Neurodiversity at Pinterest, in Combined Job Club and General Meeting May 20

(Be sure to read all announcements below…)

After a great brunch celebrating “Autism Advancement Month” in April, come have a closer look at AASCEND‘s renowned Job Club on May 20, when in a special one-time event we move the Job Club from its usual date to our general meeting so that all can see how it’s run, and benefit from a discussion on neurodiversity employment by Abby Maldonado of internet powerhouse Pinterest.

Abby MaldonadoAbby Maldonado is a Diversity Programs Manager at Pinterest. She helps lead Pinterest’s efforts to diversify its workforce through external outreach and by implementing data driven internal programs. Prior to her diversity role, Abby managed Pinterest’s intern program as a member of the University Recruiting team and travelled to campuses to recruit the next generation of Pinterest employees. She is a member of the Workforce Investment San Francisco Board. Abby earned a degree in labor relations from Cornell University’s ILR School.

The Job Club will continue as usual after the Pinterest presentation.

When: Sat May 20, 10am – 1pm
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map

Parking is often available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2/hr

AND… (Note special event Wednesday May 3, 6pm) 

There will be a book signing and library discussion by AASCEND friend Donna Levin, author of the new novel There’s More Than One Way Home about a family with a child on the autism spectrum who is accused of the murder of a classmate. Join Donna at her book launch on Sunday, April 30, 2017 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm at the main Books Inc. store, Opera Plaza in San Francisco, on Van Ness between Golden Gate and Turk. Food and wine will be served; please RSVP to

Then on May 3rd, Donna will be giving a talk at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library on “Translating Your Experiences with Autism into Memoir or Fiction”, encouraging adults on the autism spectrum and family members to write about their experiences. Her presentation will begin at 6:00 pm. For more information, contact SF Librarian Laura Lay at or Donna at


AASCEND has received an invitation from  LinkedIn for Job Club members to visit its San Francisco offices for a general presentation on how to use LinkedIn and develop a profile, followed by lunch, then one-to-one work with LinkedIn employees on profile development. This should be an informative and fun outing! The date will be Friday May 19 and the time (not yet firm) will be about noon to 2.  Space is limited, so if you’re interested RSVP right away to

Autism Advancement Month Brunch + Virtual Job Fair!

The Autism Look-Alikes panel in March was remarkable for its courage, candor, and insight. Coming up on April 15 (taxes aren’t due till after the weekend) AASCEND honors Autism Awareness Month, or as we have come to call it Autism Advancement Month, with a brunch celebrating all autism has to offer. Come to meet, and 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!

Please note later than usual start time.

When: Sat Apr 15, 11am – 1:30pm (10am set-up)
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map


Software giants SAP, Microsoft and others are sponsoring an Autism at Work Summit in Silicon Valley April 12 – 14. They are also hosting a Virtual Job Fair along with the Summit. Grab this employment opportunity! It all happens online. Find further information here:

Job Fair Description

Job Fair Signup

When: Thursday Apr 13, noon – 2pm
Where: Online


Autism Look-Alikes (and tag-alongs)

(Read below for special invitation from BBC TV)

AASCEND‘s March 18 program will feature a panel of people who have experienced conditions that either look a bit like autism, or often occur with it. There are planned representatives of disorders in NonVerbal Learning, Social Pragmatic Communication, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity, Obsessive/Compulsion, and Depression.

Leonardo Portrait Rainbow

Do you have a condition that overlaps autism? Come share your story.

When: Sat March 18, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map

Parking is often available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2/hr


Optomen Productions, the TV production company behind Employable Me on BBC television, is looking for neurodiverse job seekers to be involved in a new production of Employable Me in the US.

Employable Me is the series where extraordinary job seekers aim to prove that neurological differences should be viewed as an asset rather than an obstacle in the workplace. With the help of experts who serve as mentors, these neurodiverse candidates unlock their hidden talents and  nd the job that best suits their unique skill sets and strengths.

