Rehearsing Social Skills — Role-Playing in Social Situations

[ On July 6 Paul Nussbaum checked in from his epic attempt to demonstrate autistic ability on the Pacific Crest Trail. Click the Expedition-Autism button to the right (or here) for updates on Paul’s progress. ==> ] 

On July 21 AASCEND hosts a return visit from Mike Vaughn, with a follow-up on his popular Personal & Social Relationships: Goals, Boundaries and Connections presentation. (Click here to see what we came up with in the first session.) At this fun and interactive workshop participants will have an opportunity to examine and practice social interactions in a safe and friendly venue. We will explore the nature of different relationships; what are the expectations, boundaries, and social rules of these relationships? How can we build an honest, and healthy connection with others? How can we be supportive of others in our relationships? How can we self-advocate and also be flexible in relationships?

Mike has been the Social Skills Coordinator at College Internship Program, Berkeley, for five years. He teaches social skills, interpersonal & relationship skills, public speaking, filmmaking, communications, and soft skills in the workplace. CIP is a comprehensive program preparing adults (18-26) who have learning differences, including ASD, for success in college, employment, and life skills. They also have summer programs for teens.

Bring your questions and your imagination. And 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 July 21, 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 Interview Woes and Wins

[ We have a fresh (July 4) report from Paul Nussbaum on the Pacific Crest Trail, with new photos, journal entries, and a progress map. Click the Expedition-Autism button to the right or go to expedition-autism.com for the latest updates as Paul heads into the High Sierra! –> ]

The job interview is a difficult hurdle for job hunters on the autism spectrum. Too often talent gets stopped at the door by an awkward interview experience. At the July 7 AASCEND Job Club  Natalie Dunnege will tackle this problem head-on. She will speak about job interviews—how to do them, and about specific issues that come up with neurodiversity interviewing.

Natalie will also talk about BINC, the Recruiting Service company where she works. BINC helps companies find the employees they need to grow in new directions. This job club meeting is a good opportunity to learn about the ins and outs of job interviewing from someone who interviews people all the time. Come with your experience and your questions!

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 July 7 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.

Bulletin! + Relationships on the Spectrum

[ BULLETIN: And he’s off! Paul Nussbaum has begun his 2,650-mile solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail. Paul says, “Just knowing you guys are behind me is a real inspiration for my trek. As I’m doing it this will give me a lot of strength to help keep me going, both hiking and with my own internal goals. I’ll be thinking of you all as I go!” Click the Expedition-Autism button to the right for updates on Paul’s progress. ==> ]

…Back to Relationships on the Spectrum…

On June 16, AASCEND hosts Mike Vaughn, speaking on Personal & Social Relationships: Goals, Boundaries and Connections. This will be a fun and interactive workshop on building stronger interpersonal relationship skills. Participants will examine the nature of different relationships; what are the expectations, boundaries, and social rules of these relationships? How can we build an honest, and healthy connection with others? How can we be supportive of others in our relationships? How can we self-advocate and also be flexible in relationships?

Mike has been the Social Skills Coordinator at College Internship Program, Berkeley, for five years. He teaches social skills, interpersonal & relationship skills, public speaking, filmmaking, communications, and soft skills in the workplace. CIP is a comprehensive program preparing adults (18-26) who have learning differences, including ASD, for success in college, employment, and life skills. They also have summer programs for teens.

Bring your questions and your imagination. And 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 June 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.

Self-Driving Cars: Spectrum job options

On June 2 the AASCEND Job Club hosts Dan Simpson, talking about paths to employment in the self-driving car industry and in the SF Bay Area tech sector generally, for people on the autism spectrum.  Dan brings his considerable skills and experience as a recruiter at Cruise Automation, a fast-growing autonomous car technology company based in the South of Market area of San Francisco.  Dan is also a board member at AASCEND.Self-Driving CarDon’t miss this chance to hear an insider’s account of work in this fascinating industry! Bring your questions and your imagination. And 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 June 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.

AASCEND Project Round-up

On May 19 AASCEND presents a combined Job Club and General meeting honoring April’s Autism Awareness Month and showcasing recent and ongoing AASCEND projects.   (This is the May Job Club meeting .)

Come hear reports on AASCEND participation in:

  • World Autism Awareness Day at the United Nations
  • The San Francisco Human Rights Commission hearing on autistic needs
  • Michael Bernick’s Forbes Magazine Report on a New York autism employment meeting
  • Panel presentation at the San Francisco Resource Fair
  • Presentations at the Autism Awesomeness Event
  • Best Buddies Walk
  • Autism presentations in three cities in France (report at later date)

In the words of UN Secretary General António Guterres, “On World Autism Awareness Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to promote the full participation of all people with autism, and ensure they have the necessary support to be able to exercise their rights and fundamental freedoms.”

