Dunn Buron has authored many books and is the co-author of The Incredible 5-Point Scale.

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CTC and MIA expand summer program options

CTClogoChildren’s Theatre Company and AuSM are partnering to offer a series of interactive family workshops modeling art-based strategies to engage your whole family. Specially designed for parents and/or caregivers with a child or children ages 3-5 with autism and their siblings, each workshop will explore theater activities that facilitate self-expression, creativity and imagination-play. Click here for more information and to register.

miahorizontalThe Minneapolis Institute of Arts and AuSM are proud to present two new July social skills camps for young artists with autism - AuSM Artists. Be inspired by famous artists and get creative using different mediums while practicing social skills, enjoying the museum and making friends. Click here for more information and to register.

Both of these new summer programs are made possible by grants from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.

Autism organizations collaborate on pilot to improve post-high school outcomes

iStock 000014432495SmallAuSM, Autism Works, and Lionsgate Academy are jointly piloting a post-secondary navigation project to help high school-aged youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other learning differences create and implement a “roadmap” for life after graduation through a grant from Minnesota universities and colleges. The goal of the program is to increase the number of youth with autism who successfully transition from high school into post-secondary education or employment.

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Age-specific autism classes held at AuSM

childhoodAuSM's Life with Autism series offers information and strategies to parents, family members, relatives and caregivers of indiviuals with autism through hope-filled, engaging, age-focused classes led by autism experts and parent speakers. Winter and Spring session registration is open now; AuSM members receive discounted rates. Click on the below links for more information and to register today.

Spring Sessions
Life with Autism: Adults - April 4 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Life with Autism: Newly Diagnosed (Session 1, ages 18 mos.-5 yrs.) - May 9, 16, 30 and June 6 from 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Life with Autism: Newly Diagnosed (Session 2, ages 6-10 yrs.) - May 5, 12, 19 and 26 from 6:30-9 p.m.

Thanks, Hip Hop 4 Autism!

kidsonstagewebHipHop4Autism, held at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall in St. Paul last night was a huge success. Many turned out to watch local artists bring their works to life and rappers invited participating children with autism to join them on stage for recognition and celebration. Thanks for a great night, SP Style Productions Studio, organizers, volunteers and participants!

Monkeys head for Duluth in April and Rochester in July

NewMMPlogoZ Puppets Rosenschnoz and AuSM are taking the FREE Monkey Mind Pirate mindfulness workshops around Minnesota this spring and summer. During the April Spring Break, participate in the workshop for families with autism in Duluth. In July, participate in Rochester. Registration for both cities is open now - register today to ensure a spot for your family and get prepared to bring on the calm! Click here for more information.

Treat your family to the Monkey Mind Pirates/Z Puppets Twin Cities show featuring award-winning, catchy, original songs, the lovable Monkey Mind Pirates puppets, and families currently participating in the Twin Cities workshops. The show will take place on March 22 at 2:30 p.m. at Children's Theatre Company (Cargill Stage). Click here for more information and to reserve your tickets.

Gabriel's Gift registered for Steps of Hope today

GabrielsGiftwebRegister today to join Team Gabriel's Gift for the Steps of Hope 2015 family fun walk on March 1 at Southdale Center. This team is inspired to participate in the walk because of a smart, hardworking, Angry Birds-loving little boy named Gabriel.Throughout the last three years, Gabriel (and his Steps of Hope team) have been through a lot, experiencing many emotions, many situations, many triumphs, and many struggles. Gabriel has made progress and showed everyone that there is no limit to his potential. The team is grateful for the many services and supports they have access to, for the people who have come into their lives, and for the perfect boy who inspires them and makes them smile every day. Read about what inspires other teams to walk, register your team, fundraise for the Minnesota autism community, and walk with Gabriel's Gift and AuSM on March 1!

Skillshop tonight at Fraser

iStock 000014432495SmallJoin us tonight for an AuSM Skillshop, Understanding the Anxiety Curve, instructed by Mitzi Curtis, MA, from 7-9 p.m. at Fraser in Eden Prairie. Learn how to use the Anxiety Curve to assist individuals with autism in understanding and managing their emotional responses. Click here for more information. Online registration is closed. Walk-in registrants are welcome, space permitting.

Izzy's Ice Cream for AuSM

AuSMsupportatIzzysThanks to the Minnesota autism community supporters who visited the Twin Cities Izzy's Ice Cream locations yesterday to have a sweet treat. Izzy's will donate $2 to AuSM for every purchase of ice cream in a cake cone, a sugar cone or in a bowl. This little friend of AuSM tolerated the cold outside and was happy to have a scoop in support of AuSM inside. Cheers, friends, and thank you for hosting this special day for AuSM, Izzy's!

IzzyicecreamIzzy's generosity continues... On Feb. 12, Izzy's owners will host a movie and ice cream night at the Riverview Theater. With a $10 ticket in advance ($13 at the door), movie goers will receive a free pint after the movie, are able to participate in a silent auction, and will leave knowing that 100% of the proceeds will be distributed among the organizations participating in Izzy's 13 Days of Giving. Click here for more information.

AuSM peace officer training approved for CEUs

eplogo2014webThe Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training has approved the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) emergency preparedness training classes for Continuing Education Credit (CEU) for peace officers. 

“With a diagnosis rate of one in 68, autism is the fastest growing disability in our state. Everyone knows someone who is touched by autism,” Dawn Brasch, AuSM Education and Training Specialist said. “Educating peace officers about autism not only ensures the safety of individuals with autism, but also the safety of officers and the community as a whole.”

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It's Izzy's Ice Cream Day!

IzzyicecreamAuSM is partnering with Izzy's Ice Cream for their 13 Days of Giving program. Today, Feb. 2, 2015, Izzy's Ice Cream will donate $2 to AuSM for every purchase of ice cream in a cake cone, a sugar cone or in a bowl. Please visit one of the two Izzy's Ice Cream Twin Cities locations today and support AuSM's mission of enhancing the lives of of those in our local autism community! Click here for more information.

Understanding the Anxiety Curve on Feb. 3 at Fraser

iStock 000014432495SmallJoin us for the next AuSM Skillshop, Understanding the Anxiety Curve, instructed by Mitzi Curtis, MA, on Tuesday, Feb. 3 from 7-9 p.m. at Fraser in Eden Prairie. Learn how to use the Anxiety Curve to assist individuals with autism in understanding and managing their emotional responses. Click here for more information. Online registration is closed. Walk in registrants are welcome, space permitting.

Steps of Hope - AuSM Walk

SOH grayscale 75-0-100-0 NoDate RIt's time to build your team!
Calling all sponsors, individuals, families, teams and volunteers! We look forward to walking with you in 2015 at Southdale Center in Edina! Team up to raise money for autism programs and services in our community, visit with sponsors, gather information at the state's largest autism resource fair, and have FUN. Register today, fundraise, and join us for this great event with the Minnesota autism community!

SOHRegister15   SOHDonate15

Make Monkey Mind Pirates a part of your family

ZPuppetsGuywebZ Puppets Rosenschnoz and AuSM invite families affected by autism to participate in the FREE Monkey Mind Pirate workshops in the Twin Cities, Duluth and Rochester this spring and summer. Monkey Mind Pirates is the world's only puppet, rock yoga adventure, combining arts and mindfulness to give families creative tools to find calm. Each city's workshop is for youth living with autism, siblings ages 7+ and accompanying adults. Space is limited; register today! Click here for more information and to register for the workshop near you.

Workshops will culminate with participants performing alongside Z Puppets as the Sailor Chorus in a public performance of the award-winning, nationally touring musical. Click here to order tickets for the show near you.

Summer camp and social skills registration opens Jan. 26

summercvr2015webAre you ready to plan your exciting summer adventures? Registration for AuSM Summer Camps including Hand in Hand, Wahode and Discovery, and registration for AuSM Summer Social Skills classes including AuSM Como Zoo Skills, AuSM On the Town and Eastman Outdoor Adventure Camp open tomorrow. Registration for AuSM's camps with the Minnesota Zoo will open on Feb. 15. Click here to read through the catalog and choose the activity that will get your summer set for fun! Camps and classes will fill quickly!

Star Tribune article features AuSM's autism cards

childhasautismStar Tribune lifestyle writer Gail Rosenblum interviewed AuSM's Dawn Brasch about the value of "I Have Autism" and "This Child Has Autism" cards created to assist parents and individuals affected by autism. Click here to read the complete article.

If you are interested in getting an "I Have Autism" or a "This Child Has Autism" card, please e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 651.647.1083.

One piece at a time

puzzleteamwebAuSM's awesome puzzle making team had a great time working on their 1,500 piece puzzle during the Saint Paul Winter Carnival Jigsaw Puzzle Contest at the Landmark Center this morning. Way to go, team!

Coach Dave gives exercise tips and strategies

CoachDavewebMore than 60 educators, parents, coaches and other professionals are learning how to implement effective exercise for individuals with autism during today's AuSM Workshop: "Exercise is the Gateway to Build Fitness, Self-Esteem and Relationships". Coach Dave Geslak is sharing tools and tips, and is ready to get participants up and moving. Thank you to Coach Dave, participants and workshop sponsors, Landscape Structures and Flagship Recreation for making this educational workshop possible.

Coach Dave's exercise workshop is tomorrow

CoachDaveweb2015Learn how to implement effective exercise into your routine during Friday's AuSM Workshop: "Exercise is the Gateway to Build Fitness, Self-Esteem and Relationships". Be ready to move and you will leave with the tools to transform the lives of those affected by autism! This workshop is sponsored by Landscape Structures/Flagship Recreation. Online registration is closed, but walk-in registrants are welcome. Click here for more information.

Final day to register online for exercise workshop

CoachDaveweb2015Learn how to implement effective exercise into your routine during Friday's AuSM Workshop: "Exercise is the Gateway to Build Fitness, Self-Esteem and Relationships". Be ready to move and you will leave with the tools to transform the lives of those affected by autism! This workshop is sponsored by Landscape Structures/Flagship Recreation. Online registration will close at the end of the day today. Walk-in registrants are welcome, space permitting. Click here for more information and to register today.

Ice cream for AuSM

IzzyicecreamAuSM is partnering with Izzy's Ice Cream for their 13 Days of Giving program. On Feb. 2, 2015, Izzy's Ice Cream will donate $2 to AuSM for every purchase of ice cream in a cake cone, a sugar cone or in a bowl. Please visit one of the two Izzy's Ice Cream Twin Cities locations on Feb. 2 and support AuSM's mission of enhancing the lives of of those in our local autism community! Click here for more information.

Steps of Hope 2015 registration is open!

SOH grayscale 75-0-100-0 NoDate RIt's time to build your team!
Calling all sponsors, individuals, families, teams and volunteers! We look forward to walking with you in 2015 at Southdale Center in Edina! Team up to raise money for autism programs and services in our community, visit with sponsors, gather information at the state's largest autism resource fair, and have FUN. Register today, fundraise, and join us for this great event with the Minnesota autism community!

SOHRegister15   SOHDonate15

Bring mindfulness and calm into your family's life

ZPuppetsGuywebZ Puppets Rosenschnoz and AuSM invite families affected by autism to participate in the FREE Monkey Mind Pirate workshops this February and March. Monkey Mind Pirates is the world's only puppet, rock yoga adventure, combining arts and mindfulness to give families creative tools to find calm. Session 2 is full, but Session 1 still has a few openings for youth living with autism, siblings ages 7+ and accompanying adults. Space is limited; register today! Click here for more information and to register.

Conference Call for Papers applications due Thursday

2015conflogowebShare your insights with the Minnesota autism community! AuSM is seeking proposals for breakout session presentations during the 20th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference. If you are interested in submitting a presentation proposal, please click here to download the Call for Papers application form. Proposals are due Thursday, January 15, 2015.

Add exercise to your routine in the new year

CoachDaveweb2015Autism parents, caregivers, educators and fitness professionals: Learn how to implement effective exercise into your routine. Coach Dave Geslak will present "Exercise is the Gateway to Build Fitness, Self-Esteem and Relationships" on Friday, Jan. 23 at Ties in St. Paul. Be ready to move and you will leave with the tools to transform the lives of those affected by autism! This workshop is sponsored by Landscape Structures/Flagship Recreation. Click here for more information and to register today.

Sensory Storytime at Northtown Library in Anoka

bln-northtownJoin our friends at the Northtown Library in Blaine to participate in a free four-week Sensory Storytime class beginning Jan. 10. The sessions will be structured for children with diverse special education needs who may have difficulty engaging with books in the conventional way. Sensory Storytimes will combine books, songs, movement, and activities to stimulate the senses and promote learning. Click here for more information and to register.

5 ways to participate with AuSM in the new year

  1. Participate in a special interest-focused AuSM Social Skills class. Classes are open for registration in winter, spring, summer and fall, and are a great opportunity to make friends, fit into a group, take part in conversations and have fun.
  2. Join the Minnesota autism community for Steps of Hope 2015, AuSM's annual fundraiser and the state's largest autism resource fair. The family fun event will take place on March 1 at Southdale Center in Edina. Registration will open soon.
  3. Visit an AuSM Support Group. Free to the community, AuSM Support Groups offer those affected by autism the opportunity to share problems, solutions, joy, and sorrows with one another. Most groups meet monthly, and advance registration is required.
  4. Make plans to attend the 20th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference where we will join our voices as a passionate network to inspire hope and innovation. This year's event will take place April 29-May 2 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Minneapolis Park Place.
  5. Join AuSM's Advocacy Committee. As we find strength in numbers, let's work together to let the decision makers know that the Minnesota autism community is active, engaged and ready to speak out.

Happy New Year!

Happy-New-Years-Eve-2015-19May your moments in this new year be filled with love, patience, understanding, small victories, calm, smiles, acceptance, support, attention, empowerment, awareness, friendship, health, laughter, respite, and happiness. Happy New Year from AuSM!

Time to register for AuSM's January social skills classes

ZooSkillsturtlewebAuSM social skills classes foster self-awareness and self-esteem while participants learn how to make friends, fit into a group, take part in conversations, ask appropriate questions, and have fun. Building social skills using the participants’ special interests, AuSM Social Skills classes offer a low-stress, accepting environment that encourages learning and growth. Register now; classes begin Jan. 10, 2015.

Como Zoo Skills
Comedy Sports Improv Skills 
AuSM On the Town (FULL - Summer session reg opens in January 2015)

Happy Holidays from your AuSM staff

ornamentThe holiday season makes us feel humble, grateful and truly blessed because we are a part of the Minnesota autism community - a community that is brave, dedicated, determined and caring. On behalf of AuSM staff, happy holidays! We look forward to continuing our journey together in the new year!

The AuSM office will be closed on Dec. 25 and will be open for limited hours before the new year. AuSM will be closed on Jan. 1 and will reopen Jan. 2.

Holiday meltdown: a mom shares her perspective

ChristmasTreewebI have two boys, ages 9 and 11, with autism. They are two completely different, wonderful kiddos. Most people who do not know them would not know they have autism, and others who do know sometimes don’t see it either. I know and my husband knows. We see their ups and downs and have seen how far they have come since their preschool diagnosis.  

We prep our boys anytime we go anywhere. We talk about routine and what will happen when. Celebrating the holidays at Grandpa and Grandma’s house is no exception. First dinner, then presents.  We have our fidgets, our safe place. We’ve been doing this for years now, and they love Grandpa and Grandma’s house and seeing the family. What could go wrong?  

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2015 workshops for families with autism filling

ZPuppetsGuywebZ Puppets Rosenschnoz and AuSM invite families affected by autism to participate in one of two FREE Monkey Mind Pirate workshops this February and March. Monkey Mind Pirates is the world's only puppet, rock yoga adventure, combining arts and mindfulness to give families creative tools to find calm. Session 2 is full, but Session 1 still has a few openings for youth living with autism, siblings ages 7+ and accompanying adults. The final performance will take place at the Children's Theatre Company on March 22, 2015. Space is limited; register today! Click here for more information and to register. 

Thank you, What's On Tap for Autism supporters!

crowdwebCheers to the organizers, volunteers, ENKI Brewing and the Minnesota autism community for coming to the brewery last night to support What's On Tap for Autism, a festive fundraiser for AuSM. We also thank our two matching donors. If you weren't able to attend, but still would like to make an end of the year, tax-deductible donation to AuSM, click here.

