December 15, 2016        Connecting you with the Minnesota autism community.

A Note from Jonah Weinberg, Executive Director
Whether we recognize it or not, we're constantly learning new things. Sometimes learning happens in a formal classroom, other times it happens as we walk down the street or while we're waiting in a check-out line. Our capacity to learn, as well as where we learn, is limitless.

With the new year just around the corner, I encourage you to schedule some planned learning activities for you and/or your loved ones with autism. AuSM offers a variety of learning opportunities including year-round social skills classes, our new We're In This Together neurodiverse couples class, AuSM Skillshops featuring topics suggested by our community, the February Sexuality workshop, the Autism Direct Support Certification classes, the state autism conference, customized training, and so much more.

You may also wish to give the gift of learning to someone you know, or even someone you don't know, by making a donation to AuSM's scholarship fund. The end of the year is an ideal time for giving. 100% of your donations to AuSM are tax deductible and support the local autism community.

On behalf of AuSM's board of directors, our dedicated staff, and myself, I wish you a safe, enjoyable holiday season that leads into an AuSM 2017!

AuSM Executive Director
Participants in the December Navigating MSP Airport session were all smiles (including the pilots!).
Trip planning tips
As the Minnesota air gets colder, thoughts of heading for warmer climates for a getaway can increase. If you are planning to travel out of our frozen tundra during these cold winter months, Delta pilot Rich Kargel has some travel tips to share. Longtime friend of AuSM and father of a son with autism, Kargel shares information that includes a preparation check list, ideas on what to pack, and instructions that can help make traveling by plane go smoothly. Click here for Kargel's travel tips.

If you have time before your scheduled travel, be sure to register for an upcoming session of Navigating MSP Airport. Offered monthly, Navigating MSP Airport allows families and individuals affected by autism and other learning differences the opportunity to go on a practice run through taking a plane trip. Click here for more information and to register for an upcoming session of Navigating MSP Airport.
Sexuality: Breaking the Taboo and Learning How To Talk About It
Join us for this collaborative workshop organized by AuSM, Minnesota Life College, and the University of St. Thomas.

Parents and Caregivers:
Does the thought of talking about sex with your young loved one with autism or other learning differences make you uncomfortable? During this workshop, you will gain valuable strategies for conversing about sexuality, relationships, and values.

Educators and Professionals:
Are you unsure about how to address sexuality with your students with autism or other learning differences? 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. 

Sexuality: Breaking the Taboo and Learning How To Talk About It
Friday, Feb. 17 from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Workshop Location
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul Campus
O'Shaughnessy Educational Center (OEC)
2115 Summit Ave, St. Paul, MN 55105

About the Speaker
Melissa Keyes DiGioia, CSE is a Certified Sexuality Educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. As co-founder and Director of Education, she facilitates professional development workshops and education sessions on varying sexuality and sexual health topics and specializes in program delivery for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Workshop Fee (on or before Feb. 3*)
AuSM Member: $75
Non-Member: $85
Person with ASD: $25
Student: $25

(*Workshop Fees increase by $10 after Feb. 3.)

Group Registration Rate
A group rate of $10 off the member or non-member rate is available for 10 or more participants registering together with one form of payment. Call 651.647.1083 ext. 19 for the group rate.


Autism Heroes, it's time to register for Steps of Hope
Activate 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.

AuSM is pleased to announce that its inaugural 
AuSM Flash Dash  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 . Families and individuals who register for the AuSM Flash Dash will receive medals at the finish line and bragging rights for completion. Registration for the AuSM Flash Dash is $50 per family (includes four medals); $20 per adult (includes one medal); and $15 per child (includes one medal).

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. To learn more, visit

Register for Steps of Hope 2017 and the AuSM Flash Dash by Jan. 6, 2017 and your name will be placed in a drawing for your very own cuddly Steps of Hope 2017 mascots, Flash the Cat and Dash the Dog, and a Bruegger's Bagel Bakery Bundle (13 bagels and two tubs of cream cheese). The winner will be announced on Jan. 6. Register today!


Want a Steps of Hope Resource Table?
Your company or organization won't want to miss the opportunities a Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota 2017 resource table can provide. Click here to learn how you can share your programs and services with the Minnesota autism community on March 5, 2017.
Couples class offered in early 2017
"We're In This Together," a class for neurodiverse couples, 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. 

AuSM Social Skills Classes
Now is a great time to register for AuSM's winter social skills classes that begin in January. Click on the links below for more information on or to register for a selected class. Add something new to your new year! Registration for spring classes also is open.

