March 15, 2016       Connecting you with the Minnesota autism community.

A Note from Jonah Weinberg, Executive Director
National Autism Awareness Month begins with yesterday's CDC report that the national autism prevalence rate remains unchanged at 1 in 68. Though the rate is unchanged, the 1 in 68 number represents real people who need services to support their daily lives.

AuSM exists to provide programs that enhance the lives of all people affected by autism - from birth through retirement.

Whether you're a parent, an educator, a professional in the ASD field, or someone who wants to learn more about autism, you won't want to miss the 21st Annual Minnesota Autism Conference, April 27-30. With four keynote speakers and more than 30 breakout sessions, you'll come away with lots of great information to help you be better prepared for the challenges and opportunities that autism brings. Registration is open, and the detailed conference schedule is available on our website.
This year AuSM turned 45, and we hope you'll join us to celebrate this milestone at our 2nd annual AuSM Inspirations Gala on Friday, April 29. We'll look back at the past four decades and present several awards to individuals who helped our community grow and develop. But most importantly, we're going to have fun! There will be games of chance, music, a silent auction, and the stage show will be emceed by the always energetic K102's Mike "Muss" Mussman. As last year's gala sold out, I encourage you to order your tickets as soon as possible!
AuSM's day and residential summer camps for youth and adults with autism are filling quickly, as are special interest-focused social skills classes at a wide variety of locations in our community.
If you haven't been on our website for a while, this is a great time to explore, and see the wide variety of offerings.

Have an AuSM day!

AuSM Executive Director
National autism rate stable according to CDC
Yesterday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the national autism prevalence rate remains unchanged at 1 in 68.
As with the previous report in 2014, this latest estimate is based on a systematic review of health and educational records of 8-year-old children living in designated communities that have been selected to be part of the CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. Minnesota was recently added to the ADDM Network, although local children will not be included in CDC prevalence rates until the 2018 update.
"This prevalence rate is important because it demonstrates the continued, concrete level of need to people who determine funding-levels and available resources for people with autism, " said Jonah Weinberg, Executive Director of the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM).
Keynote presentations: 21st Annual Minnesota Autism Conference
Join AuSM April 27-30, 2016 at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel Minneapolis - Park Place for keynote presentations, more than 30 expert-led breakout sessions, autism product and service exhibitors, the AuSM Bookstore, and opportunities for networking with your peers. Parents, caregivers, educators, service providers, mental health professionals, and individuals with autism are encouraged to join us for this event of the year for the Minnesota autism community. 

Unlocking the Brain: How Autism Research is Increasing Early Intervention
Amy Esler, PhD, LP; Jed Elison, PhD; and Jason Wolff, PhD
Learn about the latest advances in early detection of autism spectrum disorder. Topics will include current practices in autism screening and strengths and weaknesses of those approaches; new research at the University of Minnesota on early brain and behavioral development and the emergence of autism; and how innovative research on early brain and behavioral development can be used to augment early detection and treatment.

First, Do No Harm
Glenis Benson, PhD
Historically, individuals with autism have been the recipients of questionable and unethical practices. Many believe such practices are relegated to the past, however, in some instances, punishment and harsh actions still are used as a means to teach, eroding trust and stunting progress. We must acknowledge the past and move beyond it. We need a kinder, gentler, and more humane approach, not only because it's the right thing to do, but also because it promotes lasting, healthy results in which relationships are built and maintained. Support personnel must have good communication with people with autism and listen to what they are saying through their behavior in order to give people with autism a voice. In this  presentation, learn how to build a trusting relationship with individuals with autism and how to change challenging behaviors into conventional
communication forms.

Bright, Not Broken: Ensuring the Best Future for Our Brightest Minds
Diane M. Kennedy and Rebecca Banks Cull
Students with giftedness accompanied by disability (twice-exceptional) are underserved. Within this group, high ability individuals with autism are at an even greater disadvantage. Giftedness, autism, and related mental health conditions can lead to social challenges, explosive behaviors, bullying, anxiety, and depression, as well as to exceptional creative abilities, out-of-the-box thinking, and extraordinary achievements. The complexity of twice-exceptional individuals heightens the need for strengths-based approaches in assessment and interventions. Current educational and mental health standards, with their associated measures and mandates, miss a large portion of the talented and challenged students who are bright, not broken. These individuals have the ability to be incredibly successful academically,vocationally, and socially with the appropriate intervention and supports. Learn about the need for a multi-dimensional perspective and examine the importance of bringing awareness to the twice-exceptional population on the autism spectrum in order to ensure the best future for our brightest minds.

