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

AuSM announces new executive director
AuSM 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. 
Wilson has pursued Masters coursework in Public Health Administration and Policy at the University of Minnesota and became a fellow of two major programs: Fellowship for Leadership and Education in Neuro-Developmental Disabilities (LEND), and Education and Policy Fellowship for the Institute of Educational Leadership (IEL). She also has served as a board member for the Down Syndrome Foundation.
Wilson said, "It is a privilege to re-join the AuSM team and to be a resource and voice for the amazing Minnesota autism community. I look forward to listening to the needs of the community and to collaborating with individuals with autism, families, educators, professionals, and community partners to increase autism awareness, acceptance, and appreciation, all of which are essential and well-deserved by our community."

Wilson will join the AuSM team on Oct. 16.
Minnesota autism community helps families recover from Hurricane Harvey
Category 4 Hurricane Harvey blew through Texas in late August 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. 

Answering the call to support families in the hurricane-ravaged parts of Texas, the Minnesota autism community donated nearly 100 items. Special thanks to students and teachers at Lionsgate Academy who took time out of their busy schedules to sew hand-held marble mazes, make comic book buttons, and create some amazing cards and pictures. Two large boxes are on their way to the Autism Society of Texas this week. Thank you for supporting our friends in Texas!
AuSM Pumpkin Patch Trolley
October 14, 2017
10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

Minnesota Streetcar Museum
Linden Hill Station Queen Ave. S. and W. 42nd St. 
Minneapolis, MN 55410

AuSM, the Minnesota Streetcar Museum, and event sponsor Anime Twin Cities invite you to experience the thrill of riding a trolley, spend some time with Minnesota autism community friends, and pick a perfect pumpkin during this fun October event for individuals and families affected by autism.  Join us for a fun ride along the rails, including a stop where you will be able to select a pumpkin to take home. 

AuSM workshops in October, November, and December

People First! Planning from the Perspective of the Person with Autism
FULL DAY, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2017 from  8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Presented by Glenis Benson, PhD

enVision Hotel, South St. Paul

Service providers, caregivers, and educators often are urged to put the person first when creating goals and building supports. But what does it mean to put an individual on the spectrum's own perspective first? Obtain in-the-moment practices that will help you understand behaviors and explore the concepts of executive functioning, sensory challenges, and other underlying reasons for seemingly confusing behaviors.


Caring for You: Practical Self-Care Tools to Nurture Well-Being
HALF DAY, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 from 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Presented by Ricka Robb Kohnstamm

Royal Cliff Banquet & Conference Center

In caring for the well-being of an individual with autism, it is easy for parents, caregivers, educators, and other support professionals to lose sight of their own well-being.  Compassionate communication is a self-care tool that will help you, the caregiver, increase feelings of well-being. In this workshop, learn how to skillfully express your needs with this tool that can be learned and used by everyone.  Also explore creativity, progressive relaxation, movement, and other strategies for increasing well-being. 


Practical Solutions for Autistic Living
FULL DAY, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Presented by Judy Endow, MSW, LCSW

enVision Hotel, South St. Paul

Parents, caregivers, educators, professionals, and individuals with autism are invited to join autism expert Judy Endow as she shares personal stories highlighting three challenge areas related to her own autism: 1. sensory differences; 2. not always understanding the hidden curriculum in social situations; 3. when others think of her as "less than" because they do not understand autism.  Learn from Endow's experiences and obtain practical strategies for supporting youth and adults with autism.

2018 Minnesota Autism Conference Call for Papers  
The call for presentation proposals is open for the Autism Society of Minnesota's 23rd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference, an event that will take place April 25-28, 2018. Be a part of this event of the year for the local autism community by submitting a topic for presentation.

Suggested topics include but are not limited to p ositive behavior supports, s trategies for parents and educators, m anaging behaviors, t ransition, e arly intervention, m ental health, I EPs, e motion regulation, and s ocial skills.  The Minnesota Autism Conference Education Committee will evaluate proposals and those submitting proposals will be contacted by Dec. 22, 2017 regarding the status of proposals. The deadline for proposal submission is Nov. 17, 2017. 
Learn more about Vitals
Vitals is a new technology service with two apps, 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.  In October, the Vitals team will be available at AuSM's office to meet members of the community, share information about Vitals, and assist in registering for the service. You are welcome to stop by AuSM's office, meet the Vitals team, and learn more on these dates:
  • Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2-4 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 5, 2-4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2-4 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 12, 2-4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2-4 p.m. 
  • Thursday, Oct. 19, 2-4 p.m.
  • Monday, Oct. 23, 2-4 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 26, 2-4 p.m.
Twin Cities Autism Foundation, Inc. offers scholarship opportunities
AuSM 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.

Inspired by their son with autism and motivated to ensure that all families and individuals have resources needed for growth, Laura and Kent Olson established Twin Cities Autism Foundation, Inc. in 2015.  Click here to learn more about this organization and scholarship opportunities.

Are you interested in running? Participate in Twin Cities Autism Foundation, Inc.'s upcoming Oct. 7 5K, the  TCA 5K Fun Run at Oak Grove Park in Brooklyn Park. Dollars raised by the run will support the scholarship fund for families and individuals affected by autism.
Fall AuSM Member Drive
Join AuSM Today!
Each AuSM Member is an important part of this community. Through membership dues, members support the programs and services that AuSM offers to families, educators, individuals with autism, professionals, and more.

