Police Safety and Employment Special

Recent tragedies involving police nationwide highlight the potential danger of interaction with law enforcement. The danger can be greater for people on the autism spectrum because they can appear strange to police. Please join AASCEND for excerpts from Be Safe, a new film created with people on the autism spectrum and that gives suggestions about how to be safe with police. Please bring your own experience with police — the bad and the good — so that we can learn from each other and live safer. 


AASCEND is happy to offer a fresh perspective on Autism employment courtesy of Cristina Orozco, recently arrived in the Bay Area from Las Vegas where she was director and trainer for the Achievement Vocational Center for Young Adults with High Functioning Autism. There she created and taught a six week series on what kind of job is right for you, getting the job and keeping the  job. With over 15 years in Human Resources management, Cristina is bilingual in English and Spanish, so be sure to invite your Spanish-speaking autistic friends to this discussion! Let’s see how Cristina’s approach complements our own Autism Job Club. Joining Cristina will be her son Brandon Orozco, a young adult on the autism spectrum who will share his first-hand experience navigating the world of employment using the tools presented.

When: Sat May 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.

Autism Advancement Month Brunch

First came awareness, then acceptance… To these AASCEND adds autism advancementYou are cordially invited to join AASCEND community members on Saturday April 18 for our yearly Autism Advancement Month Brunch celebrating all that autism has to offer. Come to meet and to learn, then stay for the warmth and the fun!

We will have some food but it’s a potluck, so bring something to share if you can. As always all are welcome and it’s free. No RSVP is necessary. If this is your first visit to AASCEND then a special welcome to you!
                                     Note the later than usual starting time.
When: Sat Apr 18, 11am – 1pm
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.


Don’t miss the hot-selling and groundbreaking new book The Autism Job Club featuring AASCEND’s own job club — now available in hardcover and electronic editions.            

March Smorgasbord at AASCEND

Our usual room being unavailable for a regular March  meeting, AASCEND has elected to host a range of interesting and far-flung events throughout the month — starting Saturday March 7 when the AASCEND Job Club hosts a special introductory class on Developing Your LinkedIn Profile at 9:30am at the Arc of SF. Don’t miss the instructional stylings of AASCEND favorite Brian Jacobs! This is a great opportunity to put the Internet to work for you in your job search. The program is open to  all members of AASCEND and their friends. 


When: Sat Mar 7, 9:30am
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 rate.

Next the social club Friends Like Me and AASCEND are pleased to announce a new Autistic Friends Like Me Social and Recreation Club starting Tuesday, March 17 at 6:00 pm at The Arc of SF in San Francisco. The program is geared to the interests expressed by participants at the October AASCEND Conference — they who cried out for stimulating games, interesting lecture/discussion groups, movies and weekend outings. Our first evening will offer sign-ups for Beginning Bridge card games or Poker and sign-ups for our first weekend outing (to be held on Sat Apr 4).

The program is FREE OF CHARGE and FREE popcorn is available with drinks and snacks available for purchase. Email info@aascend.org with any questions.

When: Tue Mar 17, 6:00pm
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St.    SF, CA 94103  map

The star search is on! We are looking for people who want to be part of the AASCEND TV show Life on the Autism Spectrum airing Wednesdays at 7:30 on Channel 29 and at AASCEND TV” on YouTube.com  Are you on the spectrum, family-or-friend or an autism professional with an autism story to tell? — or would you like to help with the production? Contact us at info@aascend.org !

Finally, AASCEND is participating in the Support for Families Information and Resource Fair on Saturday March 21. Say you’re with AASCEND and come join us at our table for some down-home autism conviviality. : )

When: Sat Mar 21, 8:30am-3:30pm
Where: John O’Connell High School 2355 Folsom St. @ 20th St.    SF, CA 94110  map

Autism in Video Games, Wearable Tech and Reality TV!

>>>>> Check out Life on the Autism Spectrum on AASCEND TV!  <<<<<<

Is the Nintendo Super Smash Bros video game series designed from the point of view of an autistic person? At the February 21 AASCENmeeting we’ll explore YouTuber Gnoggin’s provocative idea and also check out his interesting description of autism itself. Does the Nintendo story ring true for us? Is his description of autism true to our own experience? How does autism feature in your experience with video games? Is there a video game you like because it’s autism-friendly? What would a truly autistic video game be like for you?

Rosalind Picard of MIT‘s Media Lab has contacted AASCEND with news of a new wearable device in the late stages of development — the Embrace Watch — that continuously monitors stress levels. (For more information about the watch click here.) What do you think (how do you feel?) about this? Is stress and anxiety a regular part of your daily experience? Would monitoring it help you in some way? There is a chance we may be able to get a watch to test. How do you feel about wearing such a device? What information would you like it to give you? Is there something else besides stress that a wearable device might helpfully monitor?

