The autism community is invited to participate in a free 2-hour AuSM Skillshop on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Held at AuSM's office in St. Paul, "Technology as Support" will feature presentations from Joshin, Kinuu, and Rem5 VR Lab. Technology is constantly evolving, and new technology allows for new possibilities. In addition to being fun and engaging, technology can be used to provide support and build new skills for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other neurodiversities. In this AuSM Skillshop, hear from three different businesses that have used technology in innovative ways. This AuSM Skillshop is being offered at no charge; however, registration is required. Click here to register.
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.
AuSM is pleased to announce the hiring of Ashwak Hassan, MA, LMFT, in the new role of Multicultural Outreach Coordinator. Hassan will lead a project that brings together AuSM, the Somali American Parent Network (SAPA), and the Multicultural Autism Action Network (MAAN) to support the metro area’s multicultural population affected by autism and similar disabilities. The project is fueled by a two-year Minnesota Department of Human Services Innovations Grant.
With a history of more than a decade of work in intervention services in centers across the Twin Cities, Hassan feels this project is the perfect fit for her focus on research and understanding the needs of multicultural communities.
“We need to simplify how families affected by autism access services,” Hassan said. “This is a complex system; if we can help with navigation, we also will help build community and supports.”
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.
“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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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 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.
The 2019-2020 AuSM Education catalog is available online and the print version will be delivered to mailboxes soon. Learn about and register for AuSM's fall, winter, and spring offerings, including social skills classes for youth and adults, the Life with Autism series, AuSM Skillshops, autism certification, AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services, AuSM events, and more. Register today for educational opportunities that will support community engagement, provide positive support strategies, and enhance your life. Click here to view the online catalog.
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 first trolley charter will leave the station at 10:30 a.m. and the final charter will roll back to the station at 11:30 a.m. 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 FIND Network, the Minnesota Streetcar Museum, and St. David's Center for Child & Family Development; visit their resource tables during the event! Click here for more information and to register.
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.