FALL MEMBER BONUS: New members joining AuSM by Oct. 15, 2017 will receive a 10% off coupon for the AuSM Bookstore, full of resources, literature, and of course, fidgets! 

AuSM Social Skills Classes 
for Youth and Young Adults
Led by autism experts, AuSM social skills classes foster confidence and self-esteem while participants learn how to make friends, interact with a group, practice socializing, and have fun - all while educators encourage participants to be themselves. Classes offer low-stress, accepting environments that promote learning and growth while celebrating neurodiversity.

AuSM adult opportunity at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

Polar Bear Enrichment
Ages 18+
December 9, 2017 from 8:30-10 a.m.

Polar bears can weigh 1,000 pounds or more. Meet a polar bear zookeeper to learn how they train these white giants, prepare and observe polar bear enrichment, and explore the award-winning Polar Bear Odyssey exhibit without the crowds. As a bonus, the Como Zoo polar bears Buzz and Neil are celebrating their 22nd birthdays on Dec. 9!  Class participants are able to enjoy the zoo after the class. This class is designed for individuals who do not need direct service professional supports or supervision. 

$5 for Residents of Ramsey and Dakota County 
$15 for Residents of all other counties
The discount fee is made possible for residents of Ramsey and Dakota County though the Dakota and Ramsey Counties Autism Grant.


Additional Opportunities for Adults with Autism

AuSM Book Club at Wescott Library (Now-December 2018)
AuSM Classes for Caregivers
AuSM is pleased to introduce two new classes to assist caregivers of those with autism. Classes will provide information and strategies that can be used immediately, enhancing the lives of caregivers and those who receive care.

Dates: Oct. 14, Nov. 18
Single session class: $25 for members, $40 for non-members


Dates: Nov. 15, May 9
Single session class: $25 for members, $40 for non-members

AuSM 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 course will give practical solutions for working with people on the spectrum

Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2018
9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Mar. 5-Apr. 2, 2018
6-9 p.m.

June 11-15, 2018
9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Life With Autism Series
AuSM's Life with Autism Series offers information and strategies to parents, caregivers, family members, relatives, educators, and the community through engaging, age-focused classes led by autism experts and parent speakers. Participants also learn about available services and resources.

Dates: Oct. 23, Jan. 13
Cost: $25 for members, $40 for non-members

Dates: Nov. 4, Feb. 24
Cost for one or two participants: $50 for members, $75 for non-members

Dates: Oct. 28, Feb. 10
Cost for one or two participants: $50 for members, $75 for non-members

Dates: Nov. 11, Mar. 10
Cost for one or two participants: $50 for members, $75 for non-members

Click on this button to register for a Life with Autism Series class.

AuSM Skillshops

Oct. 10, 2017
7-9 p.m.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Managing Holiday Stress
Presenter: Amy Carrison, PsyD, LADC
Location: Academy of Whole Learning, 3500 Williston Rd., Minnetonka, MN  55345

Holiday parties, family gatherings, and gift exchanges are part of the holiday season. While they are designed to be fun and joyful, they also can add stress, especially for someone on the spectrum. Caregivers and adults with autism, learn strategies for managing your time and expectations, as well as ways to take the breaks you need.


Oct. 17, 2017
7-9 p.m.
Social Anxiety and ASD
Presenter: Barb Luskin, PhD, LP
Location: AuSM in St. Paul

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. Learn about social stressors and techniques for feeling more comfortable in social situations.


Me mbership Bonus:   
AuSM Members save $15 per AuSM Skillshop and receive a certificate to attend one AuSM Skillshop for FREE!
AuSM's Beth Pitchford earns LPCC
We are pleased to announce that Beth Pitchford, an AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services therapist, recently received her Licensed Professional Counselor designation. In order to realize this achievement, Pitchford completed 4,000 supervised clinical hours and passed the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.

Pitchford earned a master's degree in Psychology from the Adler Graduate School (AGS), where she focused on learning about autism and how various aspects of Adlerian psychology could compliment the standard use of cognitive behavioral therapy with people on the autism spectrum. Pitchford became passionate about working with people on the "invisible" part of the spectrum (formerly known as Asperger's syndrome) after she realized that many people close to her are on the spectrum and spent most of their lives wondering why they felt so different.

Pitchford values working with adults who want to decode the neurotypical world in order to decrease barriers to community acceptance and to increase feelings of success. She works with adolescents as they navigate the super-social world of the teenage years. Using cognitive behavioral approaches and her Adlerian training, Pitchford's goal is to help people better understand not only themselves but also the people in their lives. 
NEW Caregiver Support Group
AuSM is excited to announce a new, free support group for caregivers of school-age kids offered on the second Saturday of each month. Meet fellow caregivers and parents, share problems, receive tips from others who can relate to you, and create community.

2017 Schedule: Oct. 14, Nov. 11
Cost: FREE
Location: AuSM Office. Child care is NOT available. 

Information and Resources
Uniting the Community Events
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