Uniquely Human, A Different Way of Seeing Autism
Barry Prizant, PhD, CCC-SLP
Autism often is portrayed as a checklist of deficits, including difficulty interacting socially, problems in communicating and speaking, sensory challenges, and repetitive movements. This perspective leads to therapies that too often focus on ridding an individual of "autistic" symptoms. Dr. Prizant will share a compelling paradigm: the most successful approaches to autism don't aim at fixing a person by eliminating symptoms, but rather seeking to understand the individual's experience and what underlies the behavior. Instead of classifying "autistic" behaviors as a signs of pathology, it is better to examine them as part of a range of strategies to deal with a world that feels chaotic, overwhelming, and frightening. Instead of reducing or eliminating these valuable coping mechanisms, it's better to enhance abilities, build on strengths, and offer supports that will naturally lead to more desirable behavior and a better quality of life. Families are best supported when ASD is not viewed as a tragedy but as an experience that provides opportunities for growth for all family members.
CEUs available for mental health professionals
Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available from the Minnesota Board of Psychology, the Minnesota Board of Social Work, and the Minnesota Board of Marriage and Family Therapy for the Thursday, April 28 mental health-focused track during the 21st Annual Minnesota Autism Conference. Certificates will be distributed upon completion. Click here for more information and to register.
AuSM Inspirations Gala
Order your tickets today for Celebrate AuSM Inspirations, AuSM's second annual gala celebration that will take place on during the state autism conference on April 29, 2016 from 6-10 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Minneapolis - Park Place. Join AuSM for a night of food, entertainment, and inspiration as we celebrate the people who make our community great and raise money to support AuSM's programs and services. K102's Mike "Muss" Mussman will return as the evening's emcee.

AuSM is seeking donations of gift cards, wine, or silent auction items for its second annual gala. Contact Lisa Sieben at for more information.
April is National Autism Awareness Month
April is National Autism Awareness Month, a special opportunity for businesses and organizations to show support for the autism community. Click here if you know of a business or organization that would like to participate as anAuSM Partner for Autism Awareness Month.
Minnesota Twins celebrate Autism Awareness
Major League Baseball, the Minnesota Twins, and AuSM have teamed up to offer discounted tickets to the June 5 Twins game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Join us to cheer on the Twins with your family and friends and enjoy all that Target Field has to offer. Participate in a special pre-game parade to raise autism awareness! Click here for more information and to order tickets by May 20.
Spring Break Science Museum Class
Design an AuSM Computer Game
Looking for a creative way to spend the St. Paul School's Spring Break? Build your own interactive adventure game and story using programming software from the MIT Media Lab-Scratch 2.0! Select a theme, write a story, build an environment, create characters, add puzzles, and add sound effects. In addition to learning programming and design skills, students will integrate emotions and social interaction into their computer characters, communicate ideas and progress to peers, and offer feedback to classmates.

April 4-8, 2016 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. (Ages 11-16)

Click here for more information and to register.
AuSM Summer Camps
AuSM day and residential summer camps are filling quickly! Camps are tailored for youth and adults with autism. Parents and caregivers can rest assured knowing that their campers are being cared for by highly trained, experienced staff, while campers make memories that last a lifetime. AuSM camps are available for individuals ages 6 and up who are AuSM members. Click here for information about scholarships and waivers.

Staff-to-Camper Ratio: 1:4; Residential camp

All sessions are FULL. Registrations for the wait list are being accepted for those two sessions. Staff-to-Camper Ratio: 1:1 - attending to the individual needs of each camper; Residential camp

Staff-to-Camper Ratio: 1:2; Day camp
Make a difference this summer
Want to help with a summer activity that will be personally rewarding and support the Minnesota autism community? Consider working at an AuSM Camp for a week or more. Counselors are needed for Camps Wahode and Hand in Hand and Camp Discovery needs cabin support staff (cabin support staff must have previous experience working with youth with autism). 

