AASCEND Authors Introduce Their Visionary New Book on Autism Full Employment

The June 19 AASCEND general meeting features Michael Bernick and Dr. Lou Vismara, discussing their visionary new book, The Autism Full Employment Act. This new book is about the next stages of jobs for adults with autism, ADHD, and other learning and mental health differences in the post-pandemic economy. The authors are AASCEND member Michael Bernick, and Lou Vismara, MD, one of the founders of the MIND Institute at UC Davis and a longtime advocate for the autism community. At the June 19 meeting, Bernick and Vismara will be interviewed by AASCEND member and AASCEND TV book reviewer, Jennifer Brooks, on their new book and employment opportunities for adults with autism in the post pandemic economy.

The Zoom meeting URL and password will be sent as the date approaches. No registration is necessary.

Michael Bernick portrait photo

MICHAEL BERNICK is a former director of the California State Labor Department, with over forty years in the employment field. He currently is an employment attorney with the interna­tional law firm of Duane Morris LLP,  fellow with the Milken Institute, and advisor to the Stanford Neurodiversity Project.

Lou Vismara portrait photo

LOU VISMARA, MD is a founding mem­ber of the UC Davis MIND Institute, the state of California’s First 5 Commission, and the California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

As usual at AASCEND meetings, attendees on the autism 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 Jun 19, 10am – 11am (approx.)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

Autism Speaks Employment Initiatives

(Check out an upcoming online course on Cultivating Autistic Entrepreneurship, organized by AASCEND friend Masie Soetantantyo of Autism Career Pathways.)


Due in fair measure to the efforts of autistic self-advocates, the national autism organization Autism Speaks is developing employment initiatives for autistic adults. AASCEND‘s June 12 Job Club (not the usual first Saturday of the month) features two speakers from that organization, talking on this timely subject.

(The Zoom meeting URL and password will be sent as the date approaches. No registration is necessary).

Anne Nagel, who is autistic, strives to make the workplace friendlier for people with autism. As a cognitive engineer, she designs tasks, products, processes and environments based on how the brain processes information. In the past Anne researched tech products designed for older adults. After being diagnosed with autism as an adult, she redirected her energy and became an executive function coach for girls and women on the spectrum.

Currently Anne is a human factors specialist at Autism Speaks where she works on employment and workplace issues. Anne received her PhD in industrial and systems engineering with a focus on human factors from Kansas State University. Like many autistics, Anne’s past work history is varied and includes jobs as an historian, a museum director, a church business administrator, a failed tech entrepreneur and a successful owner of a movie theater.

Picture of Anne Nagel

Dave Kearon is Director of Adult Services at Autism Speaks. His work focuses on national initiatives promoting solutions for the needs of individuals with autism and their families across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan. Dave works to increase the quality and quantity of opportunities and resources available to youth and adults with autism related to the transition to adulthood, employment, housing and residential supports, postsecondary education and community integration.

Dave’s work in recent years has included the development of an autism-led corporate employment consultancy, an online job search tool for autistic job seekers, and an autism small business accelerator. Current initiatives include the development of digital, interactive developmental pathways for the transition to adulthood, as well as a larger employment collaboration with other nonprofits for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities called Delivering Jobs.

Picture of David Kearon

As usual at AASCEND meetings, attendees on the autism spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program. Come with your questions, and let’s see what the labors of autistic self-advocates have helped bring about!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat June 12, 10am – 11am (approx.)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

Transitions, in College and Throughout Life

AASCEND‘s May 15 meeting will be about transitions throughout life with autism, with a leadoff presentation by Pilar Page of the College Internship Program in Berkeley—who will talk about transition to college for young adults. We will continue from there, as we explore all the many forms of transition an autistic person faces in life, and good ways to cope with them.

The Zoom meeting URL and password will be sent as the date approaches. No registration is necessary.

