Autistry Newsletter – December 29, 2013

| December 30, 2013

What a great year! 2013 saw lots of growth at Autistry. We increased our student body count, launched the Autistry Model Employment Program, created an amazing cardboard racetrack, began a successful School Partnership Program with Oak Hill School and Star Academy, and Janet Miller joined as a featured blogger on transition issues.

And, of course, all the fabulous projects created by Autistry students. Here are just a few:

029Mu meets the wolf shield053055

We had silly moments:
105Lauren and Dayna

And special moments:
069Amelia and Steven
Dick Dinklespeil and LynnEl Powell dueling074

Fun with friends:
Santa visitsIan and Chris4

Fun with toys:
Playing with our Parrot AR Drone 2.0

Test driving the RC car on the cardboard racetrack

What a fun year! And we have lots more planned (and unplanned!) for 2014. So, join us online on our facebook page and sign-up for our newsletter to keep in touch. We will have some great events again this year and you won’t want to miss them!

Happy New Year from the Autistry Team.

Autistry wins grant for employment program

| December 21, 2013


SAN RAFAEL (December 18, 2013) — Autistry Studios, a Marin-based nonprofit serving teens and adults with autism and other neurodevelopmental differences, has received a grant from national advocacy organization Autism Speaks.

Connor, Ian, and Dan at work

Connor, Ian, and Dan at work

The funding, one of Autism Speaks’ “Neighborhood Grants” given nationwide in December, was awarded to expand Autistry’s Model Employment Program, which creates an interim work environment for individuals on the autism spectrum. The program offers realistic job experience while providing a safe place to “practice” working and resolve any issues.

The $5,000 grant will enable Autistry to increase the number of participants in the program by funding additional staff and materials.

“The Model Employment Program is the middle step between our Core Workshops and supported employment in the community,” explains Janet Lawson, Executive Director and co-founder of Autistry.

The current employees are two young men, ages 18 and 20, who have attended Core Workshops for several years. Supervised by Autistry co-founder Dan Swearingen—who has an Asperger’s diagnosis himself—the two started with maintenance work but have gone on to craft several commissioned projects, including a garden shed and a custom birdhouse. They keep their own timesheets and are paid every two weeks.

Lawson stresses that the Model Employment Program isn’t just for post-secondary students, but also for adults who may have encountered a change in their living situation, such as loss of a job or an interruption in support services.

Model Employment participants start in the organization’s Core Workshops, which use students’ own interests as a way to teach pre-vocational and communication skills.

When ready, students are able to work in positions that Autistry has cultivated in the community. This past year, three Autistry students landed internships at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

“Working with the interns from the Model Employment Program at Autistry Studios has been a great experience for the Buck Institute,” says Brian Kennedy, PhD, CEO of the Buck Institute. “The interns come into our laboratories, integrate very well with the research concept, and make important contributions.”

Opportunities are also available at other local businesses.

“Autistry is a gift to our community of adults living with autism,” says Bryna Siegel, Director of Autism Clinic at UCSF. “This is how we make meaningful, rewarding employment for young adults with autism.”

About Autistry Studios
Autistry Studios was founded in 2008 by Janet Lawson and Dan Swearingen, a married couple with a teenage son on the autism spectrum. What began as a four-student workshop taught in their backyard barn/studio is now a thriving organization with more than 50 students in a 10,000 sq. ft. studio in San Rafael, CA. To learn more about Autistry, visit

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit

Autistry Newsletter – December 9, 2013

| December 9, 2013

Brook and April in full color fingerless gloves

Brook and April in full color fingerless gloves

The studio may be cold, and it is VERY cold, but the workshops are hot! The chill in the air doesn’t seem to slow down student production. Julia finished her Phases of the Moon piece. George is nearly finished with a cool catapult. And lots of other projects are moving forward. We all just bundle up in our sweaters, flannel longjohns, knit hats and wooly gloves and we keep on working. Colorful fingerless gloves seem to be the new Autistry Chic.

Hand-forged iron candle-stand by Toby Hickman

Hand-forged iron candle-stand by Toby Hickman

Autistry eBay Store:
Just in time for holiday shopping, this week we launched the Autistry eBay Store filled with fabulous handmade and vintage items donated by local artists, artisans and supporter of Autistry.
We have a great collection of unique works perfect for holiday gifts: hand crafted candle-stands, a hand-sewn quilt, jewelry, framed photography, unique ceramic bookends and other lovely stuff.

All proceeds support the programs of Autistry Studios.

Check out the store!

Ben working on a bird house based on his own home

Ben working on a bird house based on his own home

School Partnerships:
In January the Autistry School Partnership program continues with Build Stuff Workshops for students from Oak Hill School and Star Academy. These workshops have been very successful, enjoyed by both students and staff. We work closely with the school teachers to provide a learning experience that enhances and advances academic study. We have found that working with ones hands to create a project exercises not just fine motor skills, but also executive functioning skills, math skills and social skills.

The Spring semester begins Saturday, January 4th. The schedule is posted on the Autistry website. We are scheduling intake interviews now and there are a few openings in the workshops.

The truck in better days!

The truck in better days!

It is with sadness that we note the passing of the de-facto Autistry vehicle “the truck,” our old Chevy Tahoe. Blowing a head gasket (for the second time) we decided it was time to buy a new car. While we were car shopping we realized that it is probably time for Autistry have its own vehicles so we will be seeking capital equipment grants to buy a van of some sort.

Stay warm!

The Autistry Team