Holiday PARTY December 19!

On Saturday December 19 at 2pm AASCEND will try something new—an online holiday party via Zoom! The Zoom link will be sent in an email to all newsletter subscribers. There is no need to register. If you don’t have Zoom installed, clicking the link in the email we send will lead you to a series of prompts so that you can install it. It’s pretty easy to do.

The party will use Zoom “breakout rooms” and to use these you need to have a recent version of Zoom. We recommend that if you already use Zoom you get the most recent version. To get it, go to Zoom.us, click on RESOURCES, and then select Download Zoom Client. (Then follow any prompts.)

We will all meet at first in the “Main Room” or “Hub”, where a Welcome Party will continue throughout the day. We’ll all start there, and do a “holiday check-in” like our usual check-ins at AASCEND meetings, but with a focus on your holiday doings.

Next, the breakout rooms will be opened, and you get to choose which one you want to go to first. To see the list of breakout rooms when you are on Zoom you need to click or tap the icon of four little squares at the bottom of your screen. (If you don’t see it, then try putting the window in Full Screen mode.) Then click near the name of the room you want to join until the word “Join” appears. Click that and in some seconds you’ll be in the room. You can move freely between breakout rooms, too. Remember, you must have the latest version of Zoom to use the breakout rooms.

The breakout rooms are:

DJ Music & Dance
Whiteboard Games
Quiet Meditation

DISCUSSION ROOMS:
Science Fiction/Fantasy
Anime
Video Game (Discussion)
Comics & Manga
Cats & Pets
Life with Autism
Movies/TV
Music
Technology
Literature

There will also be “Spare Rooms”. Using the chat feature, people can arrange to meet each other in any unoccupied Spare Room (there will be 10 of them) in order to have personal conversations.

At 3:30 in the Main Room there will be musical offerings by AASCEND members. Contact AASCEND (see below) if you want to sing or perform for 3 1/2 minutes or so at that time.

There is limited “seating capacity” at the party, so if you can’t get in, try again later.

That’s about it! This is a big experiment and we’ll just have to see how it goes. We invite you to dress up or decorate a little if you like. It should be a fun adventure however it does go, and remember that whatever happens AASCEND is very glad that you are here and wishes you the very best of holiday seasons!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Dec 19, 2pm – 5pm 
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

Finding a Job in Tough Times + Holiday Party!


If you are autistic and serious about employment, be sure to register for the Stanford Neurodiversity Job Fair & Reverse Job Fair to be held online on January 21 & 22, 2021. Click HERE for details and registration.

(See below about the December 19 Holiday Party)


The next AASCEND Job Club, to be held December 12, will feature Byran Dai, speaking on strategies to find employment in these economically fraught times. Byran is the co-founder and CEO of Daivergent, a technology platform that that evaluates and prepares job-seekers in the autism community for employment. The company provides autistic talent with “Success Plans” that consist of evidence-based assessments, job exploration, and skills training which can be completed on the Daivergent platform. Daivergent also connects employers to job-seekers through its career matchmaking service, successfully providing work opportunities to over 500 adults across the US.

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

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

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


The December 19 AASCEND general meeting will be our annual Holiday Party, to be held online starting at 2pm on that Saturday. Be sure to update your Zoom app for the occasion, as we shall be using breakout rooms not supported in old versions of Zoom. (Go to Zoom.us>RESOURCES>Download Zoom Client for the update. It will overwrite your old version.) More about the party will be revealed as the date approaches…

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Dec 19, 2pm – Details to be announced
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

Stanford Summit Lessons


If you are autistic and serious about employment, register NOW for the Stanford Neurodiversity Job Fair & Reverse Job Fair to be held online on January 21 & 22, 2021. Click HERE for details and registration.


On November 14 (NOT the usual 1st Saturday!) the AASCEND Job Club meeting via Zoom will feature AASCEND Board member Dr. Lawrence Fung, director of the recent highly successful Stanford Neurodiversity Summit at Stanford Medical School. Dr. Fung will review the main themes of the five-day online Summit, which attracted over 3100 participants from around the world, and he will talk about next steps, including the upcoming Job Fair/Reverse Job Fair for neurodiverse job seekers and the employers hoping to hire them.