Transitions of any kind are often difficult for autistic people. Even transitioning from one kind of shirt to another can be a challenge! We expect to have a wide-open discussion about all of our experiences in life (and clothing, food, jobs, relationships, age groups, new understandings, and more). Please bring your experience–your challenges, and what helps you to transition with harmony and style!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat May 15, 10am – 11am (approx.)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

Job Opportunities in the Tech World

AASCEND has been working hard to expand the range of job opportunities for autistic people beyond the tech sector, but the tech world remains a promising employment possibility for many autistic people. Our May 1 Job Club features Mark Fister speaking about Auticon, a global software, data, and diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting company whose vision is equal opportunity employment for those on the autism spectrum.  An informative, entertaining, and professional introduction to the company can be found here.

The Zoom meeting URL and password will be sent as the date approaches. No registration is necessary.

Mark Fister portrait photo

Mark Fister is a father and husband, executive, snowboarder, technologist, trail runner, speaker, canyoneer, author, investor, and terrible chess player. While conducting research for a book he learned that he was on the autism spectrum.  What a relief it was, for Mark’s entire life suddenly made sense!  Mark loves to see business and technology from as many perspectives as possible. He has held 20 different roles in the software industry at companies like Dell, IBM, eBay, PayPal, and even his own company, making him a jack of all trades and a master of just one: Dad jokes

When not geeking out on tech, Mark is geeking out on something.  Recently, it has been learning the ways of the servant leader. It was after interviewing more than 100 people on the topic of servant leadership, with the book project in mind, that Mark learned about his autism. While soul searching (stay in tech? write books?), he was serendipitously introduced to auticon, where he now serves as head technologist.  Mark’s mission?  End joblessness and inappropriate jobfulness for autistic people. Please join us at this AASCEND meeting to ask questions and to learn about your employment prospects in the technology sector.

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat May 1, 10am – 11am (approx.)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

AASCEND Popup Support Group

Check out the casting call for a romance-on-the-spectrum documentary being produced. Are they looking for you? See below.

Click here to see recent Job Club presenter and social media specialist Sara Zendehnam‘s tips on using social media effectively.


Happy Autism Advancement Month! On April 17 the usual AASCEND meeting becomes a support group for all of us who are ready for this pandemic to be over! Let’s share with each other what’s on our minds and hearts these days, and our hopes for the post-pandemic era. AASCEND’s David Platzer will join us from Mexico as facilitator for this meeting. Which aspects of autism are giving you trouble these days, and which are giving you strength? We’ll open the floor to topic suggestions at the meeting, but if you know in advance any topics you’d like to be aired feel free to email them to info@aascend.org . It will be good to talk with each other!

The Zoom meeting URL and password will be sent as the date approaches. No registration is necessary.

Obviously, and as usual at AASCEND meetings, attendees on the autism 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 Apr 17 10am – 11am (approx.)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

Northern Pictures is making a TV documentary series in the US about dating and relationships featuring people on the autism spectrum. They are looking for SINGLE people, living near San Francisco, who are on the autism spectrum and interested in dating. You may have no history of dating, or you might be an experience dater, feel free to get in touch with them and say hello. They are also looking for ANYONE who is open to dating someone on the spectrum, and they are also looking for COUPLES, where either one or both of you are autistic.

There are many misconceptions out there about autism, one of them being that people aren’t interested in finding love. They want to show that this isn’t true, and to help people understand more about neurodiversity. They aim to make an honest, sensitive and insightful documentary series.

If you or someone you know might be interested in speaking with them, please send an email with a brief description of yourself, where you live and a photo to: production@northernpictures.com.au

The Power of Facebook, Instagram and TikTok in Developing Your Brand and Business and Employment Opportunities

On April 3 the AASCEND Job Club hears from Sara Zendehnam, an Emmy-award-winning journalist turned Senior Technical Writer. Sara is verified and active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok and has used those platforms to build her brand, collaborate with other businesses and is compensated for partnerships. She will talk about how to use social media to enhance your employment opportunities.

The Zoom meeting URL and password will be sent as the date approaches. No registration is necessary.

