The Autistry Studios Mission

Helping ASD youth become independent adults.

At Autistry Studios we help teens and adults with Autism, Asperger's and other learning differences become successfully independent by leveraging their interests and talents while creating a community.

February 2020
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Autistry Newsletter – May 13, 2016

Posted By on May 13, 2016

Spring is rushing into summer, schools are letting out, and vacations are being planned. But before we hit the beaches let’s celebrate some awesome achievements.

GradAcademic Milestones: Ross J. and Steven W. will graduate from Sonoma State University this month – both with degrees in Applied Mathematics. Ross will continue to work as a System Administrator for John Ash & Company as he figures out his next moves. Steven is enjoying his first break from school in over 16 years. He is developing his considerable artistic talents while he scans the horizon for career opportunities.

Chris D.
graduates from Terra Linda High School in June. Chris has a strong interest in history and will enroll in classes at College of Marin in the fall. So look out for that smiling redhead on campus!

Ian S. finished his fourth semester at COM with a B in his first college English class. But Danielle H. goes to the head of the class with an A in Math! We are so proud of all our students. We have watched them study hard, overcome obstacles, and keep their focus through piles of homework and endless exams. Well done!

006Employment: Finding a job is always a challenge but our Autistry students are having success. Alex and Danny started work at a local bookstore this week. They will be stocking shelves and ringing customers up at the register. Lots of new skills to learn.

April and Amanda continue to work at the preschool and they are finishing up their online course in Early Childhood Education. These credits will go toward an ECE certificate which will help them launch their careers.

Ian and MichaelIan and Lauren are interning at Renew Computers. Ian is learning the fine points of customer service from greeting clients to making change. Lauren has found a great outlet for her passion for taking apart computers and sorting all the parts.

I want to thank Michael Reynolds for the high level of support and instruction he is giving to Ian and Lauren. They are blossoming under his tutelage.

And a round of applause for Corey!! He has not only passed the one-year mark at his job in Novato, he is up for a raise. Corey is proof that if at first (second, third, or fourth) you don’t succeed, just keep on trying.

MF16_BA_300x300Coming up: Next weekend, May 20, 21, and 22 Autistry will be at the Maker Faire in San Mateo. This year ShopBot Tools, makers of our beloved CNC cutting machine, is sponsoring the Autistry Studios booth. The Maker Faire is a truly amazing event with attendance of over 150,000 throughout the weekend. Exhibitors showcase everything from high tech 3d printers to do-it-yourself marshmallow guns! There are enormous metal sculptures, roving bands of robots, and interactive booths of every sort. With our fundamental maker spirit, Autistry feels right at home. Visit us at the Faire where we will be creating a 10’ high archway of gears.

On Thursday, May 19, four Autistry students will be on a panel, Hearing Our Voices at the Marin and North Bay Lecture Series. Danielle, Ryan, Ian, and Steven will speak about their experiences living on the spectrum. The series is organized by Karen Kaplan of Offerings. The event will be held at the Marin County Office of Education, 1111 Las Gallinas, San Rafael. Tickets can be purchased online.

Lux MatchSupport Autistry: Do twice the good with one donation! Help us meet a $10,000 challenge from the Miranda Lux Foundation. To unlock this $10,000 grant we need to raise $10,000 to match. Your donations will be matched dollar for dollar. Donations can be made online.

Autistry Newsletter February 29, 2016

Posted By on February 29, 2016

Bryant and Michael

Bryant and Michael

So many new things happening at Autistry. We welcome two new mentors to our Autistry staff, Bryant Luong and Matt Glenwright.
Bryant has a degree in psychology from California State University, Fullerton and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in occupational therapy at Dominican University of California. He also plays the violin so there may be more musical projects in Autistry’s future!
Matt and Reed

Matt and Reed

Matt is a graduate of Cal Poly, also with a degree in psychology. He has experience as an ABA instructor working with autistic children. Both Bryant and Matt fit right in to the workshops helping build Lego Mindstorm robots and radio controlled cars. And the Autistry students were happy to teach them how! It is always fun to watch new staff as they come to realize how capable and knowledgeable our students are, and just how fun it is to learn alongside them.
Nat creates Stop-Motion Animation Movie

