Autistry Newsletter – August 7, 2017

| August 7, 2017

With schools starting earlier and earlier, summers are getting shorter and shorter. And this one was certainly fast and furious. But we managed many new projects, exciting excursions, and the launch of two new programs.

The Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program (ACAP) began this summer. ACAP is comprised of four interwoven programs: Education, Vocation, Life Skills, and Physical Fitness. Together these programs provide a comprehensive learning experience that supports growth, maturation, and individuation. ACAP is designed as a 5-day/week program and is funded by the Golden Gate Regional Center. Clients may attend fewer days as fits their schedules. It may be that a client has an internship or employment 2-3 days a week and wants to supplement with 2 or 3 days at Autistry. The program is flexible to support the needs of the individual. ACAP launched in July supporting students attending the College of Marin Summer Bridge course. Students learned to use public transportation and returned to Autistry to do homework.

The Autistry staff is just as excited about ACAP as the students. Students learn to Cook with Gabrielle (and who doesn’t want to cook with Gabrielle Haggett-Molina!). She has designed a nutritious, fun, and very yummy curriculum. Skills include meal planning, shopping, kitchen tool safety, hygiene, healthy nutrition, and, the ever-important kitchen clean up.

Matt Glenwright is leading the way with an excursion program to Explore and Experience the Bay Area. He combines travel training using public transportation (Golden Gate Transit, Marin Transit, BART, and soon the SMART train) with exciting adventures: kayaking, hikes in the redwoods, rock concerts, and much more.

To encourage, support, and measure the acquisition of workplace skills, Allison Mages is helping create the Autistry Skills Certification Program. We offer certification in ShopBot, Laser Cutter, Soldering, Sewing, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Premiere Pro, and many others. We hope to eventually recognize all micro-competencies our students achieve at Autistry. These certificates also give our students tangible experience to include on a resume.

More information about the Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program is available: ACAP Info Packet

We have also added the Autistry Professional Development Program to our list of services. Our leadership team, Janet Lawson, CEO, Dan Swearingen, COO and Sara Gardner, Clinical Director have years (decades?) of experience working with autistic teens and adults. Through seminars, workshops, study groups, and presentations we will share our knowledge and experience with professionals and families.

Our next professional development seminar is: Working with the Autistic Client. Saturday, September 16, 9am to 4pm. CE credits for psychologists, social workers, counselors and nurses are available. More information available on the seminar page.

As this summer comes to a close we are looking forward to a busy, productive, and fun fall!

Autistry Newsletter March 15, 2017

| March 15, 2017

It’s March and the madness at Autistry is all about projects and preparing for the return of the much loved Autistry Scientists & Artists Party. For more details and to purchase tickets (buying tickets online in advance helps us plan the food and drink!) go to: AutistrySAparty.brownpapertickets.com

AandS 5

Building stuff. Why do we do projects at Autistry? Because they’re fun and they’re cool. YES. But they are also amazing teaching tools. The process of creating a project involves more than one particular skill. It requires planning, experimentation, execution, and a great degree of self-regulation as things rarely turn out as initially envisioned. Here are just a few of the many types of projects we do at Autistry.

Woodworking: Over the years the students have created some amazing projects using the large array of power and hand tools at the studio. We often joke that Autistics with Power Tools should be our motto. But there is far more to working with wood than attacking a piece of lumber with a skill saw. Plans need to be drawn, materials purchased, and there is the continual need to measure and remeasure. When students first come to Autistry most cannot use a ruler. But they soon learn that a mis-measured board can ruin a dollhouse!

woodworking

Model Building: We often use model kits as “B” projects, the thing you do while glue is drying on your “A” project or the 3D printer is slowly spewing out your masterpiece. Students have built tanks, airplanes, and cars and this seemingly simple activity is actually filled with learning opportunities. Putting together a kit requires reading, understanding, and following directions. And, in the case of the very popular remote control kits, models can also help with fine and gross motor skills. Not to mention learning how to drive.

