Autistic-Led Projects Seek Your Input

AASCEND‘s  May 18 general meeting promises to be interesting and unusual. It will feature three projects headed by autistic members — projects seeking input from all you autistic adults! First up is AASCEND regular Ian Moura,  who is starting a research project to better understand the challenges faced by autistic adults seeking skilled employment.

Ian is particularly interested in understanding and evaluating autism hiring programs. Ian is currently developing a survey to measure autistic participants’ views of these programs, and is interested in gathering input from the community (that’s you!) about what services and supports are most needed to support autistic adults in finding and maintaining employment.

Next up is AASCEND Co-Chair Greg Yates who is putting together a project on non-standard ways of communicating in autism. Like Ian, Greg is looking for your input. The thought is that lessening the rate and variety of sensory input might help autistic people communicate better and perhaps become more aware of their thoughts and feelings. Does talking by candlelight help you? How about while you are wearing dark glasses? How about by texting? We might actually try out one or two approaches. Please bring your ideas and experiences about non-standard ways of helping autistic people communicate.  


Finally, and if there’s time, Greg is beginning contact with the autism world in Russia. They’ve asked for a short video featuring our members saying short sentences about the “top ten things” people, including parents of autistic young adults, should know about autism. This is another brainstorming session, and we may have a go at recording a couple of your responses.


As always, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program.

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat May 18, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map

Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.

Hiring Pro Jack Fagan to Speak

Spanning a career of more than 30 years as a program manager and HR professional, AASCEND  past-president Jack Fagan has screened thousands of resumes, interviewed more than 500 job applicants, and hired over a 100 job seekers. At AASCEND’s May 4th Job Club, he’ll share his insights on getting into the minds of hiring manager with suggested do’s and don’ts for cover letters, resumes and more, plus secret advantages for a strong interview performance.  

Here’s your chance to cash in on some serious hiring experience! Come with your questions about how to impress a hiring manager. As always, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program.

Special thanks to the Autism Studies Department at SFSU for volunteers!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat May 4, 10am – 1pm
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map


For more information about employment on the autism spectrum, join us at:Spectrum Employment Community by AASCEND on LinkedIn

Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.

Take a Hike!

UPDATE: The hike was a blast! Frigid blustery weather kept all but the hardiest at bay, and those who turned up were champs. Great conversations, with plenty of sun to go along with the gale, were had by all!

Be sure to check out hiker and AASCEND member Isaac Haney-Owens’ April 28, 8pm interview on KGO radio, where he’ll be talking about his work at Creativity Explored.

Now for something completely similar! At AASCEND‘s April 20 meeting we’ll be reprising our popular Spring 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.

The hike is as always a chance to all get to know each other better and to enjoy El Niño’s spring bounty (no kidding!) in one of the more gorgeous places on Earth – 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.

When: Sat Apr 20, 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.

Careers in Animation (Rescheduled Job Club)

At the April 13 Job Club (rescheduled from the 8th), AASCEND  hosts Ken Pontac, an American writer who has written for children’s shows like ToddWorld and LazyTown. He also writes for the dark humor cartoon Happy Tree Friends. Pontac’s company, Danger Productions, employed a staff of one hundred artists and animators. With this company Pontac created, produced, wrote and directed the ABC TV animated program Bump in the Night. 

Danger Productions also designed and produced the characters for the best-selling video game ClayFighter for Interplay, as well as creating animated assets for Microsoft Office 97 and My Personal Tutor. From 1990 to the present Pontac has written scripts for animated television episodes that have been translated into a dozen languages and shown around the world. During that time he has also worked as a director for the UPN prime time animated program Gary & Mike, for which his episode Phish Phry won an Emmy for Best Art Direction. 

Don’t miss this rare view into the life of a professional creator in animation! Come with your questions for this experienced and engaging presenter. As always, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program.

Special thanks to the Autism Studies Department at SFSU for volunteers!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Apr 13, 10am – 1pm
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map


For more information about employment on the autism spectrum, join us at:
Spectrum Employment Community by AASCEND on LinkedIn

Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.

Job Club Date Change

Due to a special Autism Advancement* Month meeting of the AASCEND Board of Directors the regularly scheduled Job Club will NOT be held April 6. Stay tuned for further developments.

*Our little joke. We think Autism Awareness and Acceptance are great, but at AASCEND we aim for Autism Advancement!

