Oct. 1, 2019 News for the Minnesota autism community.
AuSM Featured Articles
AuSM, SAPA, and MAAN partner to support local families with autism
AuSM is pleased to announce a partnership with the Somali American Parent Association (SAPA) and the Multicultural Autism Action Network (MAAN). Fueled by a two-year Minnesota Department of Human Services Innovations Grant, this partnership will focus on supporting the metro area’s multicultural population with autism and similar disabilities.

Together, AuSM, SAPA, and MAAN will plan outreach to families in order to provide education about navigation of quality, culturally appropriate services, and supports. Additionally, there will be several opportunities for facilitated participation in community opportunities for inclusive programming.

Submit a proposal to present at the 25th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference in April
Please consider submitting a proposal for presentation during the 25th Anniversary year for the state autism conference! The conference will take place at the Minneapolis Marriott Southwest April 22-25, 2020. Click here to download the Call for Submissions for the 2020 conference. Proposals are due Nov. 15, 2019.
AuSM expands therapy offerings to Rochester area
In an effort to increase reach and to serve the southeastern portion of Minnesota, the AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services team is pleased to announce the addition of James Rechs, LICSW, a therapist who will serve the Rochester, Minn. area.

Rechs is the former executive director of the RT Autism Awareness Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting families and individuals affected by autism. He also has used his master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and an undergraduate degree from Grinnell College in Iowa, to serve the community as a therapist and advocate for more than 15 years.

Meet AuSM's new staff members
As AuSM is growing, so, too, is its staff. We'd like to introduce you to two new AuSM staff members.

Mike Pucci is joining AuSM as an Education Specialist, but this is not his first experience at AuSM. He began his autism community work at AuSM's Camp Hand in Hand, and he quickly discovered it was where he wanted to be. Since then, he has worked at Minneapolis Public Schools in the transition program, and ran an adaptive and inclusive recreation program through Whittier Park & Rec Center. Mike notes: “I am here to learn! As a part of the education team, I recognize that we have much to learn from our community members, and I look forward to creating spaces where conversations can take place and real relationships form to build bridges across communities being built."

AuSM also is pleased to introduce you to our new administrative receptionist, Sara Testen. Sara says that a couple of her favorite people in her life are on the spectrum. She is excited about supporting all of AuSM's different initiatives and events. She was a direct service provider for 15 years, and is excited to move into the administrative side. Fun fact: when she’s not at the front desk you might find her seeing a concert or watching roller derby. Her message to the autism community? “You matter so much.” 
AuSM Pumpkin Trolley rolls into the station on Oct. 12: space is limited
AuSM invites 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 event for individuals and families affected by autism. During the event held Oct. 12, 2019 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the Minnesota Streetcar Museum, participants will ride the rails and stop at a pumpkin patch where they can choose their favorite pumpkin to take home.

The cost is $15 per AuSM member family, $20 per non-member family, and $5 per individual with ASD. Space is limited, so please register early. The AuSM Pumpkin Trolley is generously sponsored by the Minnesota Streetcar Museum, FIND Network, and St. David's Center for Child & Family Development; visit the FIND and St. David's resource tables during the event!

Games by James celebrates 40th anniversary and gives to AuSM
For four decades, Games by James has been the go-to resource for classic board games, role-playing games, puzzles, outdoor activities, card games and current trends like Pop Sockets. And to mark the occasion, the retailer is turning the Mall of America’s Rotunda into a game-themed wonderland on Saturday, Oct. 12 from 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

With dozens of local and national game creators and vendors giving mall visitors a chance to walk up and play (and possibly win copies of) their games throughout the day, the Games by James 40th Anniversary Celebration will also feature giveaways at 40 minutes past each hour, as well as a stage with games and prizes – all at no cost. Forty percent of all sales in the Mall of America Rotunda will benefit AuSM. In addition, the first hour of the event – from 9-10 a.m. – will feature sensory-friendly lower light and sound levels. Click here for more information.
Chuck E. Cheese's hosts AuSM fundraisers in October and November
Visit a Chuck E. Cheese’s location near you on Oct. 18 (the Friday of MEA weekend!) from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. or Sunday, Nov. 3 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and support Autism Society of Minnesota programs and services for our local autism community. Mention AuSM at the register, and Chuck E. Cheese’s will donate 20% of your purchase to AuSM. Chuck E. Cheese’s features a video arcade with interactive games, pizza and an all-you-can-eat salad bar, and performances by the one and only Chuck E. and his gang. All Minnesota locations are participating in these fundraising days for the local autism community. Wear a costume to the October fundraiser and you will receive 50 free tickets. Click here to find a location near you.
2019 AuSM Self-Advocacy Summit unites community, provides education
More than 150 community members participated in the second annual AuSM Self-Advocacy Summit held at Union Depot in St. Paul on Sept. 21. The sold-out event featured a keynote presentation by Olivia James, sponsored by Minnesota Independence College & Community. The presentation was offered as a first-time live-stream opportunity for those who weren't able to participate in person.

