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.

AASCEND Picnic in the Park

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

AASCEND 10th Conference October 20!

NO Job Club August 4.  Paul Nussbaum’s Aug 4 check-in from PCT HERE.

AASCEND, with SFSU’s Autism Spectrum Studies Program, hosts its 10th conference on adult autism October 20 at SF StateJoin us for a day of exploring the adult autistic world, with artists and presenters on and off the spectrum!

Tickets & details HERE.

spotlightIn the Spotlight: Autism and the Media
October 20, 2018
9:00-4:30 (registration begins at 8:15)
Seven Hills Conference Center, 800 Font Blvd
San Francisco State University
SF, CA 94132

The influence of media has exploded, changing the world of autism. Autistic roles now feature prominently in movies, television and online, shaping and even distorting public perception of autism. At the same time, media literacy and media skills have become essential tools allowing autistic people to gain employment, find friends, and express themselves. The In the Spotlight conference exposes how media affect autistic life and employment, and gives practical guidance on effective social media use, creating digital content, autism-friendly acting techniques, latest research and much more!

Charlene Tilton In the Spotlight features Charlene Tilton, star of stage and screen and longtime President of Actors for Autism. Charlene is famous not only for her portrayal of Lucy Ewing on the influential television show Dallas, but also for her contributions to the autism community. Although Charlene’s life was often glamorous on screen, she had to learn to fend for herself at an early age. After her Dallas role brought her fame, Charlene was moved by personal tragedy to connect with Actors for Autism and soon became their president. At AFA Charlene witnessed the power of acting and improvisation in developing language, social skills, and self-confidence in both children and adults on the autism spectrum.

Thomas Iland ..and also Thomas Iland, diagnosed with autism when he was 13 years old. Tom worked hard to achieve his goals: learning to drive, living on his own, graduating from college, obtaining full-time employment and having a girlfriend. Now a Distinguished Toastmaster and member of the National Speakers Association, Tom is a best-selling author with wide experience in the media, having appeared on such TV shows as Beauty and the Geek, Bert the Conqueror, Ghost Whisperer, The Morning Blend, The Price Is Right, and Wheel of Fortune. Tom currently lives in Santa Clarita, California, with his dog, Bridget.

Plenary Sessions:

Hollywood Sign with Panel SilhouetteHollywood’s Autism Fantasies: Michael Bernick, former head of the California State Labor Department, moderates a panel of theater professionals and academics on and off the spectrum, exploring how Hollywood’s portrayal of autism affects autistic life and employment.

Plato's AcademyNew Research and the Future of Autism Scholarship, presented by autism professionals and graduate students, many on the autism spectrum. Hear what current research reveals about adult autism, plus developments enriching the lives of autistic adults. Learn about academic careers and training available to autistics and to all interested in the future of autism.

Breakout sessions: Improv for Interaction; Creating Digital Content on the Spectrum; Acting Techniques for Social Ease; Using Social Media for Success; Autistic Creative Intelligence in the Arts; Online Dating and Friendship on the Spectrum, and Media Addiction

Ticket price includes lunch and refreshments, and there will be live entertainment by artists on the autism spectrum. Conference registration begins at 8:15am, October 20. Please arrive early. Some program changes are possible. Follow AASCEND on the web and Facebook!

While this conference primarily addresses the needs of what have been termed Asperger’s or High Functioning Adults on the autism spectrum, AASCEND expresses solidarity with all who are living anywhere on the autism spectrum, their families and allies. Out of respect for attendees with sensory sensitivities please do not wear perfumes, colognes or overly scented products to the conference. Thanks!

AASCEND gratefully acknowledges the Joseph Padula Trust for its support of the In the Spotlight conference.                                                                     

Tickets and more details HERE.