Join AuSM at the Victoria brewery event tonight

ENKIbeerJoin us tonight from 4-10 p.m. for an ENKI Brewing beer pouring experience featuring CACAO Porter, Victoria’s Gold, Journey Pale Ale, Auburn Kolsch, and more. Beyond the craft beers, this festive event will include chili with all of the fixings, hand-rolled cigars for sale and a silent auction of items donated by Victoria businesses. ENKI will donate $1 for each pour to AuSM, and two donors have agreed to match dollars raised tonight! This event is organized by friends of AuSM. Click here for more information.

What's on Tap for Autism: Join us tomorrow!

ENKIbeerJoin us on Friday, Dec. 19 from 4-10 p.m. for an ENKI Brewing beer pouring experience featuring CACAO Porter, Victoria’s Gold, Journey Pale Ale, Auburn Kolsch, and more. Beyond the craft beers, this festive event will include chili with all of the fixings, hand-rolled cigars for sale and a silent auction of items donated by Victoria businesses. ENKI will donate $1 for each pour to AuSM during this festive evening, and two donors have agreed to match dollars raised tomorrow night! Click here for more information.

Winter AuSM Social Skills classes filling quickly

ZooSkillsturtlewebAuSM social skills classes foster self-awareness and self-esteem while participants learn how to make friends, fit into a group, take part in conversations, ask appropriate questions, and have fun. Building social skills using the participants’ special interests, AuSM Social Skills classes offer a low-stress, accepting environment that encourages learning and growth. Register now; classes begin Jan. 10, 2015.

Como Zoo Skills
Comedy Sports Improv Skills 
AuSM Job Skills
AuSM On the Town (FULL - Summer session reg opens in January 2015)

Improved AuSM Resource Directory now available

2015ResourceDirAuSM is pleased to announce an updated version of the AuSM Resource Directory now is available on this site. The AuSM Resource Directory is a compiled list of providers and businesses and organizations that offer products and services to the Minnesota autism community. Businesses and organizations in the directory are offered as options for families and individuals touched by autism. Click here to view the new AuSM Resource Directory.

Holiday fun in the cities

smilewithSantawebAuSM had a busy morning with fun sensitive/caring Santa events at Northtown Mall and Southdale Center. AuSM families also participated in a special sensory-friendly experience of the Toys of the 50s, 60s and 70s exhibit at the MN Historical Society and Fidgety Fairy Tales shows at the MN Children's Museum. Thank you to the organizers, volunteers and participants for a great day of activities in the Twin Cities area!

Set sail for the island of calm: FREE theater workshops for families with autism

ZPuppetsGuywebZ Puppets Rosenschnoz and AuSM invite families affected by autism to participate in one of two FREE Monkey Mind Pirate workshops this February and March. Monkey Mind Pirates is the world's only puppet, rock yoga adventure, combining arts and mindfulness to give families creative tools to find calm. The two sessions of this free workshop series are designed for youth living with autism, siblings ages 7+ and accompanying adults. The final performance will take place at the Children's Theatre Company on March 22, 2015. Space is limited in both sessions; register today! Click here for more information and to register. 

MCHA ends in 2014

The Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association and Commerce Department staff have found the best solution possible for families facing the loss of the MCHA program at the end of 2014. The available options for covering autism services that families are currently receiving through MCHA are identified in a letter posted on the Commerce Department website. Click here for more information.

Today is Giving Tuesday

givingTues2014Give to the Max Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday - so many days to follow as the calendar pages turn. If you have penciled in Giving Tuesday as your day to donate to the charity of your choice, please consider AuSM. 100% of your donations stay in Minnesota to build programs and services for our autism community.

Inclusive Schools Week

inclusiveschoolswkDec2014In honor of Minnesota educators and families who recognize that children have different skills and abilities, which means they learn better if education is tailored to meet meet their needs, Governor Mark Dayton has declared this week "Inclusive Schools Week" in Minnesota.

kidorangebackpack

Tomorrow's AuSM Skillshop canceled

The "Schedules Turned Upside Down" holiday-focused AuSM Skillshop scheduled for Dec. 2 from 7-9 p.m. at AuSM has been canceled. Please click here to view the complete lineup of AuSM Skillshops in 2015.

Explore toys at the MN History Center

toys2014The Minnesota History Center and AuSM invite you to explore the Toys of the 50s, 60s, and 70s and Open House exhibits from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7. This experience is exclusive to AuSM kids and their families. Museum staff will have hands-on activities, games, and crafts available. Admission is free and space is limited. Click here to reserve your spot or call 651.259.3015.

Support AuSM with your virtual shopping cart

AmazonSmileHoliday shopping this weekend? Planning to fill your virtual shopping cart on Cyber Monday? If you're on Amazon, consider using the Smile program. Click here to choose AuSM as your preferred charity and shop as usual. A percentage of your purchases will be given to AuSM to support programs and services for the Minnesota autism community.

Holiday cheer and AuSM: What's on Tap for Autism

ENKIbeerJoin us this holiday season for an ENKI Brewing beer pouring experience featuring CACAO Porter, Victoria’s Gold, Journey Pale Ale, Auburn Kolsch, and more. Beyond the craft beers, this festive event will include music, chili, hand-rolled cigars, prizes and a 50/50 raffle! ENKI will donate $1 for each pour to AuSM during this festive evening. Friday, Dec. 19 from 4-10 p.m. at ENKI Brewing in Victoria, Minn. Click here to view the event flyer.

Kick off your new year with an exercise workshop

CoachDaveweb2015David S. Geslak will present Exercise is the Gateway to Build Fitness, Self-Esteem and Relationships on Friday, Jan. 23 from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Ties in St. Paul. During this AuSM Workshop, learn the structure, visual strategies and protocol to implement an effective autism exercise program. Whether you are a parent or professional you will leave with exercises and routines that can be immediately implemented in your home, center or classroom. Be ready to move and you will leave with the tools to transform lives. The January AuSM Workshop is sponsored by Landscape Structures/Flagship Recreation.Click here for more information and to register today.

New venue for Steps of Hope 2015: Southdale Center

SOHclrNoDateRwebAuSM is pleased to announce that Steps of Hope 2015 will be held at Southdale Center in Edina. AuSM's largest fundraiser will take place on Sunday, March 1. Families, businesses, organizations and community groups are encouraged to build teams and raise money to support programs and services for individuals and families in Minnesota who are touched by autism. Registration for this family fun event will be open soon. Click here for more information.

 

Thank you, Form and Function participants

JonahBensonAmywebNearly 200 educators, parents and professionals participated in the Form and Function workshop presented by AuSM, Minnesota Life College and the University of St. Thomas today at UST's Minneapolis campus. Thank you to all eager participants and to our presenters: Glenis Benson, Kim Busse, Amy Reid, Chrissy Cleveland and L. Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan. Click here for more information on AuSM's workshop that will bring in the new year: Exercise is the Gateway to Fitness, Self-Esteem and Relationships on Jan. 23, 2015.

FREE performance on Sunday, Nov. 23

FidgetyLogowebPlease join the Fidgety Fairy Tales performance troupe on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. at the Center for Changing Lives for a free performance of The Prince and the Pea. This fairy tale that has been re-imagined to raise awareness about autism and will be performed by teens with autism. Click here for more information.

You are AuSM to the Max!

thanksYour generosity during yesterday's Give to the Max Day will make a difference far beyond the 24-hour event. All dollars donated will support AuSM's programs and services for our great local autism community. If you weren't able to donate yesterday but still would like to make a contribution, please click on the button below. Make a gift donation in honor of a loved one, a favorite teacher, or in support of all of those touched by autism in Minnesota. Click here to give.

Visit Santa on Dec. 7

santaNorthtown Mall on Dec. 7 from 8-10 a.m.
This is a special time to visit Santa, reserved especially for children with autism. If you would like to participate, please contact Linda Sell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to RSVP.

Southdale Center (New location of Steps of Hope 2015!) on Dec. 7 from 9-11 a.m.
Caring Santa provides a subdued and welcoming environment for children with special needs and their families to visit Santa. Click here to reserve your time to visit Caring Santa at Southdale Center.

Moving Out! AuSM Skillshop tonight at Lionsgate Academy

MovingOutFrustrated with your current living situation? Wondering about housing options for an adult with ASD? Learn the issues that young adults and their families need to consider when preparing to move into their own homes. The "Moving Out! Housing for Young Adults on the Spectrum" AuSM Skillshop will take place on Nov. 11 (tonight!) at Lionsgate Academy from 7-9 p.m. Online registration is closed. Walk-in registrants are welcome.

Walk-in registrants welcome for Form and Function

iStock 000014432495SmallAuSM, Minnesota Life College and the University of St. Thomas offer Form and Function: The Hidden Curriculum and Executive Functioning, a workshop for parents, educators, and professionals who work with individuals with autism and other learning differences on Friday, Nov. 14 at UST's Minneapolis campus. ASD Criteria Standards C2 and C4 will be addressed. Online registration is closed. Walk-in registrants welcome, space permitting. Click here for more information.

Schwan's Cares program raises dollars for AuSM

pieAuSM is partnering again with Schwan’s Cares to offer a simple and effective way to raise funds for programs and services that support individuals with autism in Minnesota. As part of this fundraising campaign, AuSM will earn 20% from Schwan’s product sales and 40% from e-certificate sales (available online only) through Dec. 25, 2014. When you place an order with Schwan's, reference our fundraising campaign number #16329. Click here for more information and to support this fundraiser.

Give to the Max Day is next Thursday, Nov. 13

AuSMGTMD2014Please donate to AuSM on November 13, 2014 for Give to the Max Day and help us continue to enhance the lives of those in Minnesota touched by autism from birth through retirement. Make a gift donation in honor of a loved one, a favorite teacher, or just because. All dollars donated to AuSM support programs and services designed for the Minnesota autism community. Each dollar makes a difference and supports our great community! Click here to give.

Watch AuSM's "Be" video and see how your support has helped AuSM's programs and services grow throughout 2014.

Polarn O. Pyret Shopping Program for Special Needs Families

PolarnOPyret

November 14 from 9-11 a.m.
Galleria in Edina

AuSM is partnering with Swedish children's wear company, Polarn O. Pyret, during the Galleria's Holiday Open House. On Friday, Nov. 14 from 9-11 a.m., Polarn O. Pyret will launch its private shopping program for families with special needs. The event will include presentations by Donna Erickson; a drawing for Children's Theatre Company tickets to the sensory-friendly performance of "Snowflake"; "Grandparenting a Child with Autism" author Sylvia Grubb; treats and much more. Click here for more information. We hope to see you there!

AuSM at the Galleria Holiday Open House

PolarnOPyretAuSM is partnering with Swedish children's wear company, Polarn O. Pyret, during the Galleria's Holiday Open House. On Friday, Nov. 14 from 9-11 a.m., Polarn O. Pyret will launch its private shopping program for families with special needs. The event will include presentations by Donna Erickson; a drawing for Children's Theatre Company tickets to the sensory-friendly performance of "Snowflake"; "Grandparenting a Child with Autism" author Sylvia Grubb; treats and much more. Click here for more information. We hope to see you there!

Tips for tomorrow's treats

HalloweenHalloween can be an unpredictable and sometimes scary event for families touched by autism. Click here for tips to make your loved one's trick or treat day more of a treat.

AuSM would love to see Minnesota autism community costumes. If you'd like to share photos of your favorite trick or treater, please e-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your permission to share on AuSM's Facebook page. Happy Halloween!

Duluth Skillshop focuses on emergency preparedness

boywithhatwebAuSM will present an AuSM Skillshop in Duluth: Safety and Emergency Preparedness at Home on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at the Cloquet Central Administration Building. Obtain tools for creating a safe home environment, develop and practice a home emergency plan, and build recognition and rapport with community emergency responders. It’s never too early or too late to enhance the safety of the homes and communities of families and individuals with autism spectrum disorder! Click here for more information and to register.

Learn about the hidden curriculum and executive functioning at Nov. event

iStock 000014432495SmallAuSM, Minnesota Life College and the University of St. Thomas offer Form and Function: The Hidden Curriculum and Executive Functioning, a workshop for parents, educators, and professionals who work with individuals with autism and other learning differences on Nov. 14 at UST's Minneapolis campus. Learn about the hidden curriculum and executive functioning skills for young adult and transition-age individuals with mild to moderate autism and other learning differences. Learn how these skills impact home, school, and work environments. The workshop will be instructed by Dr. Glenis Benson and will feature breakout sessions facilitated by Dr. L. Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan, Chrissy Cleveland and Dawn Brasch. ASD Criteria Standards C2 and C4 will be addressed. Click here for more information and to register.

Oct. Skillshops postponed

AuSM's October Skillshops, Advocating for Effective Interventions for Your Child and Toilet Training Challenge!, have been postponed. The reschedule of Advocating is to be determined; Toilet Training Challenge will take place on April 7, 2015. Click here for a list of the monthly Skillshop topics and speakers.

Grant brings Monkey Mind Pirates to families with autism

msab logo color smallAuSM has been awarded a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to work with local theatre company Z Puppets Rosenschnoz to bring Monkey Mind Pirates, an arts and mindfulness program, to youth and families living with autism in the Twin Cities, Duluth and Rochester.

The Twin Cities workshop will be scheduled this winter while the Duluth and Rochester locations will be a spring break and a summer camp respectively. More details will be coming soon to the AuSM website.

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Free Monkey Mind Pirates show Oct. 26 at Harriet Island

ZPuppetsGuywebAuSM partner Z Puppets Rosenschnoz invites the MN autism community to a free performance of Monkey Mind Pirates at 3 p.m. on Oct. 26 at the Harriet Island Regional Park indoor pavilion. Z Puppets and AuSM will offer FREE Monkey Mind Pirate workshops to our community in 2015; join the audience for their October show and then plan to participate with us in 2015! Click here for more information about the Oct. 26 performance.

Life with Autism: Newly Diagnosed rescheduled

childhoodFall Sessions 1 and 2 of the Life with Autism Series: Newly Diagnosed are being combined into one 4-class session that will be offered Oct. 18, 25 and Nov. 1 and 8, 2014. Join AuSM for this session that will include topics such as the definition of autism, parent feelings, neurological findings, therapies, communication strategies, teaching daily living skills, challenging behavior, sensory needs, visual supports, using social stories, and services and resources to help you family. Click here for more information and to register today.

20th Annual MN Autism Conference Call for Papers

2015conflogoweb

AuSM is seeking proposals for breakout session presentations during the 20th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference. If you are interested in submitting a presentation proposal, please click here to download the Call for Papers application form. Proposals are due January 15, 2015.

AuSM Resource Directory listing updates needed

We are in the process of updating the AuSM Resource Directory, our compiled list of providers and other businesses and organizations that offer products and services to the Minnesota autism community. If you would like to have your business or organization listed in the AuSM Resource Directory, please click here.

Emergency app for individuals with autism

5pointscaleThe Autism 5-Point Scale Emergency app helps individuals with ASD communicate with family, caregivers, first responders and other personnel in emergency situations. It is free and downloadable through the iTunes store for iPods and iPads and for Android devices from Google Play and Amazon. Click on the following links to add the emergency app to your device of choice.

iTunes Store for iPods and iPads.

Google Play for Phone and Tablet

Amazon App Store for Kindle Fire and Fire Phone

Jonathan's AuSM Harvest

JonathanPumpkinJoin Jonathan and his grandparents as they sell the fruits of their harvest on Friday, Oct. 3 from 3-6 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 4 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. All money raised will be donated to building AuSM's programs and services. Find them at 3678 Commonwealth Draw, Woodbury, MN 55125. Be sure to tell them you're a friend of AuSM!

Grant will bring Life with Autism series to Aitkin

MLECgrantSept2014web

A huge thank you to Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative for awarding AuSM a grant to bring the Life with Autism Series to Aitkin and surrounding areas. AuSM looks forward to sharing stories, strategies and resources with this great community. Click here for more information about the Life with Autism series.

It's harvest time!

JonathanPumpkinJoin Jonathan and his grandparents as they sell the fruits of their harvest on Friday, Oct. 3 from 3-6 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 4 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. All money raised will be donated to building AuSM's programs and services. Find them at 3678 Commonwealth Draw, Woodbury, MN 55125. Be sure to tell them you're a friend of AuSM!

2014 Autumn Autism Walk

Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 11 a.m.

OctAutismWalkwebLong Lake Regional Park
Meeting at the Shelter by the Beach

Contact: Rob Skundberg
651.795.1287
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information, click here.

Looking for a job

transition“I’m looking for a job. I’ve already applied to a couple of places,” this young man tells me. He is 18 years old and determined. He is very articulate with good social skills. Except for a few social quirks, you wouldn’t be able to tell he has autism.

