AuSM Skillshops

educatalog15 16CvrBased on topics suggested by the Minnesota autism community, AuSM Skillshops are mini-workshops designed for individuals with autism and their parents, family members, caregivers, and support staff. AuSM Skillshops are also a valuable professional development resource for educators and therapists who work with individuals affected by autism.

AuSM Skillshops will be held at the AuSM office in St. Paul and also at partnering locations throughout the Twin Cities. Please review the AuSM Skillshop listings for specific locations.

AuSM 2380 Wycliff St. #102, St. Paul, MN 55114
Academy of Whole Learning 9400 Cedar Lake Rd. #7, St. Louis Park, MN 55426
Fraser 6458 City West Pkwy., Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Lionsgate Academy 3420 Nevada Ave. N., Crystal, MN 55427
Meridian Orion Associates, 9400 Golden Valley Rd., Golden Valley, MN 55427
Merrick, Inc. 3210 Labore Rd., Vadnais Heights, MN 55110
St. David's Center 3395 Plymouth Rd., Minnetonka, MN 55305
West Metro Learning Connections 5215 Edina Industrial Blvd. #400, Edina, MN 55439

Cost Per AuSM Skillshop/Per Person

AuSM Member: $25
Non-Member: $40
Individual with ASD: $10

Click here to view the complete 2015-2016 AuSM Education Catalog.

Click here to view the 2015-2016 AuSM Skillshops flyer.

Click here for Scholarships & Waiver information.

FEBRUARY 9, 2016 – Lionsgate Academy
Focus on Unspoken Communication

Presenter: Beth Pitchford, MA
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 7-9 p.m.
Location: Lionsgate Academy
Who Should Participate: individuals with autism, parents, family members, caregivers, educators, therapists

More than half of communication is nonverbal. From facial expressions to microexpressions and larger body movements, we can add meaning to spoken communications and deepen the value of interpersonal relationships. Use software for studying microexpressions and practice integration of those expressions. Also learn about larger body movements and their potential meanings.

Beth Pitchford, MA, a therapist at AuSM, is a mental health practitioner and a customized social coach for Autism Works. She helps adults decode the neurotypical world to decrease barriers to community acceptance and to increase feelings of success.


FEBRUARY 16, 2016 – AuSM
Preparing for the Future: Guardianship and Supplemental Needs Trusts

Presenter: Jason Schellack, Esq.
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 16 from 7-9 p.m.
Location: AuSM
Who Should Participate: parents, family members, caregivers, educators, therapists

Planning for your child’s future is critical to ensuring he or she will have important legal and financial protections into adulthood. Learn the process for establishing legal guardianship for adult children with disabilities and how to qualify for free legal assistance. Also learn the importance of supplemental needs trusts and how they can help provide for your loved one with autism while still maintaining eligibility for government benefits.

Jason Schellack, Esq. is an attorney and the Executive Director of Autism Advocacy & Law Center, LLC, a law firm dedicated to serving individuals with disabilities and their families. Schellack has worked with individuals with autism throughout his career, as a camp counselor, personal care attendant, public defender, and legal advocate. He practices primarily in the areas of guardianship, estate planning, family law, and special education law. Schellack also is a qualified neutral under Rule 114, allowing him to serve as a mediator in family law disputes.  

Click here to view a pdf of this AuSM Skillshop flyer.


DATE TBA* – Lionsgate Academy
Autism, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice

Presenters: Amy Dawson, Dave Garman, and Marc Berris
Date: Tuesday, March 1 from 7-9 p.m.
Location: Lionsgate Academy
Who Should Participate: parents, family members, caregivers, educators, therapists

According to research, individuals with autism are 7-12 times more likely to interface with law enforcement and the criminal justice system than their neurotypical peers, either as victims, bystanders, or as perceived or real perpetrators. Many individuals with autism require support in the interpretation and navigation of the systems that are designed to protect them. Learn about resources and strategies for children and adults with autism and ask questions of this panel of legal advocates and professionals.  

