Take a Hike!

Now for something completely similar! At AASCEND‘s April 20 meeting we’ll be reprising our popular Spring hike (more like a walk) at San Francisco’s beautiful and easy-walkin’ Lands End. Come revel together in the calming natural world so many autistic people enjoy.

The hike is as always a chance to all get to know each other better and to enjoy El Niño’s spring bounty (no kidding!) in one of the more gorgeous places on Earth – right here in San Francisco! There is food at the Lookout Cafe and Visitor Center where we’ll meet, but you might want to bring a snack.

When: Sat Apr 20, 10am – noon(+)
Where: Lands End Lookout Cafe and Visitor Cente680 Point Lobos Ave, SF, CA 94121 – located in the parking lot near 48th Ave & Pt. Lobos Ave. map

There is parking in the mentioned lot by the Visitor’s Center and also a smaller lot across the street and along El Camino del Mar. The 38 bus line stops at 48th Ave & Pt Lobos Ave. about 100 yards up from the Lookout.

Careers in Animation (Rescheduled Job Club)

At the April 13 Job Club (rescheduled from the 8th), AASCEND  hosts Ken Pontac, an American writer who has written for children’s shows like ToddWorld and LazyTown. He also writes for the dark humor cartoon Happy Tree Friends. Pontac’s company, Danger Productions, employed a staff of one hundred artists and animators. With this company Pontac created, produced, wrote and directed the ABC TV animated program Bump in the Night. 

Danger Productions also designed and produced the characters for the best-selling video game ClayFighter for Interplay, as well as creating animated assets for Microsoft Office 97 and My Personal Tutor. From 1990 to the present Pontac has written scripts for animated television episodes that have been translated into a dozen languages and shown around the world. During that time he has also worked as a director for the UPN prime time animated program Gary & Mike, for which his episode Phish Phry won an Emmy for Best Art Direction. 

Don’t miss this rare view into the life of a professional creator in animation! Come with your questions for this experienced and engaging presenter. As always, attendees on the spectrum will offer their experience and perspectives throughout the program.

Special thanks to the Autism Studies Department at SFSU for volunteers!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Apr 13, 10am – 1pm
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map


For more information about employment on the autism spectrum, join us at:
Spectrum Employment Community by AASCEND on LinkedIn

Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.

Job Club Date Change

Due to a special Autism Advancement* Month meeting of the AASCEND Board of Directors the regularly scheduled Job Club will NOT be held April 6. Stay tuned for further developments.

*Our little joke. We think Autism Awareness and Acceptance are great, but at AASCEND we aim for Autism Advancement!

Neurodiversity and Autism Science at Stanford

UPDATE: Dr. Fung’s March 16 talk, titled “Strengths-Based Model of Neurodiversity and the Stanford Neurodiversity Project” was ambitious, detailed, and well-received by a full house at AASCEND’s general meeting. Click here to see slides from his PowerPoint presentation. (It’s a 29Mb pdf and may take a minute to load). Thank you, Dr. Fung!


On March 16 AASCEND  hosts an appearance by Dr. Lawrence Fung,  a clinical assistant professor at Stanford University. Dr. Fung is a researcher and clinician specializing in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and the father of a neurodiverse teenager with ASD. Dr. Fung is the director of the Stanford Neurodiversity Project, which strives to uncover the strengths of neurodiverse individuals and utilize their talents to increase innovation and productivity of the society as a whole. Dr. Fung directs the Adult Neurodevelopment Clinic, which specializes in assessing and treating adults with ASD.

Lawrence Fung

Dr. Fung serves as the principal investigator of studies investigating the neurobiology of ASD by state-of-the-art molecular neuroimaging and bioanalytical technologies. He is the recipient of several awards including the Pilot Research Award from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Clinical Investigator Award from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and Outstanding Resident Award from the NIMH.

Be sure to attend this fascinating presentation, and bring your insights and questions.

As always, attendees on the 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 March 16, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map

Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.

What I learned along the way

UPDATE: Come also to hear a report on new job openings at Amazon.


At the February 2 Job Club,  AASCEND  board stalwart Steve Medina will share his experience as an older, non-technical product manager navigating the job market in small and large tech companies, and working with many types of teams over his career.

Steve is a product management and product marketing professional working in the technology industry for over two decades. He has led teams in the US and Asia to design, build and ship a wide range of products.

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

Special thanks to the Autism Studies Department at SFSU for volunteers!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Feb 2, 10am – 1pm
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map


For more information about employment on the autism spectrum, join us at:
Spectrum Employment Community by AASCEND on LinkedIn

Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.

Autism in the Media, Take Two

At AASCEND‘s January 19 meeting, we will continue our exploration of Autism in the Media begun at our conference of the same title at SFSU in October. At the conference we presented a compilation of video clips of autistic characters in film and TV and heard perspectives from some of the speakers. Now, this will be your chance to share opinions about how accurate, effective, entertaining or problematic you find these representations. We’ll watch excerpts from recent movies and shows, and erstwhile AASCEND president Jack Fagan will moderate the discussion. 

