Nov. 15, 2019 News for the Minnesota autism community.
AuSM Featured Articles
Thank you for your support on Give to the Max Day 2019
Thank you to the local autism community and supporters who generously gave to AuSM on Give to the Max Day yesterday, Minnesota's day of giving. AuSM is just shy of our 2019 goal, and it's not too late to donate if you haven't already. 100% of all donations made to AuSM stay local, growing advocacy, education, support, collaboration, and community building.

Special thanks to our Give to the Max Day match donors who doubled donations for Give to the Max Day. The match fund of $18,078, built by the Pentair Foundation, Games by James, the AuSM Board of Directors, and other community supporters, was met. We are grateful!

Thanks, too, to Shake Shack Southdale and Mall of America locations for donating 25% of yesterday's sales to AuSM and to Tin Whiskers Brewery for supporting AuSM with Pints for a Purpose in the evening. Your support of AuSM's mission and this great community means so much.

Thank you, Minnesota autism community, for your generosity and support!
25th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference presentation proposals due today
Today is the final day to submit 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 by the end of the day today.
Discover SPARK: Mom advocates for autism and epilepsy research
At first, Denise Lombardi noticed little things about her baby, RJ. He preferred dim light and silence. He didn’t look at her eyes or babble. When RJ was 19 months old, a doctor diagnosed him with autism. The following year, his family learned that he has epilepsy.

Lombardi wonders if something in her DNA contributed to RJ’s conditions. “There is an extensive history of neurological and psychiatric health issues in our family,” she explains. When she heard about SPARK, the largest study of autism, she eagerly registered her family. She, husband Rob, and RJ gave DNA samples. Rob Lombardi says he joined because he wants to know what ties all people on the spectrum together, on a genetic level.

But their interest runs deeper. They hope research will lead to better treatments, especially for those who have both autism and epilepsy, Denise Lombardi says. The family knows people with epilepsy who have died unexpectedly. “This is a matter of life or death,” she says.

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.

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.)
March 21, 2020: Childhood (18 mos.-10 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

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.

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.

Nov. 15: Third-Friday Dances St. Louis Park Recreation Center Reach For Resources
Nov. 17: Sensory-Friendly Sunday Science Museum of Minnesota
Nov. 17: Sensory-Friendly Day Duluth Children’s Museum
Nov. 19: Sensory Jump Night, Pump It Up Eden Prairie
Nov. 24: Sensory-Friendly Sundays, Three Rivers Parks District: Lowry Nature Center
Nov. 24: Sensory-Friendly Sundays, Three Rivers Parks District: French Visitor Center
Nov. 24: Guthrie Theater Relaxed Performance, Steel Magnolias
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. 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