Sara worked in TV news for eight years as a reporter, anchor and weather forecaster and was most recently reporting for KTVU Channel 2 News in the Bay Area. Sara transitioned to tech in November of 2020 and is now writing documentation for one of the largest social media platforms in the world and also for an autonomous car company that’s revolutionizing the way we drive. With this wealth of experience Sara is a resource for anyone hoping to use the Internet to improve their employment prospects. As usual at AASCEND meetings, attendees on the autism 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 Apr 3 10am – 11am (approx.)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

Assistive Technology in Autism Employment

The March 6 AASCEND online Job Club, presents Doug Meeker, developer of the Life Sherpa autism employment platform. Life Sherpa is an assisstive technology platform that functions as a virtual coach to help educators, service organizations and employers—including DXC Technology, Best Buddies and Stanford University—train, support and sustain neurodiverse individuals into the workforce.

The Zoom meeting URL and password will be sent as the date approaches. No registration is necessary.

Doug has been involved in disability initiatives since his son was diagnosed with Autism at age 4. As a board member, for A Place To Be, a nationally recognized music therapy venture, he has played a key role in its growth. Doug also serves on the Verizon Consumer Advisory Board and on the board of AHEDD, a disability employment organization

As usual at AASCEND meetings, attendees on the autism spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program. Come offer yours!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Mar 6 10am – 11am (approx.)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

Stanford Job Fair Lessons, and Autism in Germany

For a list of resources from AASCEND’s February 6 program by The Spectrum Works click HERE .


The February 20 AASCEND online meeting is a double-header. (The Zoom meeting URL and password will be sent to our newsletter subscribers as the date approaches. No registration is necessary.)

Leading off will be AASCEND board member and director of the Stanford Neurodiversity Project, Dr. Lawrence Fung, reporting on the success of the recently accomplished, path-breaking Stanford Neurodiversity Job Fair & Reverse Job Fair. Hundreds participated in this event. Dr. Fung will give the details, and say what worked well and what was learned for the future. Be particularly sure to attend if you were one of the Job Fair participants.

Stanford Neurodiversity Project Logo

The second part of the meeting will be a reprise of a report given at a recent International Autistic Leadership Summit, about the national autistics organization in Germany, Aspies e.V. (view in Google Chrome and turn on translate). Internet permitting, board member Rainer Döhle will join us from Germany to answer questions. The similarities and differences between autism organizations in Germany and the U.S. are fascinating and can inspire ideas about our own development at AASCEND.

Aspies e.V. logo

As usual at AASCEND meetings, attendees on the autism spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program. Come with your questions about the Job Fair (and your experience if you participated), and also questions for Rainer about autism in Germany.

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Feb 20 10am – 11am (approx.)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

Finding a Job in California as the Economy Recovers

For a list of resources from AASCEND’s February 6 program by The Spectrum Works click HERE .

For a list of resources from AASCEND’s January 16 program on autism-related legislative change in Washington click HERE .


The February 6 AASCEND Job Club, presents Jessica Lee, Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Spectrum Works, a non-profit organization helping gifted adults on the autism spectrum transition into meaningful talent for corporations. Through this organization, Jessica is eager to change business and society’s perceptions about autism, and to focus on integration and neurodiversity in the workplace as an impetus for societal change.

The Zoom meeting URL and password will be sent as the date approaches. No registration is necessary.

Jessica Lee

Prior to starting The Spectrum Works, Jessica was a management consultant and program manager for 8 years. Jessica earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business and International Relations at the University of Southern California and an Executive Certificate in Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania.

As usual at AASCEND meetings, attendees on the autism spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program. Come offer yours!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Feb 6 10am – 11am (approx.)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

Washington Change = New Hope for Autism Policy?

Change is in the air! At our January 16 Zoom meeting AASCEND asks how the change of administration in Washington may affect legislation favorable to the autistic community. Kelly Israel, policy analyst for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network has a ringside seat in Washington DC. She will share the experience of the recent years, goals for the coming session of Congress, and thoughts on how organizations like AASCEND can best engage with national policy on autism. The Zoom link will be mailed the day before the meeting. No registration is required.

capitol building under rainbow and question mark

As usual, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program. Don’t miss this provocative program during these tumultuous times. Bring your own ideas and help make a better future!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Jan 16, 10am – 11am (approx) Pacific Time
Where: Online via Zoom. The link will be emailed on January 15.