Another year of rapid growth and development at Autistry! We have grown so quickly that I only just realized it has been a year since the last newsletter. The silence is not from lack of cool news to report – more like lack of time to report it!
New students – Fall semester 2019 we supported 20 students taking classes at College of Marin. And, as of this writing (a week before finals) all the students are passing their classes. The students are really challenging themselves with college level courses in Geology, Biology, English, Drama, and Art. Several students are also taking a Study Skills class to improve their academic abilities and prepare for next semester.
We welcomed several new students into the Core Workshops on Friday and Sunday. They are coming in from Sonoma, Oakland, San Leandro and as far south as San Mateo. The pull to create additional Autistry locations is getting stronger. We would love to create a network of studios. If you are interested in starting an Autistry in your area contact us – we are open to exploring the possibilities.
New programs – In 2019 we launched two new programs, the Autistry Skills Adaptation Program (ASAP) and the Paid Internship Program (PIP). ASAP is a 6-month program providing targeted training to young adults transitioning from high school, post-high school programs, or individuals seeking support to become more independent. Although designed to prepare individuals for entry into the Autistry Comprehensive Adult Program the Autistry Skills Adaptation Program also prepares individuals for other vocational or education programs. ASAP is vendorized by the Golden Gate Regional Center.
The Paid Internship Program (PIP) began quietly and then took off. Our partnerships with the Western Railway Museum and Square Peg Foundation proved to be so mutually beneficial that we added several more interns to each work site. At the museum, the students are learning basic maintenance skills as well as developing new workplace abilities – painting, climbing up scaffolding, working as a team, and even how to drive the electric work vehicles. This summer we will begin training on how to drive some of the trolley cars and engage with several of the restoration projects.
At Cadence Farm, in addition to keeping the horse stalls clean and dry, the interns learn how to wash and groom these magnificent retired thoroughbred racehorses. And, as the students gain more confidence and form relationships with the horses, they are taught how to train and exercise them. This begins with guiding the horse through a series of paces – walk, trot, and cantor. An exercise in trust for all concerned.
New opportunities – In July, Autistry received a large grant from the Department of Disability Services. The grant is to support the expansion of our current community partnerships and the development of new partnerships. We are looking for new organizations in addition to the Railway Museum and Cadence Farm to provide work experience for our students. The grant also supports the training and certification of Janet and Sara to become Person-Centered Trainers to train Autistry staff as well as other community organizations in soon-to-be mandatory PCT practices.
In October, Steve Earle, famed singer/songwriter once again held a benefit concert for Autistry, this time at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley. It was a sold-out success. Steve’s performance was powerful and his shout out to Autistry was eloquent and passionate. The evening filled our hearts and went a long way toward filling our funding gap.
New adventures – And we had fun! This summer we went on two adventures with the Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC). In June we kayaked to Angel Island and spent the night in the old Quartermaster’s House. And in August, we shot the rapids of the south fork of the American River. These were both challenging, exhilarating, and amazing adventures. To start 2020 off right, we are planning a cross country skiing expedition with ETC in January.
As I am having a trouble finding quiet time to write newsletters please join us on Facebook to keep up with all the news, view the great photos and videos, and stay in touch!
Wishing you all the happiest of holidays,
Janet, Dan, Sara, Matt, and the Autistry team