models

Filmmaking: One of our golden rules at Autistry (right behind THE FINGERS NEVER LEAVE THE HANDS) is NO STORYBOARD/NO CAMERA. A Hollywood director once told me that actual filming is like cutting sausage – the real work is making the sausage. So, before the first shot is taken our students write a treatment and create a storyboard. This not only exercises executive functioning skills (planning, organization, prioritizing, etc.) but the storyboard serves as a roadmap and a means of communicating your fabulous ideas with others. Because filmmaking is a team sport.

filmmaking

Sewing: This is a sadly overlooked art form and a very practical skill. Creating a quilt, piece of clothing, or the cover for a sword requires all the steps used in woodworking, model building, and filmmaking. The project begins with an idea that needs to be developed into a workable plan. Materials need to be purchased. Skills need to be learned. And, as is true for all projects, adjustments need to be made. Resiliency and problem-solving are key when creating any project and every experienced sewer knows how to use the seam-ripper.

sewing

These are just four types of projects. We also build computers, write computer programs, make dioramas, use the 3D printers to make our own cameras, cook yummy food, and create boardgames. The possibilities are endless as are the creative ideas flowing from our students.

Autistry Newsletter – December 26, 2016

| December 26, 2016

CLICK here for the March 2017 Newsletter!

In this strange lull between the Xmas holiday and New Year’s Day, we usually drift in nostalgia and reminisce about the past year’s activities and achievements. And though there have been many wonderful accomplishments this year, we find ourselves looking forward to 2017. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and take Autistry to the next level – opening the Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program, launching creative social enterprises, and creating a Mentor Training Program for professionals and families.

KBLX CaresLast week, Dan, Steven, and Janet were interviewed by radio host Sterling James for her KBLX Cares program. We were very impressed with Steven who insisted he was not articulate enough to be on the radio – and yet he spoke with eloquence and confidence. Steven graduated last year from Sonoma State University with a degree in Applied Mathematics. He is bright, funny, creative, and autistic. Listen for yourself!

In November, we wrote about the Saturday and Sunday Core Workshops. These workshops are for teenagers and are held on the weekend to not interfere with middle and high school schedules. The Thursday and Friday Core Workshops are for adults. Our adult students range in age from 19 to 50+. Their verbal ability ranges from virtually nonverbal to oh-my-God-please-be-quiet! How do we accommodate such a wide range of interests and abilities? By addressing each individual’s needs and connecting with each individual’s interests. We challenge our students to expand their capabilities and we challenge ourselves to be open to learning new skills with our students.

coral reefThe range of projects is a reflection of the range of interests. Danielle is creating mixed media pieces. She has learned to use the laser cutter to create complex shapes and she also incorporated her love of double spiral lanyards. The lanyards became a coral reef and the perfect environment for a clown fish.

 

ComicLIfeSeveral of our students are expanding their storytelling ability with ComicLife. This simple-to-use software program allows them to create visual narratives and add short descriptions and dialogue.

Creating comics gives those with limited verbal ability the opportunity to share their stories. It also encourages the development of vocabulary, perspective-taking, and organization. Over time these stories become more and more complex and lead to stop-motion animation.

nat and allieStop-motion is a wonderful way to experience drama. The process can be tedious but the rewards are great. Over the years students have created several films incorporating stop-motion elements or entirely done as stop-motion pieces: Screaming Eggs, Ian and Reed Juggle a Star, Fish Hook, Thomas the Tank Engine (test), and Alphabet Mission to Mars!

We currently have a GoFundMe campaign raising funds to upgrade our animation tools: www.GoFundMe.com/autistry

006Some of our students are already fine writers. On Friday, Gabrielle Haggett-Molina facilitates the Autistry World group. The Autistry World Group is the creation of Sara Gardner, LMFT our Clinical Director. She felt that the inner-worlds of our students needed an outlet and peer support. Each member of this group is creating a unique imaginary world. Their projects can be novels, board games, video games, graphic novels, or even blogs. They share their works-in-progress with each other in group and also online throughout the week.

Several of our adult students are taking college courses and we will be expanding our college support services in 2017. One of the most important lessons we have learned over these last 8.5 years is that everyone, autistics included, when given the opportunity will continue to grow and learn throughout their lives. At Autistry we are firm believers in lifelong learning.

