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.

December 2018
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Giving 2018

Posted By on November 23, 2018


Autistry Studios builds independent adults.

Becoming independent is not a passive process.
It takes courage and an inner fortitude to challenge oneself to learn a new skill, break an old habit, or create a dream.

 
Autistry is a therapeutic/educational Maker Space celebrating its 10th year providing programs and services to autistic teens and adults and those with other developmental, communication, and social issues.

The services Autistry provides go well beyond the funds provided by the Regional Center and the workshop fees. As with most nonprofits, Autistry relies on the support of the community to continue to offer unique and effective programs and to expand those programs as the needs of our students change.

Make donations on our Donate page or on Tuesday, November 27 on our Facebook page!

Your donations have a great impact:

$50
Sew much help! $50 buys 24 1,000 yard spools of thread, assorted hand-needles, pin cushions, seam rippers AND a pair of fabric scissors for creating costumes, quilts, puppets, and stuffed animals!
$100
Art supplies keep Autistry artists painting dioramas, fine art pieces and fabulous character clocks. $100 buys a set of 53 tubes of acrylic paint, 3 quarts of gel medium, AND 12 natural bristle brushes.
$250
Support the Autistry Excursion groups as they explore local attractions throughout the Bay Area: 20 bus rides, 10 SMART train trips, AND 10 tickets to the Asian Art Museum are just a few of the ways we would spend $250.
$500
Hands-on learning requires hands-on materials. A $500 donation purchases 10 sheets of plywood, 5 new blades for the jigsaw, AND 4 new ShopBot bits – enough material for at least 20 cool projects.
$1,000
We are what we eat! $1,000 provides nutritious lunches for one full month of Autistry Workshops AND buys groceries for the Cooking with Gabrielle workshop where students learn to make complete meals.
$2,500
Saddle up! Through our partnership with the Square Peg Foundation Autistry students gain essential equestrian work skills – horse grooming, ranch maintenance, and the care of saddles and bridles. $2,500 covers transportation costs and essential protective gear – work gloves, sunscreen, and work hats.
$5,000
All aboard! Autistry is partnering with the Western Railway Museum to create a unique skill-building internship program. A $5000 donation purchases safety equipment (work gloves, protective eyewear, safety vests) and covers transportation costs for a full summer of hands-on work experience for 2 Autistry crews.
$10,000
Opportunity funding helps low income families access Autistry Core Workshops. $10,000 donation creates sliding scale options for at least 5 new Autistry students. Help us help them!

Autistry Newsletter – September 11, 2018

Posted By on September 11, 2018

We are well into the new school semester and I still haven’t done a summer wrap-up newsletter. Let’s fix that!

In June we launched our first Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program (ACAP) Summer Session. It was five days a week of exercise, vocational training, college prep, and fun. The program tripled in size the first week, reaching our goal of 12 students a full 6 months earlier than planned. All of the summer ACAP students have continued with us into the fall semester.

ACAP Excursion to Jack London State Park


Lots of walking …

Each week began with a trip to the Dominican University Conlan Center for a workout session and/or a swim in the pool. The trip itself was exercise and travel training. Students walked from the studio to the San Rafael Transit Center and took the bus to the gym. Many lessons learned along the way: Do not walk along busy streets wearing ear plugs and playing games on your iPhone. Yes, you need either current college ID, ticket, or an active Clipper Card to ride the Marin Transit bus. No, the bus does not wait for you if you are late to the bus stop.

Ian and Teodros – Gym Buddies!

At the gym the students, under the direction of Autistry mentors and DU graduate OT interns, created individualized workout plans and paired up to be Gym Buddies. And there was at least one pool session a week where the students could improve their swimming skills and review water safety. The Conlan also provided a great basketball court, outdoor soccer fields, and a running track – we made use of them all.

Original Bamboo Equine Themed Coasters

Back at the studio, we honed our vocational skills with several different projects. Matt Glenwright, Autistry Program Director for Vocational Training, taught shop skills using the laser cutter, ShopBot, bandsaw, and other woodworking tools. Students also used graphic and CAD software to create unique designs. Lots of measuring, figuring, and cutting went on this summer. We were happy to donate three sets of original equine-themed bamboo coasters to a raffle supporting Square Peg Foundation. And, we delivered the Art Boxes to Oak Hill School.