Rainforest Adventures  
Saturdays, Jan. 21-Feb. 25, 2017
Explore the depths of the world's rainforests without leaving Como! Meet rainforest animals, large and small, and discover the role each animal plays in keeping the rainforests alive. A tropical rainforest is a great place to be during a Minnesota winter!
Sundays, Jan. 15-Feb. 19
New experiences and social situations can be a challenge for individuals on the spectrum; improv provides a framework for addressing these areas. Have fun while learning how to respond to the unexpected, engage in reciprocal interactions, and support fellow participants in keeping a scene moving forward. Each skill can be applied to everyday life as you learn to open yourself to creativity and new ideas, while having fun and making friends. No prior improv experience is necessary.
Saturdays, Jan. 21-Feb. 25
AuSM Talent Showcase educators will help participants develop their ideas and talents to create finished pieces to share with an audience. Participants will spend six weeks working with artists in a variety of fields to create a final piece to perform or display at an event. Each participant's final piece will be directed by his or her interests. Final pieces may include musical performances, video projects, paintings, cartoons, stand-up comedy, dance, juggling, or something the world has never seen before. Participants are welcome to come with ideas for their talents, or instructors will help them discover talents during class.
WINTER Autism Direct Support Certification
AuSM's Autism Direct Support Certification Program is designed for professionals who work with individuals with autism or who want to better provide service to those with autism spectrum disorder. This in-depth, 15-hour course will give practical solutions for working with people on the spectrum. 

Who should participate?
  • Job Coaches
  • Support Staff
  • Personal Care Attendants (PCAs)
  • EIDBI Tier 3 Providers
  • Educational Aides
  • Direct Support Personnel
  • Group Home Staff
  • Day Training and Habilitation Professionals
  • Anyone who works directly with individuals with autism
Winter 2017 Session
(Only a few spots remain.)
Jan. 21, 28, 2017 from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
and Feb. 4, 2017 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

AuSM Skillshops

Jan. 10, 2017
Keeping Aggression in Check
Presenter: Stephani Bruyer, MA, LP 
Date: Jan. 10, 2017 from 7-9 p.m. 
Location: Merrick, Inc.

During this session, increase your understanding of why interfering behaviors are exhibited and obtain positive intervention strategies. Learn the elements of Functional Behavioral Assessments and how the outcome of assessments can lead to the most effective interventions. Understand how mental health can affect a person's overall functioning and obtain knowledge of effective treatments.


Jan. 24, 2017
Communication Breakdown: How To Resolve Conflicts
Presenter: Beth Pitchford, MA 
Date: Jan. 24, 2017 from 7-9 p.m. 
Location: Autism Society of Minnesota

During a conflict, tempers may flare, words can have hidden meanings, and body language often is confusing. Thought processes may be emotionally charged and not logical. Teens and adults with autism, 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.


Feb. 7, 2017: Social Safety: Strategies for Navigating Online and Offline
Feb. 9, 2017: Poetry and Autism: Turning Perseveration into Creativity
Feb. 21, 2017: Special Needs & Special Sibs: A Family AuSM Skillshop
March 23, 2017: Electronic Addiction: How to Break Free From Battles Over Screens

AuSM Premier Partners make a difference in the lives of those touched by autism
Several important businesses in our community have stepped forward to help fund and support AuSM's programs and services for families and individuals affected by autism. While some of these businesses are new to AuSM's Premier Partner program, others have been partners with AuSM since the program began in 2013. AuSM Premier Partners generously give a minimum of $5,000 cash and/or in-kind donations to help fuel the success of AuSM programs and services over a 12-month period.

We are pleased to recognize these forward-thinking organizations for energetically supporting AuSM in 2017:

Therapy and Support
With more than 80 years of combined experience with individuals with autism, AuSM's team of highly trained and licensed therapists wants you to feel comfortable and knowledgeable as we undertake this journey together, striving for positive, individual-focused goals. 

AuSM sends out a monthly "Ask the Therapist" e-mail where AuSM's therapists answer questions submitted by the Minnesota autism community.  Click here  to read the "Ask the Therapist" archive. To submit a question, e-mail

Information and Resources

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. 

Autism Society of Minnesota | 651.647.1083 | |

Established in 1971, the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) 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 does not sell or share the contact information of our members, volunteers, donors or supporters.

Autism Society of Minnesota, 2380 Wycliff St. #102,  St. Paul, MN 55114