Optomen is currently developing the project in the US and are actively seeking individuals on the autism spectrum who have struggled to  find employment, and wish to be involved in the US program.

For clips and additional information on the UK series, please visit the following: password: job123

If you’re interested in being part of the show or learning more about the project, please contact Sarah Glaser at Optomen Productions for additional information.

Geek Club Books!

(AASCEND TV nabs prize! See below.)

At AASCEND’s February 18 meeting we’ll hear from Jodi Murphy, founder of Geek Club Booksan autism-centered nonprofit production company inspired by her son Jonathan, who will also present at the meeting. Geek Club Books seeks to change perceptions about autism and to put an end to the stigma surrounding the condition. Their approach is to be a part of modern popular culture—to educate children and adults about autism using storytelling and entertainment. Their goals are to engage and delight while increasing the public’s understanding about autism. Each project includes autistic contributors, educational specialists, and clinical partners. Current projects have included the production of digital comics, storybook app, curriculum, webisode series, digital content, classroom visits and online community engagement.

Geek Club Books logo

Jonathan, who is also an established SAG-AFTRA voice actor working under the professional name Jonathan Cormur, will also be present to talk about his involvement in projects at Geek Club Books.

Speaking of AASCEND, Jodi and Jonathan report they “would love to explore how we can support each other, collaborate and/or bring opportunities for others on the spectrum to share their talents with the world (and get paid for it).” This promises to be a fascinating presentation highlighting real opportunities for people on the autism spectrum. Don’t miss it!

When: Sat February 18, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St.    SF, CA 94103  map

Parking is often available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2/hr.


Congratulations to the whole AASCEND team behind the cable TV and YouTube television show, Life on the Autism Spectrum, winners in the category of Best Education and Instruction Show – by viewer acclaim! – at the 2016 SF Commons Awards held this month in San Francisco. Kudos especially to stalwarts Stacey Kennedy, Will Bernick, Keith Halperin, Michael Bernick – and producer Matthew McIntyre here accepting the award for the crew:

Matthew McIntyre accepting award

Paul Nussbaum and the team fronted by Ascendigo has survived the grueling Greenland-prep trip between Aspen and Vail Colorado! A sequence of reports ran: 1. “This Sunday our team will begin their second trip to prepare for the Greenland expedition. Greenland is the vision of an autistic athlete [Paul Nussbaum] who will co-lead a neurodiverse team across the great icecap.” 2. “Conditions are proving to be difficult, but they are still continuing their hike with high spirits. Last night they camped around the Betty Bear Hut, near Thomasville. Four more days left of their 100 mile excursion!” 3. “Despite very challenging climate conditions, the Greenland Expedition team was able to travel in 6 days further than they did in Yellowstone [last year] and at 4,000-5,000 feet higher elevation, no one suffered any serious cold weather related injuries, and everyone’s spirits remained high.” Way to go, Paul! Here is some of his journey as relayed by (somewhat glitchy) satellite:

Aspen to Vail satellite route map

AASCEND friend Robin Steward has created a survey about education regarding menstruation, for autistic people, at She invites the participation of those interested.

If you are the parent of an autistic adult you may want to respond to a survey for a project titled, “Parental Factors Related to the Work Participation of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder”. Details and the survey are here:

Finally, API Wellness in San Francisco has groups for transgender and gender non-conforming people on the neurodiversity spectrum, including autism. More information is available at


AASCEND at OCALI, DC Leaders Summit, and in France: 1st-hand reports

(Be sure to check out the news items following the meeting announcement.)

What’s happening in adult autism across the nation and across the seas? At AASCEND’s January 21 meeting hear first-hand reports by our members representing AASCEND and adult autism at the OCALI conference in Columbus Ohio, at the Autism Leaders Summit in Washington DC, and at personal meetings across France. There’s a lot going on across the nation and around the world: Don’t miss this informative and rather exciting report!

If there’s time we’ll also share with each other thoughts on autism-related New Year’s resolutions, or why we object to such silly things!