Nat creates Stop-Motion Animation Movie

New student projects
will be highlighted at the Maker Banquet on Saturday, March 19th. Students will give short presentations on their current works and show how they use high tech tools to create amazing films, dioramas, robots, artwork, and RC cars.
They are excited to showcase their skills with the laser cutter, the full suite of Adobe Creative graphic software, 3D printer, robotics, stop-motion animation, and much more.
Caroline with her RC Truck

Caroline with her RC Truck

This is a great opportunity to meet our Autistry students, tour the studio, and experience the excitement and pride of the Maker Spirit. And, to raise a glass to show our gratitude to Nathan Ballard (Keegen & Coppin) and Craig Scheidt (Independent Holdings) for finding us this wonderful new studio.
Please reserve your tickets online now so we can get a fair estimate of attendees – this helps us with our planning!

Janet and Rohan

Janet and Rohan

We welcome our newest addition to the Autistry Family: Rohan Gardner.
Born under a full moon, Sunday, Feb 21 to proud parents Steve and Sara Gardner. Sara is on maternity leave, returning to Autistry in April and we hope Rohan will be able to join her. At Autistry we believe in inclusion – and that includes babies!
We are all excited to have this new face at our lunch table. The changing table is stocked with provisions. The playpen is poised for action. The baby monitors are charged up. Rohan – we are ready for you!


MF16_BA_150x150Coming up:
ShopBot Tools will sponsor Autistry at Maker Faire 2016 in San Mateo, May 20 – 22. This is a fabulous event and a super experience for makers of all ages. ShopBot Tools is sending out a Desktop ShopBot for us to use at the Faire as our big guy doesn’t travel well. We welcome Autistry students to join us at the tent, help us with the maker demonstrations, and be Ambassadors for Autistry. Last year we had a great time and found that folks were really interested in our Maker program.

Autistry Newsletter – February 2, 2016

Posted By on February 2, 2016

Lauren reflectedAcknowledging 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.)

alex and danThere 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.

library1Settling 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.

IMG_7060Welcoming 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.

669906-250Autistry 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!

Autistry Newsletter – December 22, 2015

Posted By on December 22, 2015

You rock. Really. We met the $5000 Gear Wall Challenge!

With your generous donations we met the Roberts Shoes Fund $5000 Matching Challenge! Our 2015 Autistry Gear Wall is still growing and with that growth comes new opportunities for our students. New tools, new programs, and new scholarships. And we couldn’t have done it without you. 2015 Autistry Gears will be going up until Dec 29th, so there is still time to join the chain!

IMG_0044I’m a little choked up thinking about the year that has just flown by. We had a lot to celebrate at the Autistry Family Potluck this past Saturday night:

Steven Waite, one of our very first Autistry students, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Sonoma State University. Steven has blossomed into an expressive sculptor with one of the sharpest, wryest wits I know. Like most graduating college students, he is a bit anxious about what the future has in store for him. But I know his intelligence, his wit, and his creativity will carry him wherever he chooses to go. And the Autistry community will support him and encourage him all along the way.

Sara and Ian studyOur son, Ian Swearingen, passed his math class at the College of Marin—the third college-level course he has taken! We are so proud of how independently and conscientiously he studied. Next semester he will take an English class. Ian graduated high school with a certificate and he is determined to get his GED. Sara Gardner has mentored Ian through these early college semesters. And together they are pioneering and prototyping how Autistry can support continued education for our students.

Amanda and April at preschoolAmanda Meeuwsen and April Evans both passed their first online college course, Theories of Personality, an introduction to psychology. They have shown us another way that Autistry can support adult education and we will be hosting more online learning in 2016. Amanda and April also successfully completed a semester internship at a local preschool and they will be taking an online course in Early Childhood Education in the spring semester. At Autistry, we believe that learning is a lifelong endeavor and we encourage our students, our staff, and ourselves to keep turning the pages of the book of knowledge.

If you weren’t able to join us on Saturday night—and especially if you were—here are some photos from the party.

party pix

We are so thankful for you! It takes lots of hands to build and sustain a high-quality program like Autistry Studios. Thanks for the many ways you cheer us on.

