AASCEND held conferences in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2016. Our conferences have given equal emphasis to nationally prominent figures, adults with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome in our own community, speaking on their challenges and successes living with autism, and breakout sessions for participants to meet and discuss specific areas of interest.

AASCEND Conferences

California State Senator, Mark Leno, honoring
AASCEND with a Senate Proclamation

2001 Share the Journey, San Francisco State University                                     Presenters: Dr. David Amaral, Director of Research, MIND Institute; Dr. Adriana Schuler, San Francisco State University;  Dr. Pamela Wolfberg, Autism Institute for Peer Relations and Play, San Francisco State University; Greg Yates; AUTASTICS panel

2002 Sharing the Journey, A Lifelong Passage San Francisco State University
Presenters: Author, Jerry Newport; nationally known speakers, mother-son team, Dr. Julie Donnelly  and Jean-Paul Bovee; AUTASTICS panel: “Awesome Twosomes” moderated by Adam Pollack

2003 Our Paths Converging: Bringing Together the Autism/Asperger Syndrome Community San Francisco State University
Presenter: Dr. Val Paradiz, author of Elijah’s Cup; breakout sessions

AASCEND co-chair Greg Yates

2004 Works in Progress: Creating Jobs, Housing, and Social Opportunities for Adults with Autism and Asperger Syndrome in the San Francisco Bay Area San Francisco State University
Presenters: Author Roger N. Meyer; John Clay, California Autism Foundation; Kari Dunn Buron, Camp Discovery; breakout sessions

This conference was the first gathering of AS run groups in the US.

 2006 International Asperger’s Year Summit, San Francisco State University
Keynote: Paul Nussbaum on Conquering Heights; Michael John Carley, GRASP; Phil Shwartz, Asperger Association of New England; Roger N. Meyer, Portland Asperger Support Group; J. Willardston Smith, Asperger Associates of Greater Washington, DC;  Isacc Kight, The Asperger Society; Adam Pollack, AUTASTICS; Greg Yates, AASCEND; AGUA

2008 Going to Work: Employment on the Autism Spectrum San Francisco State University
Presenters: Michael McManmon, College Internship Program,  Roger N. Meyer, Employment Specialist; breakout sessions

2011 Success on the Spectrum San Francisco State University
Presenters: Ari Ne’eman, ASAN President; Landon Bryce, thAutcast; Zev Glassenberg and Justin Kanew, The Amazing Race; breakout sessions

Zev and Justin, AS and NT friends and teammates

from the hit TV show, The Amazing Race

2014 Innovation at Work San Francisco State University                                       Presenters: Alex Plank of, Jose Velasco of SAP Autism at Work,    Special Friday session for Tech Employers, Employment and Women’s Panels, Paulette Penzvalto of GRASP, Michelle Winner Social Thinking, Friends Like Me autism recreation, the Autistic Global Initiative & Trauma Warriors film, LinkedIn on the spectrum, breakouts.

2016 Neurodiversity Leaders San Francisco State University                                       Presenters: Sondra Williams, recipient of the Ohio State Governor’s Award for autism advocacy, Dr. Hackie Reitman, former heavyweight boxer, physician, and founder of the online neurodiversity community Different Brains. 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. The Seven Hills Conference Center was filled to capacity for the event, with over 200 attending.

Main room at the conference

Many of the audience members at AASCEND conferences are on the autism spectrum. No one is turned away due to an inability to pay.

2018 In the Spotlight San Francisco State University Speakers: Charlene Tilton, star of the hit TV series Dallas and longtime president of Actors for Autism; and Tom Iland on his experience of coming to life as an autistic person in the world of television. Presentations: Hollywood’s Autism Fantasy, Improv on the Autism Spectrum, Social Media in Autism, Autistic Artists, Virtual Reality as a tool in autism, Media Addiction, Content creation for autistic creators, Graduate Student research panel

2018 AASCEND’s ENDS awards: Education: Prof. Betty Yu, San Francisco State University; Development: Cast and crew of the autism rom-com Keep the Change—joining via video from New York.