AuSM Connections
Aug. 15, 2015
AuSM Connections Sponsored by  
Note from Jonah Weinberg, AuSM Executive Director

As we move into AuSM's 45th year of serving the Minnesota autism community, I am pleased to present you with many opportunities for education, training, and fun in the coming months. This scrolling issue of AuSM Connections includes details from the 2015-2016 AuSM Education Catalog, including AuSM social skills listings, AuSM Skillshop topics, and information about AuSM's Autism Direct Support Certification Program. The catalog will be delivered to mailboxes within the next two weeks; until then, visit the AuSM website for more details and registration links. Classes will fill quickly, so I encourage you to register for those sessions that interest you most.

Enjoy these final days of summer!


Have an AuSM day!

Since 1971, the AuSM has supported individuals with autism, families, caregivers, educators, and other professionals by offering a welcoming place to learn,
access services, and develop skills for navigating emotions, information, and life.

AuSM's newest education catalog detailing these programs and services is available now on the AuSM website (and will be arriving in mailboxes soon!). Explore the catalog to find AuSM programs and services that suit your needs and
enhance your life, and get registered today.

Social Skills
AuSM's social skills programming is conducive to youth and adults who fall within the wide range of the autism spectrum. Social skills classes are staffed between a 1:3 and 1:4 staff/participant ratio. If an individual is able to participate safely in a program but requires individual assistance with communication, behavior support, or daily living activities, PCA attendance can be approved so the participant may have the most inclusive experience possible. For more information, e-mail or call 651-647-1083 ext. 22. AuSM is committed to making your class experience positive and rewarding.


Como Zoo Skills (ages 8-18)
Elementary (ages 8-12): Creatures of the Night meets 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
What goes bump in the night at Como? Geckos, bats, hedgehogs and scorpions just to name a few! Meet the zoo's nocturnal residents and find out why they are awake at night. Also meet animals that prefer to be up at sunset and sunrise and plants that bloom after dark. Don't miss this spook-tacular fall session.

Teens (ages 13-18): Exhibit Design meets 1-3 p.m.
Join the exhibit design team at Como! Investigate the needs of different plants, animals, and visitors. Explore the ins and outs of current exhibits and learn about plans for future exhibit renovations. Interview Como's zookeepers and gardeners, and then use your knowledge to create your very own zoo exhibit.

Classes Meet on Saturdays
Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, 2015


ComedySportz Improv Skills (ages 14-26)
New experiences and social situations can be a challenge for individuals on the spectrum; improv provides a framework for addressing these areas. Have fun while learning how to respond to the unexpected, engage in reciprocal interactions, and support fellow participants in keeping a scene moving forward. Each skill can be applied to everyday life as you learn to open yourself to creativity and new ideas, while having fun and making friends. No prior improv experience is necessary.

Class Meets on Sundays from 2:30-4 p.m.
Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25 and Nov. 1, 2015

Fidgety Fairytales: Beauty and the Beast (ages 13-18)
Fidgety Fairy Tales - The Mental Health Musicals re-imagine familiar fairy tales and feature great music and a gentle sense of humor to raise awareness and reduce the fear and misunderstanding around mental health and autism. Participants in this production will perform Beauty and the Beast, in which the Beast has autism and has trouble communicating with Beauty. Fortunately the magical carvings in the woodwork are there to help him learn social skills. This 20-minute production will be performed publicly for family
and friends and possibly at a Twin Cities school.

Class Meets on Sundays (1:30-3:30 p.m.), Tuesdays and Thursdays (6-8 p.m.)
Nov. 1-22, 2015*
Nov. 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22
*Note: Not all participants will need to be present at every rehearsal session. The family and friends performance will take place on Sunday, Nov. 22, and a possible school performance will take place on Monday, Nov. 23.

Minnesota Zoo (ages 8-12): Ocean Expedition
Explore and learn about the vast diversity of animals found in the oceans; you, too, can become a sea life scholar! Visit aquatic exhibits at the Minnesota Zoo, venture behind the scenes, get up close with live animals, meet zoo professionals, and participate in unforgettable experiences and activities. Swimming not required, just an interest in the underwater world.

Class Meets on Sundays from 1-2:30 p.m.
Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25 and Nov. 1, 8, 2015

Coming up in WINTER and SPRING (registration also open):
Como Zoo Skills
ComedySports Improv Skills
AuSM On the Town
Science Museum of Minnesota Design an AuSM Computer Game
Islands of Brilliance
AuSM Zoo Keeper Camp/Lake Superior Zoo (ages 8-11)

Learn what it's like to be a zookeeper by preparing animal meals, making enrichments, cleaning exhibits, observing animal training, and more! AuSM Social Skills classes are tailored to give youth with autism fun, safe, and exciting experiences while they increase self-esteem, expand their knowledge, and build friendships.

Class Meets for Four Consecutive Days
Aug. 24-27, 2015 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

AuSM Aquarium Camp/Great Lakes Aquarium (ages 12-15)

Take an active role in animal care at the Great Lakes Aquarium while developing social skills useful in everyday life. Learn what it takes to keep our resident animals healthy, happy, and active. Go behind the scenes to prepare meals, clean exhibits, test water quality, and more! AuSM Social Skills classes are tailored to give youth with autism fun, safe, and exciting experiences while they increase self-esteem, expand their knowledge, and build friendships.

Class Meets on Saturdays
Oct. 3, 17, 31, 2015 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.