With much gratitude,
Janet, Dan, and the Autistry Team

Autistry Newsletter – November 11, 2015

Posted By on November 10, 2015

We are still getting settled into the new studio. So many boxes to unpack and tools to find places for.
The kitchen is looking good, the library shelves are going up, the digital arts studio is pretty much up and running, and the shop is back online. A lot of work but the move was a good one. The space is warm and welcoming – very homey.

Steve Silberman and Ian

Steve Silberman and Ian

The large workroom also allows us to host public events. Last month 65 people joined us to hear Steve Silberman discuss his new book, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity with Dan Swearingen. The talk, interview, and question session afterward were fabulous. Chikara Motomura and Rupert Stechman videotaped the entire event – nearly 2 hours.

We posted the video in a series of short (9 – 12 minutes) segments on YouTube. At the head of each segment is a brief outline of the topics covered.

Nghi and CarolineAutistry has developed a strong relationship with Dominican University Occupational Therapy Department. So much of what the students do at Autistry involves fine motor skills, self regulation, and sensory integration and we are always open to learning new approaches to support them. Last month Nghi Tran, DU OT grad student joined us and brings, not only OT knowledge, but an enormous amount of enthusiasm.

d0a08b_3375bc2f8aa64863a02eff37c8d23273Autism in Love, a documentary film by Matt Fuller will be screened by the California Film Institute in San Rafael. “Four adults at different places on the autism spectrum open up their personal lives as they navigate dating and romantic relationships. Eye-opening, first-person portrayals show that despite many challenges faced by those with autism, love can find a way.”

Janet will moderate a panel of autistic adults – Dan Swearingen, Ross Jacobs, and Tamsin Kearns. They will share their response to the film and their own experiences with relationships. Monday, November 30 at Smith Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael 12:00pm – 1:30pm. Tickets available online at Eventbrite (price = FREE)

Radio Controlled vehicles are popular in the studio right now. A group of our Saturday students are building cars and trucks and having a blast driving them around the parking lot. They will be building the custom vehicles for sponsors of our March 2016 Maker Banquet and Racetrack Gala – stay tuned for more info.

Victoria builds RC 1Alex James RCcaroline and lauren rc

Or, email Sarah Horowitz today, send in your donation, and give our students more time to build you something special!


With so much going on in the studio I don’t get much time to write newsletters. But we do regularly post photos on Facebook as a way of staying connected with the community. Please join us to follow the progress of student projects, get info on upcoming events, and generally stay in touch.

Autistry Newsletter – September 21, 2015

Posted By on September 21, 2015

013Autistry has moved! We have found a fabulous place at 448 Du Bois in San Rafael, just 3 blocks away from the warehouse, that fits us to a T. We have dedicated rooms for the Shop, the Digital Arts Studios, the Fabrication Studio, the Library/Chill Room, and, of course, the kitchen! As well as offices and a large Resource Room for storing the crazy odds and ends we have collected over the years. Oh, did I mention we now have air conditioning – with the heat these last few weeks that alone was worth the move.

025But this move would not have been possible without the help of our Autistry families. They packed boxes, lifted boxes, loaded boxes, unloaded boxes, and unpacked boxes – all with a smile. We perfected the Conga Line Moving Method. There is still a lot of work to do before we are totally settled in.

The new space also includes a large presentation room where we can host events. Last month the Autistry Support Network hosted three financial experts for a wonderful and very informative evening on Financial Planning for Special Needs. The ASN will be hosting more events on issues we are all dealing with. If you would like to be kept informed of these events, email Sarah Horowitz to be put on the mailing list.

Steve with coverUpcoming Events: Steve Silberman, New York Times bestselling author of NeuroTribes: the Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, will be at Autistry on Saturday, October 17th. Dan Swearingen, co-founder of Autistry and an Aspie himself, will interview Steve and take questions from the audience. Seating is limited and tickets are selling quickly so order your tickets online soon.