Delivering Art Boxes to Oak Hill School


Yummy – tangy tastes!

Wednesday’s Cooking with Gabrielle was a huge hit. Each week featured a student’s favorite family recipe allowing us to enjoy new tastes: chana masala, homemade pesto, Mason Family cranberry sauce, creamy vegan one-pot pasta, and many more tasty dishes. They also experimented with exotic spices and strange, tongue-tickling textures.

Lots of studying …

In the spirit of keeping our brains active and preparing for fall college classes we spent many hours doing academic basics: reading writing, and arithmetic. Gabrielle and Sara prepared special learning packets for each of the students to brush up on Math and English skills. When classes started in late August the Autistry students were ready.

And, of course, there were the fabulous Friday excursions with Sara Gardner. Just a few of the places they visited: San Francisco Exploratorium, Point Reyes National Seashore, Japanese Tea Garden, Square Peg Foundation horse farm, SF zoo, and Jack London State Park. These excursion are not only fun but also practice travel skills and offer the opportunity to explore our community.

ACAP Excursion to the Bay Model in Sausalito


Peek-a-Boo Under the Sea: multi-media piece by Danielle

The Core Build Stuff Workshops remain the heart of Autistry. In these weekly 4-hour workshops amazing projects are being created. This summer Edward finished his plushie character, Dashi from Octonauts. He is now working on a very cool puppet. Danielle completed her award-winning multi-media piece, Peek-a-Boo – Under the Sea, several animated films are underway, and many 3D printed projects happened.

Yoda – carved on ShopBot with laser cut paper overlay

This fall we celebrate 10 Years of Autistry Build Stuff Workshops! We offered our first workshop in September 2008 and we have added new workshops and new services every year. Please consider a donation to help us continue to expand Autistry for another 10 years!

Autistry Newsletter – June 16, 2018

Posted By on June 16, 2018

Summer is here! Before I tell you about the great summer program at Autistry I want to celebrate and congratulate our students who have successfully found employment. This is a tough job market where even entry level positions often require college degrees. Though Autistry does not formally provide job placement we have found that good work habits lead to good jobs. Both the Core Workshops and the Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program focus on essential workplace skills – critical thinking and problem solving, effective communication, self-regulation, initiative, follow-through, basic academic skills, and teamwork.

Alan, Mike, and Ian G. are all on staff next door at Renew Computers. They will greet you when you come in, help unload your recyclable goods, build you a new computer, and do it all with a smile. Other Autistry students test and clean keyboards and mice helping to keep electronic devices in working order and out of the landfill. We are proud of our Autistry workers and our partnership with Michael Reynolds and Renew Computers.

Sprouts Farmers Market has welcomed three Autistry students onto their staff: Steven, Chris, and Sawyer (not pictured). You’ll find Steven at the check-out counter ringing up your purchases. Sawyer is working in the deli section and Chris is everywhere – stocking shelves, cleaning up, and helping customers take their groceries to the car. Sprouts is a short walk from Autistry so we like to shop and check in on our friends.


Congratulations to Danny!
He landed two summer positions in local restaurants. Danny is currently enrolled in the Culinary Arts Program at Santa Rosa Junior College. Restaurant positions are very competitive but Danny persevered sending out several rounds of applications, doing interviews, and kitchen ‘try-outs’. He will be working two part-time jobs as an intern line cook gaining crucial experience in his chosen career. Bon Appetit!

And Corey – our media star! For years Corey has dreamed of working on Hollywood movies and this year he finally got his foot in the door as an extra on several productions filmed locally. You can see him in 13 Reasons Why, The OA, and A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities. Years ago, I was an extra in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America. This seems like an easy job but I can tell you it is very demanding. Long hours of boredom interspersed with high-energy activity. Focus, self-regulation, following complex directions, and trying to be social when you are exhausted are all important skills for this job. Corey continues to get call backs from production companies and that shows he has mastered these skills. And he just had a very good 3-month job review from P-Town Books. Bravo Corey!

Autistry Summer Programs: ACAP (Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program) and the Core Workshops are going full force this summer. With college classes on summer break the ACAP curriculum has expanded to include twice weekly workouts at the Conlan Center of Dominican University. With the help of four DU Occupational Therapy Level II interns, we are creating individualized fitness programs for each student.

