Dec. 1, 2019 News for the Minnesota autism community.
AuSM Featured Articles
Register for and celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Steps for Autism in Minnesota
Register today to join us for the 20th Annual Steps for Autism in Minnesota, a community fundraiser featuring the state’s largest annual autism resource fair and the AuSM Flash Dash. Steps for Autism will be held at Southdale Center from 8:30-11 a.m. on Sunday, March 1, 2020.

The 4th Annual AuSM Flash Dash powered by Accra, will be a quick walk, stroll, or roll around the first floor to kick off Steps for Autism 2020. All ages and abilities are welcome to participate. Registered Flash Dash finishers will receive medals from Accra, our generous sponsor, and bragging rights. The cost is $5 to participate.

In addition to the AuSM Flash Dash powered by Accra, the 20th Anniversary of this event will feature "Steps of Possibilities," a highlight of success stories from adults with autism. Stories and photos will be displayed on posters during Steps for Autism.

Steps for Autism in Minnesota 2020 fundraising incentive prizes include an AuSM Camper Mug, an AuSM Scarf, an AuSM Cribbage Board, and Faribault Woolen Mill Winter Mittens. 100% of dollars raised through Steps for Autism are tax deductible, stay local, and support programs and services that allow people affected by autism in Minnesota to grow and thrive.

Plan now to participate in this exciting event for our local autism community on March 1. The event will culminate in an awesome dance party led by AuSM summer camp staff, princesses, and other costumed characters.

Local malls organize sensory-friendly Santa events in December
Malls can be overwhelming with bright lights, loud music, and crowds. For those with sensory-sensitivities, these are places intentionally avoided. However, many local malls are realizing that with a few minor adjustments and some special quiet hours, families with autism and other sensory sensitivities can participate in a fun, welcoming holiday experience. Below is a list of a few malls offering sensory-friendly Santa hours in December. If these aren't near you, check your local mall's website for Santa information. They, too, may offer low-stress times for visiting Santa.

Guthrie Theater presents a relaxed performance of A Christmas Carol
AuSM is proud to partner with Guthrie Theater to support their Relaxed Performances, shows that offer additional supports to accommodate patrons with sensory sensitivities, learning and communication differences, and/or other needs that make attending the theater a challenge. AuSM's education team trains staff and volunteers about autism and neurodiversity and helps develop resources including social narratives, sensory maps, a virtual building tour, and more on the Guthrie website, as well as dedicated quiet spaces and sensory-friendly activities on site.

The next relaxed performance will be A Christmas Carol on Dec. 28. Click here for more information and to reserve your tickets.
Minnesota Orchestra would like your feedback
The Minnesota Orchestra is conducting a survey to learn how it can better serve audiences looking for concert experiences that are family-friendly and/or inclusive to individuals with autism, sensory sensitivities, or neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Everyone who completes a survey and shares their e-mail address will be entered into a raffle to win a pair of free tickets to an upcoming Minnesota Orchestra concert. Responses must be received by Friday, Dec. 6, to be eligible for the raffle.

Please e-mail if you require assistance or have questions about this survey. Click here to take the survey.
Please consider AuSM for your end-of-year giving
Autism Society of Minnesota supporters sustain the work that has helped so many in the Minnesota autism community. AuSM's drive for continuing this work is strong - we constantly look for ways to serve you even better. 100% of donations stay in the Minnesota autism community, and every dollar counts. We appreciate your generosity, and we look forward to continuing to be your resource for autism programs and services. AuSM is a BBB Wise Giving Alliance accredited charity.

How do your donated dollars help our community?

  • ADVOCATE: $35 gives priority to autistic voices during the AuSM Autistic Community Summit
  • BUILD COMMUNITY: $75 brings people together for fellowship and resources during monthly support groups
  • COLLABORATE: $150 teaches a business about inclusion
  • EDUCATE: $500 educates multiple teachers on supporting students in the classroom during the state autism conference
  • SUPPORT: $1,000 breaks a financial barrier for AuSM summer camp participation

AuSM Education
AuSM's social skills classes promote friendships and growth
AuSM classes and activities offer low-stress, accepting environments that promote learning and growth while celebrating neurodiversity. AuSM programs are conducive to youth and adults who fall within the wide range of the autism spectrum. Social skills classes are staffed at a 1:4 staff-to-participant ratio. If an individual is able to participate safely in a program but requires more support than 1:4 staffing provides, the individual may bring a Direct Support Professional (DSP). The DSP will be responsible for supporting the individual with communication, behavior, and daily living skills. Call 651.647.1083 ext. 22 or e-mail for more information. AuSM is committed to making your class experience positive and rewarding. Click on the below links for more information and to register.