MAC - OctoberMarin Autism Collaborative Parent Support Group will be held at Autistry Studios on Thursday, October 1st, 6:30 – 8:00 pm. This meeting will be facilitated by Julia Wilbarger, PhD, OTR/L, Associate Professor at the Occupational Therapy Department at Dominican University. The general topic will be Sharing Sensory Solutions, though other topics may be discussed depending on parent input, discussion, and questions. For more information see the Marin Autism Collaborative website.

Workshop Projects Abound: The moving slowed down project production for a week or so, but we are bouncing back. There are amazing stop-motion films being made, as well as Halloween costumes, RC cars, quilts, dioramas, swords, and all the other cool things Autistry students dream up!

[ezcol_1quarter]Claire 150[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_1quarter]nats150[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_1quarter]Michael smiles[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_1quarter_end]fastcar150[/ezcol_1quarter_end]

We have also added Online College Course Support. This semester we have a cohort of students taking an online college course together at Autistry. Sara Gardner is helping with homework, study skills, and test preparation. Many of our students have difficulty with large classes at college and the feeling of being lost in a crowd. By doing the courses at Autistry, they can help each other through the hard times and celebrate the good times together! We will be doing more of these courses next semester.

BTW – the summer camps were fabulous, and we will do them again next year. Ian is dreaming up new places to explore so stay tuned.

Hope to see you at Autistry Studios soon!

The Autistry Team

ASN Presents: Financial Planning for Special Needs

Posted By on August 6, 2015

The Autistry Support Network is pleased to invite you to attend a special panel discussion on Financial Planning for Special Needs to be held at Autistry Studios’ new location.

Date: Thursday, August 27, 2015
Time: 7pm to 8:30 pm
Where: Autistry Studios, 448 Du Bois Street, San Rafael (Directions)


Parents must plan carefully to provide the best future possible for their children with special needs. Most families want to maximize their child’s eligibility for government programs like SSI and Medi-Cal, but also want to use tools like Special Needs Trusts to maintain a certain standard of living for their child. During this panel discussion, experts from various fields will address questions such as:

• How might a Special Needs Trust be used most effectively in an estate plan? Is the ABLE Act a useful tool?
• How do I know if I have set aside enough assets for my child, and how should these assets be invested?
• How should I think about naming a family member versus corporate trustee for my Special Needs Trust?
• Under what circumstances should I consider using insurance to fund my child’s Special Needs Trust?
• Under what conditions should I consider a limited conservatorship for my child?

ASK AHEAD OF TIME! What are your most pressing questions about financial planning for your Autistry student? What do you wish you knew?

Send questions to Susan Ansberry.

Our panelists will be:

[ezcol_1third]jennifer cunneenJennifer Cunneen, an attorney specializing in estate planning. Jennifer advises individuals, families and closely held businesses on estate planning, family foundations and other wealth-transfer related issues. Jennifer earned her BS and JD from Santa Clara University, where she graduated cum laude. Jennifer works with many families with special needs children, including establishing special needs trusts and limited conservatorships, which is a very gratifying part of her law practice. She enjoys her free time with her family, and her community involvement with the Rotary and other nonprofits. Jennifer is a mother to two children, including her son Nick who is on the autism spectrum.

[ezcol_1third]greg finnGreg Finn, the Trust Relationship Manager for Fremont Bank’s Trust Department, which specializes in serving as trustee for family’s Special Needs Trusts (SNTs). Greg has over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, the last 10 years focusing on SNTs. He and his team help family members with bill paying, investment of trust assets, public benefits, estate planning and tax planning. Greg has a BSC in Finance and an MBA from Santa Clara University and is a graduate of Cannon Financial Institute’s Special Needs Trusts School.

[ezcol_1third_end]Karen ParkKaren Park, a Principal at Bernstein and a mother to three boys, including one who has complex special needs. Karen joined Bernstein in 2004 and is based in the firm’s San Francisco office. She advises high-net-worth families regarding their investment plans, wealth transfer goals and related issues. Prior to joining Bernstein, Karen was a vice president with Morgan Stanley’s technology investment banking team and a financial analyst with CS First Boston. She earned a BA, magna cum laude, in social studies from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

What is the Autistry Support Network?
The ASN is the booster group for Autistry Studios. It coordinates auxiliary activities such as field trips, speaker events, fundraisers, social get-togethers, and more. If you are the parent or guardian of an Autistry student, congratulations—you are automatically a member of the ASN! There aren’t any dues, but the ASN does provide opportunities to network with other parents who “get it” and the chance to support all Autistry students.