Click HERE for an excellent and colorful pdf Jack has assembled on the topic. Check it out to get your opinions rolling, or roiling as the case may be!

As always, attendees on the 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 Jan 19, 10am – noon
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map


Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.

Platzer to Speak

UPDATE: Check out this excellent January 5 Wall Street Journal article about AASCEND, penned by AASCEND board member Michael Bernick.

On January 5 David Platzer led a lively discussion of autism employment, with the room filled to overflowing. A main theme was the need to broaden employer perceptions of autism beyond the “computer whiz” stereotype, and to highlight the benefits autistic employees have to offer in other areas. There is also a need to show that accommodations for autistic employees need not be onerous legal burdens but rather are investmentments in success that often cost very little to implement.


Join us at the AASCEND Job Club on Saturday, January 5, as Job Club force  David Platzer returns from the East Coast, bringing fresh insights.

David Platzer, PhD, is a recent graduate of the anthropology program at Johns Hopkins University. His dissertation research explored employment for adults on the autism spectrum, with a focus on the tech industry. While completing his dissertation, David spent nearly two years working as an experience researcher with Adobe’s Design Research and Strategy group in San Francisco. This role included work on Adobe’s recently launched Inclusive Design initiative, a program which seeks to make the full suite of Adobe creative tools accessible to diversely disabled creatives. Starting in January 2019, David will be a Research Fellow with the Berggruen Institute’s Transformations of the Human program, under whose auspices he will begin a new research project on the human ramifications of artificial intelligence in society. 

David will speak about his recent and upcoming endeavors related to autism employment.

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

Special thanks to the Autism Studies Department at SFSU for volunteers!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Jan 5, 10am – 1pm
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map


For more information about employment on the autism spectrum, join us at:
Spectrum Employment Community by AASCEND on LinkedIn

Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.


ALSO: 
Check out autism advocate Paul Nussbaum‘s concluding reflections on his 4 1/2 – month epic trek on the Pacific Crest Trail here. Paul’s journey was a spectacular and moving demonstration of autistic ability.

Paul Reports from the Wilderness! + no Oct Job Club

Paul Nussbaum continues his epic trek on the Pacific Crest Trail, highlighting autistic abilities. He’s been at it for 3 1/2 months!  Go to  expedition-autism.com  or Click HERE to follow his latest journal entries and see cool pictures! And send him good vibes to help him on his challenging and big-time helpful way!

ALSO, in place of the usual Job Club this month of October, instead register for the October 20 AASCEND Conference  → (Click HERE) and show up there to join in the proceedings and festivities: There will be Hollywood Hijinks, Virtual Reality, Autistic Improv, Live Music, Food and Much More! There are still some free grant-sponsored tickets available. Act fast to reserve your spot, and tell a friend.

AASCEND Picnic in the Park

[ Sep 20 update: Paul on the PCT has made it to Sierra City! Details HERE ]

It’s time again for AASCEND‘s annual potluck picnic in the park Saturday September 15.  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.

badminton at picnic

Sat Sep 15, Noon-3pm at Tables 6 to 9 in Lindley Meadow GG Park (see map)

See you there!

Successful Transitions in Jobs & Life

[ Aug 17 update: Paul on the PCT presses onward toward fire! Details HERE ]

Do you feel like you’ve hit a wall in your job, and are looking to transition? Have you lost a job and need to find a new one? Are you leaving a school environment and transitioning into the job world for the first time? At AASCEND‘s Sept 8 Job Club, Mary Hurlbut, a transition specialist and autism advocate in the Bay Area will lead a discussion on making effective transitions in the job world. She will draw from her work with individual transitions over the past decade.

Mary Hurlbut is a Bay Area based Transition Specialist and autism advocate with a Master’s in Education from Stanford University. With a deep belief in the value of neurodiversity, she works with students, adults and their families to help them prepare for and navigate small and large life transitions. Mary focuses on engaging and accommodating each individual’s unique cognitive qualities and capacities whether pursuing education, employment, residential independence, social integration or more. Mary will provide advice and resources and answer questions about transitioning toward a personally fulfilling and socially meaningful pathway.

cat jumping across river

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

Special thanks to the Autism Studies Department at SFSU for volunteers!

Who: Adults on the autism spectrum, families, mentors and professionals all welcome. For more information, please contact: info@aascend.org
When: Sat Sept 8 10am – 1pm
Where: The Arc of SF 1500 Howard St. @ 11th St. SF, CA 94103 map


For more information about employment on the autism spectrum, join us at:
Spectrum Employment Community by AASCEND on LinkedIn

Parking is usually available in the garage at 255 12th Street, with a reasonable flat rate for Saturdays. There is also metered street parking for $2.25/hr.