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History and Mission


What is AuSM?

Minnesota's First Autism Resource®

In 1971, a group of passionate parents founded AuSM to seek greater understanding and better school supports for their children with autism. More than four decades later, AuSM continues its mission to improve the lives of people with autism, but with an expanded focus along the entire lifespan, from birth through retirement.

Whether you are the parent of a child with a new diagnosis, an adult with autism who needs guidance, an educator or healthcare professional who supports people with autism, or a company that wants to learn more about the talents of people with autism, AuSM offers the resources you need to help you accomplish your goals.

AuSM is a place where everyone can learn, access services, and develop skills for navigating what can be challenging emotions and complex information. Services include membership, workshops, the Minnesota autism conference, AuSM Skillshops, the Life with Autism Series for newly diagnosed and specific life stages, specially tailored summer camps for youth and adults with autism, interest-based social skills classes with community partners, Counseling and Consulting Services, support groups, Autism Direct Support Certification training, sensory-friendly events, advocacy, Information and Resources, and customized autism training.

As the autism diagnosis rate increases, so, too, does the need for programs and services to help people with autism thrive. As the state’s oldest nonprofit autism organization, AuSM relies on the generosity of our community to carry out our important mission. 100% of donated dollars stay local, benefitting Minnesota families and individuals touched by autism.

AuSM members throughout the state of Minnesota and the upper Midwest include families, educators, caregivers, and professionals who support individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Click here for membership information.


The mission of the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) is to enhance the lives of individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder.
AuSM serves Minnesotans, throughout their lives, with a fundamental commitment to advocacy, education, support, collaboration, and community building.

We Seek To

  • Advocate for legislation and policies that lead to improved services, increased opportunities, and greater self-determination for people with autism.
  • Educate and inform individuals, families, professionals, and the broader community about autism and effective strategies for support and inclusion.
  • Support individuals and families through quality programs, counseling services, and resource information.
  • Collaborate with organizations and individuals who share our commitment to enhancing the lives of those affected by autism.
  • Build community and provide a welcoming and accessible environment for autistic people to connect and form their own social bonds.

AuSM’s Use of Person-First and Identity-First Language

The Autism Society of Minnesota respects the right of individuals to be referred to with language that makes them comfortable. There currently isn’t a universally accepted way to refer to an individual on the autism spectrum. Some recommend person-first language (“a person with autism”) to highlight that an individual is a person before a disability. However, others, often self-advocates, note that autism is an important part of their identity that cannot be separated from who they are, and thus recommend identity-first language (“autistic”).

In preparing communications with our community, AuSM will be intentional in considering audience language preferences for specific printed materials, social media posts, on our website, in e-mails, and in other forms in which we present public information. When audience or personal preference is not known, or when AuSM is referring to a large group of people, AuSM will default to person-first language.

If you are visiting AuSM and prefer that AuSM staff members use person-first, identity-first, or another form of address, please let an AuSM staff member know.

Functioning Language

AuSM recommends avoiding the terms "low-functioning" and "high-functioning" and "mild/severe" autism. These terms can be misleading. Someone who can hold down a job may struggle in other areas of their life. Alternatively, someone who uses a communication device may require no personal support. Additionally, someone’s ability to function can depend on context: the environment, the supports in place, their emotional state, and their level of stress. People’s abilities will change over time, whereas labels tend to be static. These labels often will be used to deny services to those seen as “high functioning” or to deny the agency and abilities of those seen as “low functioning.” Instead, you might describe the specific supports or challenges an individual has, talk about the accommodations they need, or simply refer to the individual as having autism unless more information is necessary.

What is AuSM? Video


Click here to view the What is AuSM video.

AuSM Posting Policy

Click here to view AuSM's website and social media posting policy.