Listening to, But Not Hearing, Temple Grandin

Posted By on June 10, 2015

temple-grandin-speaking“Don’t mollycoddle autistic kids”.* How many times have we sat in an audience with other parents, nodding our heads when Temple Grandin gives this advice? After she speaks, we applaud. We get our pictures taken with her, post them on the refrigerator and on our Facebook page. We even get our children to pose with her and hope they will be as successful as she has been. But have we really heard what she is saying, and do we put her advice into practice?

Every program – special ed, vocational, social skills, etc. – will tell you they believe in a strengths-based approach. They want to develop the talents and skills of the individual. However, too many programs shy away from insisting that students take personal responsibility. Too many programs do not ever push students beyond their current limits, and too many programs do not insist students persevere in the face of difficulty. Whether autistic or neuro-typical, in order to grow one must wrestle with obstacles and overcome them.

There are three common responses I hear from ASD students when faced with any difficulty, mistake, or problem:

“It was an accident.”
“I’m doing my best.”
“It’s not my fault (I have autism).”

Instead of teaching a student how to overcome a mistake or a problem, someone carefully taught the student how to say these three things. These three phrases constitute at best an excuse for remaining stuck and performing poorly, and at worst these are a prayer for failure.

“It was an accident.” In the Autistry workshops many things can go wrong. Tools break. Computers stop working. Paint spills. And items get lost. None of these things happen all by themselves (well, maybe the computer malfunction!). But often when a tool breaks a student will look at the tool with astonishment and exclaim, “It’s not my fault. It just happened.”

And, it may seem like it just happened because it occurred outside of their awareness. But does that make it an accident, or is it an unintentional event? There is a difference between an accident and an unintentional event. An accident is generally understood to be an event without an apparent cause. An accident can’t be foreseen or prepared for. There is no culpability in a true accident; no one is responsible for the event. An unintentional event has a known cause but occurs without intent, forethought, or awareness.

As parents, teachers, therapists, and mentors it is our job to help our students broaden their awareness. When we simply accept “it was an accident” as a reasonable explanation for breaking an object, spilling paint, or knocking over a milk container, we implicitly allow them to remain unaware of their surroundings. We prevent them from increasing their abilities.

Mindfulness – focusing on the present moment and becoming more aware of yourself and your surroundings – is an important practice for all people, but for those with ASD it is an essential mindset for becoming truly independent. By making excuses and denying responsibility, we give away our power to change.

Mindfulness also relieves anxiety by giving us back control of our environment. When we understand that if we are aware of the position of the paint can, we are less likely to knock it over, then life seems less random; there is less to fear. And fear, especially fear of the unknown, is at the root of most anxiety.

Temple Grandin: “You have got to keep autistic children engaged with the world. You cannot let them tune out.”

“I’m doing my best.”
It is admirable to strive to do one’s best but if one sets the bar too low, “the best” is no longer a meaningful challenge. Change and growth come from breaking through barriers and going beyond your best. Too often “doing my best” is a euphemism for “I don’t want to work any harder.”

We do our students no favors if we applaud a mediocre performance or achievement as if it were stellar. I am a total believer in encouragement and positive reinforcement, but I also believe in a lifetime of raising the bar. If we continue to challenge our students (and ourselves) they will rise to heights greater than we can imagine.

Again, it is our role as mentors to hold high expectations for our students, to believe in their abilities, and to challenge them to take risks. Often we have to confront our own perceptions and assumptions. We must let go our doubts and our fears. There is a popular saying in the disability community: the dignity of risk. By wrapping our students in cotton wool, keeping them safe from all pain, we send them a very clear message that we do not believe in their strengths or abilities. We rob them of the dignity of overcoming obstacles – standing on their own two feet, being independent.

So, the next time a student says “I’m doing my best,” respond with “Great. Now see if you can do even better!”

Temple Grandin: “The thing about being autistic is that you gradually get less and less autistic, because you keep learning, you keep learning how to behave. It’s like being in a play; I’m always in a play.”