Life with Autism and Understanding Autism classes
Life with Autism Series

  • Dec. 7, 2019: Adults (18+ yrs.)
  • Feb. 8, 2020: Adolescence and Transition (11-21 yrs.) sponsored by Autism Advocacy & Law Center, LLC
  • March 21, 2020: Childhood (18 mos.-10 yrs.)
  • May 8, 2020: Adults (18+) sponsored by Autism Advocacy & Law Center, LLC

Understanding Autism and Best Strategic Practices
  • Jan. 20, 2020 from 2-4 p.m. 
  • March 14, 2020 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. 
  • May 4, 2020 from 6-8 p.m.

Learn with AuSM Skillshops and Certification

Dec. 3, 2019
Promoting Independence and Self-Determination
Location: Lionsgate Academy, North St. Paul

Jan. 14, 2020
Alderian Psychology and ASD
Location: AuSM, St. Paul
Livestream Purchase Available

Jan. 28, 2020
Suicidality and ASD
Location: Lionsgate Academy, Shoreview

Feb. 18, 2020
Preventing & Recovering from Burnout: Real World Self-Care
Location: AuSM, St. Paul
Livestream Purchase Available

AuSM’s Autism Direct Support Certification Program is designed for professionals who work with individuals with autism or those who want to better provide support to people on the spectrum. This in-depth, 15-hour course will give practical solutions for working with people on the spectrum.

Winter 2020 Session
Saturdays from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Jan. 11, 18, 25, 2020

Spring 2020 Session
Mondays from 6-9 p.m.
March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 2020

AuSM Resources, Counseling, and Consulting
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. For many, working with mental heath service providers is a new experience; we want you to feel comfortable and knowledgeable as we strive for positive, individual-focused goals.
AuSM publishes book to improve autism diagnosis
AuSM's Counseling and Consulting Services (ACCS) team is proud to announce the publication of Could it be ASD? , a book designed to help therapists and other professionals recognize and understand the unique characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Now available at through the AuSM Bookstore, Could It Be ASD? contains case studies of individuals with autism who may not present in the typical way. With a national ASD prevalence rate of 1 in 59 and an increased spotlight in the media, it’s more important than ever for therapists and providers to have an accurate understanding of the diagnosis.

Barbara Luskin, PhD, an ACCS psychologist, notes that it’s common for herself and her colleagues to diagnose individuals who were misdiagnosed or left undiagnosed due to misunderstandings about what autism is. Dr. Luskin, Amy Carrison, LADC, PsyD; and Beth Pitchford, MA, LPCC; AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services therapists who wrote and compiled the book, are part of AuSM’s clinic that strives to help individuals with autism understand their diagnosis and address both the challenges and gifts that it can bring.

For more information or to order a copy of Could It Be ASD? , contact AuSM at or call 651.647.1083.
Uniting the Community Events
On the heels of the successful first publication of AuSM’s Guide to Sensory-Friendly Minnesota, AuSM has started work on the second, 2020 edition. The guide, created to be a reference tool for families and individuals with autism and other sensory sensitivities, will include articles about the importance of community inclusion and how sensory-friendly accommodations lead to welcoming environments. It also will contain a calendar guide of sensory-friendly community events and activities offered throughout Minnesota in the coming year.

The second edition of AuSM's Guide to Sensory-Friendly Minnesota will be available in January 2020.

Below is a highlight of upcoming events; more details about these and additional 2019-2020 events and activities are available at the above link.

Dec. 1: Caring Santa, Southdale Center
Dec. 1: Sensory-Friendly Jump, Urban Air Adventure Park
Dec. 3: Sensory-Friendly Tuesdays, Cheap Skate
Dec. 6: Children's Theatre Company, Sensory-Friendly Performance of Snow White
Dec. 6: Parents’ Night Out, Trinity Church/Special Journeys
Dec. 7: Free Family Music Series: Sensory-Friendly Concert, MacPhail Center for Music
Dec. 8: Sensitive Santa, Northtown Mall
Dec. 8: Santa Cares, Burnsville Center
Dec. 8: Sensitive Santa, Maplewood Mall
Dec. 8: Sensory Friendly Sundays, The Bakken Museum
Dec. 8: Autism Friendly Early Entry, Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
Dec. 9: Sensory Jump Night, Pump It Up Plymouth
Dec. 11: Autism Friendly Early Entry, Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
Dec. 12: Sensory-Friendly Storytime, Wild Rumpus
Dec. 14: Sensory-Friendly Second Saturdays, TPT Twin Cities PBS
Dec. 15: Sensory-Friendly Sunday, Science Museum of Minnesota
Dec. 15: Sensory-Friendly Day, Duluth Children's Museum
Dec. 17: Sensory-Jump Night, Pump It Up Eden Prairie
Dec. 20: Third Friday Dances, Reach For Resources
Dec. 28: A Christmas Carol Relaxed Performance, Guthrie Theater
Jan. 2: Sensory-Friendly Performance of Cinderella, Children's Theatre Company