Posted By Janet Lawson, MFT on February 2, 2016
Acknowledging Mastery at Autistry: Certification. We teach skills as an integral part of working with students at Autistry. If students want to make pillows, they learn to sew. If a student wants a bookshelf, he or she learns woodworking. A model tank? Learn model building, painting, decaling, weathering techniques, and usually a bit of history. If they want cookies, they learn a bit of cooking. Every project has a set of skills that go with it.
We were invited last week to watch a movie Programming Hope about a program called Nonpareil in Texas operating a school/software company as a way to train and employ people with autism. They grew in almost exactly the same timeframe as Autistry and there were so many ways their program echoes the goals and what we do at Autistry. There was a scene where they were giving out certificates for classes completed and skills achieved, and we were strongly inspired. (Dan will write a separate review of the movie in a blog post Real Soon Now.)
There are so many skills we teach at Autistry. Dan and I quickly filled three pages with just the brainstormed list of broad skill areas — not even all the more granular particular skills. We are going to start drawing boxes around those skills and creating curricula to address each skill set. When a student has mastered a set of skills, he or she will receive a Certificate of Achievement. This will have many benefits. The list of skills acquired and the timeframe will provide direct measurements of student progress. The skills that students achieve will become line items on their resumes and things they can add to job or school applications. Simply codifying all the skills into teachable atomic units with a defined progression will make it easier to train staff and manage student projects.
Settling In:I had no idea when we moved from the large warehouse that the actual moving – boxing up everything, hauling it to the new studio, offloading the trucks – would be the easier part of this transition. The settling in, unboxing, creating new spaces and places for all our tools and equipment — this is the hard part. But it is so satisfying to see the 448 Du Bois warehouse transform into a warm, inviting, exciting, and versatile studio. This week the sofas arrived for the library — yes, we have an actual lending library. Our students now have a great place to study and browse an awesome collection of books, everything from The Making of Star Wars to Introduction to Calculus, with shelves of art books, modeling books, history, psychology… and, of course, graphic novels.
Welcoming the World: The new studio has a wonderful large room with a stage, wall-mounted monitor, and refrigerated refreshment drawers that make it perfect for all sorts of occasions. In the past 6 months we have hosted an author talk, a presentation on setting up special needs trusts, a CPR training, and some great parties. We also regularly host the monthly Marin Autism Collaborative Parent Support Group.
Autistry annual fundraiser: Mark your calendars and buy your tickets! “The Next Lap” Maker Banquet on Saturday, March 19 will feature a custom-built obstacle race course for remote controlled model cars, catered food stations with something for everybody, open bar, tech and tool demos given by staff and students, amazing student projects, and a silent auction. The Autistry students have been building cars and honing their driving skills getting ready for the challenge. If you or your company would like to sponsor a car please see our sponsorship page.
2016 – off to a great start!