January 1, 2017        Connecting you with the Minnesota autism community.

A Note from Jonah Weinberg, Executive Director

AuSM invites you to join us and our awesome community as we share education, advocacy, and unwavering support through our programs and services in 2017. AuSM's board of directors, the dedicated AuSM staff, and I extend our wishes for a new year of progress and growth to all of those in the Minnesota autism community and beyond. 

AuSM Executive Director
Autism Heroes, it's time to register for Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota 2017
AuSM will present Steps of Hope, its 17th annual fundraiser and the state's largest autism resource fair, at Southdale Center on March 5, 2017 from 8:30-11a.m.  Dollars raised by individuals and walk teams directly support local families and individuals living with autism, from birth through retirement. Those who pre-register (Steps of Hope registration, including the autism resource fair, is free) and raise $100 or more will receive a free Steps of Hope 2017 T-shirt. To learn more, visit  www.SOHwalk.org .

Due to the generosity of AuSM Flash Dash sponsor Accra Care, participating in the AuSM Flash Dash now will cost only $5 per person. Held from 9-9:15 a.m., the AuSM Flash Dash will make you 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. Proudly let everyone know that you participated in a "race" for autism! After you get the wiggles out during the AuSM Flash Dash, head up to the second floor for the state's largest annual autism resource fair, snacks, and fun activities. Register today to be a part of this exciting addition to Steps of Hope 2017!

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

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.

Couples class begins Jan. 9 
*Limited space available*
"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. 

Life with Autism Series 
AuSM's Life with Autism Series offers information and strategies to parents, family members, relatives, caregivers of individuals with autism, educators, and the community through engaging, age-focused classes led by autism experts and parent speakers. Participants also learn about available services and resources. 

Intro to Autism
Develop an understanding of the basics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), resource options, and positive behavior supports. Learn how families, schools, and the medical community can work together to educate and support those with ASD. Get practical tips on helping individuals with ASD meet their potential.

One Session Class Offered in Winter and Spring 
Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. 
Thursday, April 20, 2017 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Cost Per Individual 
AuSM Member: $25; Non-Member: $40


Newly Diagnosed (ages 18 mos.-10 yrs.)
Obtain information on topics including the definition of autism, parent feelings, neurological findings, therapies, communication strategies, teaching daily living skills, challenging behavior, sensory needs, visual supports, and using social stories.

One Session Class Offered in Winter 
Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (bring own lunch)

Cost for Two Family Members/Caregivers 
AuSM Member: $50; Non-Member: $75

Adolescence and Transition (ages 11-21)
Obtain information on topics including parent emotions, the impact of autism on adolescents, independence in daily living skills, public social skills, reciprocal relationships, sexuality, privacy and safety, transitions into adult living and workplace issues, self-determination skills, behavior management, and emotions.

One Session Class Offered in Spring 
Saturday, March 18, 2017 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (bring own lunch)

Cost for Two Family Members/Caregivers 
AuSM Member: $50; Non-Member: $75

Adults (ages 18+)
Obtain information on topics such as impact of autism on adults, independence in daily living skills, social skills across settings including the workplace, reciprocal relationships, sexuality, privacy and safety, transitions into adult living, workplace issues, self-determination skills, behavior management, and emotions.

One Session Class Offered in Spring 
Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (bring own lunch)

Cost for Two Family Members/Caregivers 
AuSM Member: $50; Non-Member: $75

AuSM Social Skills Classes
AuSM's winter social skills classes begin in two weeks. Click on the links below for more information or to register for a selected class. Registration for spring classes also is open.

The 2017 AuSM Summer Activities Catalog will be available soon and registration for AuSM's summer social skills classes will open on Jan. 30!

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

SPRING and SUMMER 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
Spring 2017 Session
Mondays from 6-9 p.m.
March 13, 20, 27 and April 3, 10, 2017

Summer 2017 Session
Mondays from 8:30-11:30 a.m.
June 12-16, 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  info@ausm.org.

Information and Resources

Uniting the Community event highlight:
An AuSM Night at the Science Museum
February 2, 2017 from 5-9 p.m.

Science Museum of Minnesota
120 W Kellogg Blvd. 
St Paul, MN 55102

The Science Museum of Minnesota invites AuSM families to visit the museum for an evening of exploration. 

Cost: $18.95 adults; $12.95 ages 4-12; 3 and under free. Limited income discounts available from the Science Museum of Minnesota. 

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 | info@ausm.org |   www.ausm.org

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