Matt has developed a summer vocational program to produce the art boxes, snowflake ornaments, and iPad screen guards so the workshop is humming. Gabrielle is working with the students to create menus based on student family favorite and traditional dishes for the Wednesday Cooking Class. Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean we stop learning – throughout the week we will have Academic Review Sessions to prepare for college courses in the Fall.

And, it wouldn’t be ACAP without Sara’s Excursion Fridays! They have already gone kayaking, hiking, and to the theater to see Incredibles 2!

The Core Workshop is busy with new projects and lots of new materials. Dan has gone crazy purchasing Arduino micro-controllers and electronic components to make all sorts of cool gadgets. And the trains are back! We’re adding home-made DCC (digital command control) systems to remotely control the trains as they speed along the tracks and will be experimenting with dead-rail (battery powered) systems. We are working on the layout adding new buildings and rebuilding the tunnels. The Friday College Support group has been developing tabletop games and some students are working on writing and 3D design projects. Lots of fun!

Autistry Newsletter April 18, 2018

Posted By on April 20, 2018

Ian’s Reading Circle

April is Autism Acceptance Month. I’m not sure what that means as I can’t imagine not accepting autism as a way of being, a way of experiencing the world. But I also know that many individuals need help along the way. Please take some time this month (and every month) to thank the schools, services, and programs that work hard all year long to help autistic children, teens, and adults become independent and accomplish great things. And just for fun, here is a photo of Ian recreating the Marindale Early Intervention Autism Class reading circle for his special students.

Now that you’re smiling: Help us meet a $7,500 challenge from the Miranda Lux Foundation. To unlock this $7,500 grant, we need to raise $7,500 to match. Your donations will be matched dollar for dollar. The Miranda Lux grant supports our Make and Share Vocational Training Project. This unique project, teaches woodworking, computer-aided design (CAD), and computer-aided light manufacturing (CAM) by creating products to donate to our community. Production is well underway on two projects:

Screen guard designed by Dan Phillips, made at Autistry

Custom iPad Screen Guards: In collaboration with the Tech Resource Center Marin, a program of the Marin County Office of Education, we are designing and producing acrylic screen guards for use with touch screen monitors. These screen guards are specifically designed to assist physically challenged individuals when using iPads and other touch activated devices.
 


Art Boxes on the ShopBot


Art Boxes: These are assembled and ready-to-decorate wooden boxes that can be used by school and nonprofit art programs to create dioramas. Students learn to measure, cut, and assemble projects. They learn to use the laser cutter and the ShopBot, a robotic cutting tool.

The boxes are 8″ x 11″ x 4.5″ The back is MDF which is very good to paint on. The sides are 1/2″ plywood. They include a separate piece of MDF 7″ x 10″ which can be painted separately and then glued inside the box after painting. Our first order will be delivered to Oak Hill School this summer!

ACAP students study together

For our ACAP students the spring semester is quickly drawing to a close and the ACAP students are busy preparing for finals and finishing up their assignments. We have all learned a lot this semester, not just the coursework but also the finer points helping our students navigate college.

Throughout the year, College of Marin Student Accessibility Service (SAS) has been a fabulous partner. Stormy Miller, Director of SAS and her team have helped us find accommodations that work for our students and provided a supportive and accepting environment that fosters intellectual growth and independence. This semester we have students in two different math classes, a C++ programming class, and a music class. Four of our students are working towards their AA degrees.

Besides going to school our ACAP students have been working on life skills like grocery shopping and cooking. On the Friday excursions they have visited the Asian Art Museum, the Charles Schultz ‘Peanuts’ Museum, the Bay Model in Sausalito, the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, and many other cool places. They have also hiked through Samuel P. Taylor Park, Marin Headlands and Point Reyes. Excursion Fridays with Sara are a hit at Autistry!

Our students in the Core Workshop Program have been busy creating amazing projects. Steven completed the stop motion animation short, Kirby vs The Dark Mattarmy and is now working on a new narrative film.

Venom


Avery sculpted the character Venom and is working on a scenic diorama where Venom can live and wreak havoc.

Good Cat, Frank


Nat’s picture book, Good Cat, Frank will be available soon on Amazon.

Enterprise Clock


Jonathan’s Enterprise Clock is ready for take-off.

Lots of other cool stuff keeping the3D printer, laser cutter and ShopBot busy!