Dr. Fung holds M.D. and Ph.D. degrees and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he directs the Adult Neurodevelopment Clinic, the Stanford Neurodiversity Project, and the Fung Lab. The Stanford Neurodiversity Summit was organized with strong input from, and participation by, autistic adults, including AASCEND members. At the November 14 conference debriefing, and as usual at AASCEND meetings, attendees on the autism spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program. Bring your questions and reflections about the Summit! The Zoom link will follow in an email a day or two before the event.

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Nov 14, 10am – 11am (approx)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.

The Stanford Neurodiversity Summit is ON!

In place of the usual October meeting, AASCEND invites (and strongly encourages) its members to join in the FREE online Stanford Neurodiversity Summit, organized and directed by AASCEND board member Dr. Lawrence Fung, with participation from a large array of autistic adults and autism professionals. The theme of the Summit is “Scaling Up the Neurodiversity at Work Initiative“. This conference will bring together neurodivergent individuals, employers, service agencies, educators and students, parents, and professionals from all areas of the field. It may come to be considered an historic event so you won’t want to miss it. There are multiple sessions on many different topics, presented over the course of five days. You can attend one or all of them! Program information here — and most importantly, register HERE. (Don’t worry if it says Late Registration or Sales Ended: It’s still free and available to the last day of the conference. A single registration covers all days of the conference.)

Speaker portrait montage

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Oct 17 – 21
Where: Online via Zoom. Register with link above.

Major employers adding autism employment partnerships

(First, register now for the Stanford Neurodiversity Summit, Oct 17-21 online. The theme of the Summit is “Scaling Up the Neurodiversity at Work Initiative“. This conference will bring together neurodivergent individuals, employers, service agencies, educators and students, parents, and professionals from all areas of the field. It will be a groundbreaking event: Don’t miss it, and it’s FREE! Info and registration here.)


On October 10 (NOT the usual 1st Saturday!) the AASCEND Job Club meeting via Zoom will feature Marcia Scheiner, who is the President and Founder of Integrate Autism Employment Advisors (“Integrate”), the author of An Employer’s Guide to Managing Professionals on the Autism Spectrum (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017) and a frequent speaker on how to create a successful workplace for autistic professionals. Prior to founding Integrate in 2010, Ms. Scheiner held senior management positions at Zurich Financial Services, Chase Manhattan Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.  Ms. Scheiner is a graduate of Wellesley College and has an MBA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.  She is the parent of a young adult son with autism.

Marcia Scheiner head shot

Integrate is a non-profit that works with organizations to help them identify, recruit and retain professionals on the autism spectrum. Integrate helps companies become autism friendly employers of college graduates with autism by providing assessment, education and training, recruiting and ongoing support services to those organizations.

As usual, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program. Bring your questions! The Zoom link will follow in an email a day or two before the event.

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

Question Palooza (with Song)!

In this issue (scroll down to see them all):

  • Sept 19 meeting
  • Stanford Conference Registration


At the September 19 AASCEND meeting we’re trying something completely different! As a further response to being cooped up during the COVID-19 pandemic, and inspired by the success of our Virtual Ice Cream Social, we are going to have another structured social event–a Question Palooza! There will be a virtual basket of questions people want to discuss. (You can suggest a question via email to info@aascend.org, or in chat during the meeting.) We’ll pick a question at random, and then invite all of you to share your thoughts about it. It should be fun, and a chance to connect during this time of social distancing.

Image of various questions

The Zoom meeting link will be sent via email.

AASCEND member Stacey Kennedy has also offered to entertain us with song during the meeting, and that is always a treat!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Sept 19, 10am – 11am (approx)
Where: Online via Zoom. URL and password will be emailed.


Stanford Neurodiversity Conference:
Register now for the Stanford Neurodiversity Summit, Oct 17-21 online. The theme of the Summit is “Scaling Up the Neurodiversity at Work Initiative“. This conference will bring together neurodivergent individuals, employers, service agencies, educators and students, parents, and professionals from all areas of the field. It will be a groundbreaking event: Don’t miss it, and it’s FREE! Info and registration here.)

NEXT for AUTISM: Cutting-Edge Strategies for Autism Employment and Advancement

(...but first, be sure to register now for the Stanford Neurodiversity Summit, Oct 17-21 online. The theme of the Summit is “Scaling Up the Neurodiversity at Work Initiative“. This conference will bring together neurodivergent individuals, employers, service agencies, educators and students, parents, and professionals from all areas of the field. It will be a groundbreaking event: Don’t miss it, and it’s FREE! Info and registration here.)


