Gala screening of new film by autistic adults

On May 21 AASCEND co-hosts a free showing at the Arc of a new autism film made largely by adults on the spectrum. The showing will be followed by Q & A and presentation of The Art of Autism’s Hearts & Arts Awards. Don’t miss this exciting free opportunity! To aid planning please register for the event-> HERE. 

Movie Banner Ad

Normal People Scare Me Too, a film about autism was inspired by the past and driven by the future in autism. A decade after the award-winning film Normal People Scare Me was released, Taylor Cross, the film’s co-creator, is at it again. In the new Normal, he interviews former and new cast members and family about attitudes and first-person perspectives in autism today.

Asking questions such as “What’s hard for you?” “What are you really good at?” “What do you want educators, parents and others to know about autism?” and of course, “Do normal people scare you?”, we discover keen insights and opinions while meeting a vibrant cast of characters. A decade ago, most of the film’s subjects were clear that “normal” was scary. We’ve come a long way since then with answers that will surely amaze and transform the way we perceive so-called “normal” today.

Created by a film crew comprised of 75% autistic students and graduates of Joey Travolta’s Inclusion Films, with music and art created and performed by 65% autistic musicians/composers/artists, the new Normal is pleased to be a more inclusive production this time around. Normal People Scare Me Too is driven by Taylor Cross, directed and co-produced by Keri Bowers (Taylor’s mom) and Produced by Joey Travolta.


“I gave Taylor a cameraman; I gave him an editor, but said you have to do all the work. You have to interview the clients and get the clients to make this film, Taylor.”  Joey Travolta, Inclusion Films

“Without diverse thinking, perhaps we’d all be ‘normal;’ ordinary, common, average, and unremarkable. Normal People Scare Me Too shines a light on something more – a perspective sorely needed in this world. Bravo!” Maripat Robison, author “I Married a Geek”

“Normal People Scare Me Too is a fascinating and deep exposé into living on the autism spectrum. A must see for anyone wanting to know more about the trials, triumphs, and dreams of people on the spectrum, the viewer comes away with a profound and greater sense of what it means to be human.” Dr. Stephen Mark Shore, author, speaker, clinical assistant professor Adelphi University

 “As soon as I started watching, I could not stop! NPSMT digs deep into the minds, feelings, insights and perceptions of autistic people. This film will surely ignite hope and optimism for many. You must see this film!” Barry M. Prizant, Ph.D., author “Uniquely Human”, CCC-SLP. Director: Childhood Communication Services Adjunct Professor: Center for the Study of Human Development

You did it again! This film brings out the vital voices of people on the autism spectrum, and lets the world see their individual truths.” Elaine Hall, The Miracle Project, author “Now I See the Moon” and Seven Keys to Unlock Autism”

When: Sat May 21, 10am – 1pm
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St.    SF, CA 94103  map

The Many, The Brave Hike at Land’s End

The AASCEND hike went off in grand style with full cooperation from the weather. The day couldn’t have been prettier – sunny and just the right temperature for a walk. We made it the whole way along the Land’s End trail, all the way back, and along the way we all got to know each other even better. It was an inspiring way to celebrate Autism Advancement Month. Thanks to all who helped make it a success. We’ll do it again sometime!

April 21 is the last day to take the Autism Creatives Collective Survey! Click >here< to help this great project get underway. To get in the mood for art, check out the autism arts showcase being held April 30 at California State University East Bay.

… and stay tuned for more fine programs from AASCEND!

Go Take a Hike! (+ Important Art Survey)

Now for something completely different! At AASCEND‘s April 16 meeting we’re all going to go for a hike (more like a walk) at San Francisco’s beautiful and easy-walkin’ Lands End. Come revel together in the calming natural world so many autistic people enjoy.

But first,  are you autistic, creative, and want to earn $ with your abilities? Be sure to take this short online survey >here< to help the Autism Creatives Collective get underway. The survey deadline is now extended to April 21, so hustle at it!

Now to the hike—

The hike will be a chance to all get to know each other better and to enjoy El Niño’s spring bounty in one of the more gorgeous places on this big round Earth – and it’s right here in San Francisco! There is food at the Lookout Cafe and Visitor Center where we’ll meet, but you might want to bring a snack. Stay tuned for further details and updates.

When: Sat Apr 16, 10am – noon(+)
Where: Lands End Lookout Cafe and Visitor Cente680 Point Lobos Ave, SF, CA 94121 – located in the parking lot near 48th Ave & Pt. Lobos Ave. map

There is parking in the mentioned lot by the Visitor’s Center and also a smaller lot across the street and along El Camino del Mar. The 38 bus line stops at 48th Ave & Pt Lobos Ave. about 100 yards up from the Lookout.

Expedition Update, and a Sensory Film

Autistic adventure will head the day at AASCEND‘s March 19 meeting, starting off with a report from seasoned expeditioneer and AASCEND member Paul Nussbaum telling the tale of his recent week in the icy wilderness of Yellowstone National Park. This outing was undertaken as practice for Paul’s planned Expedition-Autism: Greenland 2017, a month-long trek across the Greenland Ice Cap to showcase autistic ability.

After Paul’s report the adventure turns inward, with a screening of the new short film, SPECTRUM: A story of the mind. This film highlights autistic sensory issues and features appearances by Tito Mukhopadhyay, artist Judy Endow, and Aikido master Nick Walker. The segment on Judy is an excellent sequel to last month’s AASCEND meeting on the newly-forming Autistic Creatives Collective because Judy is an established commercial artist. Nick Walker is familiar to AASCEND from his presentation about managing autistic stress at an AASCEND meeting five years ago.