Registered nurses also are needed for the Camp Hand in Hand weeks. For more information, contact Terri Borowick, AuSM Director of Camp Programs at, or click here.
Summer Social Skills
Register for the AuSM Social Skills classes that support your special interests. Click here for information about scholarships and waivers.

Como Zoo Skills
Elementary (ages 8-12): Wild Things; Teens (ages 13-18): Wild Side
July 11-15, 2016

Predator & Prey (ages 8-11); June 20-24, 2016
Crazy Creatures (ages 12-14); July 18-22, 2016
Zoo Crew and Design (ages 15-18); August 8-12, 2016

Session 1: Females only, June 22, 29 and July 6, 13, 20 and 27, 2016
Session 2: Co-ed, June 23, 30 and July 7, 14, 21 and 28, 2016

June 20-24, 2016

FREE! For youth with autism and their siblings and parents/caregivers.
August 22-26, 2016 

July 25-29, 2016

Lowry Nature Center: July 19-22, 2016
Eastman Nature Center: August 16-19, 2016

June 28-July 15, 2016

Sessions 1 and 2: June 20-24, 2016
Sessions 3 and 4: August 1-5, 2016
AuSM Skillshops
Current Policy and Legislative Update
April 12, 2016
Location: Academy of Whole Learning
Presenter: Jean Bender

Part of AuSM's mission is ensuring that our laws and public policies support individuals and families living with autism. Receive an informed update of legislative issues that are especially important in the 2016 Congressional session. Learn about the facts and positions relevant to you, and learn how to make your voice heard by the Minnesota legislature. Specific topics, available once the session begins, may include housing, employment, waivers, and more. Click here to register.

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

April 21, 2016
Location: St. David's Center
Presenter: Samantha Moe, MA SLP

Are you stressed out and exhausted? Discover why children with autism push your limits and try to control everything, and how you can transform your home into an enjoyable space rather than a war zone. In this interactive presentation you will receive solutions from the Mad to Glad Blueprint™ that are key to having a calmer, more cooperative child and restoring your sanity. Click here to register.

May 19: Toilet Training Challenge
June 2: Using Personal Learning Plans for Students with ASD
June 7: Tips on Helping your Child with ASD Learn to Ride a Bike
August 30: Food Fight! Nutritional Strategies for Children with ASD and Their Families
September 20: Autism and Anxiety in Adults
Life with Autism Series
Held at AuSM's office in St. Paul, the Life with Autism series offers information and strategies to parents, family members, relatives, caregivers, educators, and the community through engaging, age-focused classes led by autism experts and parent speakers. Participants also learn about available services and resources.


Saturday, April 9, 2016 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Intro to Autism
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Anoka-Hennepin Community Education presents 
Parenting and Autism 101
Thursday, April 14, 2016 from 6-9 p.m.
Click here for more information and to register. 
Tuesdays at the Capitol
As a member of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MN-CCD), AuSM invites you to Tuesdays at the Capitol through the end of the legislative session (May 10). From 10-11 a.m., the MN-CCD will be at the Minnesota Department of Transportation Cafeteria to help people share their stories about important disability services with legislators and to ensure there is a disability community presence at the Capitol. Click here for more information.
March-April AuSM Membership Drive
Become an AuSM Member in March or April 2016 and your name will be entered into a drawing for two tickets to AuSM's gala, Celebrate AuSM Inspirations 2016, on April 29. The gala will bring our community together for food, drinks, games, a silent auction, and a celebration of those serving as true inspirations to individuals affected by autism. A $150 value! 

Therapy and Support
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 Counseling and Consulting Services include: diagnostic assessments for adults, functional or behavioral assessments for all ages, individual therapy, family therapy, behavior consultation, marriage and couples therapy, and training and consulting for organizations and service providers.

AuSM sends out a monthly "Ask the Therapist" e-mail where AuSM's therapists answer questions submitted by the Minnesota autism community. Click here to read the "Ask the Therapist" archive. To submit a question, e-mail

Information and Resources
Autism Community Events and Fundraisers
Autism Society of Minnesota | 651.647.1083 | |

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.

Autism Society of Minnesota, 2380 Wycliff St. #102, St. Paul, MN 55114