Father and Son2Our adult students (and our teens!) need employment experience. We are reaching out to the community to find appropriate opportunities but we also realize the need for creating those opportunities. Dan recently posted a blog about social enterprises and how they can offer hands-on experience to autistic individuals. In 2017 we will launch a couple of light-manufacturing social enterprises. These will offer experience designing, building, and marketing products to the public.

Wow – there is a lot of work ahead
. Please consider a donation to help us fulfill our goals and enrich and empower the autistic community. More information is available on our Donation page.

We look forward to connecting with you all in 2017!

Janet, Dan, Sara, Allison, Gabrielle, Matt, Nghi, Bryant, and James

Autistry Newsletter – November #2: Sunday

| November 25, 2016

Sunday LARP3
PokemonGo TeamSundays are special at Autistry. The workshop combines older teenagers, generally juniors or seniors in high school, with some of our college age students (Friday guys). When not studying for their college classes, the older students help the others with their projects and often join in LARP (Live Action Role Play) sword fights. They are also active members of the Autistry Sunday Pokemon Go pack.

When we started Autistry we focused on these transition years – late high school age to mid-20 year olds. This is a difficult time for anyone, on the spectrum or off the spectrum. These are years of self-discovery and exploration but also years filled with fear and self-doubt. How to be independent in a world where expectations are unclear, relationships are hopelessly nuanced, and everyone else seems to know what they want and where to get it. Autistic youth often feel left behind.

celebrate
The needs of our Sunday Workshop students are driving the design of the soon to launch Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program (APAC).

For years we have offered a College Support Workshop, helped high school students with science projects, prepared students for the driving permit test, and celebrated birthdays, graduations, new jobs, and all sorts of special moments.

APAC will extend that support to include physical fitness, vocation, and life skills training. So, thank you Sunday guys for your inspiration!

A sneak peek at some of the Sunday Workshop projects:

Chris diorama in processChris is creating a diorama world for the awesome clay Solid Snake figure he made last month. The scene is a location from the Metal Gear Solid games called Shadow Moses Island. Chris has just built the mountains using cardboard strips draped with red rosin paper and painted with white glue. The final steps will be to cover the surface with Clay Shay, paint, and add details.

portal gunAvery will also create a diorama of a stage he designed for the video game Portal. He began this project by making a clay replica of the Portal gun. It is just 2” long but Avery has captured the look and feel…and the details. Avery’s diorama skills were honed making the amazing Gates of Mordor. The Gates took nearly a year to complete but Avery learned several cool model-making techniques and he stayed focused. The payoff was a spectacular diorama.

Avery's Gates of Modor with photoshopped background.

Avery’s Gates of Modor with photoshopped background.

Sash does his homeworkSasha is using his project time to get help with his school homework. We have all been impressed by his determination and his persistence.

With Matt as his mentor/tutor, Sasha spends hours working on geometry and history. But there is always time for LARP swordplay and Pokemon Go.

 

V and Sara
IMG_0226.mov.00_00_13_29.Still001
Vee-Liam just completed Phase One of the Autistry Core Workshop program – 6 weeks of 1:1 work with Sara as his mentor. Together they created a wonderfully whimsical stop-motion video, Monkey and Banana.

Vee-Liam created his character and set pieces in the 2D CAD/CAM program, PartWorks and then sent the files to the laser cutter.

The scene was shot on the multi-plane camera set-up and edited in Adobe Premiere Pro. Lots of learning, lots of fun.

 

Next week we will feature the students and projects of the Thursday Autistry Core Workshop.

Gears2Please help us continue the Core Workshops and launch the Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program with a donation to our 2016 Gear-End Fundraiser. Follow the link to download, print, and send the donation form. Be sure to include the text for your custom engraved gear! You can also donate online through our Donations Page.

