Dec. 15, 2018 News for the Minnesota autism community.
AuSM Featured Articles
2019 Minnesota autism conference keynote speakers announced
On April 24-27, 2019, the Minnesota autism community will come together as a passionate network to connect and inspire innovation during the 24th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference organized by the AuSM. Expert speakers, educators, professionals, caregivers, and individuals with autism will 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.

We are pleased to announce our 2019 Minnesota autism conference keynote speaker line-up that includes Sue Swenson; Theresa M. Regan, PhD, CBIS, CAS; Patrick Schwarz, PhD; and Jennifer O'Toole.

Tips for an enjoyable, inclusive holiday season
While many happily anticipate the holiday season, families and individuals affected by autism also understand the special challenges that may occur when schedules are disrupted and routines broken. The Autism Society of America offers some tips that will help families and individuals lower holiday season stress and make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Click here to read more.
Get ready for an AuSM summer
As the snow falls outside, the AuSM education and camp teams are busily putting together information for the 2019 AuSM Summer Activities catalog. Packed with information on summer social skills programs, residential and daily camps, exciting event opportunities, and more, the catalog will be available online and dropping into mailboxes around mid-January. Registration for AuSM's summer camp and social skills programming opens on Monday, Jan. 28 at 8 a.m. Keep an eye on AuSM's website for more information.

We're also pleased to be introducing 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 and will be available online at in January 2019.
Thrivent Choice Dollars help grow AuSM programs
If you're a member of Thrivent Financial and have available Choice Dollars®, you have until March 31, 2019, to direct them. Don’t miss this opportunity to recommend that Thrivent Financial provide outreach funding to the Autism Society of Minnesota. Go to to learn more. Or call 800.847.4836 and say “Thrivent Choice” after the prompt. AuSM is proud to partner with Thrivent Financial for this great opportunity to grow AuSM's programs and services for our local autism community!
Please support AuSM during this season of giving
Giving to AuSM can include end-of-year  donations of money  to support AuSM's programs and services,  volunteering your time  for 2019 AuSM events,  fundraising for AuSM , and a new option of shopping for items on the  AuSM Summer Camp Wish List on Amazon

AuSM's camp directors have created a list of items 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! 
Register for Steps for Autism in Minnesota
Steps of Hope is taking on a new name and rallying some new excitement in 2019.  Steps for Autism in Minnesota, AuSM's 19th annual family fun walk and the state’s largest autism resource fair, will take place at Southdale Center on March 3, 2019. Steps for Autism will begin with the third annual  AuSM Flash Dash presented by Accra, an all ages and abilities quick walk from 9-9:15 a.m. that will be done in a flash. Families and individuals who register for the AuSM Flash Dash will receive medals at the finish line and bragging rights for completion. Steps for Autism dollars directly support local families and individuals living with autism, from birth through retirement. Donations stay in the community by funding AuSM's innovative programs and services. 

Ask the Attorney

How can an ABLE account benefit my child?

Minnesota began offering ABLE accounts in January 2017. The primary benefit of an ABLE account is that money in an ABLE account does not count against an individual’s asset limits for SSI and MA. SSI has an asset limit of $2,000 and MA has an asset limit of $3,000. Additionally, similar to a 529 college account, investment income is not taxed as long as the ABLE account funds are used to pay for qualified disability expenses. One additional benefit to an ABLE account is that the individual with the disability, and not a trustee, gets to decide how to spend the account funds. ABLE accounts are a great way to help individuals who qualify for government benefits achieve greater financial independence and manage their own money.

Are there any limits on an ABLE account?

Yes, unlike the traditional supplemental needs trusts, there are some restrictions on how ABLE accounts are administered. ABLE accounts can receive a maximum of $15,000 per year from all sources, whereas a supplemental needs trust can receive an unlimited amount of contributions per year. An individual may have only one ABLE account, whereas an individual may be the beneficiary of multiple supplemental needs trusts. Finally, ABLE accounts do have a Medicaid (Medical Assistance) payback provision. Upon the death of the ABLE account holder, Medical Assistance will have a lien against the balance for the amount of Medical Assistance provided over the individual’s lifetime. For this reason, I often advise clients who desire an ABLE account to monitor the balance to make sure it doesn’t get too high.  
AuSM Education
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Adult Classes
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul will hold four single-session classes for adults with autism, ages 18+, over the next few months:

Africa on Jan. 5
Tropical Rain Forests on Jan. 26
Adaptations on Feb. 16

Adults with autism are invited to explore Como and learn from their education specialists. Sessions have limited space; participants are encouraged to register early. The cost is $25 per session for AuSM members and $30 per session for non-members. Register for a single session or multiple sessions. 

Upcoming AuSM social skills classes
AuSM classes and activities offer low-stress, accepting environments that promote learning and growth while celebrating neurodiversity.

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.

FREE Class: Understanding Autism and Best Strategic Practices
Learn common characteristics of individuals with autism and sensory processing disorders. Obtain valuable insight on best practices to support people with autism and related disabilities. Thanks to the Hennepin County Autism Grant, these classes are offered FREE of charge at AuSM. Registration is required.

Learn with AuSM Skillshops and Certification

A Picture of Success: Improving Reading and Language Comprehension
Jan. 8, 2019
Lindamood-Bell, Edina

Suicidality and Suicide Prevention
Jan. 22, 2019
Lionsgate Academy, Minnetonka

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

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.

Saturdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Jan. 12, 19, 26, 2019

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