Click here to read Kim Kang's report from a recent "Let's Talk About Transition" community conversation. These events are funded by a Bush Foundation Community Innovations Grant and will continue on various dates and locations this fall. Click here for more information and to participate.

Minneapolis transition conversation held tomorrow

adolescenseParents of middle school-age and older students, educators, school administrators, higher education professionals, business leaders, organizations, service providers, and students with disabilities are encouraged to participate in the "Let's Talk About Transition" community conversations throughout Minnesota this fall. Share your thoughts on improving transition services, employment, and post-secondary education opportunities for students with all disabilities

In partnership with Upstream Arts and Legal Aid, the next dialog will take place on Saturday, Sept. 20 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Upstream Arts in Minneapolis. Click here for more information about the Minneapolis event and future conversations and to register.

AuSM presents at MEA workshop on Oct. 16

EducationMNLogoIf you are an educator, plan to participate in AuSM's presentation at the Education Minnesota 2014 Professional Conference Workshop: "Inclusive Strategies for Success with ASD Students" on Thursday, Oct. 16 from 2:50-3:50 p.m. in Ballroom G at the St. Paul River Center. Learn practical ideas for supporting students with autism in general education classrooms. Topics will include defining ASD, social skills and communication supports, ideas for listening to those on the spectrum and making accommodations in the classroom. Resources such as apps, books and visual supports will be included.

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Families enjoy fun and sun

JonahNatewebA special thank you to Minneapolis Police, Special Olympics Minnesota, volunteers and participants at the second annual Fun & Fitness Academy on Sept. 13. The sun was bright and kids participated in bocce ball, basketball and more. Families also collected autism resources and enjoyed lunch together. High five for fun!

Form and Function November workshop

iStock 000014432495SmallAuSM is pleased to partner with Minnesota Life College and the University of St. Thomas to offer Form and Function: The Hidden Curriculum and Executive Functioning, a workshop for parents, educators, and autism professionals on Nov. 14 at UST's Minneapolis campus. Learn about the hidden curriculum and executive functioning skills for young adult and transition-age individuals with mild to moderate autism spectrum disorder. Learn how these skills impact home, school, and work environments. Discussion will include case study examples, missteps, challenges, and how to apply and resolve ongoing challenges. The workshop will be instructed by Dr. Glenis Benson and will feature breakout sessions facilitated by Dr. L. Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan, Chrissy Cleveland and Dawn Brasch. Click here for more information and to register.

Form and Function: The Hidden Curriculum and Executive Functioning

JonahBensonAmywebNearly 200 educators, parents and professionals participated in the Form and Function workshop presented by AuSM, Minnesota Life College and the University of St. Thomas today at UST's Minneapolis campus. Thank you to all eager participants and to our presenters: Glenis Benson, Kim Busse, Amy Reid, Chrissy Cleveland and L. Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan. Click here for more information on AuSM's workshop that will bring in the new year: Exercise is the Gateway to Fitness, Self-Esteem and Relationships on Jan. 23, 2015.

Visit AuSM on Facebook

LikeimageAuSM has 4,002 Facebook page likes and counting! If you haven't visited, please take a moment and see what we're up to on AuSM's Facebook page - you'll find inspiring stories, AuSM happenings, legislative updates and more. Thank you for supporting AuSM and our social media shares with the Minnesota autism community.

The Arc Minnesota Statewide Conference

Person-Centered Thinking: Putting You in Charge

November 14, 2014

Shoreview Community Center
4580 Victoria St. N.
Shoreview, MN 55126

Learn more about how you can take charge of your life and your services. For more information, contact The Arc Minnesota at 651.604.8066 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

FREE Fun & Fitness event

funfit2014webOrganized by Minneapolis Police, Special Olympics Minnesota, and AuSM, the second annual Fun & Fitness Academy event will take place on Sept. 13, 2014 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Minneapolis Police Special Operations Center. Families touched by autism will meet other families, build relationships with local police, play sports facilitated by Special Olympics staff, enjoy a free lunch, and access community autism resources. Registration is required and will be open until Sept. 8. Click here to register.

Autism resources on school and more from ASA

The Autism Society of America (ASA) has a special page on their website dedicated to providing easy-to-understand, practical information related to autism on a wide range of topics. The resource materials include tips on transitioning through the school years. Some good reading as you're preparing for the quickly approaching school year! Click here to access ASA's resource pages.

Thank you, Dojo Karate!

DojoKarate15Despite a short rain delay, the 3rd Annual Dojo Karate Charity Golf Tournament held yesterday at Riverwood National Golf Course in Ostego, Minn. was a huge success. The tournament raised more than $9,000 for AuSM programs and services. Thank you to Dojo Karate organizers, volunteers and participants for a great day on the greens in support of the Minnesota autism community!

Lube Tech's Ride for Hope a huge success

RideforHopeImage2014A HUGE thank you to Ride for Hope organizers, volunteers and participants who raised $8015 for AuSM this year! A total of 81 participants in 57 motorcycles and two vehicles drove 112 miles during the 2014 Ride for Hope. It was a fabulous day, and AuSM is grateful for your support of the Minnesota autism community!

Learn how to tell your story

childhoodA story can be a powerful way to effect change, but in our fast-paced, wired society, it can be difficult to make your story stand out. Join AuSM on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Oak Grove Middle School in Bloomington for a fun, interactive workshop where you will learn effective communication strategies and ways to make your own story compelling enough that policymakers and professionals will listen. Click here for more information and to register.

Share your thoughts on transition services

adolescenseJoin AuSM for one of several community dialogs about improving transition services, employment, and post-secondary education opportunities for students with all disabilities. These community dialogs, organized by AuSM, are provided through a Community Innovation Grant from the Bush Foundation. Fall dates include locations in St. Cloud, Bemidji, Minneapolis, Cloquet, Marshall, Rochester and Brainerd. Click here for more information and to register.

Exercise is the Gateway to Build Fitness, Self-Esteem and Relationships

CoachDaveweb2015Presented by 
David S. Geslak, BS, ACSM-HFS, CSCS

January 23, 2015
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Ties
1667 Snelling Ave. N.
St. Paul, MN 55108

Sponsored By

LSI RedGrayweb   FlagshipRecreation

About this Workshop

Coach Dave will teach you the structure, visual strategies and protocol to implement an effective autism exercise program. Whether you are a parent or professional you will leave with exercises and routines that can be immediately implemented in your home, center or classroom. Be ready to move and you will leave with the tools to transform lives.

Click here to view the Exercise Workshop brochure.

Speaker handouts will be distributed to participants at the workshop.

Workshop Objectives

  • Identify the Five Components of Physical Fitness for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders©
  • Understand the importance of visual exercise supports used in a school, therapeutic setting or home with individuals or in a small group.
  • Learned structured exercise routines to help improve cardiovascular endurance and to reduce weight gain.
  • Design two exercise stations using masking tape (Ladder and Letter Jumping).
  • Teach a child with autism the Crossover March, Superman, and Wall Sit.
  • Understand your role in leading an individual with autism to a physically active lifestyle.

Workshop Cost

AuSM Member: $65
Non-Member: $85
Group Rate: $40 per participant for groups of 10 or more. Contact AuSM at 651.647.1083 ext. 19 to register your group.

Online registration is closed. Walk-in registrants are welcome.

About the Presenter

Founder and president of Exercise Connection,Coach Dave has become widely recognized in the autism community for his aᴀection to the community, dynamic presentations and for the pioneering of structured visual exercise programs. He has trained parents and professionals throughout the world on the Exercise Connection protocol, authored three books, hosts a TV show, “Coach Dave,” on The Autism Channel, and provides jobs for individuals with autism through his Champion Program. The autism and special needs community has enthusiastically embraced Dave’s message and is especially encouraged by his results.

Ride for Hope a great success for autism community

RideforHopeImage2014Thank you to everyone who came out for the 107-mile Ride for Hope yesterday. It was a great day to gather and ride for the Minnesota autism community! Special thanks to sponsors, riders, the great little autism awareness merchandise sales gal, volunteers and the organizers, Chris and Marna Bame, owners of Lube-Tech, Inc., and Robin and Ray Baker, Lube-Tech employees. 100% of funds raised will be given to AuSM.

It's MN Zoo Crew time!

MNZoologowebJoin the Zoo Crew in August! Explore a day in the life of a zookeeper, a zoo vet, a sea otter trainer, and many other exciting careers to see if the zoo is the place for you. A few openings remain for Zoo Crew, the MN Zoo/AuSM social skills camp, Aug. 4-8, for students ages 15-18. Click here for more information and to register.

Share your AuSM story

What impact have AuSM programs, services and educational programs had on your life? Share your successes with AuSM through a 30-60 second video of you and your loved ones describing how you feel about AuSM and being a part of the Minnesota autism community. Submitted videos will be used as part of a special social media fundraising campaign AuSM's fundraising committee is organizing for Oct. 7-9, 2014. 

For more information or to submit your video, contact Susan Larson, AuSM board member and fundraiser organizer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thanks, Joey's Ride!

RideDonationwebThe dedicated Joey's Ride organizers presented AuSM with a check for this year's ride proceeds last night: more than $9500! Way to go, bikers!

AuSM's thoughts are with Joey's step-brother, Jason LeDuc, as he was in a critical motorcycle accident Thursday night. Visit Jason's Caring Bridge site here.

Bicycling tips from AuSM

boyonbikeweb2014AuSM recent Skillshop, Tips on Helping Your Child with ASD Ride a Bike attracted a full group of particpants. The session's instructor, Alex Uhler, an outdoor enthusiast with more than 40 years of bicycling experience, recently sent AuSM a list of bicycling tips to share with the Minnesota autism community. Click here for the list. Happy cycling this summer!

Happy 4th of July!

July4In honor of Independence Day, AuSM's office will be closed on Friday, July 4. Click here for tips on helping your loved one with autism enjoy 4th of July fireworks. We wish you a safe and fun holiday weekend!

Are you connected?

Have you registered to receive AuSM Connections, the free, twice-per-month e-newsletter packed with the latest AuSM information? If not, click here to be the first to receive the latest news about events, education and opportunities. Click here to read the July 1 issue of AuSM Connections.

Thanks, Cam's Ride!

CamwebSpecial thanks to the organizers, volunteers and riders who came out for Cam's Ride, the 8th Annual Cruisin' for Autism on Saturday, June 28. The day included an awesome ride, raffle and silent auction. Proceeds benefit AuSM's programs and services for the Minnesota autism community. Thanks for revving up for AuSM!

Cargill Ag Horizons learns about autism, gifts AuSM

AgHorizCargillwebThe Northern River Region of Cargill Ag Horizons recently invited AuSM to present to its sales team to create empathy for people with autism and their families.

"One goal was to encourage this team to be open to developing relationships with people with disabilities," Jim Nelson, Personal Marketing Manager said. "In our small group we have two families that have family members with autism." 

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History Center play test fun for families affected by autism

HistoryCenter2014webFamilies touched by autism visited the Minnesota History Center today to participate in a play test in the Then, Now, Wow galleries. Participants had some hands-on fun in the Minnesota-focused exhibits, enjoyed lunch and offered suggestions on making the experience autism-friendly.

Stimulate attention, foster calm and have fun

autismactivities2014Summer is the perfect season to explore explore color, shape, and sensory experiences through crafts. Projects can stimulate attention, foster calm, and create loads of fun! Click here to access 10 parent and teacher recommended activities.

July 1 deadline for Steps of Hope Support Grant apps

SOHNoDateTMwebIn April, AuSM awarded five 2014 Minnesota Autism Conference registrations to applicants through the Steps of Hope Support Grant program. Maarie Gayther, a conference grant winner, was a very happy recipient. "I want to thank you very much for giving me this 2014 Steps of Hope Support Grant so that I could attend the annual Minnesota Autism Conference this year," Gayther said. "With the sudden and unexpected loss of my job, by receiving this grant, I was able to go again. The keynote speakers talking about HOW people with ASD need to be taught to understand was very helpful as I have been working with my son's college teachers on this issue for years. This provided a lot of important backup for me to use when we ask for accommodations."  

For the second opportunity for Steps of Hope Support Grants, AuSM is accepting applications for proposals that maximize collaboration and partnerships with other organizations supporting people with ASD. A Steps of Hope Support Grant must benefit children or adults with ASD who live in our membership area. Grant applications are due July 1. Click here to learn more and to access the grant application.

Advocacy update from ASA June 2014

The House Energy & Commerce Committee approved the Combating Autism Act (CAA) on June 10 by a unanimous vote. The bill largely extends the research, surveillance, public awareness and professional training activities under the Combating Autism Act for an additional five years.

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Police take the plunge

SartellDunk2webThank you to the Sartell Police Department officers, and the Sartell mayor, who took the plunge for autism last night during the Sartell Summerfest. They'll be back at it today (weather permitting), daring you do dunk them in support AuSM's Emergency Preparedness programs.

Shrek participants all ears for friendly performance

ShrekCTCwebThank you to Children's Theatre Company for a wonderful sensory-friendly performance of Shrek the Musical this morning. Participants were enjoyed a fun theater experience. Special thanks to the AuSM-trained CTC staff and fantastic volunteers. Watch this site for more information on CTC's next sensory-friendly performance - The Cat in the Hat.

Great day at Valleyfair

SnoopywebThank you to everyone who chanced the weather today and joined us at Valleyfair for Autism Awareness Day. Even Snoopy showed his support of our great community! Visitors were given maps indicating gluten-free dining options and sensory-friendly places to relax. Overall consensus - let's do it again!

Building Community Friendships and Belonging

The University of Minnesota and The Arc Greater Twin Cities are beginning a research project focused on how adults with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities and/or autism and live in their parental home can increase their sense of community belonging and membership. Informational meetings will be held in June. For details, click here.

AuSM closed Memorial Day

MemorialDayThis Memorial weekend, we honor the heroes who sacrifice so we may know freedom. The AuSM office will be closed in observance of Memorial Day.

Temple Grandin speaks to hundreds in Minneapolis

TemplecrowdwebThank you to the volunteers and participants who attended Temple Grandin's AuSM Workshop this evening at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Hundreds came to listen to Dr. Grandin's inspirational message. Special thanks Cargill, the workshop's sponsor. It was an evening to remember!

Become a counselor for Hand In Hand this summer

ausm camp logo WEBAuSM is looking for awesome camp counselors for Camp Hand In Hand. Make a difference in the lives of some great kids this summer! Counselors receive training, meals and lodging for the camp session as well as a stipend. The camp is beautiful with modern cabins. E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or click here for more info. 

Sensory friendly opportunities abound

PressArticleMay18AuSM and partnering organizations, including Kids' Hair, MSP Airport, Valleyfair, Minnesota History Center, Children's Theatre Company and Maplewood Mall, are featured on the front page of this morning's Pioneer Press. Learn about the many sensory friendly options available to families and individuals touched by autism. Click here to read the full article.

Free theatre workshop for youth with autism

FidgetyLogowebAuSM and the creators of Fidgety Fairy Tales – The Mental Health Musical are teaming up to offer a FREE five-week musical theatre workshop in June and July. Play warm-up games to hone singing and Actor’s Tools (body, voice, and facial expressions) as well as develop a sense of ensemble. The age-specific workshop will include scenes and songs from a fairy tale that has been re-imagined to raise awareness about autism. Click here for more information and to register. Space is limited.

Enjoy coffee and a treat

coffeeperks2014Stop by Sunrise Banks Park Perks coffee bar during May (2300 Como Ave., St. Paul) for a coffee/cookie for $1 or latte/cookie for $2. All proceeds will go to AuSM!

Joey's Ride a revved up success for autism

photofromrideweb JoeysRideLogoweb

A fantastic group of autism community supporters joined forces yesterday for the 6th Annual Joey's Ride for Autism. 100% of proceeds will be donated to AuSM. Thank you for your time, generosity and a great ride!

Garrison Keillor kicks off the autism conference

GKphotowebMinnesota's iconic Garrison Keillor is opening the 19th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference this evening with his keynote presentation, A Storyteller's Chat About Fatherhood. Join us in Minneapolis for the next few days as we share information, network with peers and provide resources for the Minnesota autism community. Click for more information.

AuSM executive director extends invite to conference

JonahWCCO2014AuSM's Executive Director Jonah Weinberg discussed the 19th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference this morning on WCCO-TV. Click here to watch the segment. 