“It’s not my fault; I have autism.” The diagnosis of autism may be the reason that some aspects of life are harder, but it should never be an excuse to give up trying. Typical pathways and toolsets may not work for ASD individuals. But that just means we need to find alternative ways to accomplish goals.

One of the best lessons we can give our students is how to problem solve given their personal constraints. Each of us has different strengths and weaknesses, so each of our solutions will be different.

If holding productive focus for long periods of time is an obstacle to finishing a project, then work in smaller time segments. Take breaks that help rejuvenate your focus and reinvigorate your attention. Learn your unique work rhythm and let others know that you get the job done, just in smaller increments.

One of the obstacles for ASD college students is their inherent and real difficulty transitioning from one environment (whether physical or metaphysical) to another. This makes it very hard to take a large number of different classes in a full course load. We have found that when allowed to take just one or two classes, they will do far better.

If sensory input overwhelms you, figure out what works to filter out sound, smells, touch, etc. Many folks find that as they get older their sensory issues diminish. So test yourself periodically rather than assume your level of sensitivity is the same.

By practicing mindfulness we become aware of how our minds and our bodies work. Some people think in pictures and need to draw images to understand concepts. Others use facts to build up solid arguments to support their understanding. And there are those who see patterns and find connections in the world that others do not see.

I have autism is not an excuse – it is a declaration of self.

Temple Grandin: “If I could snap my fingers and become non-autistic, I would not. Autism is part of what I am.”

*mollycoddle: to treat with an excessive degree of indulgence and attention

Autistry Newsletter – June 2, 2015

Posted By on June 2, 2015

Time flies when you’re so busy you can’t see the calendar! So much happened at Autistry in April and May that it is a bit of a blur but I will try to describe the clearest moments. Pour yourself a cup of coffee – this is a long one!


Ross presents2The Scientists & Artists…Party!#4 was a huge success. Brian Kennedy, CEO of the Buck Institute, introduced two Autistry interns, Ross Jacobs and Eli Pilcher. Ross and Eli won over the crowd with fascinating and eloquent presentations on their work in the Buck Institute labs. In the last few years we have placed 6 students in internship positions at the Buck. For each of the students the experience has been a catalyst to fundamental shifts in the way they view themselves and their future goals.

Natalie Mann, Outreach Programs Manager of the Walt Disney Family Museum showed us all how to build a multi-plane camera. Her presentation and hands-on demonstration inspired us to build our own. We have had a blast creating stop-motion animation videos!

Ken sings Ken Pontac shared riveting and instructional stories about working in the world of animation and graphic arts. Ken is a long-time supporter of Autistry and has donated several bookshelves of graphic novels and, one of our prized possessions, the original Squishington from Bump in the Night. A born storyteller, Ken is always entertaining but also thoughtful, respectful, and inspiring. His rallying cry of “We are weird. We are proud.” resonated with every person present!

The Orishas Among UsAngelique Benicio and Autistry students from the Orisha’s Among Us workshop strutted down the catwalk in their outrageous finery. Angelique had created amazing background slides for each of the students. We have collected them all in a Flickr album. They are truly wonderful and so in harmony with the Autistry philosophy of holding our students to high standards and helping them achieve great work.

Matt with multiplane
A new staff member:
Matt Kerslake joined Autistry! Matt is a recent graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where he majored in Film/Television Production. He also minored in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. Matt is also an accomplished musician. And, he knows his way around power tools. His first project was building the multi-plane camera.

Nats aliensA new tool: the MicroMark LaserKnife arrived! This is fast becoming our go-to tool for cutting out complex shapes in light wood, plastic, paper, and fabric. It can use the same CAD program, PartWorks, that the ShopBot uses to create sophisticated designs. Matt and Nat are using the laser cutter to make 2D shapes for their stop-motion project on the multi-plane camera.

2015 MAC panelMAY

Began with a bang! Several of our Autistry students were on the panel at the Marin Autism Collaborative Annual Meeting. The panel was made up of individuals on the autism spectrum. The topic for this year’s meeting and for the panel was Autism and Sensory Processing. The members on the panel were articulate, honest, and absolutely gracious. A huge thank you to Avery Lauver, Marin Xiques, Matt Kratoville, Alex Held, Anlor Davin, and Tamsin Kearns. They won over every heart in the audience!