Amy Dawson: Hennepin County Judge; Dave Garman: Minneapolis Crisis Police Department; Marc Berris: Partner Attorney at Segal, Roston and Berris


APRIL 12, 2016 – Academy of Whole Learning
Current Policy and Legislative Update

Presenter: Jean Bender
Date: Tuesday, April 12 from 7-9 p.m.
Location: Academy of Whole Learning
Who Should Participate: parents, family members, caregivers, educators, therapists

Part of AuSM’s mission is ensuring that our laws and public policies support individuals and families living with autism. Receive an informed update of legislative issues that are especially important in the 2016 Congressional session. Learn about the facts and positions relevant to you, and learn how to make your voice heard by the Minnesota legislature. Specific topics, available once the session begins, may include housing, employment, waivers, and more.

Jean Bender is the AuSM Board Vice President and the Chair of AuSM’s Advocacy Committee. She has testified on behalf of her son and her nephew, both of whom have autism, at legislative hearings and has served on the state’s Legislative Autism Task Force. Bender has conducted civic engagement training sessions for self-advocates, community providers, and special education transition classes and has presented at The Arc Minnesota’s and AuSM’s annual conferences.


APRIL 21, 2016 – St. David’s Center
Mindful Parenting: How To Stop the Fighting, Yelling, and Frustration

Presenter: Samantha Moe, MA SLP
Date: Thursday, April 21 from 7-9 p.m.
Location: St. David’s Center
Who Should Participate: parents, family members, caregivers, educators, therapists

Are you stressed out and exhausted? Tired of your child’s poor listening, lack of self-control, and defiant behavior? Discover why children with autism push your limits and try to control everything, and how you can transform your home into an enjoyable space rather than a war zone. In this interactive presentation you will receive solutions from the Mad to Glad Blueprint™ that are key to having a calmer, more cooperative child and restoring your sanity.

Samantha Moe, MA SLP, is a Certified Parent Coach whose passion is teaching practical ways to decrease stress. Known as the owner of Mad2Glad and founder of the holistic and innovative Mad to Glad Blueprint™, Moe guides caregivers in her step-by-step approach to dramatically reduce defiance and disrespect and re-establish confidence and authority. 


MAY 19, 2016 – St. David’s Center
Toilet Training Challenge

Presenter: Anne Dudley, MEd
Date: Thursday, May 19 from 7-9 p.m.
Location: St. David’s Center
Who Should Participate: parents, family members, caregivers

Toilet training individuals with ASD can be a daunting challenge, but it is a critical life skill. Understand the unique autism learning style, select motivating reinforcers and obtain a step-by-step method to address toileting issues across the range of the spectrum. Bring your specific toileting challenges and we will problem solve together, no matter the age of the individual.

Anne Dudley, MEd is the District 622 Early Childhood Autism Specialist and classroom teacher for toddlers with ASD. She has more than 40 years of experience with individuals with special needs and autism. Dudley facilitates an education/support group for parents of young children with ASD, presents toileting workshops, and consults with families across the state.


JUNE 2, 2016 – Fraser
Transition: Using Personal Learning Plans for Students with ASD

Presenter: Kim Kang
Date: Thursday, June 2 from 7-9 p.m.
Location: Fraser
Who Should Participate: transition-age students with autism, parents, family members, caregivers, educators

Personal Learning Plans, also known as Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) can be an effective tool for career development and exploration. In this AuSM Skillshop, you will learn what a Personal Learning Plan is, how it can be used to complement an IEP or 504 plan for a student with ASD, and how to work with schools to construct an effective plan.  

Kim Kang has more than 16 years of experience as a diability advocate and is the parent of a child with a developmental disability. She has provided special education expertise to organizations including PACER Center, Arc Minnesota, Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance, AuSM, and the Minnesota State Council on Disability.  She currently is the Board Chair for Autism Works, a non-profit that provides post-secondary navigation and employment services for people with ASD.  