Mark your calendars for Saturday April 28 – it’s time for our sixth Autistry Scientists & Artists Party! We have an amazing lineup of presenters this year. A celebrated film visual/special effects artist, an MIT Media Lab inventor, a virtual reality and hologram pro, and a gene-splicer from the Buck Institute! Wow, just Wow. And, Ken Pontac returns to emcee with his special blend of dark humor and deep kindness. Did I mention that there will be karaoke? There will be karaoke! Tickets available online!

A final reminder, please consider a donation to Autistry to help match the $7,500 pledged by the Miranda Lux Foundation. To unlock this $7,500 grant we need to raise $7,500 to match. Your donations will be matched dollar for dollar. Donations can be made online.

Autistry Newsletter – December 2017

Posted By on December 26, 2017

2017 – what a fabulous year! Last December I wrote that we were “ready to roll up our sleeves and take Autistry to the next level”. I am happy to report that we did just that. We received our Community Care License, became vendorized by the Golden Gate Regional Center, launched the Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program (ACAP), became authorized to award Continuing Education credits, launched the Autistry Professional Development Program with our first seminar, Working with the Autistic Client, and welcomed several new students to the Autistry Core Workshop Program. In 2017, we created a solid foundation and we are now rolling our sleeves up even higher to expand these programs and add more activities in 2018.

Launch of ACAP: We have long envisioned a multi-day program to support transitioning individuals – not just those young adults going from high school to post high school, but also those transitioning from inactivity to engagement, from loss of job to finding one’s way again, and from isolation to community. Working closely with our Autistry students and families we have created a program that embraces and supports life-long learning, vocational readiness, healthy living, and cultural/social awareness. This is easy to conceptualize but a bit more difficult to materialize. It took months of scheduling, organizing, and planning but the reward – a successful first semester!

How does ACAP work? We organize our week around the college course schedule. Most students take at least one college course and usually attend class twice a week. Autistry mentors help students navigate public transportation to get to class, will attend class with them when needed, and provide homework help at College of Marin Learning Labs and at Autistry.

On days of no classes (and if there is no homework to be done!), students work on designated Autistry projects. These projects are each designed to teach specific skills and to create products that are useful for the community. Currently we have 4 major lines of production happening:

1. Art Boxes: These can be used for creating dioramas. Matt teaches the students how to measure, cut, and assemble the wooden boxes. They also learn to use the laser cutter and the ShopBot.
The art boxes will be donated to local art programs.
Our first customers are Oak Hill School, Cedars of Marin, and The Helix School.

2. Screen Guards: At the request of Dan Phillips of the Technology Resource Center of Marin, we are making acrylic keyboard guards that fit over an iPad to help guide one’s fingers to the correct spot on a touch screen. With our unique shop facility and our talented workers in mind, we are exploring other cool projects to create for the TRC.

3. Art Smocks: Gabrielle and Chloe have designed a versatile smock for protecting one’s clothes while working with paints and other messy mediums. The basic prototype can be made in 3 different sizes with various pocket options. This project teaches our students how to create and adjust a pattern as well as machine and hand-sewing. The smocks will be donated to schools and nonprofit organizations.

4. Original Ornaments: Allie and several students have designed fabulous animal-themed ornaments – like this octopus snowflake. We will make them in various materials – wood, acrylic, card stock, heavy fabric.
The students learn basic design concepts, CAD drawing skills using several different professional programs, and how to use the laser cutter. These we may sell online or at Farmer’s Markets as a way to experience the world of commerce.

We also offer the very popular Cooking with Gabrielle. She teaches nutrition and healthy eating along with basic cooking skills. The students have made some very yummy meals – Persian Shish Kabobs, Turkey Pot Pie, Chicken Enchiladas, and Empanadas.
And of course there are the scrumptious cakes, cookies, biscuits, pies, and other tasty sweets.

Asian Art visitTo top off the week, we have Excursion Fridays with Sara. Each week the ACAP students explore the Bay Area. Trips have included the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, a hike through Samuel P. Taylor Park, visit to the Bay Model in Sausalito, a peer-guided tour of UC Berkeley, and a tour of the Marin Civic Center with Supervisor Damon Connolly. The students learn how to utilize public transportation to get out and about in their community.