Thank you,
Janet, Dan, Sara, Allie, Gabrielle, Matt, Nghi, Bryant, and James

November 12, 2016 – Newsletter

| November 12, 2016

As we move into the last months of 2016, I’d like to give you all an in-depth, inside look at the Autistry Core Workshops. In 2017, we will launch the Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program (ACAP) which will expand our services to include Education, Vocation, Life Skills, and Physical Fitness/Healthy Living. But everything we do, our philosophy, our approach, our interventions, is based on knowledge we have gained in nearly a decade of Autistry Core Workshops.

SaturdayWe call our approach, Project-Based Therapy. By tapping into the individual interests of our students and providing them the tools, both physical and emotional, to create projects embracing those interests, we give them the opportunity to find their passion and build strong, resilient, and unique identities.

This will be the first of four newsletters each featuring a current workshop day at Autistry – the students and their projects. Our workshops are composed of students of similar age and with similar communication abilities. We do not use the terms Low or High Functioning. We think more in terms of communicative ability. One of the lessons we have learned over the years is the absolute need to continuously increase vocabulary and to expand all forms of literacy – informational, cultural, visual, digital, technological, etc. We are firm advocates of lifelong learning fueled by the Maker Spirit.

Saturday Core Workshop

Many of our students begin on Saturdays in the early teen groups. Their projects reflect the exuberance and curiosity of these high-energy years!

Matilda stageIt took a year of Saturdays for Nat to complete his stop-motion film, Alphabet Mission to Mars. All that patience is now paying off – the film was recently accepted into the Bluenose-Ability Film Festival in Nova Scotia and was featured at the Special Affects Film Festival last summer. Following his love for film and theater, Nat is now finishing a replica (exact reproduction, of course!) of the stage set from Matilda, the Musical. Driven by his passion, and with help from his mentor Allie, Nat found the inner strength and maturity to overcome technical obstacles to create a fabulous diorama.

mike on CADMichael began to tinker with the Lego MindStorm set and found that, with a little effort and guidance from his mentor Bryant, he had the fine motor skills and the attention to detail needed to create robots! After several successful robot-building exercises Michael is now concentrating on learning the CAD skills necessary to run the ShopBot, a robotic router. He is working on a wall clock based on the Pokemon character, Aegislash.

s SonicCreating character clocks is a great way to leverage a special interest in order to learn new skills. Nick’s Sonic Clock is a super example. Using the sophisticated graphic design software, Nick created the files that control the ShopBot router, instructing it to cut or engrave the piece of wood that became Sonic. These are not easy tools to use and require patience, concentration, and decoding ability to master. Nick, with his mentor Matt, works on these essential skills while also expanding his verbal ability with a session of focused reading in each workshop.

Alex drivesAlex brought his passion for remote-controlled vehicles to Autistry and life around here has never been the same! His enthusiasm inspired several other students and together they have built a fleet of RC cars and trucks. One of Alex’s career goals is to drive a truck so we set up a driving simulator with a long-haul truck-driving program so he can practice his skills. Model-building is a great way to incorporate executive skill-building into a fun project. It requires planning, initiation, sequencing, and organization as well as self-regulation. And when all these skills come together the result is high self-esteem and well-earned pride – and a very cool GhostBusters Car!

ghostbusters

pix-eIt is well known that Lauren loves the ShopBot but she also loves the Raspberry Pi and the 3D printer. Her latest project, after the blue RC car and the M51 Super Sherman tank, is a Pix-E camera. This project is the perfect combination of Lauren’s loves. The Pix-E Camera “is a fully customizable 3D printed camera that takes short gifs using a Raspberry Pi Zero and Raspberry Pi Camera.” Lauren is having fun … and so is Dan!

tank

vicTank Girls! Yep, they’re a thing and Victoria is one of the best. She has finished two tank models – an M3 Stuart and an M4 Sherman. Both were complicated kits requiring hours of concentration and delicate fine motor skills. With mentor Nghi cheering her on, Victoria was victorious. And last week, she completed a small motorized car model entirely on her own. She has also mastered the fine art of RC car driving, keeping Alex and Lauren on their guard.

