Prominent Autism Job Coach to Address Job Club

On August 7 AASCEND Jan Johnston-Tyler, one of the best-known neurodiversity job coaches in the state of California, will speak at the Job Club. She will update us on the status of neurodiversity hiring in the San Francisco Bay Area, and what career areas look to be the hottest right now.

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

Come with your questions! 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 August 7, 10am – 11am (approx.)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

The Kelsey: Disability Housing Innovator

(Be sure to check news items at the page bottom below.)

On July 17 AASCEND is pleased to feature The Kelsey, a disability housing organization that is making large strides in creating housing for disabled people. The Kelsey pioneers disability-forward housing solutions that open doors to homes and opportunities for everyone. In less than two years they have secured the co-development of more than 240 inclusive affordable homes in one of the nation’s most challenging housing markets. Representing the Kelsey will be Allie Cannington, Manager of Advocacy and Organizing, and Isaac Haney-Owens, Communications Analyst. Join them to hear all about The Kelsey and its promise for the autism community.

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

Colorful graphic of people building a building.

Allie Cannington smiling in wheelchair

Allie Cannington is a white, Jewish, Queer, Disabled activist and organizer. Since gaining access to movements for disability rights and justice over ten years ago, Allie has organized people with disabilities on local, state, and national levels, always centering on people with disabilities who live at the margins, including LGBTQIA, Black, Indigenous, people of color, low/no income, and youth with disabilities. As Manager of Advocacy and Organizing, Allie leads The Kelsey’s field-building efforts to increase Disabled participation and leadership across housing policy and practice.

Isaac Haney-Owens portrait photo

Isaac Haney-Owens is the Communications Analyst at The Kelsey. Isaac went to school at San Francisco City College and Fresno State University. While there he studied photography at both schools. Prior, he had a social media internship at an art program for adults with disabilities. Isaac likes to do art and photography.

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 July 17, 10am – 11am (approx.)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.


AASCEND has long been actively involved in helping the San Francisco Police and others become better aware of how to interact helpfully with autistic people. Here is an encouraging report on their progress in this and related areas.


LinkedIn is making an informational video about how people identify themselves and how this affects their employment. They give examples of culture, race, background, and pronoun identities, but an autism identity certainly qualifies. They write, “Who you are matters and how you choose to identify yourself can play a big part in a more equitable workplace.” They are looking for LinkedIn members willing to appear in the video. If you are interested find more information here.

Google Aims to Fill 5 Jobs at July 28 Stanford Job Fair

The Stanford Neurodiversity Project, directed by AASCEND board member Dr. Lawrence Fung, is hosting another job fair / reverse job fair, this time with Google on July 28, 2021. See this flyer (and here for further details if link in flyer is inactive). The Project has posted 17 jobs on their website already, and the list may grow. The goal is to hire 5 individuals through the July 28 event. Participants of this event have to be registrants of the Stanford Neurodiverse Candidate Registry / Neurodiversity at Work study. Registering is an easy process. Register now to seize this opportunity!

Who: Job-seekers on the autism spectrum
When: Wed Jul 28, 9am – 1pm Pacific Time
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed to registrants..

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.