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Happy Give to the Max Day 2019!

GTMD2019LogoFINALIt's Give to the Max Day, Minnesota's day of giving. We encourage you to consider donating to AuSM in support of programs and services that enhance the lives of those in the local autism community. 100% of all donations made to AuSM stay local, growing advocacy, education, support, collaboration, and community building. Donate today and your dollars will be doubled up to $18,078 by our Give to the Max Day match fund created by Pentair Foundation, Games by James, the AuSM Board of Directors, and other community supporters.

Click here to donate on Give to the Max Day 2019.

Also, enjoy a delicious meal or treat at Shake Shack locations near Southdale in Edina or inside the Mall of America today. 25% of all sales on Give to the Max Day will be donated to AuSM. And, join AuSM at Tin Whiskers in downtown St. Paul from 4-10 p.m. this evening. AuSM will be the Pints for a Purpose charity, and $1 from every pint, flight, and crowler served will support the local autism community.


Local malls offer sensory-friendly Santa visits

santaMalls 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.

Southdale Mall, Caring Santa, Dec 1, 2019 from 9-11 a.m.
Burnsville Center, Santa Cares, Dec. 8, 2019 from 9-11 a.m.
Maplewood Mall, Sensitive Santa, Dec. 8, 2019 from 9-11 a.m.
Northtown Mall, Sensitive Santa, Dec. 8, 2019 from 9-11 a.m.


AuSM publishes book to improve autism diagnosis

CoverAuSM'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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 651.647.1083.


25th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference Call for Submissions due Nov. 15

19 02 20 Conf logo 2020 v1The 25th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference will take place April 22-25, 2020 at the Minneapolis Marriott Southwest. AuSM Currently is seeking breakout session topics and speakers for this important event. Please consider submitting a proposal for presentation during the 25th anniversary year for the state autism conference. Suggested topics include but are not limited to positive behavior supports; siblings; strategies for parents; strategies for educators; managing behaviors; transition; sex; gender identity; early intervention; mental health (including anxiety, co-occurring diagnoses, PTSD and trauma, drug and alcohol addiction, etc.); employment; current research; Individual Education Plans (IEPs); emotion regulation; sensory integration; and social skills. 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

JamesRechsWEBIn 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.

“As we continuously strive to better serve the Greater Minnesota autism community, we hope that physical satellite office presence in Rochester can help us achieve better impact,” said Ellie Wilson, AuSM Executive Director. “We are especially thrilled to work with James, as we know he will continue to inspire collaboration with individuals, families, and organizations that seek to improve community living for those with autism in Southeastern Minnesota.”

In his new role with AuSM, Rechs will provide individual therapy for adults and teens as well as psychoeducation and support for parents, families, and caregivers.

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AuSM, SAPA, and MAAN partner to support local families with autism

logomaan logoSAPAAuSM 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.

“The fabric of the autism community is threaded with diversity that is often underserved by programs and services that are designed for a perceived majority,” said Ellie Wilson, AuSM Executive Director. “This project is about deepening meaningful connections with multicultural communities so that we can learn how to better include, serve, and advocate for our whole community, and all who belong to it.”

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AuSM Skillshops available in-person and as live-stream in 2019-2020 season

computerscreenclipartAuSM 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 including: Oct. 1, 2019: Guardianship: Do We Need It; Nov. 12, 2019: Let’s Talk About It: Disclosure; Jan. 14, 2020: Alderian Psychology and ASD; Feb. 18, 2020: Preventing & Recovering from Burnout; March 31, 2020: Understanding SPED; May 19, 2020: How To Find the Right Therapist for You. 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.


AuSM's Guide to Sensory-Friendly Minnesota - Second Edition

2019SFGuideCoverOn 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.