The excitement is building! Tune in to KSTP's morning news at 7 a.m. tomorrow as Jonah shares more details about the annual conference. To learn more about this huge event for the Minnesota autism community, click here.Walk-in registrants are welcome at Garrison Keillor's opening keynote presentation at 7 p.m. tomorrow and throughout the conference days.

It's conference week!

14conflogowebAn event for parents, caregivers, educators, mental health professionals, organizations, agencies and individuals with autism, the 19th annual conference begins with Garrison Keillor's opening keynote presentation at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 30 at the Doubletree Hilton Minneapolis Park Place. The conference continues with topic-focused sessions Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Click here for more information. Online registration is closed, but walk-in registrants are welcome, space permitting.

AuSM takes social skills to Duluth this August

GLAscreenshotlogoAuSM Social Skills programming ventures north for an exciting August offering: AuSM Animal Care Camp at the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth. Encounter snakes, turtles, macaws, otters, frogs, salamanders, birds and more while developing social skills useful in everyday life. Feed the fish in the Lake Superior Tank, learn about animal habitats, and go behind the scenes with Great Lakes Aquarium experts for an up-close look at caring for the aquarium's inhabitants. Click here for more information and to register.

Hoppy day from AuSM

bunnyEnjoy the spring weather, sunshine and time with your friends and family today. Take the time to hug those people who make a difference in your life!

And, don't forget to get your hop on this week at the Oakdale and Plymouth Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park locations as we Jump for Joy in celebration of Steps of Hope 2014 and the Minnesota autism community on Tuesday, April 22. AuSM and Sky Zone invite those who walked with us at Steps of Hope on March 2 to join us for night of jumping from 4-7 p.m. Participants who wear their Steps of Hope 2014 teal shirts or yellow volunteer shirts will be admitted to jump for free. Click here for more information.

Special Educators Employment First Summit

Twelve metro area school districts (100 participants) attended the Employment First Summit event at the Minnesota Department of Education on April 11. The event was sponsored by the Employment First Coalition of which the AuSM is a member. A portion of AuSM's Bush Foundation Community Innovations Grant was used to host this event. Additional funding from the grant will be used over the next year to support this 12 school district learning community in their efforts to improve employment outcomes.    

Participants received information about the Minnesota Olmstead Plan, State & National Employment Trends for Youth with Disabilities, Disability Benefits (DB 101)/Disability Linkage Line, Person Centered Employment Strategies, and Family Engagement. Schools left with an action plan to implement in their school districts.

Register for conference by April 10 and save

14conflogowebSave $25 per day of conference when you register for the 19th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference by Thursday, April 10. The conference, held April 30-May 3, will include:

Garrison Keillor - Keynote Presentation * Dr. Lori Ernsperger - Education Full-Day Track: 6 Critical Elements for Teaching Individuals with ASD * Therapy and Clients with Autism Full-Day Track * Autism and the Legal System - Keynote Presentation * L. Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan - Keynote Presentation: Meeting Common Core Standards and Building Literacy Skills in Students with ASD * Wide Variety of Paper Presentations * Autism Resource Tables * Saturday Half-Day Track Focused on Autism Transition, Employment and Life Skills

Click here for more information and to get the best rate by registering today.

Safe and Supportive MN Schools Act passed by Senate

On April 3, 2014 the MN Senate passed the anti-bullying bill, known as the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act. The House of Representatives, which passed a similar bill in 2013, will now have the opportunity to vote to accept the Senate's version, or to take the bill to a Conference Committee, where they will craft a new version that is acceptable to both houses of the legislature. Governor Dayton has indicated that he will sign the bill. If you would like to encourage your representative to support the Senate's version of the bill, and move it on to the Governor for signing into law, click here to find out how to contact your elected representative.

Autism Awareness Month

AwarenessMonthlogowebAuSM invites you to see who is partnering with us in April to raise awareness about autism. Click here for more information. Acknowledge Autism Awareness Month by making a donation in support of the programs and services AuSM provides to the Minnesota autism community. All dollars donated to AuSM enhance the lives of families and individuals touched by autism in Minnesota. Click here to donate.

Participate in AuSM ASD Certification Training

AuSM ASD CertTraining p10A limited number of openings are available for an AuSM ASD Certification Training course at Goodwill Headquarters in St. Paul beginning in May. Designed for professionals who work with individuals with autism, AuSM ASD Certification Training is an intensive five-session course that gives participants an in-depth understanding of how to support individuals with autism. Click here for more information.

Kick off Autism Awareness Month by registering for the state autism conference

14conflogowebThe 19th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference on April 30-May 3 will fit your needs with features including:

  • Garrison Keillor - Keynote Presentation
  • Dr. Lori Ernsperger - Education Full-Day Track: 6 Critical Elements for Teaching Individuals with ASD
  • Therapy and Clients with Autism Full-Day Track
  • Autism and the Legal System - Keynote Presentation
  • L. Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan - Keynote Presentation: Meeting Common Core Standards and Building Literacy Skills in Students with ASD
  • Wide Variety of Paper Presentations
  • Autism Resource Tables
  • Saturday Half-Day Track Focused on Autism Transition, Employment and Life Skills

Click here for more information and to register today.

Double the AuSM Skillshops on April 2

Four different topic-focused AuSM Skillshops will be offered on Wednesday, April 2 from 7-9 p.m.:

  1. ASD and Getting Along with Others in the Workplace 
  2. Behavior Solutions: Creative Approaches to Everyday Behavior Problems
  3. Exploring Nutritional Interventions for Children
  4. Life Planning for Guardianship and Supplemental Needs Trust

To register for Skillshops 1 and 2, call AuSM at 651.647.1083 ext. 19 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For descriptions of each Skillshop or to register for Skillshops 3 and 4, click here.

Make plans for an AuSM and fulfilling summer

summercover2014webAuSM Camps and Social Skills Summer Programs provide opportunities for friendship and confidence building. Activities are tailored to give youth with autism a fun, safe and exciting experience while increasing self-esteem, expanding knowledge and building friendships. Space is limited in all programs, and some camps are full with wait lists. Register today - your AuSM adventure awaits!

AuSM Camps and Social Skills Summer Programs have job openings. Click on the links for each offering to learn how you can make a difference by working with youth with autism this summer.

Register for the annual state autism conference

14conflogowebOn April 30-May 3, speakers, educators, paraprofessionals, therapists, psychologists, professionals, employers, caregivers, parents and individuals on the spectrum will have a platform to exchange knowledge and ideas with one another - all with the goal of enhancing the lives of those touched by autism.

GKphotowebGarrison Keillor opens this year's conference with a keynote presentation. Also featured will be tracks for educators and therapy professionals, keynote presentations about Autism and the Legal System and Autism & Literacy, and breakout presentations by autism experts. The final day of conference will focus on autism transition, employment and life skills. This 19th annual event will take place at the Doubletree Hilton by Minneapolis Park Place Hotel. Click here for more information and to register.

Share your thoughts about transition services

adolescenseJoin AuSM for community conversations focused on improving employment and post-secondary education opportunities for students with disabilities. Share your thoughts about current resources and challenges during one of several community conversation events.

Let's Talk About Transition
Questions, Answers and Solutions

Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Bloomington School District Office, Bloomington

Click here to register and for more information about additional Let's Talk About Transition community conversation dates and locations.

Participate in the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities on March 11

AuSM is hosting the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 11 from 10-11 a.m. in the Department of Transportation cafeteria. 

Learn about current legislation being proposed including the Safe Schools for All bill and an autism early intervention services bill. If possible, please schedule an appointment with your legislator before or after the meeting to express your support. For more information, including a parking update, click here for the MN-CCD website or contact Jean Bender, AuSM Advocacy Committee Chair at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To learn more about AuSM's Advocacy Committee, click here.

Explore Leonardo's Basement at their open house

LBwebAuSM is partnering with Leonardo's Basement in offering social skills classes this spring. Stop by Leonardo's Basement for an open house on March 9 from 1-3 p.m. to learn more about the classes and to get a feel for the work space. For more information and to register, click here.

Garrison Keillor opens 19th Annual MN Autism Conference

14conflogowebDuring the 19th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton Minneapolis Park Place Hotel, we will join our voices as a passionate network to inspire hope and innovation. On April 30-May 3, speakers, educators, paraprofessionals, therapists, psychologists, professionals, employers, caregivers, parents and individuals on the spectrum will have a platform to exchange knowledge and ideas with one another - all with the goal of enhancing the lives of those touched by autism.

GKphotowebGarrison Keillor, Minnesota's iconic storyteller will open this year's conference with a keynote presentation titled "A Storyteller's Chat about Fatherhood." Also featured will be tracks for educators and therapy professionals, keynote presentations about Autism and the Legal System and Autism & Literacy, and breakout presentations by autism experts. The final day of conference will focus on autism transition, employment and life skills. This 19th annual event will have something for everyone! Click here for more information and to register.

Steps of Hope 2014 gets thumbs up and lots of smiles

HarrisonFamilySOH14webHarrison Heinks (third from left), the winning Steps of Hope 2014 T-shirt designer, participated in Steps of Hope with his family and hundreds of individuals, families and teams walking to raise money for AuSM's programs and services this morning. Participants came together at Ridgedale Center to visit with sponsors, pick up resources, present collected donations, and have fun. Thank you to all of our volunteers, sponsors and walkers who made this family fun day a fantastic success!

AuSM selected as a recipient of Cities 97 Sampler Vol. 25 proceeds

CitiesSampler25AuSM is thrilled to announce that we have been selected as one of the non-profit organizations to receive proceeds from the sales of Cities 97 Sampler Volume 25. Funds will be used for programs that will continue to enhance the lives of individuals with autism in Minnesota. Thank you, Cities 97!

AuSM joins ASA on the Hill

ASAonHill2014webAuSM and more than 50 other Autism Society of America affiliates were in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 20 for the annual Autism Society of America Day on the Hill where affiliates discussed legislation and policy issues that affect the national autism community.

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February 2014 advocacy update

Special Education Issues

  • Special Education Case Loads—task force created to review laws & rules & make recommendations to legislature. 
  • Prone Restraint (eliminated in 2015) & Restrictive Procedures—task force continues to meet to make recommendations.
  • Safe Schools For All (anti-bullying)--bill will be reintroduced 2014 legislative session.

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Walk with the Minnesota autism community Sunday

SOH14TMwebSteps of Hope 2014 is almost here! Online registration is closed, but don't let that stop you from participating in AuSM's biggest fundraiser of the year! Walk-in registrations are welcome on Sunday, March 2 at Ridgedale Center. Registration opens at 9:30 a.m. Come meet your AuSM staff and pick up some great info about autism programs and services from more than 60 resource tables, get a fun hairdo, choose a colorful face painting design, enjoy refreshments and yummy snacks, take in the stage show, and much more. This is a must-be-there day for the Minnesota autism community! Team Up for Autism! Click here for your Steps of Hope 2014 Adventure Guide.

Congrats, Steps of Hope SUPER prize winners

Congratulations to our Steps of Hope registrants who were selected in the drawing for the SUPER incentive prizes listed below. We'll see you on Sunday at Ridgedale Center!

  • Brandon Quade - $50 Big Bowl Gift Card
  • Rosemary Day - KFAN Prize Pack
  • Alex Bodie - KFAN Prize Pack
  • Lenore Porter - KFAN Prize Pack
  • Jonathan Thompson - PANDORA Bracelet
  • Jillian Nelson - Microsoft Experience
  • Stella Villarreal - Microsoft Experience

Online Registration for Steps of Hope 2014 closes at noon on Feb. 27. Click here to get in your last minute registration or to donate to one (or more!) of our inspiring teams. Walk-in registrants are welcome to join us on Sunday, March 2. Registration opens at 9:30 a.m. We look forward to walking with you and the Minnesota autism community!

Ready to rock Ridgedale

RidgedaleSignwebRidgedale Center is getting ready to welcome the Minnesota autism community this Sunday. Steps of Hope signs decorate all major traffic areas throughout the mall, and fundraising by our teams has been kicked into high gear. Get your walking shoes ready! Haven't registered yet? No problem - click here to Team Up for Autism today. Ready to plan for a morning of fun? Click here for your Steps of Hope 2014 Adventure Guide. Let's reach our goal of $88,000 for the 1 in 88, and then we'll all jump for joy at our Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park party!

Two more days to register and win SUPER prizes

SOH14TMwebRegister to walk at Steps of Hope 2014 by Feb. 25 and you'll be entered into a drawing for our exciting SUPER prizes including:

  • Microsoft Store Youth Experience Package at the Mall of America! The experience for 20 will include a technology scavenger hunt, a game design workshop or an Xbox Kinect Competition facilitated by staff on the store's giant display screen. All participants will go home with a gift, too!
  • Pandora Essence Collection Bracelet from Ridgedale Pandora.
  • KFAN Prize Pack for the ultimate fans!

Don't forget - we're all winners! When we reach our goal of $88,000, we will jump for joy at a FREE party at Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park in Plymouth! Click here to view a list of teams, dollars raised to date and fun fundraising ideas!

Click here to register for Steps of Hope today!

AuSM offers spring classes with Leonardo's Basement

LBwebGet ready to unleash your creativity and build, build, build! AuSM is pleased to partner with Leonardo’s Basement to offer two social skills programs this March and April for youth with autism: Lego Robotics and Minecraft. Click here for more information and to register today.

Hip Hop 4 Autism an awesome event

A sincere thanks to Matthew and everyone from SP Style Productions for a successful Hip Hop 4 Autism on Feb. 16. The music-filled evening brought in $1000 for AuSM programs and services. Thank you!

And the winners are ...

SOH14TMwebCongratulations to the following Steps of Hope registrants who were selected in the drawing for the incentive prizes listed below. We can't wait to walk with you on March 2!

  • Lindsay Swehla - Free night stay at the Sheraton Minneapolis West on 3/1/14
  • Carlee Brom - Breakfast for two at the Sheraton Minneapolis West on 3/2/14
  • Jamee Cameron - $50 gift card for Bar Louie in Ridgedale Center
  • Kerri Shay - $25 gift card for J.Jill
  • Mary Borst - 2 Minnesota Zoo Admission Passes and Parking Pass
  • Natasha Strom - 2 Minnesota Zoo Admission Passes and Parking Pass
  • Jack Carlson - 5 Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park Passes
  • Susan Johnsen - 5 Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park Passes
  • Kim Julkowski - 5 Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park Passes
  • Xochitl Torres - 5 Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park Passes
  • Andrea Springer - 5 Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park Passes
  • Luke Schneider - 4 Pack of Tickets for Shrek the Musical at the Children's Theatre
  • Jim Carlson - 4 Pack of Tickets for Shrek the Musical at the Children's Theatre
  • Cory Cellotti - Special Olympics Minnesota T-Shirt
  • Shelby Dack - Special Olympics Minnesota T-Shirt

Families put on a fantastic show at the Children's Theatre

stagewebCongratulations to the families who performed Monkey Mind Pirates at the Children's Theatre Company on Feb. 15. After six weeks of rehearsal, several families with autism shined on stage during the sensory-friendly performance. This event was organized by The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, Z Puppets Rosenschnoz and AuSM.

Camp Hand In Hand expands age options

ausm camp logo WEBSession 3 of Camp Hand In Hand has expanded its age eligibility to accommodate additional campers this summer. Session 3, running Aug. 17-22 at Camp Knutson in Crosslake, Minn., is now open to boys ages 9-13 and girls ages 9-18.

AuSM Camps are filling quickly; AuSM encourages you to register soon to secure a spot at the camp that best fits the needs of your camper. Click here for more information and to register.

Blake collects books for AuSM Camps

blakebookswebAuSM thanks Blake School for holding a special service project for AuSM Camps. Students collected six large boxes of books for use at camp, including historical biographies, books about countries and cultures, nature, crafts and much more. Thank you for your generosity, Blake students and families!

To learn more about AuSM Summer Camps, click here.

Taking it to the streets

SOHbillboardoutsidewebAuSM is spreading the word about Steps of Hope by reaching out to the community through a special billboard posted at Randolph and Fairview in St. Paul. Have you registered for Steps of Hope 2014 yet? Sign up by Feb. 25 to be entered into a drawing for some exciting SUPER prizes! Click here for more information.

It's cold outside, but we're ready for an AuSM summer!

summercover2014webRegistration for AuSM summer camps and social skills programs is open. Summer is the season for exciting opportunities, new experiences and confidence-building fun. Every young person deserves the chance to take advantage of all summer has to offer. AuSM Social Skills summer programs and AuSM Camps provide these opportunities – each one tailored to give youth with autism a fun, safe and exciting experience while they increase self-esteem, expand their knowledge and build friendships that last a lifetime. Space is limited in all programs. Register early - your AuSM adventure awaits!