The day also included breakout sessions including topics such as "The Importance of Good Self-Care to Do Effective Self-Advocacy," "Alternatives to Masking," "Advocating for Yourself within the Mental Health System," and "Finding Your Resilience." Exhibitors shared resources and participants were able to shop the AuSM Bookstore. AuSM is grateful to all volunteers and sponsors: Accra; Autism Advocacy & Law Center, LLC; The Arc Minnesota; Bethesda Lutheran Communities; Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Dependable Home Health Care; Dr. William Lane; FIND Network - Autism Research Connections; Minnesota Department of Human Services - Disability Services Division; Minnesota Independence College & Community; MRCI; PICS - Partners in Community Supports; Plymouth Psych Group; and Schromen Law, LLC. Thank you to everyone who participated and supported this amazing event.
AuSM Education
AuSM's fall social skills classes for ages 8+
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 education@ausm.org 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.

AuSM Skillshops available in-person and as live-stream in 2019-2020 season
AuSM is pleased to announce that six 2019-2020 AuSM Skillshops will be available through a live-stream Internet broadcast, thus making content accessible to a more broad-based audience. Participants may purchase an individual session or all Internet streaming sessions that cover a wide variety of topics. Sessions purchased for live-stream viewing will be available in real time only and will not be accessible after the AuSM Skillshop has taken place. All 12 AuSM Skillshops in the 2019-2020 season also are available for in-person participation. Click here for more information about the complete line-up of AuSM Skillshops and for more information about the new live-stream options.

Life with Autism and Understanding Autism classes
Life with Autism Series
Oct. 5, 2019: Adolescence and Transition (11-21 yrs.)
Nov. 16, 2019: Childhood (10 mos.-10 yrs.)
Dec. 7, 2019: Adults (18+ yrs.)


Understanding Autism and Best Strategic Practices
Nov. 21, 2019 from 4-6 p.m. 
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

Oct. 22, 2019
Technology As Support
Location: Lindamood-Bell, Edina

Nov. 12, 2019
Let's Talk About It: What Everyone Should Know About Disclosure
Location: AuSM and Live-Stream

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


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.
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.

AuSM currently is accepting event and activity listings for the second edition. If you know of a business or organization that offers sensory-friendly events or activities, please encourage them to complete the 2020 listing form. Click here to access the online listing form. Listing submissions for the 2020 guide are due Nov. 25, 2019. A paper form can be accessed here. Advertising space, which includes enhanced listings, also is available.

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 all 2019 events and activities are available at the above link.

Oct. 1: Sensory-Friendly Tuesdays Cheap Skate
Oct. 2: Intelligent Lives Film Screening Highland Park Library
Oct. 4: Parents’ Night Out, Trinity Church/Special Journeys
Oct. 6: Sensory-Friendly Jump, Urban Air Adventure Park
Oct. 10: ICanToo, A Sensory-Friendly Inclusive Initiative
Oct. 10: Intelligent Lives Film Screening, Rondo Community Library
Oct. 10: Sensory-Friendly Storytime, Wild Rumpus
Oct. 10: Autism Friendly Dinner, Autism Eats
Oct. 12: Sensory-Friendly Second Saturdays, TPT, Twin Cities PBS
Oct. 13: Autism Friendly Early Entry, Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
Oct. 14: Sensory Jump Night, Pump It Up Plymouth
Oct. 15: Sensory Jump Night, Pump It Up Eden Prairie
Oct. 16: Autism Friendly Early Entry, Como Park Zoo & Conservatory