On September 12 (NOT the usual 1st Saturday!) the AASCEND Job Club meeting via Zoom will feature Patricia Wright, PhD, the Vice President of Program Development for NEXT for Autism. NEXT for AUTISM is a nationwide organization that works with employers to implement autism employment initiatives. It has several initiatives here in California, including with Cintas, JP Morgan Chase, and other major employers. Dr. Wright will discuss these initiatives, the job opportunities during the pandemic and in the post-pandemic economy.

Patricia Wright

Dr. Wright has served the autism community for over 30 years, including as national Director of Autism Services for Easter Seals, and currently as Senior VP at NEXT, where she develops innovative program options to increase employment, education and healthcare options for adults with autism.

As usual, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program. Bring your questions! The Zoom link will follow in an email a day or two before the event.

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

Helping Teachers of Autistic Kids

On August 15 AASCEND will do something a bit different. (via Zoom, see below.) We have offered to help two Bay Area high school students, Vikram Iyer and Deepesh Aggarwal, develop their fledgling science teaching program, Science for the Bay. Their online program brings high-quality learning experiences to autistic children as well as to children in low-income communities. They offer lessons in Anatomy, Biology, Chemistry, Python Programming, Physics, and Math. Vikram writes, “Right now, people with special needs or disabilities are not getting the attention they deserve because a lot of places that they rely on for either social interaction or learning are closed. Our classes can provide a way to keep students engaged and learning during this global pandemic.” They were inspired in this project in part by Vikram’s older brother, who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was a child.

The task: Creating this experience online

At the AASCEND meeting Vikram and Deepesh will demonstrate a simple teaching exercise. They would love to hear to our feedback, suggestions, general encouragement, and also offers to collaborate. Let’s pitch in to help with this good-hearted project!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Aug 15, 10am – 11am (approx)
Where: Online via Zoom. The link and password will be emailed a day or so before the event.

Microsoft and Updates on Autism Hiring Initiatives

(See Employment Survey Request Below.)

The August 1 AASCEND Job Club will feature Microsoft’s Neil Barnett. Since the announcement at World Autism Day in 2015, Neil Barnett has been responsible for the program evolution of the Microsoft Autism Hiring Program. He leads the inclusive hiring strategy for people with disabilities across Microsoft. Neil is also responsible for the strategy and operational performance of Microsoft’s consumer and enterprise Disability Answer Desk. Neil also leads the Autism @ Work Employer Roundtable of more than 30 employers across industry that have active hiring initiatives. Prior to joining Microsoft, Neil worked at a start up in San Francisco.  He is graduated from Georgia Tech.

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

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


Survey Request
Autism Career Pathways is currently gathering information to help create an App or web platform assembling autism-friendly community jobs, including remote jobs, in businesses. We want to get input and ideas from the neurodivergent community about their experiences in job seeking. Please take a short survey here. No personal data will be stored.

Autism & Self-Driving Cars

At the July 18 Zoom meeting AASCEND will explore how self-driving cars may effect and possibly benefit autistic people. Haley Morris, Director of Public Affairs at the self-driving car company Cruise, will lead us off with an account of Cruise’s efforts to make their products accessible to differently-abled people. At the AASCEND meeting Cruise hopes to hear our ideas and input.

Self-driving car internal parts

What are your thoughts on self-driving cars? Does your autism affect how or whether you might use a self-driving car?

Here are some Cruise design concepts:

Self-driving “stagecoach” design

Attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program. Cruise is very interested to hear our thoughts and feelings about transportation of the future. This is your chance to be heard!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat July 18, 10am – 11am (approx)
Where: Online via Zoom Link to follow in separate email.


Integrate Autism Employment Advisors is actively recruiting for a Fall internship program for a major motion picture company in the LA area. They are seeking autistic college students or college graduates with a GPA of 3.0 or higher for full-time (40 hours per week), paid internships.  Internships are located in Burbank, but given COVID-19, the internships will be remote and the company is willing to consider candidates in Northern CA.  The anticipated start date is September 14 and internships are about 10 weeks long. The application deadline is July 24, which is coming right up, so you’d need to act fast. If you are interested respond immediately to info@aascend.org and we will email you details and the application forms.