"Steps of Hope" is granted trademark

AuSM is pleased to announce that we have been granted a trademark for the term "Steps of Hope", the name of our annual family-friendly fundraising walk. We would like to thank Michael Bondi and Dicke, Billig & Czaja, PLLC, patent, trademark and copyright attorneys of Minneapolis for donating their time and expertise on registering the trademark for Steps of Hope.

Steps of Hope 2014 will take place on March 2 at Ridgedale Center. Click here for more information and to register to walk with us!

Participate in community conversations to improve transition services

pensivegirlwebThis spring, join us for community conversations focused on improving employment and post-secondary education opportunities for students with disabilities. Share your thoughts about current resources and challenges. Explore ideas for improving transition services for students with disabilities. These community dialogs, organized by AuSM, are provided through a Community Innovation Grant from the Bush Foundation. Click here for more information.

Let's Talk About Transition community conversations

pensivegirlwebThis spring, join us for community conversations focused on improving employment and post-secondary education opportunities for students with disabilities. Share your thoughts about current resources and challenges. Explore ideas for improving transition services for students with disabilities. These community dialogs, organized by AuSM, are provided through a Community Innovation Grant from the Bush Foundation. Click here for more information.

Shop Amazon, support AuSM programs and services

AmazonSmileWe are happy to announce a new way to shop and support AuSM at the same time: Amazon Smile. Click here to choose AuSM as your preferred charity and shop as usual. A percentage of your purchases will be given to AuSM to support programs and services for the Minnesota autism community.

Party at Sky Zone when Steps of Hope goal is reached

SOH14TMwebSky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, an AuSM Premier Partner, has offered to throw a huge party for the Minnesota autism community when we meet our Steps of Hope 2014 fundraising goal of $88,000.

Register to be a part of Steps of Hope, AuSM's largest annual fundraiser. Dollars raised during this important family-friendly walk support AuSM’s programs and services and also fund Steps of Hope Support Grants. Help us raise our 2014 goal of $88,000 and then get ready to party! Everyone's in - Team Up for Autism today!

Click here to learn more, register and follow our progress to our goal!

Tips to make your holidays happy days

holidaysnowmanFor many of us, the holidays are a time to focus on fun, friends and family, while flipping our schedules upside-down for the hustle and bustle. For those who depend upon daily routines and careful planning of activities, times of fun and excitement can dissolve into moments of anxiety and stress.

We've put together a list to help guide families with a loved one with autism and/or special sensory needs through the holiday haze.

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What an AuSM journey

AuSMVideoScreenAuSM embarked on an exciting journey with the Minnesota autism community in 2013. Thank you for your participation and support. We look forward to continuing this important journey with you into 2014! Click here to view the AuSM video. Click here to view AuSM's end of the year letter.

Design the Steps of Hope 2014 T-shirt

TshirtwebAuSM members of all ages are invited to participate in the first ever Steps of Hope T-Shirt Design Contest! The winning design will be printed on the 2014 Steps of Hope T-shirts. Click here for the official rules and entry form. The deadline for entries is Dec. 15, 2013.

Sensory-friendly Santa event at Northtown Mall

santaNorthtown Mall is offering a sensory friendly Santa event for families with autism. On Sunday, Dec. 8 from 8-10 a.m., the Santa visiting area will feature lower lighting and quieter surroundings. Participants will receive a free Santa photo and enjoy festive giveaways. If you would like to participate in this event, please contact Linda Sell at Northtown Mall at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

AuSM receives grant to improve special education transition services

AuSM has been awarded a Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant for improving special education transition services. As part of this grant, AuSM will collaborate with multiple key organizations to create community dialogs for parents, educators, school officials and local business professionals to discuss ways to improve services for individuals with disabilities who are reaching transition age. Community dialogs will take place in 2014. Click here for more information.

AuSM receives a Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant

(Dec. 3, 2013) AuSM has been awarded a Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant for improving special education transition services.

“AuSM is honored to be the recipient of a Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant. We look forward to working with organizations that serve individuals with disabilities and fostering a dialog within the community that will instigate positive momentum toward improving services for individuals in transition,” Jonah Weinberg, AuSM Executive Director said.

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Sorority raises money during Autism Amped

StKatesorority2013webSt. Catherine University's Lambda Signam Tau sorority raised $282.35 for AuSM through its Autism Amped event. AuSM thanks the members of the sorority for their leadership and generosity.

Commvault for AuSM

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Special thanks to Randy DeMeno from CommVault software company, Christine Krsnik from Microsoft and Jenna Soule from RBA Consulting for organizing and participating in the Commvault event at the Excel Energy Center on Nov. 13. The event raised more than $6,000 each for AuSM and the Hendrickson Foundation, an organization that supports disabled individuals participate in hockey.

Thank you for your generous donations

thanksWe are so grateful for your donations during yesterday's Give to the Max Day. We are just about $800 away from our goal of $11,188. If you didn't have an opportunity to donate yesterday or were frustrated with the glitch on the GiveMN site, AuSM will gratefully accept your contribution anytime through our website. If you want to make a gift in honor of a loved one, a favorite teacher, or just because, you can click here to donate today. Please help us reach our goal!

Special thanks to Brandi Warmbier, ChFC, CPCU, State Farm Insurance Agent, for offering a $500 matching donation on Give to the Max Day. Her contribution allowed many other's contributions to double. Thank you!

GTMD2013videoClick here to view AuSM's 2013 Give to the Max Day video!

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Thank you, Kids' Hair!

kidshairlogowebA huge thank you to Kids' Hair for selling puzzle pieces for $1 in October to benefit AuSM's programs and services. Kids' Hair salon locations raised $3,209 in support of individuals with autism in Minnesota. All Kids' Hair stylists have been trained by AuSM in order to make the haircut experience a great one for children with autism. Click here and scroll down to the Kids' Hair logo to view the Kids' Hair social story and to find a Kids' Hair location near you.

Schwan's Cares for AuSM

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The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) has partnered with Schwan’s Cares to offer a simple and effective way to raise funds for programs and services that support individuals with autism in Minnesota. 

 When you place an order with Schwan's, reference our fundraising campaign number #16329, and AuSM will earn 5% on orders placed through Nov. 10, 2015. For those who have special dietary needs, Schwan's offers 350 delicious foods, including 90+ gluten-free items, and they conveniently deliver to you door. Click here to visit their website and learn more. Already purchase Schwan's from a rep? Be sure to give your Schwan's rep our campaign number #16329, and AuSM will receive a percentage of the sale.

Please help AuSM increase the success of this fundraiser by sharing how-to information with your family members, relatives, and personal networks. Send a quick e-mail or share a message on Facebook and Twitter.

There are three ways to raise money for AuSM during this fundraiser:

  1. Order from AuSM's Schwan's Cares website (click here).
  2. Order by phone (1.888.724.9267) and give the customer service representative our campaign number #16329 and be sure to tell them you're ordering in support of the Autism Society of Minnesota.
  3. Order from your regular Schwan's delivery repesentative and give him/her our campaign number #16329 and tell them you're ordering in support of the Autism Society of Minnesota.

Autism training makes big impact

woodburybadgeScott McCafferty, a Police Officer and Paramedic for the City of Woodbury recently participated in a presentation about autism awareness and emergency management by Ernie Roettger. McCafferty praised Roettger, a paramedic with Hennepin EMS who was trained by AuSM, for his dynamic presentation and his innate ability to bring personal experience to the presentation that solidified his message. Click here to read more about McCafferty's autism training experience.

AuSM will be training the airport police in 2014, as well as providing additional trainings to detectives in the sexual offense area. AuSM offers audience-tailored trainings to hospitals, doctors, first responders and more. Click here to learn more about AuSM's autism training.

Workshop makes participants h-app-y

crowd1webThose who participated in today's workshop, Apps for Fostering Independence at Every Age, were thrilled with the amount of valuable information shared by co-presenters Melanie Johnston and Mark Coppin. During the workshop organized by AuSM, Minnesota Life College and the University of St. Thomas, more than 115 participants learned how to use i-devices to increase individual independence; obtained app search and selection guides to simplify; discovered how to match app features to individual needs; and learned how to use apps differently by substituting i-device technology for traditional forms of organization, classroom and work output. Thank you to participants, speakers and organizers for the great day of learning!

It's an AuSM week for a haircut at Kids' Hair

PuzzlePieces3webThis week presents your final chance to purchase a puzzle piece to add to the Kids' Hair wallpaper at a salon near you. When you stop in for a haircut at any metro area Kid's Hair, purchase a $1 puzzle piece. All dollars raised will directly benefit AuSM's programs and services for individuals touched by autism in Minnesota. Click here to find a Kids' Hair salon near you. Kids' Hair is an AuSM Premier Partner.

Thank you, Autism & Employment Forum participants

AElogoweb2013AuSM extends a sincere thank you to all who participated in the Autism & Employment Forum. Sponsors, volunteers, speakers, agencies, employers, HR representatives, families, caregivers, individuals with autism - your presence yesterday proves your commitment to raising awareness of autism and working toward a more diverse, inclusive work culture within Minnesota companies and beyond. A special thank you to Laura Betker, KARE 11 News Meteorologist, for moderating the session and to Cargill for sharing your beautiful facilities with us for this important event. Click here to read a recap of the day's events and to view a photo slide show.

The Twin Cities are buzzing about the Forum

AElogoweb2013Today is the last day you can register online for the Autism & Employment Forum 2013. Be sure to register so you can hear from Jon Ander Badiola from Cargill Foods Venezuela as well as representatives from businesses and the Minnesota autism community during the Main Session. After today, walk-in registrations are welcome for the Main Session and for the Information Fair. Click here for more information and to register today.

JonahKAREwebJonah Weinberg, AuSM Executive Director, promoted this year's Forum on local networks this weekend. On Saturday, Weinberg was interviewed by Belinda Jensen on KARE 11, and today he and Lisa Sieben, AuSM Events Coordinator, made appearances on the KSTP Sunday Morning show.

October 2013 advocacy update

Town Hall Forum
AuSM cohosted a MN Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) town hall forum in St. Paul on Oct. 10. More than 80 people attended to speak with legislators and representatives about the link between poverty and disability

ASD Advisory Council
The MN Department of Human Services is re-convening the ASD Advisory Council that completed its work in January 2013. The initial meeting will be on Oct. 22 from 3-4:30 p.m. at the E.L. Anderson Building in downtown St. Paul. Guests are welcome to observe, but will not participate. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the new autism intervention benefit that was created during the last legislative session. Jean Bender will represent AuSM at this and future meetings. If you have questions, please contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Arc MN Conference
AuSM Board members Larry Moody and Jean Bender will present a workshop titled, “Autism Spectrum Disorder and Social Skills Development” at The Arc MN conference on Nov. 1-2. For more information about the conference focused on raising expectations and achieving goals and dreams, please click here.  

Kids' Hair raises dollars for autism

kidshairlogowebAuSM Premier Partner Kids' Hair is participating in an AuSM fundraiser throughout the month of October. When you stop in for a haircut at any metro area Kid's Hair, purchase a $1 puzzle piece. All dollars raised will directly benefit AuSM's programs and services for individuals touched by autism in Minnesota. Click here to find a Kids' Hair salon near you.

Laura Betker to MC Forum

LauraBetkerwebAuSM is pleased to announce that Laura Betker, KARE 11 meteorologist, will be the session MC for the Autism & Employment Forum on Oct. 24 at Cargill in Hopkins. Click here for more information and to register for the Forum today.

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Thanks, Fun & Fitness Academy participants

Thank you to Minneapolis Police, Special Olympics and everyone who participated in Fun & Fitness Academy at the Minneapolis Police Special Operations Center yesterday. Families interacted with Minneapolis police officers while playing sports facilitated by Special Olympics staff. They also accessed resources presented by multiple organizations. TC, the Twins mascot eagerly cheered on the athletes before everyone enjoyed lunch together. It was a great event!

MDE Early Learning Scholarships available

autism-boy1The Minnesota Department of Education's Early Learning Scholarships Program now is accepting applications from Minnesota families. The scholarships are designed to increase access to high-quality early childhood programs for children aged 3-5 with the highest needs in order to improve school readiness. Up to $5,000 per scholarship will be awarded. Click here to access the MDE website for additional information and to apply.

Autism & Employment Forum sessions combine

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In an effort to increase networking opportunities and idea sharing, the Autism Society of Minnesota will combine Session I and Session II of the Autism & Employment Forum 2013 on Oct. 24. Employers, HR professionals, individuals with autism and caregivers are invited to participate in this newly combined session from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Cargill in Hopkins. Only one session will be held during the Forum.

During the session, Jon Ander Badiola, President of Cargill Foods – Venezuela will speak about Cargill’s successful “Engranados” training program that helps develop occupational skills in those with intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities.  Local employers and individuals with autism also will speak about their employment journeys.

All Forum participants are encouraged to attend the information fair from 3:45-6:15 p.m. where employers will learn about how to hire and retain individuals with autism. Those with autism seeking employment will gather techniques for resume writing and interviewing. Click here for more information and to register.

Thanks to everyone who came out to bounce for autism

skyzonewebThank you to all of the families who joined us at Sky Zone's Oakdale and Plymouth locations yesterday for the Jump for AuSM! fundraiser. A percentage of passes sold will go directly back to AuSM, supporting AuSM's services and programs for individuals touched by autism. 

So My Client Has Autism ... Why Should I Care?

LuskinBookCvrweb"So My Client Has Autism... Why Should I Care?" is a newly published traning manual for those working with someone who has autism. Written by Dr. Barb Luskin, the book is available for individual or bulk purchase directly from AuSM for $17.95 plus tax each. For more information, contact AuSM at 651.647.1083 ext. 10. 

Dr. Luskin is a licensed psychologist who has worked closely with children and adults with ASD for more than 30 years in both professional and home settings. She specializes in providing both assessments and counseling to individuals with ASD and those who support them. Click here for more information.

AuSM ASD Certification Training fall session is full

AuSM ASD CertTraining p10Designed for professionals who work with individuals with autism, AuSM ASD Certification Training is an intensive five-session course that gives participants an in-depth understanding of how to support individuals with autism. The Fall 2013 course is full. Please consider registering for the Spring 2014 course that begins in February 2014. Click here for more information.

AuSM ASD Certification Training also is available for groups of 15 or more at your specified location. Contact Nora Slawik, AuSM Director of Education at 651.647.1083 ext. 20 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thanks volunteers and ticket purchasers

twinslogoA big thank you to everyone who participated in Saturday's Split the Pot raffle at the Minnesota Twins game. Even the rain couldn't dampen the spirits of our AuSM volunteers or the generosity of those who purchased tickets. Thank you for your time and for your support of AuSM.

Thanks to Little Pete's for refreshments

LittlePeteswebThank you to Little Pete's Bakery and Cafe for providing refreshments for last night's AuSM Skillshop participants. Those attending enjoyed croissants, doughnuts and other delicious goodies. Click here to register today to join us for the October Skillshops: Sensory Power: Engage Your Child for Language and Learning and Job Searching Strategies on the Spectrum. Located in Edina, Little Pete's is the official refreshment sponsor of the 2013-2014 AuSM Skillshops.

AuSM partners with Bethel University to help students

bethelcompasswebAuSM and LDA Minnesota are working with Natalie Beazer, Director of Disability Services, and Bethel staff on Bethel University's Compass Transitions Program, created to provide a supportive network of peer mentors for incoming students who have a diagnosis related to anxiety disorders including ASD, ADD and ADHD. Click here for more information.

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Great night for baseball

twins2013webThank you to the Minnesota Twins for providing AuSM members with tickets to the Aug. 28 game. It was a gorgeous night for baseball and the perfect opportunity to celebrate our incredible AuSM members and supporters!

AuSM will be at the Sept. 14 Twins game selling raffle tickets for the Split the Pot raffle. The winner will receive half of the ticket sales and AuSM's mission will be forwarded with the other half. Planning to attend the game? Be sure to stop by, say hello and purchase a chance to win!