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 19, 10am – noon
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.

AASCEND Hike at Land’s End on Saturday, April 21, 2018

UPDATE: And a fine time was had by all, with wonderful cooperation by the weather!

Let’s do it again! Last year AASCEND‘s hike at Land’s End was a lot of fun and a great chance to get to know each other better. So in response to popular demand, on April 21 we’re strapping on our walking shoes and heading out again. The destination is San Francisco’s beautiful and easy-walkin’ Lands End. Come revel together in the calming natural world so many autistic people enjoy.

There is food at the Lookout Cafe and Visitor Center where we’ll meet, but you might want to bring a snack. Come enjoy together one of the most lovely spots on this beautiful round world!

The Irresistible Force (AASCEND hikers!) meets the Immovable Object (the hill):

Who: Adults on the spectrum, family, professionals and friends all welcome!

When: Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Where: Lookout Café, Land’s End

Healthcare Employment Opportunities

Healthcare is one of the largest and fastest growing employment sectors in the Bay Area. The great majority of jobs do not require physician or nurse degrees—they are jobs available to adults in the autism community, who may not have these degrees—jobs as medical coders, health care assistants, aides in hospitals and health care facilities. On April 7, AASCEND will host two employment experts in health care jobs:  Michelle Wood, training coordinator at Jewish Vocational Services, and  Aryn Maitland, workforce readiness manager at Homebridge. This is a great opportunity to learn of jobs that offer greater stability and opportunities for advancement than most other jobs in the Bay Area today.

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

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

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 7, 10am – 1pm
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.

Live at the Roxie + Pacific Crest Trail Challenge

On March 27 AASCEND is co-sponsoring the San Francisco showing of the independent film Keep the Change, a romantic comedy featuring autistic actors, to be shown at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco on March 27 at 7pm. AASCEND is being offered a number of free tickets to the event so show up and get your free ticket while supplies last! After the screening there will be a panel discussion of the film, with participation from AASCEND, co-ponsors Creativity Explored, the Disability Superfest, and others. This will be a memorable event: Don’t miss it!

When:  Tue Mar 27, 7pm
Where: Roxie Theater 3117 16th St. SF, CA 94103 map

At the March 17 meeting AASCEND board member Paul Nussbaum previewed his latest outdoor challenge: Conquering the entire Pacific Crest Trail, extending from Mexico to Canada, starting this May! Those who came heard how Paul plans to accomplish this inspiring demonstration of autistic ability, and how to participate!

When: Sat Mar 17, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map


(The following event was cancelled due to the speaker being stuck in Sierra snows.)

The event is a presentation by Eric Zimmerman,  creator of the Buddy Project. The Buddy Project is a non-profit organization through which Eric reconditions out-of-service computers and makes them available to people with disabilities. To date he has placed over 400 computers. Come hear Eric tell how he came to create this valuable service, and what he has learned about thriving with autism from his own experience. Eric is also the author of two inspiring books available free online, Anything but Ordinary (pdf viewable online), and Dare to be Different (epub download). Eric has also recently taken up auto racing.

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

Video Game Careers

On March 3 AASCEND hosts video game developer Michael Romero, talking about what it’s like to work in the video game industry. Some people on the autism spectrum have the interest and technical ability to do this kind of work. Come see what it takes to translate the passion into reality.

Once Michael Romero realized he could make games for a living, he never looked back. Now, working with artists and programmers to create something new to share with the world is all he ever wants to do. Michael divides his career into three parts: console game packaged goods, mobile games as a service and, for the last few years, shared world location-based AR games with Niantic, Inc., including the cultural phenomenon Pokémon GO. Michael is happy his career has led him to where he helps create games that encourage people to go outside and meet each other.

Pokemon GO image

Michael Romero in sunglasses

Don’t miss this chance to hear an insider’s account of work in this fascinating industry! Bring your questions and your imagination.

When: Sat Mar 3, 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 $2.25/hr.

Identity Theft and You, on the Spectrum

At AASCENDs February 17 meeting Sara Blanco of Balance, a financial education non-profit organization, will discuss a problem troubling many people on the autism spectrum, identity theft. Instead of worrying yourself excessively over identity theft, focus your energy on learning about how it happens, how to prevent it, and how to recover from it should you need to. The resources in the free workshop are designed to help you gain the knowledge and skills you will need to make your information safer.

Sara Blanco

As always, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program. Come with your own stories of identity theft and prevention, on the Spectrum.

When: Sat Feb 17 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 $2.25/hr.