Feb. 1, 2019 News for the Minnesota autism community.
AuSM Featured Articles
AuSM office open after four-day closure
After days of frigid temperatures and unrelenting wind, the Autism Society of Minnesota office is open again for business.

With temps in the negative 20s and wind chills approaching negative 60, Minnesotans experienced some of the coldest weather this week in more than two decades. Along with many schools and businesses throughout the state, the AuSM office in St. Paul was closed for an unprecedented four days.

Despite the office closure, many AuSM staff worked from home this week. Some even braved the cold and fear of not having their vehicles start and came in to serve clients in the AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services office.

Ben Urbanek, AuSM's new Director of Camp Programs, made the trek to the office to facilitate Monday's opening of summer program registration. "I wanted to open registration as planned and be there for our community," Urbanek said. "Helping individuals and families plan for summer fun was a good way to ward off the cold!"

The AuSM staff is thrilled to be back in the office today, and continues eagerly to serve this amazing community.
24th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference registration opens Feb. 4 at 8 a.m.
Registration for the 24th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference will open at 8 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 4. Held April 24-27 at a new venue , the Minneapolis Marriott Southwest, the conference is where we'll join our voices as a passionate network to connect and inspire innovation. Here, expert speakers, educators, professionals, caregivers, and individuals with autism have a platform to exchange knowledge and ideas with one another - all with the goal of enhancing the lives of those on the autism spectrum.

The 2019 event will feature more than 38 breakout sessions and four keynote speakers including Sue Swenson, MBA sponsored by LEND; Theresa M. Regan, PhD, CBIS, CAS; Patrick Schwarz, PhD sponsored by St. David's Center for Child & Family Development; and Jennifer O'Toole sponsored by Minnesota Independence College & Community.

Click here to view detailed conference schedule on AuSM's website.

Win MN Wild tickets for Steps for Autism in Minnesota fundraising
Steps for Autism in Minnesota , AuSM's 19th annual family fun walk and the state’s largest annual autism resource fair, will take place at Southdale Center on March 3, 2019.

In addition to being an awesome day of community, Steps for Autism is a fundraiser to support programs and services for those affected by autism in Minnesota. All dollars raised stay in the community and fund AuSM's innovative programs and services for individuals with autism, caregivers, direct service providers, professionals, and more.

Now is a great time to raise money for our community!

MN Wild Tickets! Fundraising Incentive Prize Drawings

  • Raise $250 by the END OF THE DAY TODAY: be entered into a drawing to win 6 tickets to MN WILD game on March 3 at 6:30 p.m., includes 4 tickets to ride the Ice Cruiser during the first intermission
  • Register for the AuSM Flash Dash by Feb. 22: be entered into a drawing to win 6 tickets to MN WILD game on March 16 at 7 p.m., includes 4 tickets to ride the Ice Cruiser during the first intermission

And, don't forget the prizes that every team and individual is eligible for when they fundraise for local individuals affected by autism!

NEW! Tiered Fundraising Prizes: Raise the following amounts and win prizes:
$100: Steps for Autism 2019 T-shirt (One T-shirt per $100 raised, limit 5)
$250: AuSM Water Bottle
$500: AuSM Baseball Hat
$1,000+: AuSM Book Bag

Register for some summer fun
Packed with information on summer social skills programs, residential and daily camps, exciting event opportunities, and more, the  2019 AuSM Summer Activities Catalog   is available online now and will be dropping into mailboxes within the next two weeks.  Registration for AuSM Summer Camp and AuSM Social Skills programming is open!

AuSM Summer Camps

Session 1 has limited openings; Sessions 2, 3, and 4 have waiting lists
Session 1 has limited openings; Session 2 has a waiting list
Sessions 1 and 2 have limited openings

AuSM Summer Social Skills Classes

Support the AuSM summer camp wish list
AuSM's camp directors have created an AuSM Summer Camp Wish List on Amazon to help improve the camp experience and better serve campers during the 2019 AuSM Summer Camp season. Wish list items range from $6 and up and can be shipped directly to AuSM. If you would like a tax form for your purchased wish list item, please provide your e-mail address in the gift memo field when you are purchasing. Also, when shopping on Amazon (for wish list items or otherwise!), please be sure to select AuSM as your Amazon Smile charity, and Amazon will give a percentage of your purchase to support our local autism community. Your generosity means so much to us and this amazing community we serve. Thank you! 
AuSM's newest guide promotes inclusivity
We're also pleased to be introduce AuSM’s Guide to Sensory-Friendly Minnesota, a reference tool and planning guide for families and individuals with autism and other sensory sensitivities. Learn why sensory-friendly events and activities are important, how to make an event or activity sensory-friendly, read personal stories, and check out the calendar guide of sensory-friendly community events and activities to unite our community. This new guide will be mailed with the AuSM 2019 Summer Activities catalog. Click here to view the online version today.
Savings without losing benefits eligibility
If you or a family member has a disability, you may be interested in learning about a new tax-advantaged option called an ABLE account which can be used to save or invest for qualified disability expenses.