Come share your own adventures, outer and inner! We hope in particular to hear experiences about coping with autism-related sensory challenges.

When: Sat Mar 19, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St.    SF, CA 94103  map   

Parking is often available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2/hr.

Autism and the Creative Economy

[UPDATE: The following event happened and there was an almost electric feel in the room, so great was the interest in the subject. If you were not able to be present and are likewise interested please send a note to and we'll connect you with this new and rapidly developing community.]

Autistic people sometimes have unusual creative talents. At AASCEND‘s February 20 meeting Donald Cohen will lead an exploration of how these talents can open paths to employment for people on the autism spectrum.

Donald Cohen is executive director of In The Public Interest, a Washington D.C.-based research and policy center. He is also the father of a 27-year old on the spectrum, who is an exceptional writer with an amazing imagination and a love of movies, books (science fiction and fantasy), comics, graphic novels, and table top RPG’s among other things.  

Donald is currently doing research to develop a program to find possible career paths for “creatives”, tapping the unique talents of these creative autistic adults and helping integrate them into the working world. He’s conducting interviews to better understand creative industries, their needs and potential opportunities.   Find out what he has learned and bring your own creative ideas!

When: Sat Feb 20, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St.    SF, CA 94103  map   

Parking is often available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2/hr.

P.S. To watch last month’s film, Autism in Lovefree on PBS til April click here !     (You may have to click around a bit and wait through an ad to get to the film, but it’s there.)

Romance on the Spectrum

Dating and romantic relationships are perennial challenges for people on the autism spectrum. At AASCEND‘s January 16 general meeting we’ll be showing the film Autism in Love. Arthur Ryel-Lindsey of the Tribeca Film Festival writes about the film,
With beautiful cinematography and remarkable compassion, [Director Matt] Fuller examines the everyday realities of autistic adulthood, showing how the members of this often-misunderstood community cope with the challenge of keeping romance alive over the years. Capturing both the joys and heartbreak of love, Fuller emphasizes struggles that are only too familiar, creating in Autism in Love a relatable and winning celebration of accepting the differences in others and in ourselves.”


Following the screening there will be a panel discussion by spectrum adults in relationships — relating first-hand the challenges of autistic love. Come share your own stories and questions about dating and romance on the spectrum!

PLUS Hear Paul Nussbaum’s preliminary report on the Greenland-prep expedition in Yellowstone! Details to follow at a later AASCEND meeting. Follow the ongoing expedition here. (Be sure to zoom way in on the interactive map!)

When: Sat Jan 16, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St.    SF, CA 94103  map   

Parking is available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2/hr.

Breaking News: Icy Autism Expedition Underway

AASCEND board member Paul Nussbaum — veteran and leader of the AASCEND Conquering Heights trans-Sierra expedition — along with a team of eight assembled by autism sports organization Ascendigo have embarked on a nine-day ski expedition across the frigid winter desolation of Yellowstone National Park. This grueling excursion is by way of preparation for a planned expedition across the Greenland ice cap next year,  highlighting autistic teamwork and abilities. The team is now hauling sledges heavily laden with supplies and gear, as it will be doing in the Arctic. Meanwhile temperatures on the journey are fated to drop below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, approximating Greenland conditions. Follow their progress courtesy of expedition member and radioman Douglas Paley at this interactive map. (Be sure to zoom in!) Here’s Paul on earlier expeditions:

Paul Nussbaum in ski gear     

Happy Holidays!

The AASCEND holiday party was a memorable event, with the Arc of SF providing the lovely setting for an evening of food, games, conviviality — and heartwarming (as well as spectacular) musical performances. AASCEND wishes all a holiday season filled with cheer, and a bright New Year! 

Be sure to mark your calendar with the meeting dates listed to the right in UPCOMING  EVENTS.  Another season of great programs is in the works!

AASCEND Holiday Party!

It’s time again for that yearly favorite — the AASCEND Annual Holiday Potluck Party! Come join our community for food, conversation, music and good cheer. There will be Entertainment, Music—with songs by AASCEND stars Stacey, Brian, and Brie — Santa D.J., Games, did we mention food, and a low-sensory space available. It’s a potluck, so bring food to share if you can — but if you can’t, show up anyway!

Be there and in the square!

When:  Sat Dec 19,   2 – 5 pm
Where: The Arc of SF   1500 Howard St. @ 11th St.    SF, CA 94103   map

Set up:    1:00 – 2:00
Party:        2:00 – 5:00
Food:        2:30 on
Cleanup:  5:00 – 5:30
Parking is available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2/hr.

Horses and other Animals!

Many autistic people feel a special affinity for animals. Here’s autistic luminary Temple Grandin in her book, Animals in Translation: “I wasn’t any horse-whispering autistic savant, either. I just loved the horses. … I got through my teenage years thanks to my squeeze machine and my horses. … Animals saved me.”

At AASCEND‘s November 21 meeting we’ll watch clips about the autism-horse connection from the film Horse Boy (based on the New York times best-seller) and we’ll hear from Joell Dunlap, founder of the Square Peg Foundation, which brings autistic children and young adults together with horses. The foundation also employs people on the autism spectrum part-time. Let’s see whether work with horses and other animals might help some autistic adults!

Come with your own animal stories and your curiosity…

(Photo by O. Rufus Lovett and Justin Hennard)

When: Sat Nov 21, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St.    SF, CA 94103  map   

Parking is available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2/hr.