AuSM’s Professional Networking Group Returns in More Accessible Format

In 2019, AuSM’s Counseling and Consulting Services saw a vital need in our community: an opportunity for professionals serving the autism community to connect with each other, provide feedback and support, and to work together to improve the services they provide. This was the birth of AuSM’s Professional Networking Group, which ran for the second half of 2019. The group struggled to find members, and with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, was put on indefinite hiatus.

In 2023, our therapy team knew it was time to bring the group back. “We often hear from clients that they have challenging experiences with providers who are not familiar with the way autism presents in adults,” shared Barb Luskin, AuSM therapist. “As a group of practitioners with decades of experience in supporting autistic clients, we feel that it’s essential for us to share what we know with other providers.”

Thanks to multiple years of providing virtual events and services, AuSM staff knew that there were more accessible ways to offer the group that would lead to higher participation. We kicked off the process with a survey of providers, asking them what they were looking for, when they could attend, and whether they were interested in virtual or in-person offerings. It was important to us to meet providers where they are: we know that mental health professionals in particular have minimal spare time, and to successfully build the community knowledge we sought, we needed their input.

“AuSM’s Professional Networking Group is designed to allow mental health practitioners and other professionals share their knowledge and their questions concerning how to best support autistic clients,” said Monica Toledo, Director of Counseling and Consulting Services at AuSM. This group creates a stronger community of professionals, which helps our autistic clients have more options for care and shorter waitlists for quality providers.

In October of 2023, our therapy team held their first virtual, lunchtime Professional Networking Group, with over 20 participants all hungry to learn more about best practices. “We had an overwhelmingly positive response to our first meeting,” said Toledo. The group was so popular that for the second session, it was limited to only therapists in order to help focus the discussion. Thanks to the popularity of these first groups, AuSM’s therapy team has created monthly dates for all of 2024, with options for clinical providers and administrative providers.

Learn more about the Professional Networking and Consulting Group.

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