 

GabisGabi just recently joined the Saturday workshops, and like all students, she begins with a 9-week period of intensive 1:1 guidance. This high level of attention allows us to learn more about the student’s abilities and challenges. It also provides the time to develop trust and relationship with the staff. The goal is to build a strong foundation from which to move forward. Growth and change can be stressful and trust is essential. For her first project, Gabi is working closely with Gabrielle sewing a stuffed animal toy. Gabrielle will walk her through all the aspects of the project. For her next project, Gabi will make a small patchwork quilt and practice independently the many skills she was introduced to in the stuffed toy project.

Next week we will feature the students and projects of the Sunday Autistry Core Workshop.

Gears2Please help us continue the Core Workshops and launch the Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program with a donation to our 2016 Gear-End Fundraiser. Follow the link to download, print, and send the donation form. Be sure to include the text for your custom engraved gear! You can also donate online through our Donations Page.

Thank you,
Janet, Dan, Sara, Allie, Gabrielle, Matt, Nghi, Bryant, and James

Autistry Newsletter August 15, 2016

| August 15, 2016

FestivalLogo1web-768x390What a great summer! New faces, cool excursions, and lots of great news. But before we look back, let’s look forward to this coming weekend. Steve Gatlin of Special Affects Films has organized a film festival “dedicated to showcasing the finest films being produced for, by and about the special needs community in the world today“. Autistry has one entry this year: Nat Snell’s Alphabet Mission to Mars. Information on the festival can be found on the festival website. Tickets for the event and for the individual screenings can be purchased online.

nats150Nat’s film will be shown in the Short Film group which starts at 4:45pm on Saturday (note that is after the Autistry Saturday workshop!). Please join us as we support Nat and all the filmmakers at the Special Affects Film Festival.
 

EMBoard Business: In July we welcomed Emily Woods to the Autistry Board of Directors. Emily grew up in the heart of the maker movement helping her family create MAKE Magazine, the Maker Faire, and TechShop. Emily graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz. She is the Member Ambassador for TechShop, Inc., oversees the member experience at TechShop San Francisco, and is currently part of the advance team launching a new TechShop in St. Louis, MO. Emily brings enthusiasm and a full tank of Maker Spirit.

Summer Fun:
This year we began a new program of adventure – Autistry Excursions. Hosted and organized by the Autistry Support Network, these day trips were a huge hit. As president of the ASN, Dick Dinkelspiel took the lead and coordinated trips to Alcatraz, the California Academy of Sciences, a train trip to the California State Railroad Museum, and a day at Stinson Beach. We started these as summer outings but will continue the excursions throughout the year. Oh, the places we’ll go!

whitewaterWhitewater Side Trip:One trip that we will definitely organize is a spring or summer weekend of whitewater rafting on the South Fork of the American River. In July, Betty Lituanio organized an event through Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC) in Placerville. Ian, Janet, Lisa, and Reed went with a group of about 25 eager rafters. It was fabulous. The campsite was pristine. The sun was shining. And the river was refreshingly cool (OK, it was damn cold!). Spiraling through the rapids is an unforgettable and exhilarating experience. This should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Writing on the Wall: “We must write about this” has become a mantra at Autistry. Unfortunately we are so busy that we rarely get the quiet, uninterrupted time necessary to compose coherent missives. However, Dan did manage to write a post about Ian leaving home. Yes, almost 2 years ago Ian moved into a house with 3 other young men. Launching our autistic kids is not for the faint of heart. You can read Dan’s post, Oh Yeah, Ian Moved Out on the Autistry website.

Two of our Dominican University OT mentors have written a great article about their work at Autistry. Erin Chaffee and Bryant Luong worked with a young man, Michael for several months. They were very impressed with Michael’s ability to incorporate new strategies that helped him with self-regulation, posture, focus, and attention. Their article also highlights the power and effectiveness of Autistry’s Project-Based Therapy. Michael’s R3ptor – an OT Perspective can also be found on the website.

We have several new initiatives planned for Autistry. But talk of those will have to wait until the next newsletter.

Janet, Dan, and the Autistry Team

Autistry Newsletter – May 13, 2016

| 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

| 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

| 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 – November 11, 2015

| November 10, 2015

We are still getting settled into the new studio. So many boxes to unpack and tools to find places for.
lunch2
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!

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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.