151We ‘b’ Makers: Autistry was invited to share the ShopBot booth at the 10th Annual Maker Faire in San Mateo. We had a blast!! We demonstrated the ShopBot and explained how we use the robotic cutter with our students. We had several student projects on display, including Pierce’s Pirate Ship. It was estimated that nearly 100,000 people attended the Faire over the 3-day period and I think we talked to most of them. Our hosts, Bill Young and Jeanne Taylor of ShopBot, were surprised at how well we knew their product and they loved meeting the Autistry families. We put together a Maker Faire album on Flickr. We have great plans for next year!

ASN Housing PanelASN on housing: the Autistry Support Network, spearheaded by Barbara Waite and Sarah Horowitz hosted an evening of housing experts at Autistry. The event was well attended and well recieved. Panelists, Nancy Dow Moody of Lifehouse, Barry Benda of Brilliant Corners, Irma Velasquez of Rident Park, and Carmen Soruco of Marin Housing Authority answered questions and provided invaluable information on housing options for our ASD adults. Housing is just one of the issues that Autistry families are facing. The Autistry Support Network, not only supports the work of the studio, but also supports the families as we work through the many obstacles and explore the opportunities for independence for our kids. The next ASN event will be on Financial Planning. Stay tuned for more info!

To keep up to date on the happenings at Autistry Studios join us on Facebook. We post photos of the student projects, announce events, and share information.

Let summer begin!

Autistry Newsletter – March 31, 2015

Posted By on March 31, 2015

BAADApril is Autism Awareness Month: Well, for some of us every month is Autism Awareness Month. But I am all for people learning more about how ASD minds work and what programs work for ASD minds. Thursday, April 2nd, Nicole Hitchcock has organized Bay Area Autism Awareness Day. Temple Grandin and Congressman Jared Huffman will be speaking, and a month-long art exhibit will be launched. The event will begin at 6:00 pm with the art display at the NH2 Salon in Vintage Oaks shopping center in Novato. Then continue at 7:30 pm at HopMonk Tavern to hear the guest speakers. Several of our Autistry students will have beautifully mounted photos of their projects for sale. So, come down, see the art, hear the speakers, and support local ASD programs!

2015 GrowingAnd talking about support for local ASD programs: The Jonathan and Kathleen Altman Foundation will match all contributions to Autistry Studios in the month of April, up to a maximum of $20,000! I took this photo the other day of a plant growing in our back yard. For the last couple of weeks I have watched this plant slowly push aside the rock that was in its way. Inch by inch it has worked its way around the obstacles and continued to grow. I know how it feels! Seven years ago we started Autistry Studios and we continue to grow – inch by inch. Building a nonprofit program is a lesson in patience, persistence, and partnership. Your donation is crucial to help us meet the Altmans’ challenge and sustain the growth of Autistry.

SA Party IV squareScientists and Artists…Party IV: Yes, it’s back! Our favorite Autistry party will be Saturday, April 11th, at 7 pm. Don’t miss the great presentations by Brian Kennedy of the Buck Institute, with Eli Pilcher and Ross Jacobs, Autistry students who will share their Buck internship experiences. Natalie Mann of the The Walt Disney Family Museum will give a cool presentation on animation. Ken Pontac, screenwriter and animation director, will talk about his latest and greatest adventures in Hollywood. Angelique Benicio, artist and sculptor, will show highlights from her very popular Autistry Orisha Workshopfreeing the spirit within. And, it wouldn’t be a party without Greg Nett and his fabulous Karaoke Machine. Join us for lots of fun.

camp1Summer is coming! We just posted our 2015 Summer Camp schedule. Last year was so much fun we just had to do it again. This year we are offering 5 week-long camps – Cooking I and II, City Explorers I and II, and Hero’s Journey. Camp sessions are 10 am – 3 pm, Monday through Friday (except Cooking I, which is just 4 days). Sign up early as we keep the groups small to ensure a great time is had by all. Enrollment deadline is May 8, 2015.

Hope to see you all soon!