Neurodiversity and Autism Science at Stanford

UPDATE: Dr. Fung’s March 16 talk, titled “Strengths-Based Model of Neurodiversity and the Stanford Neurodiversity Project” was ambitious, detailed, and well-received by a full house at AASCEND’s general meeting. Click here to see slides from his PowerPoint presentation. (It’s a 29Mb pdf and may take a minute to load). Thank you, Dr. Fung!


On March 16 AASCEND  hosts an appearance by Dr. Lawrence Fung,  a clinical assistant professor at Stanford University. Dr. Fung is a researcher and clinician specializing in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and the father of a neurodiverse teenager with ASD. Dr. Fung is the director of the Stanford Neurodiversity Project, which strives to uncover the strengths of neurodiverse individuals and utilize their talents to increase innovation and productivity of the society as a whole. Dr. Fung directs the Adult Neurodevelopment Clinic, which specializes in assessing and treating adults with ASD.

Lawrence Fung

Dr. Fung serves as the principal investigator of studies investigating the neurobiology of ASD by state-of-the-art molecular neuroimaging and bioanalytical technologies. He is the recipient of several awards including the Pilot Research Award from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Clinical Investigator Award from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and Outstanding Resident Award from the NIMH.

Be sure to attend this fascinating presentation, and bring your insights and questions.

As always, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program.

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat March 16, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map

Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.

Job Placement and Success Advice from a Pro

At the March 2 Job Club,  AASCEND  hosts Patrick Regan, Director of Business Development with Toolworks , a San Francisco-based non-profit agency dedicated to helping  all people with disabilities connect with the opportunities in their community. Mr. Regan is an experienced professional in workforce development who began working in the field at a nonprofit social enterprise called Community Vocational Enterprises (CVE) in 1999. CVE focused on job training and placement for people with mental health disabilities.

Picture of Patrick Regan

In 2008, Mr. Regan and CVE started working closely with the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) through the Disability Program Navigator grant. In 2013 Patrick joined Toolworks and continues to work with OEWD and the Comprehensive and Neighborhood Access Points as well as working closely with the California Department of Rehabilitation.

Patrick has also participated in many community collaborative groups such as the San Francisco Mayors Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities, the JOBS Group, the Mental Health Contractors Association, and as both Secretary and Treasurer for the San Francisco Mental Health Association.

Come with your questions for this experienced presenter! As always, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program.

Special thanks to the Autism Studies Department at SFSU for volunteers!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Mar 2, 10am – 1pm
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map


For more information about employment on the autism spectrum, join us at:
Spectrum Employment Community by AASCEND on LinkedIn

Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.

Parenting & Care-Giving on the Spectrum

…the joys, challenges—and resources. Join AASCEND members for a fascinating panel of autistic and NT adults. An autistic-NT couple discuss  their  experiences raising their autistic child. An autistic adult presents the challenges of caring for an aging parent. An autistic parent will discuss caring for NT children. Resources provided.

As always, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program.

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Feb 16, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map

Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.

What I learned along the way

UPDATE: Come also to hear a report on new job openings at Amazon.


At the February 2 Job Club,  AASCEND  board stalwart Steve Medina will share his experience as an older, non-technical product manager navigating the job market in small and large tech companies, and working with many types of teams over his career.

Steve is a product management and product marketing professional working in the technology industry for over two decades. He has led teams in the US and Asia to design, build and ship a wide range of products.

As always, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program.

Special thanks to the Autism Studies Department at SFSU for volunteers!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Feb 2, 10am – 1pm
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map


For more information about employment on the autism spectrum, join us at:
Spectrum Employment Community by AASCEND on LinkedIn

Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.

Autism in the Media, Take Two

At AASCEND‘s January 19 meeting, we will continue our exploration of Autism in the Media begun at our conference of the same title at SFSU in October. At the conference we presented a compilation of video clips of autistic characters in film and TV and heard perspectives from some of the speakers. Now, this will be your chance to share opinions about how accurate, effective, entertaining or problematic you find these representations. We’ll watch excerpts from recent movies and shows, and erstwhile AASCEND president Jack Fagan will moderate the discussion. 

Click HERE for an excellent and colorful pdf Jack has assembled on the topic. Check it out to get your opinions rolling, or roiling as the case may be!

As always, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program.

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Jan 19, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map


Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.