Finally AASCEND friend filmmaker William Davenport of Talk Story Films will pitch the idea of a web series to be filmed in San Francisco and called ATYPICAL. The approach will be fiction and non-fiction, sort of a “life on the spectrum” series. William envisions it as being scripted in portions and real in others, so the audience is not quite sure. Let’s hear the pitch and see who’s interested in working on it!

When: Sat Feb 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.

AASCEND on TV, in the library and helping a new school

The new year is off and running and we are serving up a smorgasboard of attractions at AASCEND‘s January 24 meeting. We’ll start off with a dissussion of this breaking news: AASCEND is invited to host a show on SF Commons Public Access Television in the new year. What should we call the show? How can we best use this opportunity to tell people about life on the spectrum? What would you like to say? Who should we interview?  How can you be involved? Join us for the conversation about an exciting new opportunity.

Next, AASCEND has been invited to speak its mind on how to improve public library access to people on the autism spectrum. Do you use the public library regularly or would you like to? What do you like about the library experience and how could it be improved? Come share your experience and ideas.

Finally, Meristem, a new school for transition-age autistic people will be opening this year in Sacramento and AASCEND has been invited to hear their plans and to offer suggestions about the program. This is a first for AASCEND — let’s see how our experience can help!

See you there!

When: Sat Jan 24, 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.

Happy Holidays!

The AASCEND holiday party was a grand success, with the Arc of SF providing an enchanting backdrop for a warm evening of food, games, song and conviviality.  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 in Upcoming Events. Another season of great programs is in the works!

AASCEND Holiday Party

Next up — party! Join adults on the spectrum, friends, family and autism professionals to celebrate the holidays and AASCEND’s 15th birthday. There will be entertainment, Nintendo Wii, pool, community and more. Let’s celebrate our amazing longevity! It’s a potluck and we will have food and birthday cake, but bring something to share if you can.  As always, the party is free and all are welcome.

Be there and be square like the reindude. No sensory overload there!

When:  Sat Dec 6,   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.

Trauma Warriors: How we heal from trauma in autism

Please join us November 15 when AASCEND screens the film Trauma Warriors featuring adults with autism as they discuss the effects of trauma in childhood and their stories of survival as adults. Many people with autism experience trauma and are bullied at school or are harassed at work and in public as adults. Too often this leads down the difficult path to disorders like PTSD. Trauma Warriors is a project of the Autistic Global Initiative, an organization composed of adults on the autism spectrum. AGI head Val Paradiz says, ”We are determined to get this important message out there, not only for adults who need support in recovery from trauma, but also for children with autism and their families.” The film had its Bay Area premier at AASCEND’s recent Innovation at Work conference.

The Trauma Warriors screening will be followed by an open discussion of tools we use to heal from trauma in autism. Bring your experience and positive stories of what has helped you. The meeting is open to adults on the autism spectrum, their family and friends, and professionals who work with them. This and all AASCEND general meetings are free, though donations are welcome!

When: Sat November 15, 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.

Innovation at Work Conference Goes Well

The Innovation at Work conference — AASCEND’s 8th and celebrating our 15th anniversary — was a pretty darn huge success! (program & details) Keynote speaker Alex Plank, founder of the premier autism online community WrongPlanet, highlighted the increased media presence of people on the autism spectrum and detailed vital efforts to ensure accurate portrayals. Keynote Jose Velasco, vice president at software giant SAP, outlined revolutionary efforts to hire autistic people in Silicon Valley. Other companies similarly presented at the special Friday session for Silicon Valley employers. These changes herald a sea change in autism employment. AASCEND continues to play a significant role in supporting and accelerating this change so that it becomes embedded in the culture of employment and not just a fad.

Many wonderful and brilliant people presented on panels and in the bracing variety of breakout sessions. Many others worked behind the scenes to make the conference a success. Thank you all! The Women’s Panel in particular was an inspiring presence at the conference.

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! (Click the first picture for a slideshow with captions.)

AASCEND’s Annual Picnic

Join the festivities at AASCEND‘s annual potluck picnic in the park Saturday September 13. All are welcome for an afternoon of informal socializing and games with our community. Maybe we’ll get needed rain again! This year the picnic will be held at Hellman Hollow (formerly Speedway 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.

AASCEND Picnic 2013

Sept 13, Noon-3pm Tables 12 – 16 in Hellman Hollow GG Park ( X on map)

GG Park Map