August advocacy meeting update: Affordable Care Act

Last week AuSM invited representatives from the MN Department of Commerce to discuss changes in insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Click here to view an overview of the presentation. Specific topics included MCHA transition, health reform and insurance fraud/scams. For more information, visit MNSure.com, the website dedicated to Minnesota's implementation of the ACA. Visit the AuSM advocacy page for updates as more information becomes available, click here to sign up for MN Department of Commerce e-mail updates, or Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., AuSM's Public Policy Committee Chair for assistance. Click here for more information.

August advocacy - Affordable Care Act

Last week AuSM invited representatives from the MN Department of Commerce to discuss changes in insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Click here to view an overview of the presentation. Specific topics included MCHA transition, health reform and insurance fraud/scams. For more information, visit MNSure.com, the website dedicated to Minnesota's implementation of the ACA. Visit this page for updates as more information becomes available, click here to sign up for MN Department of Commerce e-mail updates, or Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., AuSM's Public Policy Committee Chair for assistance.

Visit the links below for additional information and resources:
MCHA Transition
Health Reform
Insurance Fraud/Scams

Construction near AuSM Office

Beginning Aug. 8, 2013, Raymond Ave. will be under construction. This will affect traffic flow and bus routes near the AuSM office. This construction is expected to be completed in November. We encourage you to plan your travel accordingly.

For a map of the construction, please click here. For Metro Transit detour information, please click here.

Players take on the greens at the AuSM Golf Classic today

golf1webThe threat of rain wasn't enough to wash away the smiles of those participating in the AuSM Golf Classic at Troy Burne Golf Club in Hudson, Wis. today. During the sold out event, players picked up their clubs and practiced their best swings in support of individuals with autism in Minnesota.

Thanks, Ride for Hope!

kickstandwebSunday’s gorgeous weather was the perfect backdrop for the 5th Annual Ride for Hope. The ride began in Hamel, Minn., and riders traveled more than 120 miles to raise money for AuSM. Special thanks to Chris and Marna Bame, owners of Lube-Tech, Inc.; Robin & Ray Baker, Lube-Tech employees; as well as the ride’s generous sponsors for making the day a huge success! 

DoJo Karate supports AuSM with golf fundraiser

JanettecheckwebAuSM would like to thank Keith, Chris, Lindsay and all of the DoJo Karate locations for organizing the DoJo Karate Golf Fundraiser at Riverwood National Golf Course in Otsego, Minn. 119 golfers participated in yesterday's engergy-filled event that included a putting contest, raffle, silent auction, dinner and presentation. More than $8,500 was raised to support AuSM's mission of enhancing the lives of those touched by autism in Minnesota. AuSM is grateful for your generous support through this awesome event!

Twins thank you

twinslogoThank you for the overwhelming response to our member appreciation Twins ticket  giveaway. All tickets in the AuSM block are SOLD OUT. We value your membership and look forward to bringing you more exciting opportunities over the coming months.

Participate in a brain functioning study

Researchers at the Center for Neurobehavioral Development and Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic are conducting a study to better understand brain functioning in autism. The goal is to use brain-imaging methods to look at differences in structures of and networks within the brains of boys with high-functioning ASD. Click here for more information.

Great day for Cam's Ride

CamThank you to the organizers, sponsors and supporters who came out for the 7th annual Cruisn' for Autism in Minnesota, CAM’s Ride for individuals with autism today! It was a beautiful day to cruise the roads, get warmed by the sun and show support for the Minnesota autism community.

2013 legislative session brings some good outcomes for autism community

The 2013 legislative session had some good outcomes for the ASD community. The Health and Human Services Omnibus bill included $12 million in new funding for services for children with autism; initiatives to improve the early screening, diagnosis, and treatment of children with ASD in managed care programs; and requirements for large group health plans to cover autism therapies. 

Parental fees under the TEFRA medical assistance option were eliminated for families under 275 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and fees for those above were rolled back to 2010 levels. 

In the area of special education, laws and rules were tightened regarding the use of prone restraint and restrictive procedures, and more training is required on positive behavioral strategies. 

The AuSM advocacy committee will meet this summer to discuss the 2013 session and prepare for 2014. If you would like to participate in the discussion, contact Jean Bender, AuSM’s Public Policy Committee Chair.

AuSM Advocacy: Update at a Glance May 20, 2013

Special Education

  • Several attempts this session to repeal MN laws & rules that exceed federal
  • Task force will be created to work with MDE & make recommendations
  • Prone Restraint (eliminated in 2 years) & Restrictive Procedures
  • Safe Schools bill did not pass so will need to be reintroduced next session

Autism Services Insurance Bill

  • Passed HHS Conference Committee

Governor’s $12 million Proposal for Autism Services

  • Passed HHS Conference Committee

Community First Services & Supports (CFSS)

  • Effective date delayed--April 2014?
  • Replaces county services such as PCA & Family Support Grant
  • Many details TBD—DHS placeholder language

Parental Fees for TEFRA

  • No fee for 275% of federal poverty level (previously 100%) 
  • Reduce back to 2010 rates

Self-Directed Services Workforce Council (with Child Care Workers)

  • Allows independent workers to form union
  • Council sets guidelines re: wages, training, etc.--eliminated in current version?

COLA

  • 1% for disabilities (ARRM & other advocates talking about possiblility of higher but doubtful)
  • 5% for nursing homes

The Minnesota Department of Human Services website has a page dedicated to 2013 Legislative Session Fact Sheets related to human services. Click here. 

Recent reports relevant to ASD issues

Click on the links for additional information.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force Strategic Plan Report

Report to the MN Commissioner of Human Services by the Health Services Advisory Council

A Report on Early Intervention Services for Minnesota’s Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
(Available soon on the Department of Human Services website)

Study on Housing with Supports for Children with Severe Autism

Office of the Legislative Auditor Report on Special Education

The Use of Prone Restraint in Minnesota Schools

Disability services - What do they do for you?

Share your story and win a prize

In collaboration with The Arc Minnesota and to start preparing early for the 2014 legislative session, Jean Bender is collecting stories about how disability services benefit you and how disability policies affect you. If you are willing to share your story with AuSM and The Arc Minnesota, e-mail it to Jean Bender by June 15 and be entered into a prize drawing.Prizes provided by The Arc Minnesota include iTunes gift cards and a trip to attend The Arc Minnesota state conference. To help you write your story,click here for the Partners in Policymaking Telling Your Story App. Tips for using the app are posted on The Arc Minnesota website.

Autism diagnosis criteria changes go into effect today

The American Psychiatric Association is releasing the fifth edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) today, which provides standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders by mental health professionals across the United States. One significant change in DSM-5 is new classification criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and the elimination of the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome, which will be reclassified as part of ASD.

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AuSM Action Alert - Act now to ensure safe schools

"The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act" (bullying prevention bill) needs to be scheduled for a floor vote by the MN Senate and time is running out. The 2013 session ends this Monday, May 20. Without a floor vote in the Senate, the bill will not pass this year.

Please contact Senator Thomas Bakk, the Senate majority leader, at 651.296.8881 or e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Urge Senator Bakk to schedule the vote for The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act. Schools, students and families of Minnesota are depending on the Legislature to pass a law that leads the way in creating safe school environments for all.

If you have trouble getting your e-mail to go through to the address above, you can contact Senator Bakk through this website link: http://www.senate.mn/senatorbakkemail.

Thanks, Joey's Ride!

JoeyAuSMAuSM extends a special thanks to Ronnie Sprigler and all of those who organized and participated in the 5th Annual Joey's Ride for individuals with autism! Saturday was a beautiful day to get revved up, take a ride and enjoy great food and entertainment. Thank you for being so AuSM! 

 

AuSM on the Iron Range

ironrange2013Diane Mikolich and the Arc Range invited AuSM to present AuSM ASD 101, Challenging Behavior Solutions and Inside Asperger's Discovery Series on the Iron Range last week. Jonah Weinberg, Dawn Steigauf and Nora Slawik in Chisolm at the Discovery Center.

Autism: You Have a Voice conference a success

ausm conference logo final p5A sincere thank you to the many volunteers, speakers, exhibitors, advertisers, sponsors and participants who joined us for the 18th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference last week. More than 1,000 parents, educators, professionals and individuals with autism came together at the DoubleTree Park Place in Minneapolis to gather resources, talk with exhibitors, and learn from more than 30 speakers during presentations on cutting-edge topics. Click here for more information and to view photos from the conference.

Temple Grandin presents to sold out crowd

TemplekeynotewebA crowd of more than 700 gathered at the DoubleTree Park Place hotel in Minneapolis to hear Temple Grandin speak tonight. She shared and explained images of her brain scans. Dr. Grandin also offered her perspective on helping children with autism explore the world.

"Too many kids with autism are getting fixated on autism. Autism is an important part of who I am, but it's secondary to my career stuff," she said.

Dr. Grandin noted that kids need to get out and learn work skills.

"Figure out the informal economy," she said. "Have your child learn how to do things by working with people you know." 

Wild for AuSM

JakeNateWildSome of our AuSM kids enjoyed the hockey game last night from a suite donated by Minnesota Wild's Pierre-Marc Bouchard. AuSM thanks the Minnesota Wild the privilege of being its April Charity of the Month.

Jonah Weinberg is new Executive Director of AuSM

Weinberg cropPhotowebAuSM is pleased to announce that Jonah Weinberg will be the organization’s new Executive Director effective April 15, 2013.

Weinberg brings nearly two decades of non-profit and public sector leadership experience with organizations across the United States and internationally, with a focus on education, advocacy, and organizational excellence. He comes to Minneapolis from Cleveland, where he served as Executive Director for two of non-profit organizations serving the region’s Latino community. He also has worked with a broad range of organizations focused on serving people with physical, mental, and behavioral challenges.

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Mark Coppin creates iTunes U course on apps for autism

In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, Mark Coppin created an iTunes U course called "Apps for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders". This free course assists in determining what app features to look for when selecting apps. The course is best viewed using the free iTunes U app (click here to download). After downloading the iTunes U app, open the app and tap on "catalog". Scroll down the page, tap on "enroll" and enter this code: HF5-4R8-HZE. You also can  enroll in this course through iTunes U by clicking here

Camp Wahode expands age eligibility

ausm camp logo WEBSession 1 (June 24-28) and Session 2 (July 22-26) of Camp Wahode are expanding to welcome children with autism from ages 6-12. Previously the camp was open to boys and girls ages 6-10, but now is open to 11 and 12 year olds as well so more children have the opportunity to participate in this exciting day camp. Click here for more information.

Action Alert

The Minnesota House and Senate released their budget targets last week. Where Governor Dayton wants to increase the Health and Human Services budget for the next two years for a variety of services needed by individuals with disabilities, the legislature wants to decrease funding by $150 million. Click here for more information and to learn how you can contact your legislators and encourage them to preserve valuable services for people with autism.

Autism: 1 in 50 - What does this mean?

On March 20, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report suggesting that 1 in 50 children between the ages of 6 and 17 have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. This is higher than the 1 in 88 reported on a 2007 survey. There has been much discussion about what the new report means.

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1 in 50 children has autism, CDC report says

CDClogoAccording to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 50 children have been diagnosed with autism or a related disorder, such as Asperger's Syndrome.

The report states that "Changes in ascertainment of autism spectrum disorders could occur because of changes in autism spectrum disorders awareness among parents or healthcare professionals, increased access to diagnostic services, changes in how screening tests or diagnostic criteria are used, or increased special education placements in the community."

Much of the prevalence increase from 2007 to 2011-2012 for school-aged children was the result of diagnoses of children with previously unrecognized autism spectrum disorder, according to the report. Click here to read the full report.

Edina 8th grader with autism wins national award

HeinksartHarrison Heinks, an eighth grader at Valley View Middle School, won a gold medal in the National Scholastic Art & Writing competition. Out of more than 230,000 entries, only one percent received the national award. His award-winning project is a pair of homeless shoes, and they are about moving to a new place and feeling lost. Heinks was diagnised with autism at age 2 when his parents were told that he may never speak. One year ago, Heinks's family moved to Edina in search of resources for their son. Heinks is doing well in Minnesota, playing in the orchestra, singing in the choir, and learning and thriving. Click here to learn more about his inspiring story and the prestigious award.

Golf as a guest of Ernie Els at TPC Twin Cities

TPClogoTake advantage of this exciting opportunity to golf at the pristine, private TPC Twin Cities course in Blaine this April. One person in the golfing group must be a member of AuSM. A portion of the greens fees will be shared between AuSM and the Ernie Els for Autism Foundation. Click here for details on how to arrange for your April tee time at this exclusive course. 

April will be Wild & AuSM!

WildLogoIn honor of Autism Awareness Month, the Minnesota Wild hockey team has selected the Autism Society of Minnesota to be it's April Charity of the Month, sponsored by Innovative Office Solutions.

AuSM and the Wild will kick-off this exciting partnership on Monday, April 1 when the Wild take on the St. Louis Blues at the Excel at 7 p.m. Purchase your tickets for the April 1 game by clicking here. Ticket prices are marked down exclusively for AuSM supporters, and AuSM will receive a portion of each ticket sale. Click here for more information about AuSM and the Wild.

Wahode Day Camp Occupational Therapist Needed

AuSM is seeking an Occupational Therapist-Registered, to work at two weeks of Wahode summer day camps in Eagan, Minn., June 24-26 and July 22-26. Duties include, but are not limited to: activity planning and implementation, direct service and assistance to children with ASD, collaborative work with staff and counselors, and assistance with daily living activities. Approximate work hours are 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Please submit an employment application, cover letter and resume or CV to: Terri Borowick, Director of Camps for the Autism Society of Minnesota, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mail to 2380 Wycliff Street, Suite #102, St. Paul, MN 55114.

MN Department of Human Services focus groups

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (MDHS) is conducting focus groups in March and April throughout Minnesota with community members who are over age 65, people with disabilities, caregivers and family members, and people with mental illness. MDHS is offering a thank you of a $35 cash stipend or gift card, a light meal, as well as reimbursements for supports to help participants attend a focus group. Click here to view a pdf with additional information.

Joey's Ride set for May

joeyride2013Get revved up and join us for the 5th annual Joey's Ride starting in Stillwater on May 4! All proceeds benefit AuSM. Those who prefer not to ride but want to join in the excitement and games can secure a spot on the fun bus. Joey's Ride wil feature the Fury Girls, Tim Mahoney Live and DJ KMZ. Click here for more information.

Navigating Autism adds dates to meet demand

NavigatingAutism-LogoDue to popularity, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, AuSM and Fraser are expanding their Navigating Autism program to take place every month. The first new added session will take place on Saturday, April 6. To ease the anxiety associated with an airport visit and flying, Navigating Autism, designed specifically for individuals with autism, takes families through the steps of an airport visit, from walking in the door to finding their seat on a plane. Click here for more info.

You stepped it up for autism today

teambutterflyA crowd of more than a thousand gathered at Ridgedale Center this morning in support of the Minnesota autism community. Thank you to the more than 75 sponsors and to all of the families and individuals who participated. AuSM values your support that makes a difference in the lives of the 1 in 88 touched by autism. Thank you!

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Autism reports from the Department of Human Services

On Feb. 12, 2013, the Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Lucinda Jesson sent a letter to the Minnesota Legislature, highlighting two reports that DHS had completed as required by the legislature:

Autism Spectrum Disorders: Report to the Minnesota Commissioner of Human Services is a study of treatments for autism conducted by the Health Services Advisory Council (HSAC). HSAC is panel of medical experts that advises DHS about health care benefits for enrollees in publicly funded programs. Click here to view this report.

The Study on Housing with Supports for Children with Severe Autism report was completed by the University of Minnesota under a contract with DHS. It takes a comprehensive look at housing and service options currently available as well as best practices. Click here to view this report.

Current bills connected to autism

Autism is on the radar of legislators as bills are being heard that affect AuSM members. This week, the autism insurance reform bill, HF.181, was heard in the House health and human services finance committee, and was held over until some questions are answered about the fiscal impact. Sponsored by Representative Kim Norton, the bill would take effect in August 2013.

The companion bill, S.F. 314, is expected to be heard by Senate committees in the next few weeks. Individuals with autism are at greater risk for bullying. AuSM supports The Safe and Supportive Schools Act (HF 826/SF 783) which strengthens school district bullying policies and procedures. This week, the House Education Policy Committee heard testimony and voted in favor of the bill. Click here for a fact sheet explaining the legislation from The Arc Minnesota.

For more information about this session's activities related to autism issues, visit our website or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., AuSM Advocacy. 