JUNE 7, 2016 – AuSM
Tips on Helping Your Child with ASD Learn to Ride a Bike

Presenter: Alex Uhler
Date: Tuesday, June 7 from 7-9 p.m.
Location: AuSM
Who Should Participate: This AuSM Skillshop is limited to 9 children, ages 5-12. Supportive adult and child attend together. Child should bring a bike and helmet.

Challenges with body awareness, balance and motor control, and eye-hand coordination can make riding a bike difficult for children on the spectrum. Learn 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.

Alex Uhler is an outdoor enthusiast with more than 40 years of bicycling experience. He is a life-long resident of the southeast Twin Cities area and has been active in many philanthropic activities.


AUGUST 30, 2016 – West Metro Learning Connections
Food Fight! Nutritional Strategies for Children with ASD and Their Families

Presenter: Anne Kelly, MD, MPH
Date: Tuesday, Aug. 30 from 7-9 p.m.
Location: West Metro Learning Connections
Who Should Participate: parents, family members, caregivers, educators, therapists

Research has proven that children with ASD have numerous nutrient deficiencies and gastrointestinal disorders that contribute to poor health and behavioral symptoms. Sensory issues, food refusal, and peculiar cravings affect many children wtih ASD, making it difficult to introduce healthier foods. Receive information on the use of whole food powders to make nutrient-rich shakes that are affordable, dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free, and discuss strategies that will simplify the nutrition routine for the whole family.

Anne Kelly, MD, MPH, pediatrician and researcher, founded the University of Minnesota U Special Kids program for children with complex medical conditions and is the current founder and president of Nutrition Ignition Incorporated. MetroDoctors journal featured an article co-authored by Dr. Kelly on autism as a public health crisis.


SEPTEMBER 20, 2016 – Merrick, Inc.
Autism and Anxiety in Adults

Presenter: Meghan Williams, MA, LMFT
Date: Tuesday, Sept. 20 from 7-9 p.m.
Location: Merrick, Inc.
Who Should Participate: individuals with ASD, parents, family members, caregivers, educators, therapists

It’s common for adults with autism to have anxiety and/or depression. Learn how to cope with stressors and gather resources for reducing anxiety.

Meghan Williams, MA, LMFT has worked with individuals with ASD for more than 10 years. She specializes in working with older adolescents, adults, couples, and families and is certified in Prepare/Enrich. Williams uses a holistic, strength-based approach offering hope, understanding, growth, and encouragement.

Special thanks to our AuSM Education 2015-2016 Catalog advertisers.

Academy of Whole Learning
Allegra Downtown St. Paul
Anime Twin Cities
Autism Advocacy & Law Center, LLC
Children's Theatre Company
Hamline University School of Education
Integrated Development Services
Mains'l Services, Inc.
Metro Friendship Foundation
Midwest Special Services, Inc.
Minnesota Life College
MSP International Airport/Navigating Autism
Stages Theatre Company
St. David's Center for Child & Family Development
West Metro Learning Connections, Inc.


Cancellation Policy

Notification of Cancellation: If a Skillshop is cancelled or postponed, AuSM will attempt to notify you via phone, using the phone number provided with your registration. We also will post notice of cancellations and postponements on

Cancellation by Registrant: Refunds less a $10 processing fee will be given for cancellations received in writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. seven business days prior to the Skillshop. Following this date, no refunds will be given. Requests for transfers of registration to another individual will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Cancellation by Skillshop Organizer: AuSM reserves the right to cancel a Skillshop due to low registrations or other circumstances that make the Skillshop non-viable. If AuSM cancels a Skillshop, registrants will be offered a full refund. If the event is postponed, registrants will have the option to either receive a full refund or transfer registration to the same Skillshop at the new, future date.