Neurodiversity Conference a Hit!

AASCEND’s 9th conference on adult autism, Neurodiversity Leaders 2016, was an inspiring success! Keynote speakers Sondra Williams, winner of the Ohio State Governor’s award for her autism advocacy work, and Dr. Hackie Reitman, former heavyweight boxer, physician, and founder of the online neurodiversity community Different Brains, anchored the conference. The theme of autism as a form of neurodiversity rather than simply a disorder united the program. Panels and breakout sessions highlighted opportunities for autistic people in finance, employment, dating, sports, the arts, and other areas.

Main room at the conference

An array of remarkable people presented on panels and in a refreshing variety of breakout sessions. Many others worked behind the scenes to make the conference a success. Thank you to all!

Here are some pictures of the day. If we accidentally violated your privacy with any of the pictures please let us know so that we can fix the error, with our apologies. And if there isn’t a picture of you it’s likely we just didn’t have one!

Oct AASCEND meet and Job Club will be at the Conference

The October regular AASCEND meeting and Job Club meeting will be at the conference on October 8. See you there!

Calling Job Club participants and all adults on the autism spectrum: Come on down to the AASCEND Conference on October 8! We need your participation so spectrum voices are heard at the breakout sessions. Some free registrations are available to you thanks to mysterious benefactors, so act now and sign up here. Or just email and we’ll do it for you!

The Online Job Club will continue as usual.

Affordable Housing for the Autistic Community

Making Ground – Affordable Housing Solutions for the Autistic Community

At AASCEND’s Sept 17 meeting, Jamie Doyle of Oculus Architects will speak about affordable housing solutions for the autistic community in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. Jamie Doyle is an award-winning architect with 25 years of experience in the provision of social and affordable housing.  In the context of the current overall housing crisis and the shortage of suitable and affordable accommodation for the expanding autistic population, Oculus Architects, in collaboration with members of the autistic community, have developed a range of research design proposals, titled “Making Ground”.

These proposals include innovative ways of getting cheap land in the right locations, designing housing tailored to the needs of autism and using cost-efficient design solutions. The proposals look at different forms of supportive housing and the provision of support services. They also look at the integration of autistic housing within developments for the broader population and housing developments intended solely for the autistic community. The proposals illustrate the potential to create affordable uplifting homes and communities for the autistic population. Rather than defining this issue as a problem to be solved these proposals highlight this need as an opportunity to foster the positive contribution of autistics to the wider community.

Jamie will talk about these research proposals and hopes to start a conversation with the audience and wider autistic community to explore these and other potential solutions.

The general meeting will start at 10:00AM and conclude at 12:00PM.

AASCEND Picnic in the Park!

The picnic was a great success in spite of the initial cold weather and wet ground. After valiant members helped set up around 11:00, 45 or more picnickers arrived on and off until 3:00 and we all hung out until 4:00.  Jim made fantastic barbecued chicken and there was plenty of good food to share! We had some Frisbee and badminton players later in the day  and  in typical Richmond District style, the sun came out as we were packing up. Thanks to all who helped!


It’s time again for AASCEND‘s annual potluck picnic in the park Saturday August 13. Note that this is the second not the usual third Saturday of the month! All are welcome for an afternoon of informal socializing and games with our community. This year’s picnic will be held at Lindley Meadow in Golden Gate Park. We will have food and drink, but bring something to share if you can. No RSVP is necessary. Set-up begins at 11:00 AM.

Sat Aug 13, Noon-3pm at Tables 5 to 9 in Lindley Meadow GG Park (see map)

See you there!

When Autistics are Victims of Crime

People on the autism spectrum are often, sadly, the victims of crime and abuse. A general openness, lack of guile, and difficulty navigating social cues make autistic adults easy targets for harmful activity.

At AASCEND‘s July 16 meeting Gena Castro Rodriguez, PsyD, of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office will speak about resources and strategies for people who have become crime victims. Gena is Chief of Victim Services and Parallel Justice at the Office of District Attorney George Gascón. The Victim Services Division of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office serves nearly 8000 victims of crime each year. Gena will speak about the services, supports and resources available to help victims of crime mitigate the trauma, navigate the criminal justice system and rebuild their lives. Come with your own stories and learn how others have coped with their stories using these helpful services and tools.

We look forward to seeing you at this informative event. All are welcome and as always it’s free – with no donations turned away for presence of funds!

When: Sat July 16, 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.

In other news, long-time AASCEND member and new author Anlor Davin is starting a basic meditation group for autistic and neurodiverse adults. The group will meet at Dominican University in San Rafael on first Saturdays of the month starting in October. Beginners and practitioners of all faiths or none are welcome. The group is free. See for details.

Special Needs Trusts

At AASCEND‘s June 18 meeting Jennifer L. Steneberg of the Dale Law Firm will speak on Special Needs Trusts. A trust is a legal relationship in which property is held by one party for the benefit of another.  A special needs trust is a trust designed for beneficiaries who are disabled, either physically or mentally. It is written so the beneficiary can enjoy the use of property that is held in the trust for his or her benefit, while at the same time allowing the beneficiary to receive essential needs-based government benefits. (Thanks, Wikipedia.) This is a good chance to learn the basics of this important support for adults on the autism spectrum. The presentation will be geared for both autistic adults and their families.

Jennifer L. Steneberg joined the Dale Law Firm as an associate attorney in February 2008.  Jennifer graduated with honors from the Golden Gate University School of Law, where she also earned a Public Interest Law Certificate. Prior to joining the Dale Law Firm, Jennifer practiced disability civil rights law where she represented persons with disabilities in their fight to end discrimination, and in her pre-legal professional life, Jennifer spent fourteen years serving as a Congressional aide focusing on disability-related policy issues.

Jennifer also volunteers with several non-profit organizations.  She serves as President of the Board of Directors of East Bay Innovations, a supported and independent living and supported employment agency serving clients with developmental disabilities, and is on the Board of Directors of Alegria Community Living, a residential care provider for individuals who have transitioned from Agnews State Developmental Center to a community-based home.

We look forward to seeing you at this informative event. All are welcome and as always it’s free – with no donations turned away for presence of funds!

When: Sat June 18, 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.

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.