Steps of Hope incentive prize winners

Congratulations to the top two online findraisers as of noon today! Steve Boland and Team Andres won a free night’s stay at the Sheraton Minneapolis West Hotel on Saturday and two complimentary breakfasts on Sunday (with their total of $2,150!). Our second place online fundraiser, Carrie Albers and Eric's Golden Gophers, won two complimentary breakfasts at the Sheraton Minneapolis West Hotel on Sunday (with a total of $1,480). Congratulations, teams!

The top overall fundraiser (online and in-person donations) as of noon on March 15 will win the Steps of Hope grand prize - a luxury package at the Classic Rosewood Inn bed and breakfast. Step it up for autism! 

Join us for Steps of Hope

StepsofHopeLogoAre you ready for Steps of Hope on March 3? There are many different ways to Step it Up for Autism. Remember, all of your support benefits Minnesota families living with autism!

 Set up an AuSM Steps of Hope online fundraising team, powered by GiveMN.org.

Show your support for a friend or neighbor by contributing to a Steps of Hope team. Read stories of families and individuals living with autism in Minnesota. 

Join us at the walk on March 3 at Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka – no fundraising necessary. Find autism resources, hear live music and meet other families. The fun starts at 9:30 a.m. We’re excited to see you! 

Can’t make it on March 3? You can still help make the day a success by sharing Steps of Hope information with your friends or contributing by clicking here

Learn more about Steps of Hope and AuSM by listening to this Cities 97 podcast.

Temple Grandin to speak at annual autism conference

Temple1webOn April 24 during the 18th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference, Dr. Grandin, one of the world’s most accomplished and well-known adults with autism, will deliver a keynote presentation: Autism and My Sensory-Based World. Preview copies of Grandin's new book, “The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum”, will be available, and Grandin will sign books following her presentation. Click here for more details about the April conference.

It's AuSM in the KARE 11 Backyard

KAREweb2013Lisa Sieben, AuSM's Steps of Hope coordinator, and a crew of little friends visited with Belinda Jensen in KARE 11's Backyard. In addition to debuting one of the AuSM Steps of Hope 2013 T-shirt designs, Sieben encouraged viewers to support the local autism community by participating in Steps of Hope on March 3 at Ridgedale Center. Watch the segment here. 

Holla, Station 4 and SP Style!

hiphop2013AuSM sends a shout out to Station 4, SP Style and all of the talented performers for putting on Hip Hop 4 Autism on Sunday, Feb. 17. Proceeds from this live show will benefit the Minnesota autism community by funding AuSM's programs and services. Thank you Station 4, SP Style and all of those who came out to have fun in support of autism last night!

New Minnesota autism insurance reform bill

AuSM supports the new Minnesota autism insurance reform bill, HF.181, which requires intensive behavior therapy, including but not limited to applied behavior analysis; intensive early intervention behavior therapy; intensive behavior intervention, neuro-developmental and behavioral health treatments and management. It also includes coverage for autism-related physical, occupational and speech therapy. The bill has passed the House health and human services policy and commerce committees. Sponsored by Representative Kim Norton, the bill would take effect in August 2013. The companion bill, S.F. 314, is expected to be heard in the Senate next week. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., AuSM Advocacy, for more information.

Jill Kuzma presents to sold out workshop audience

kuzma3webThank you to the educators and professionals participating in Jill Kuzma's Facing the Frontal Lobe workshop today at the Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport - Mall of America. A sold out crowd of more than 200 participants gathered, eager to learn strategies to support executive function skills in students with planning, organization, emotion control, working memory and attention needs. Participants also are taking advantage of visiting the AuSM Bookstore and meeting children's book author, Julia Cook.

AuSM's next education opportunity is the 18th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference April 24-27. Click here for more information.

Steps of Hope incentive prize winner #1; next incentive even bigger!

Congratulations to Steve Boland and Team Andres for being the top Steps of Hope 2013 online fundraiser as of noon on Feb. 7. Their fantastic total of $1115 earned a super-soft, fleece puzzle piece blanket hand-crafted with care by Spectrum High School students.

The next incentive prize is a Celebrate Family Package: an AuSM Household Membership and a Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park pizza party for 10. This special package will be awarded to the top online fundraiser as of noon on Feb. 21. Reach out to your networks - a donation would make a fantastic Valentine's Day gift! All donations go back to the local community to support programs and services for individuals with autism. Click here to learn how you can Step it up for autism!

Help build an autism library in Africa

StepsofHopeLogoNew to Steps of Hope this year, AuSM will accept new or gently used autism books to help build an autism library for parents with children on the spectrum who have little or no resources in Ghana, Africa. All donated books will be mailed to the Rural Integrated Relief Service in Ghana. Become a sponsor and donate funds to ship the boxes of books. If you're not able to come to Steps of Hope on March 3 at Ridgedale Center, you may donate autism books at AuSM's office by March 1.

HSCF accepting applications for award

The HSC Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving access to services for individuals who face social and health care barriers due to disability, chronic illness, or other circumstances that present unique needs, is seeking the next generation of disability advocates. If you are a young leader with a disability or know of anyone who is, you are encouraged to apply for the 2013 Advocates in Disability Award (ADA). The deadline for applications is March 15. Click here for more details.

Is there really a cure for autism?

Several recent reports in national network news have again raised the issue of “curing” autism. The report cited an article in a research journal (Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry) that noted that a small group of young adults who had been diagnosed with autism as young children were able to function independently without special education support.

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MN LEND seeks fellows

LEND UofM-Maroon-and-GoldThe MN LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities), a training program funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), for specialized training in neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD), autism, and other related conditions will be starting its fifth year at the University of Minnesota. MN LEND training focuses on research, leadership, cultural competence, family centered practices, and many more topics related to the services and supports for individuals with NDD and Autism Spectrum Disorders. The program is designed to train individuals to be future leaders in the field of NDD and ASD. MN LEND currently is seeking graduate (pre and post doc) students and community members who are interested in becoming a MN LEND Fellow.

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Steps of Hope 2013 registration is open!

StepsofHopeLogo

Step it up for autism! Registration for Steps of Hope 2013 is open. Take advantage of this exciting, family-friendly opportunity to show your support for the local autism community. 

Each step is a promise to enhance the lives of the 1 in 88 individuals living with autism in Minnesota. Steps of Hope dollars directly support local families and individuals living with autism, from birth through retirement. Donations stay in the community by funding the Autism Society of Minnesota’s (AuSM) innovative programs and services.

Click here for more information and to register.

Group expands to meet the needs of school age parents

AuSM Autism Spectrum Disorder Parent Group
Previously serving parents of junior high aged children and older, the AuSM Autism Spectrum Disorder Parent Group is expanding to support the needs of parents with school age children and older. We invite you to share stories, joys and concerns with other parents raising children with ASD. The next meeting will be Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the AuSM office. There is no cost to attend, but you must RSVP. Click here for more details.

Thanks, Summit Brewery event participants

summitbrewerylogoThank you to all of those who attended the AuSM Summit Brewery event on Nov. 29. It was wonderful to connect with AuSM supporters for an evening of great food, drinks and conversation. A special thank you to Summit Brewery for providing a comfortable location and to Victoria Station Restaurant for providing the delicious dinner.

You are AuSM!

givemax12ausmBe AuSM: Donate 88

Thank you to everyone who donated to AuSM during Give to the Max Day. Our goal for the 24-hour event was to raise $8,188; together we surpassed this goal by raising $11,500.41! Special thanks to the Joan Roisum Insurance Agency for allowing many donations to double with a generous matching grant.

Your support means so much to all families affected by autism in Minnesota. Together we are strong. Together we are making a difference.

Find your AuSM network

Many parents and individuals tell us that one of the most difficult things about an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis is the feelings of isolation and loneliness. Many of these same folks find comfort in AuSM programs because they find a community of people who are having a similar experience. As one mom wrote to us this week: “…More often than not, I feel like as much as I try to explain my daughter’s differences, her behaviors, her story, I am met with well-intentioned people who misunderstand her, or misunderstand us, as her parents. To know, last night, that we were in a room with other parents who have struggled in the same ways, or with individuals who are still learning to overcome the obstacles and challenges autism presents, was heartening…”

We encourage you to join a class to find your network of support. Our winter classes are forming now - sign up for the AuSM Discovery Seriesor AuSM Social Skills today!

100% of your donations to AuSM go back to the Minnesota autism community

Celebrating Successes, Driving Progress

“Since the first diagnosis and Discovery Series, AuSM has provided the lifeline we needed to cope, understand, learn and prepare for the journey of our son’s life.” - Grace, parent

Grace gets it. She, along with her son Drew’s educators, support staff and doctors, has seen the impact that the Autism Society of Minnesota’s programs continue to have on Drew’s progress, education, social skills and ability to prepare for emergencies. Grace is grateful that AuSM’s partnerships with service providers and employers will continue to meet her family’s changing needs – from transitioning to a new living arrangement, to relationship strategies, to programs focusing on educating employers about how the gifts of autism benefit companies. Click here to read more about Grace and her family in AuSM's Annual Appeal 2012.

App Wheel for students with autism

autism-ipad1When looking for apps for students on the autism spectrum (ASD), it is important to look at all educational apps and not just those that are tagged as autism apps. Mark Coppin, MS has developed an Apps Wheel for Students with Autism, a tool designed to help guide you through finding apps based on the unique learning needs of the student. Click here to download a pdf of Coppin's Apps Wheel.

Coppin will present an AuSM Workshop on Dec. 7: iPads, Apps and Autism. Be sure to register today for this information-packed session designed to teach you how to use technology to enhance the lives of those affected by ASD. Click here for more information and to register.

Thank you, Fire Station 1

firefighterwebA special thank you to Fire Station 1 in St. Paul for hosting Autism Safety Day on Oct. 27. Participating families learned what to do in emergency situations and gained valuable tools and resources. A great time was had by all who participated.

Awesome Heroes: Be Awesome, Be Safe, Be a Hero!

childrensbookAuSM's new emergency preparedness children's book is available. Awesome Heroes: Be Awesome, Be Safe, Be a Hero! is a fun story about how three cool kids—like you!—became heroes. Learn about how they prepare for emergencies, stay calm, and get their very own Hero Awards! This book is a tool for parents, teachers, and first responders to learn about how children with autism handle emergencies. It is also an educational tool to teach children how to be prepared, be safe, and be AWESOME HEROES! Click here to order your copy today!

Be AuSM: Donate 88

givemax12ausmAuSM has chosen “Be AuSM: Donate 88” as its Give to the Max Day theme to help recognize autism’s 1 in 88 diagnosis rate. As we draw attention to this statistic, however, our focus remains on individuals who live with autism each day – our amazing loved ones who are far more than just a number. As we count down to Nov. 15, we invite you to share what is special about the AuSM individual in your life: Does she dote over Disney characters? Is he fascinated with frogs? Is she enamored with numbers? Share a story on AuSM's Facebook Page or send a photo to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we can post it!

Autism & Employment Forum 2012 a success

AElivephotoMore than 750 employers, families, service providers, and individuals affected by autism gathered at 3M headquarters to raise awareness about employment and ASD on Oct. 9. Employers and those seeking employment were motivated by keynote speakers Dr. Stephen Shore, Author and Professor at Adelphi University, and Randy Lewis, Senior Vice President for Supply Chain and Logistics, Walgreens.

"The speakers were excellent," April Schnell, Specialisterne USA, said. "The presentations added to the sense of momentum on the wonderful work that is going on in your organization and the community."

Sherry Kenny, AuSM's Executive Director/CEO noted, "We believe AuSM has created a state wide movement on the awareness of educating our employers to this untapped talent pool."

"Having so many in attendance again this year is the mark of progress, these results are an indicator that we are enhancing the lives of those affected by ASD, in our quest to improve employment opportunities," Kenny said.

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MDE slashes paperwork for special ed teachers

Today, Governor Dayton congratulated Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and the state Department of Education (MDE) for reducing excessive paperwork on Minnesota’s special education teachers. The reduction will enable educators to spend much less time filling out forms and much more time in the classroom teaching children with special needs. Click here to read more.

Autism & Employment Forum thank you

AElogoAuSM would like to extend a special thank you to everyone who made the Autism & Employment Forum 2012 a wonderful success: event co-founders, 3M, Best Buy and Cargill; our Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsors; the moderators and speakers, including the keynote speakers, Dr. Stephen Shore and Randy Lewis; Lucinda Jesson, MN Department of Human Services Commissioner, the special guest speaker at the Leadership Summit Luncheon; the Dakota County Technical College speakers; the leaders and experts who directed the Lunch with the Experts; the many 3M volunteers who served as guides for all participants; those who helped with the planning and organization to ready the facility; and especially all employers, hiring managers, educators, caregivers, and individuals with ASD who spent the day learning about the gifts and talents individuals with autism bring to the workplace and to our lives. Your presence and dedication helps AuSM realize its mission of enhancing the lives of those affected by ASD through employment opportunities. Thank you.

AuSM Employment Awards 2012

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2012 AuSM Employment Award: Medtronic, MnDOT and Wells Fargo. We applaud you for your achievements in increasing awareness and promoting a diverse, inclusive culture within your companies.

Twin Cities Film Fest - The Story of Luke

October 20, 2012 at 6 p.m.

The Twin Cities Film Fest (TCFF) is a Minneapolis–based 501(c)3 non–profit year-round arts organization that culminates in a major mainstream film festival in the fall each year at the ShowPlace ICON Theatre located in St. Louis Park, MN.

This year the Twin Cities Film Fest will include a film called "The Story of Luke", which is about a 25 year old Autistic man finding his way in the world. 

The Story of Luke Description
Starring Seth Green and Lou Taylor Pucci: Luke is a 25-year-old autistic man who has lived a sheltered life with his grandparents. But his world is turned upside down when his grandmother dies and he is forced to live with his dysfunctional relatives who have no patience for him or his senile grandfather, who they quickly force into a nursing home. Luke is left with his grandfather's final semi-coherent words: "Get a job. Find a girl. Live your own life. Be a man!" For the first time in his life, Luke has a mission. He is about to embark on a quest. Click here to view the trailer.

Click here for more information.

Adalyn's Clare Release Party

adalynsThe Claddagh Coffee Shop (459 W. 7th St., St. Paul) will be hosting a release party for Kari Dunn Buron's newest children's fiction book, Adalyn's Clare on Saturday, Oct. 20 from 4-7 p.m. at the Claddagh Coffee Shop. At the release party, Dunn Buron will sell and sign books and refreshments will be available to participants.

Surviving and Thriving with Autism Spectrum Disorders

This event for children with autism and their families will take place at Apple Valley's Galaxie Library on Oct. 6, 2012 from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
 
SurvivalGuideKidswithASDsJoin us as Elizabeth Verdick shares information and strategies from her new book, The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Free Spirit Publishing), written just for kids on the autism spectrum. Not another dusty reference book for adults, Verdick wrote this book to help the kids themselves understand what ASD is and how to thrive at school and in life. This book is close to her heart, as Verdick is a parent to a child with autism and a passionate advocate for kids and parents in the autism community. 
 
Verdick and her coauthor, Elizabeth Reeve, MD, are excited to meet with families (especially kids!) in Apple Valley to talk about ways to improve communication, find answers to the big questions about ASD, and help all families rest assured that children with autism certainly DO succeed in life. 

The Journal of Best Practices author highlighted on NBC

David Finch, author of The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband" will be highlighted on Rock Center with Brian Williams on NBC tonight, Sept. 27, at 9 p.m. Click here for a clip of the story.

Meet David Finch on Oct. 11 at Common Good Books when he reads from his book and signs copies. A portion of the book's sales during the event will benefit AuSM. For more information, click here. Location: Common Good Books, 38 S. Snelling Ave., St. Paul, MN.

Support your child's future

AElogoHelp pave the way for your child’s future employment by encouraging your employer to become educated about autism in the workplace. Your employer’s management and HR department can learn more about the Autism and Employment Forum 2012 by clicking here. We encourage you to send these individuals a personal invitation to learn more about the gifts of autism.

Employers, what contributes to the success of Minnesota's top companies?

Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in Minnesota, making it more important now than ever to reach out and work together to foster education, change, acceptance and investment. 

Workers on the spectrum excel in many areas employers desire in their top employees - singular focus, loyalty, high productivity and innovative thinking. With adaptations, you can create an environment that supports all employees while welcoming the gifts of the autism spectrum into your workplace.

Leaders from Best Buy, 3M, Medtronic and Wells Fargo will be highlighted at the Autism & Employment Forum on Oct. 9. Be there to learn how these large companies have reaped the rewards of success through employing individuals with autism.

Click here for more information and to register today.