As you can tell there are lots of moving parts to this complex program but notes like this one from the Dinkelspiel family make all the planning worth the effort:

Autistry Studios has been such a vital and wonderful part of our lives, providing our autistic son, Chris with critical help and guidance as he makes his transition into adulthood. The staff has worked with Chris extensively as he navigates his way through classes at the College of Marin, and in teaching him the life skills he will need to live independently. Chris loves Autistry Studios, the friends that he has made there, the many skills he has learned, and the accomplishments he has achieved. We are forever grateful for what Autistry Studios has done for Chris and for our family, and we look forward to continuing to work with Autistry Studios for many years to come. Thank you!”

CORE Workshop Program: ACAP may have taken much of our energy last year but we never lost focus on the heart of Autistry which is the Core Workshop Program. The Core is a therapeutic Maker/STEAM program where students ranging in age from 13 – 55 create awesome projects of their own choosing and along the way gain fundamental and essential knowledge about themselves.

Some students come to the Core in their early teens, stay with us through high school, through college, and continue to attend workshops as they establish careers. Our younger students often discover that, even though they like to test them, firm boundaries keep one physically and emotionally safe. And, within that safe zone they can settle down and build projects they have been dreaming of for years.

This year we added new electronic capabilities and created several new projects on the 3D printer. Having the right tools and equipment on hand is what makes it possible for students to build such a wide variety of projects. We have 2 new 3D printers on order, the second laser cutter will come online soon, several new work benches have been built during this holiday week, and boxes of Arduino and Raspberry Pi parts keep arriving.

The goal at Autistry, for both the ACAP and the Core Program is to help individuals become as independent as they are capable of being.

Becoming independent is not a passive process. It takes courage and an inner fortitude to challenge oneself to learn a new skill, break an old habit, or create a dream.

Your support helps us purchase great tools and state-of-the-art equipment, and attract smart, talented staff – the key ingredients to Autistry’s success. There’s still time for that End-of-Year Donation!

The Autistry Team wishes you all a fabulous new year!

World-renowned Scientists Join Autistry Board

Posted By on October 22, 2017

PRESS RELEASE
SAN RAFAEL, Calif., Oct. 17, 2017 – Autistry Studios, a therapeutic /educational makerspace providing programs and services to teens and adults with autism, announced today that Clifford Saron, PhD, research neuroscientist at the Center for Mind and Brain and the MIND Institute at UC Davis, and Gordon Lithgow, PhD, Chief Academic Officer and professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging have joined the Autistry board of directors.

“We are honored and excited to have these two brilliant scientists working with us as board members,” said Founder/CEO Janet Lawson. “Autistry is expanding our programs and extending our reach and their help and guidance will be invaluable.”

Autistry is entering its 10th year offering hands-on maker workshops where students create fabulous projects based on their own ideas including robots, dioramas, stop-motion animation, Raspberry Pi and Arduino computers. Lawson points out that the projects are not recreational. They are preparation for employment. The process of creating projects strengthens job readiness by practicing vocational and social skills.

The company recently added the Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program (ACAP) addressing the specific and individual needs of autistic adults in the areas of Education, Vocation, Life Skills, and Physical Fitness. ACAP is supported by the Golden Gate Regional Center.

Autistry Studios Fundraiser for Busy People: A Non-Event Event

Posted By on October 8, 2017

How to Contribute to a Non-Event Event:

 

Step 1: Look at your wardrobe for appropriately formal yet professional Gala wear

 

 

Step 2: Franticly search for someone to watch your kids/cats/parents

Step 3: Relax! Forget about the first 2 steps, you don’t actually need to go anywhere!

 

 

Step 4: Make a donation online or by mail in any amount! http://bit.ly/DonateToAutistry

 

 

Step 5: Accept our thanks! Gifts of $100+ acknowledged on our unique donor wall.

Step 6: Encourage others to join in!
• Forward this invitation to friends and family
Join and invite others to our Facebook event page at http://www.bit.ly/NonEvent
Post images in our online albums.

 

Step 7: Join us at our end-of-year open house to see the studio and celebrate. Saturday December 2, from 4-6pm (But only if you feel like it!)

 

 

 

 

 

♥ Illustrations by Steven Waite

Autistry Newsletter – August 7, 2017

Posted By on 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

Posted By on 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

Posted By on 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