AuSM Skillshop Topics

Getting Into the Social Mix

Executive Function: Honing Your Skills

Behavior Therapies

Finding Your Spark: Getting Off the Couch and Into Life

Understanding ASD in Adults

Safety Strategies

Focus on Unspoken Communication

Preparing for the Future: Guardianship and Supplemental Needs Trusts

Autism, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice

Current Policy and Legislative Update

Mindful Parenting: How to Stop the Fighting, Yelling, and Frustration

Toilet Training Challenge

Transition: Using Personal Learning Plans for Students with ASD

Tips on Helping Your Child with ASD Learn to Ride a Bike

Food Fight! Nutritional Strategies for Children with ASD and Their Families

Autism and Anxiety in Adults

Click on the following link to learn more about offerings and to register today.


AuSM's Life with Autism Series offers information and strategies to parents, family members, relatives, caregivers of individuals with autism, educators, and the community through engaging, age-focused classes led by autism experts and parent speakers. Participants also learn about available services and resources.

Intro to Autism
Develop an understanding of the basics of autism, resource options, and positive behavior supports. Learn how families, schools, and the medical community can work together to educate and support those with ASD. Get practical tips on helping individuals with ASD meet their potential.

FALL One Session Class (also offered in WINTER and SPRING)
Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Newly Diagnosed (offered in WINTER)
Obtain information on topics including the definition of autism, parent feelings, neurological findings, therapies, communication strategies, teaching daily living skills, challenging behavior, sensory needs, visual supports, and using social stories.

Adolescence and Transition (offered in SPRING)
Obtain information on topics including parent emotions, the impact of autism on adolescents, independence in daily living skills, public social skills, reciprocal relationships, sexuality, privacy and safety, transitions into adult living and workplace issues, self-determination skills, behavior management, and emotions.

Adults (offered in SPRING)
Obtain information on topics such as impact of autism on adults, independence in daily living skills, social skills across settings including the workplace, reciprocal relationships, sexuality, privacy and safety, transitions into adult living, workplace issues, selfdetermination
skills, behavior management, and emotions.
AuSM's Autism Direct Support Certification Program is designed for professionals who work with individuals with autism or who want to better provide service to those with autism spectrum disorder. This in-depth, five-session course will give practical solutions for working with people on the spectrum. Sessions are limited to 15 participants.

Fall 2015 Sessionstudent-participants.jpg
Fridays (typical schedule, mornings)
Oct. 16, 23, 30 and Nov. 6, 13, 2015
8:30-11:30 a.m.

Winter 2016 Session
Saturdays (combined, longer sessions)
Jan. 23, 30, 2016 from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Feb. 6, 2016 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.

Spring 2016 Session
Mondays (typical schedule, evenings)
March 21, 28, and April 4, 11, and 18, 2016
6-9 p.m.


Early Childhood and Autism: Expression Through Storytelling, Puppetry, Movement, and Music Workshops 
Join Children's Theatre Company and AuSM for a series of interactive family workshops modeling art-based strategies to engage your whole family. Specially designed for parents and/or caregivers with a child or children ages 3-5 with autism spectrum disorder and their siblings, each workshop will explore theater activities that facilitate self-expression, creativity and imagination-play. Participating families will receive one children's ticket for an upcoming CTC performance!
Creative Movement - Sept. 20 from 2-4 p.m.
Explore all the ways we use our bodies to tell stories - wiggling, jumping, spinning, crawling and more!  Focus on coordination, body awareness and motor skills while building on cooperation and communication.
Music and Sound - Nov. 8 from 2-4 p.m.
Move to the rhythm and make your own beats as we explore ways to tell stories and express emotion through music. Create sounds using technology, instruments and your own voice!

Two Concurrent AuSM Skillshops held at AuSM
Tuesday, August 25 from 7-9 p.m.

Technology for ASD: Must-Have Apps
Jason Backes

Explore the must-have apps for working with individuals with autism. Find out what's hot, what's new, and how you can use the iPad to enhance the life of someone you know with autism.


I've Made It Through Transition - What's Next?

Beth Pitchford, MA

The time after transition is completed can be mysterious. Learn about available services and how to access them as well as ways to prepare yourself or your loved one for building structure in unstructured times/environments; soft skills and how to learn them; and how to break down projects/goals into manageable steps.



Getting Into the Social Mix
AuSM Skillshop held at Merrick, Inc.
Tuesday, Sept. 8 from 7-9 p.m.
Kim Busse and Amy Reid

Explore the many positive and negative aspects of social media and how it affects social communication and relationships.



Mental Health Services

With more than 80 years of combined experience with individuals with autism, AuSM's team of highly trained and licensed therapists wants you to feel comfortable and knowledgeable as we undertake this journey together, striving for positive, individual-focused goals.


AuSM's Mental Health Services include:

  • Diagnostic assessments for adults
  • Functional or behavioral assessments for all ages
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Behavior consultation
  • Marriage and couples therapy
  • Training for organizations and service providers

Click here for more information.

Navigating Autism (at the airport)


Autism Community Events and Research Study Postings on the AuSM Website.


Click here to access the AuSM Connections e-newsletter archive.

Make Your Dollars Count

Autism Society of Minnesota supporters sustain the work that has helped so many in our community. 100% of donations stay in the Minnesota autism community, and every dollar counts. We appreciate your generosity, and we look forward to continuing to be your go-to resource for autism programs and services.



Established in 1971, the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to education, advocacy and support designed to enhance the lives of those affected by autism from birth through retirement.
AuSM does not sell or share the contact information of our members, volunteers, donors or supporters.