Why are ABLE accounts needed?
Individuals with disabilities rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and other federal public benefits for much-needed support such as income, health-care coverage, and food and housing assistance. However, retaining eligibility for these benefits depends on meeting a means or resource test. Individuals may have only $2,000 in countable assets, such as savings and retirement funds. This makes it difficult to establish financial independence and save for many expenses.

ABLE accounts help address this problem. Because funds in an ABLE account will generally not count toward this asset limit, individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to put money aside for their future needs without jeopardizing their eligibility for public benefits.

To learn more about ABLE accounts, financial planning, or insurance, contact Vicki Elliott at Thrivent Financial at 763.233.6784 or e-mail vicki.elliott@thrivent.com .
AuSM Education
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Adult Classes
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul is holding one final single-session class for adults with autism, ages 18+, in February. Scholarships are available for participants.

Adaptations on Feb. 16

AuSM's spring social skills classes bring warmth during the cold
AuSM has a full line up of social skills classes for youth, teens, and adults with autism in the coming months. These activities are sure to keep you warm, even though the outside temps still might be chilly. Classes include a NEW  Tropical Rainforests class at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory  for teens in February;  Three Rivers Parks District Gale Woods Farm  classes for ages 8+ in April;  ComedySports Improv Skills  for ages 14-26 in April; and the NEW Toneworks Rockin' Springtime for ages 10-16 in May. AuSM also is offering a monthly  Book Club  for ages 14+ at the Wescott Library and a monthly  Birthday Celebration and Game Night  for ages 18+. Contact AuSM's education department at 651.647.1083 ext. 22 or  education@ausm.org  for further details, or click on the above links to get registered for some springtime fun today!
Life with Autism Series
AuSM's Life with Autism Series offers information and strategies through engaging, age-focused classes led by autism experts and parent speakers. Participants also learn about available services and resources while contributing to the direction of topics covered. Classes are held at AuSM.

Understanding Autism and Best Strategic Practices
Learn common characteristics of individuals with autism and sensory processing disorders. Obtain valuable insight on evidenced-based best practices to support people with autism and sensory processing sensitivities.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 from 6-8 p.m. 
Tuesday, July 23, 2019 from 2-4 p.m. 
Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Learn with AuSM Skillshops and Certification

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports
Feb. 12, 2019
University of St. Thomas, Opus Hall, Room 321

Neurodevelopment and ASD: What Does the Research Say?
Feb. 26, 2019
Autism Society of Minnesota

Estate Planning and ABLE Accounts: What You Need To Know
March 12, 2019
Autism Society of Minnesota

Evaluations and Assessments
March 26, 2019

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.

Mondays, 6-9 p.m.
March 4, 11, 18, 25; April 1, 2019

Summer 2019 Session
Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
June 10-14, 2019
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.
Uniting the Community Events
In collaboration with community partners, AuSM is pleased to offer opportunities for families and individuals with autism to come together and enjoy fun activities in supportive, welcoming environments. Click here to visit AuSM's frequently-updated online Uniting the Community events and activities calendar.

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

Feb. 1: Parents' Night Out Trinity Church/Special Journeys
Feb. 1: Teen Night ARC Mower County
Feb. 2: Super Fest in Eden Prairie
Feb. 2: Three Snow Bears at Stages Theatre Company
Feb. 2: Sensory-Friendly Saturdays, Wentworth Library
Feb. 3: Sensory-Friendly Jump, Urban Air Adventure Park
Feb. 4: Parent/Caregiver Network Event, Hormel Historic Home Event Center
Feb. 5: Sensory-Friendly Tuesdays Cheap Skate
Feb. 9: Sensory-Friendly Second Saturdays TPT Twin Cities
Feb. 10: Day at the Sea Life Aquarium for People with Autism and Their Families
Feb. 10: Sensory-Friendly Sunday at the Walker Art Center
Feb. 11: Sensory Jump Night Pump It Up Plymouth
Feb. 12: Sensory-Friendly Experiences at the Great Lakes Aquarium
Feb. 14: Sensory-Friendly Storytime Wild Rumpus 
Feb. 15: Third-Friday Dances St. Louis Park Recreation Center 
Feb. 15: ASD Respite Nights YMCA Austin 
Feb 17: Sensory-Friendly Sunday Science Museum of Minnesota 
Feb. 17: Adaptive Climbing Nights Midwest Climbing Academy 
Feb. 17: Sensory-Friendly Day Duluth Children’s Museum 
Feb. 19: Sensory Jump Night Pump It Up Eden Prairie 
Feb. 20: AuSM Monthly Birthday Celebration and Game Night
Feb. 22: Mr. Poppers Penguins at Children's Theatre Company
Feb. 23: Schubert Club Sensory-Friendly Concert: Nirmala Rajasekar
Feb. 23: Sensory-Friendly Saturdays Wescott Library 
Feb. 23: Sensory-Friendly Experiences at the Great Lakes Aquarium