When: Sat January 21, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St.    SF, CA 94103  map

Parking is often available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2/hr.


Prof. Betty Yu at San Francisco State is looking for participants in a study about this question:

Do you feel your experience with autism has been influenced by your cultural, racial, or ethnic identity?

Dr. Yu is reaching out to people in the autism community to interview them about this topic. If you are interested in sharing your perspective with her, please email her ( or call her at (510) 708-1923.


The AASCEND Job Club was very fortunate to arrange a presentation by Ann Weeby, Director of Workforce Innovation at Salesforce, this Saturday, January 14, 10am at the Arc of SF (address above). Salesforce is an international leader in cloud-based customer-relations management. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear what is sure to be a very worthwhile presentation on diversity hiring in this environment.

Holiday Party 2016!

It’s time again for that yearly favorite — the AASCEND Annual Holiday Potluck Party! Come join our community for food, conversation, music and good cheer. There will be Entertainment, Music, Santa D.J., Games, did we mention food, and a low-sensory space available. It’s a potluck, so bring food to share if you can — but if you can’t, show up anyway!

Be there and be cool like the reindude!

When:  Sat Dec 10,   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. There is also metered street parking for $2/hr.

Neurodiversity Conference a Hit!

AASCEND’s 9th conference on adult autism, Neurodiversity Leaders 2016, was an inspiring success! Keynote speakers Sondra Williams, winner of the Ohio State Governor’s award for her autism advocacy work, and Dr. Hackie Reitman, former heavyweight boxer, physician, and founder of the online neurodiversity community Different Brains, anchored the conference. The theme of autism as a form of neurodiversity rather than simply a disorder united the program. Panels and breakout sessions highlighted opportunities for autistic people in finance, employment, dating, sports, the arts, and other areas.

Main room at the conference

An array of remarkable people presented on panels and in a refreshing variety of breakout sessions. Many others worked behind the scenes to make the conference a success. Thank you to all!

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!

Affordable Housing for the Autistic Community

Making Ground – Affordable Housing Solutions for the Autistic Community

At AASCEND’s Sept 17 meeting, Jamie Doyle of Oculus Architects will speak about affordable housing solutions for the autistic community in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. Jamie Doyle is an award-winning architect with 25 years of experience in the provision of social and affordable housing.  In the context of the current overall housing crisis and the shortage of suitable and affordable accommodation for the expanding autistic population, Oculus Architects, in collaboration with members of the autistic community, have developed a range of research design proposals, titled “Making Ground”.

These proposals include innovative ways of getting cheap land in the right locations, designing housing tailored to the needs of autism and using cost-efficient design solutions. The proposals look at different forms of supportive housing and the provision of support services. They also look at the integration of autistic housing within developments for the broader population and housing developments intended solely for the autistic community. The proposals illustrate the potential to create affordable uplifting homes and communities for the autistic population. Rather than defining this issue as a problem to be solved these proposals highlight this need as an opportunity to foster the positive contribution of autistics to the wider community.

Jamie will talk about these research proposals and hopes to start a conversation with the audience and wider autistic community to explore these and other potential solutions.

The general meeting will start at 10:00AM and conclude at 12:00PM.

AASCEND Picnic in the Park!

The picnic was a great success in spite of the initial cold weather and wet ground. After valiant members helped set up around 11:00, 45 or more picnickers arrived on and off until 3:00 and we all hung out until 4:00.  Jim made fantastic barbecued chicken and there was plenty of good food to share! We had some Frisbee and badminton players later in the day  and  in typical Richmond District style, the sun came out as we were packing up. Thanks to all who helped!


It’s time again for AASCEND‘s annual potluck picnic in the park Saturday August 13. Note that this is the second not the usual third Saturday of the month! All are welcome for an afternoon of informal socializing and games with our community. This year’s picnic will be held at Lindley 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.

Sat Aug 13, Noon-3pm at Tables 5 to 9 in Lindley Meadow GG Park (see map)

See you there!