Campers have unforgettable experiences during 2012 AuSM Camps

TubingThe 2012 AuSM Camps were a huge success this summer. 265 camping slots we filled with excited campers who enjoyed activities at Camp Discovery, Camp Hand in Hand, and Camp Wahode.

 At Camp Discovery campers had a great time swimming, cooking, horseback riding, making new friends and reconnecting with friends from previous years. New to Camp Discovery was a group that created a fantastic newsletter and an extended game time. The mentor panel and discussion groups facilitated positive communication among the campers.

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AuSM's emergency app honored by Center for Digital Government

Innovative mobile phone app provides critical assistance to people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in emergency situations

5pointscale

The Center for Digital Government announced today that it is honoring the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (DDC) for its development of the Autism Help App for Emergencies. The Digital Government Achievement Award is in the Government-to-Citizen category.

The award recognizes DDC’s partnership with the Autism Society of Minnesota in creating a mobile device application that helps people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to communicate in emergency situations. Innovatively using a proven 5-point, color-coded scale, it can be customized to the specific situation of an individual or family – a key concern given the wide range of ASD needs. The 5-Point Scale was created by Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Beth Curtis of Hamline University, which is a nationally known and accepted system, widely used in public schools.

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Drew Larson - A Voice for Minnesota Youth with ASD

DrewLarsonDrew Larson, a senior at Eastview High School in Apple Valley and youth with autism spectrum disorder recently became a representative on the Minnesota Youth Council. He is joined by his mom, Susan Larson, as an adult representative on the council. Ms. Larson is on the Board of Directors for the Autism Society of Minnesota and is with Best Buy’s Employee/Internal Communications team. Drew has been a spokesperson for ASD for the past two years and is more visibly known in the autism community forspeaking at the Autism Awareness Rally at the state capitol. He also has spoken in other venues educating the public about what people with ASD can contribute to their communities, especially in the area of employment. TheMinnesota State Council on Disability was proud to nominate Drew for this council and looks forward to his continued leadership on behalf of youth with ASD as well as for the broader disability community. 

TheMinnesota Youth Council provides youth with a forum to exercise their voice by connecting and mobilizing youth voice and youth action, discussing policy issues, and advising the work of the Minnesota Alliance With Youth and its partners. It provides a forum for youth representatives to strengthen their voice and engage in dialogue with legislators and policy makers at the local and state level.

MDE Prone Restraint Workgroup Begins Work

The Minnesota Department of Education currently is forming its Prone Restraint Stakeholder Group to develop a plan by Feb. 1, 2013 to reduce the use of all restrictive procedures in schools and to “significantly reduce” the use of prone restraint. The Autism Society of Minnesota has been invited to participate in four all-day sessions of this stakeholder group, which is scheduled to begin in September. The Minnesota Department of Education is required to include in their stakeholder group representatives from advocacy organizations, special education directors, intermediate school districts, school boards, day treatment providers, state human services department staff, mental health professionals, and autism experts. To read more about AuSM’s position on prone restraint, click here.

Impact to Individuals/Families with ASD
In a February 2012 report released by The Minnesota Department of Education, children with ASD were represented in 38% of incidents of use, which makes them the second highest population on which prone restraint is used. If used improperly, prone restraint can result in injury and even death.

What You Can Do
If your child has experienced prone restraint use in school, AuSM would like to know more about your child and your family’s experience. Please contact Kim Kang, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., to share your concerns so they can be shared in the MDE Prone Restraint Stakeholder Group.

Minnesota Governor's Taskforce on Prevention of School Bullying Report Released

The Governor's Prevention of School Bullying Task Forcereleased its final recommendations on Aug. 1, 2012to the Governor. The 15 member task force began its work in March to study best practices and policies from literature and experts, analyze existing laws and policies, solicit input from the public and experts, define bullying/harassment/intimidation, and provide recommendations for policy initiatives to the Governor based upon its findings. Some key highlights of the report:

  • Repeal of existing Minnesota laws and replacing them with stronger, more effective laws.
  • Swift enactment of the recommendations to establish a more effective set of laws and policies.
  • Definitions of "bullying" and "harassment" would include protected classes, such as children with disabilities.
  • For students with IEPs or 504 plans that are victims, witnesses of bullying, or the bully themselves, it recommends that the IEP/504 plan include accommodations, goals, and other measures to address the bullying.
  • Discouraging of inappropriate referrals to special education to address bullying.
  • Cyber-bullying that includes those electronic forms not related to a school or school district, but would still interfere with a student's participation in a safe, supportive educational environment.
  • Creation of a School Climate Center within the Minnesota Department of Education to provide information and technical support to school districts.

Overall, the report is very comprehensive and provides a strong foundation for stronger policies and laws to address bullying in our schools. For more information on AuSM’s position on addressing bullying and harassment in schools,click here.

Impact to Individuals/Families with ASD
Children with ASD are at a higher risk due to social skills and communication challenges. One study found that adolescents with ASD were four times more likely to be bullied than their peers without disabilities; up to 75% of children with Asperger’s Syndrome were bullied in this same study.

What You Can Do
Contact the Governor’s Office to let them know that you support the recommendations in this report andencourage them to move swiftly to implement the recommendations.Contact Hue Nguyen, Senior Policy Advisor for Education, The Office of Governor Dayton, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 651.201.3426.

Shop Amazon through AuSM

If you enjoy shopping from the comfort of your home or office with the ease of the click of a button, you've probably visited Amazon.com. Ausm recently signed on to become an Amazon affiliate, a relationship that will allow AuSM a percentage of each sale made through www.ausm.org.

In the lower right corner of AuSM's home page, there is an Amazon search box. If you enter Amazon's site through this box and make a purchase, AuSM will automatically receive a percentage of your purchase total. It's an easy way to support AuSM's services and programs - you don't even have to remember a code! If you're doing some shopping at Amazon.com, stop by www.ausm.org first.

Spread the word to your friends, family and colleages about this simple way to support the autism community.

AuSM’s Golf Benefit 2012

Thank you, 17th annual AuSM Golf Benefit participants! We are pleased to report that the August 6th event SOLD OUT!
Unlike last year's rain out, we enjoyed the best summer had to offer in Minnesota. But that wasn't the best part. YOU made the day awesome - our supporters who gave generously to help raise awareness about autism and our mission to enhance the lives of individuals affected by autism. Your generosity came in the form of your presence, your time, your monetary donations and your enthusiasm. For all of these things, we are grateful.

ausm-golf

In conjunction with the golf event, we launched our inaugural "Send a Child to Camp" fundraiser to help us raise money for our unique camp programs. All of our camp settings are tailored to meet the needs of children who have autism. Many of you participated in this new fundraiser and helped us raise more than $2,200 to address the increasing demand to expand camp programs. On behalf of all of the children who will benefit through an exciting summer camp experience, thank you!

There still is time to contribute to this important "Send a Child to Camp" fundraiser. If you're interested in donating or in asking others to donate, checks can be sent to AuSM with "Send a Child to Camp" indicated in the memo line. Or, donate by credit card through AuSM's page on www.GiveMN.org.

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Autism & Employment Forum

aegraphics

Thank you for a successful Autism & Employment Forum

AuSM extends a sincere thank you to all who participated in the Autism & Employment Forum. Sponsors, volunteers, speakers, agencies, employers, HR representatives, families, caregivers, individuals with autism - your presence yesterday proves your commitment to raising awareness of autism and working toward a more diverse, inclusive work culture within Minnesota companies and beyond. A special thank you to Laura Betker, KARE 11 News Meteorologist, for moderating the session and to Cargill for sharing your beautiful facilities with us for this important event.

Click here to view Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar's message to Autism & Employment Forum 2013 participants.


Autism & Employment Forum 2013 draws crowds and offers solutions for employers and those with autism

In support of forward-thinking employers and the roughly half a million individuals with autism reaching adulthood in the next decade, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton released an official proclamation making Oct. 24, 2013 Autism and Employment Day in Minnesota.

The morning proclamation was the perfect kick-off for the Autism & Employment Forum. More than 350 employers, human resource managers, individuals with autism, family members and caregivers participated in the Autism Society of Minnesota’s (AuSM) third annual Forum on Thursday, Oct. 24 at Cargill in Hopkins, Minn. 

In keeping with the theme of “Working Locally, Thinking Globally,” speakers included representatives from Cargill Foods Venezuela as well as local companies. Employers discussed how they have successfully employed and retained individuals with autism and individuals with autism shared their personal employment stories with the sold-out main session crowd.

Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson highlighted why work is so central to all of us. “Work has the ability to strengthen our self-confidence and self-worth,” she said. “Meaningful work has so much power to change our lives. Everyone who wants to have that opportunity should have it.”

The Forum began with the sold-out Leadership Summit Luncheon, where top Minnesota corporate leaders, state agencies, advocates and individuals with autism discussed how to raise awareness and create opportunities for individuals with disabilities who want to be employed.

During the main session, Jon Ander Badiola, President of Cargill FoodsVenezuela, spoke about Cargill’s successful “Engranados” training program that aims to develop socio-occupational skills in people with intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities. Program trainers quickly realized that it wasn't only the program participants who were obtaining new skills.

“We were not only preparing participants to be successful, we were also learning about their disabilities and how to interact with them,” Badiola said. “We learned to think big and go beyond what is required.”

Maria Auxiliadora Ramirez, diagnosed with autism in 2011 and a graduate of the Engranados program, joined Badiola and other representatives from Cargill Foods Venezuela for a panel discussion. Ramirez said being employed by Cargill is like being with a big family, and she is grateful to be a productive member of society. 

When asked what advice she has for individuals with disabilities as they go through the job search, Ramirez said: “Believe in yourself and assert yourself, and you will have success and reach your goals.”

Representatives from Beltmann Group Incorporated, a transportation and logistics company headquartered in Roseville, Minn. and Merrick, Inc., a day training and habilitation facility based in Vadnais Heights, discussed how employees with disabilities can change a workplace for the better. 

Jeanne Considine, Vice President of Accounting at Beltmann, noted that when Beltmann hired an individual with autism, Beltmann recognized a need to educate employees on how to effectively work together. Beltmann brought in the Autism Society of Minnesota for training to help employees understand that people with autism see the world differently. This empowered their employee with autism to share his story and better communicate with his co-workers. 

“The training was very positively received by employees. We wish we would have done it sooner,” Considine said. “Since the training our staff is a kinder, more caring and more tolerant group of people.”

Mike Greenbaum, Finance and Development Director at Merrick, Inc., encouraged employers who are interested in hiring individuals with disabilities not to be concerned about what could happen if the employment isn’t successful, but instead to consider the new opportunities. 

“Each individual is unique and presents different capabilities,” Greenbaum said. “The more incorporated individuals can be through natural supports, the more likely success will follow.”

Though Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was not able to attend the Forum, she sent an inspirational pre-recorded message for participants. She acknowledged the importance of the Forum, noting that coming together to share ideas helps ensure that more and more employers know that those with autism can enhance the workforce.

Klobuchar said, “You are the guardian angels for all of these families and individuals living with autism. They may not all be aware of what you are doing here today, but you are making a difference. You are giving them wings to fly.”

Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben and Commissioner Jesson presented this year’s AuSM Employment Award to Beltmann Group Incorporated and Merrick, Inc. for their achievements in increasing awareness and promoting a diverse, inclusive culture within their companies.

Following the main session, an Information Fair was held for employers and individuals with autism seeking employment. The Fair included training sessions for Interviewing Tips and Strategies, Disclosure, Pros and Cons and the Job Search. Participants also visited with company representatives and state agencies to receive one-to-one job search assistance and practice interviews.


Thank you, 2013 Sponsors!

GOLD

Cargillweb

DEEDweb

oppservicesweb

Targetweb

wellsfargoweb

SILVER

Beltmann Group Incorporated
Lifeworks
MRCI WorkSource

BRONZE

Ameriprise Financial
Autism Works
Best Buy
Fraser
GTS
Medtronic
Merrick, Inc.
Minnesota Department of Human Services (MDH)
Minnesota Department of Transportation
Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Minnesota Life College
Minnesota State Council on Disability (MSCOD)
Opportunity Partners
TSE Inc.

PRINT SPONSORS

AFPI
Allegra Downtown St. Paul


For more information about AuSM’s employment programs, click here

 

Autism Spectrum Disorders Task Force

March 2012

During the 2009 legislative session, a bill was passed to convene an Autism Spectrum Disorders Task Force. Task force members included parents, doctors, a special education director, individuals representing advocacy agencies, and four bipartisan bicameral legislators. The original bill included representatives from several Minnesota departments, but including the departments gave the bill a fiscal note, and they were removed during the legislative process. The ASD Task Force convened in October 2009 and ended in June 2011.AuSM's representative, Dawn Steigauf, served as task force chair. The task force was required to submit a report with recommendations to the legislature by January 2012. As they worked, task force members learned that the State of Minnesota, unlike several other states, does not have a State Autism Strategic Plan. The task force was informed that when competing for grants, not having a plan has limited Minnesota's ability to be competitive.

Task force members worked on language for a bill to create a new task force to develop a state strategic plan, and legislative members authored a bill. ASD Task Force members agreed that the departments needed to be a part of developing the strategic plan.

Steigauf and other task force members testified at several hearings during the 2011 legislative season. Task force members worked with the departments and Governor Dayton's office to ensure that the Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Education, and Department of Employment and Economic Development were represented on the new task force. The bill was passed with broad bipartisan support.

The appointment process began in the fall of 2011, and the new task force convened in February 2012. Steigauf was appointed as a "parent representative" by the State Majority Leader. AuSM Board Member and State Representative Nora Slawik was appointed by the House Minority Leader.

NEW LICENSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR TEACHERS

On December 30, 2001, Minnesota adopted teacher licensure requirements for teachers serving children with autism spectrum disorder. The licensure requires that: teachers have foundational knowledge about ASD as well as training in referral, assessment, and evaluation and appropriate instructional design. Teachers will also be required to hone their skills in collaboration and communication with parents and other professionals.

The passage of this ASD licensure ends a ten year advocacy effort by the Autism Society of Minnesota to require more training for teachers serving children with ASD. Efforts began in early 2000, when the Minnesota Board of Teaching was approached to explore the need for a license in ASD. As a result of that effort, the Autism Society of Minnesota conducted a survey of 1,200 parents and teachers to determine the feasibility of further advocacy work to get an ASD licensure. Given strong feedback from parents, the Autism Society formally pursued an ASD licensure request with the Board of Teaching in 2005, which lead to the beginning of a comprehensive review of special education licenses in 2008.

While the new licensure requirements don’t go into effect until September 1, 2012 and there will be a transition period for teachers already in the field, it is certain that over 14,000 students with ASD will begin to see the benefits of having trained teachers who understand the unique complexities of ASD.

Read Dr. Barbara Luskin’s Perspective

August 2011

Restrictive Procedures in Schools

In 2009 a law was passed in Minnesota regulating how schools use restrictive procedures (seclusion and restraint) on students in special education. The law went into effect on Aug. 1, 2011. On Feb. 1, 2012, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released its report, "The Use of Prone Restraint in Minnesota Schools: August 2011 through January 2012." If your child has an IEP (Individualized Education Program), you will want to learn more about it. Please see AuSM's position on Positive Behavior Supports below. We believe that restrictive procedures should be used as a last resort to protect individuals from immediate danger. There is current legislation that will allow prone restraint use for yet another year. AuSM will continue to monitor this legislation and work to eliminate the use of prone restraint in our schools. Questions? Contact AuSM at 651.647.1083 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Click here to read the NAMI Fact Sheet on this issue.

MDE Releases Report on Prone Restraint Use 

February 2012

On February 1, 2012, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released its report, "The Use of Prone Restraint in Minnesota Schools: August 2011 through January 2012." This report was required as part of 2011 state legislation to allow the continued use of prone restraint for emergency use only in schools until August 2012. The MDE report revealed that school districts had 592 incidents of prone use with roughly 77% of those incidents occuring in intermediate districts. Children with ASD (38%) and emotional behavioral disorder (40%) represented the predominate groups this restraint was used on. There is current legislation (HF 2293 and SF 1917) that will allow prone restraint use for yet another year with specific reporting requirements to the MDE. HF 2293 has an additional requirement for MDE to establish a stakeholder group to develop a plan by February 1, 2013 to reduce the use of all restrictive procedures in schools and to "significantly reduce" prone restraint use. AuSM will continue to monitor this legislation and work to eliminate the use of prone restraint in our schools.