437 S Yellowstone Dr Ste 217A, Madison, WI 53705 info@autismsouthcentral.org (608) 630-9147

Great time at the Winter Pool Party

Our Winter Pool Party was at CSA Kids in Janesville on February 16, 2019.   We had about a dozen people turn out for our winter swim and half of them went swimming.   The other half hung out in CSA’s lovely party room, ate lots of snacks, played games, put together a jigsaw puzzle, watched the swimmers through the big viewing window and had a good time.  

The day was cold, but the pool was wonderfully warm.   There were plenty of chairs around the pool for people to sit and watch or just take a break.  The pool didn’t have a diving board, but there were so many different pool toys to use  that everyone had plenty to keep them busy.   There were pool games to play like basketball plus things to dive for and pool noodle “horses” to ride.

A big thanks to CSA Kids for letting us use their beautiful pool and for setting up an on-line registration for us so swimmers would take care of waiver paperwork online.  This allowed us to monitor the number of swimmers we had signed up so we could control the number in the pool.   Hopefully we can have this fun activity again next winter. 

Autistic College Students: What about middle and high school helped (or hindered) your college success? A Research Opportunity

Who: University/college students or graduates who are 18 -25 years of age who have been diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. 

Time Commitment: Participation in three interviews with each session lasting no more than 1 hour.

Where: Interviews happen on campus or at a library at a time of your convenience.

Compensation: $100 gift card

The Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin is assisting Ph.D candidate Michael Sullivan (who himself is on the Autism Spectrum) in recruiting participants for the research study explained below. Participation is strictly voluntary and participants can withdraw at anytime.  Please contact Michael Sullivan directly if you are interested. 

The study is investigating the life histories of university or college students or graduates who are on the Autism Spectrum to discuss their time in middle and high school and how these lived experiences impacted students’ success in pursuing post-secondary education.  

Your participation in the study will help us understand what works in schools and what hinders students on the Autism Spectrum in achieving success in middle and high school and eventual attendance at university or college.  

If you can participate, or have any questions about the study, please contact: 
Michael Sullivan 
Ph.D Candidate, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, School of Education, University of Wisconsin Madison 
E-mail: Sullivan25@wisc.edu Phone: 608-695-0287

Healthcare Accommodations for Autistic Adults

The Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE) has some great tools for help autistic adults and their primary care providers at autismandhealth.org. They have a Autism Healthcare Accommodations Tool, which is an online form the adult (with support if necessary) fills out about themselves and what helps them have a better experience at the doctor’s office. After they fill out the form, it creates a nice letter they can bring to their doctor that explains what accommodations they need. There are a couple of sample letters here and here. They also have some other worksheets to print out and use, including a symptoms worksheet to fill out before the office visit, to help autistic adults organize their thoughts and communicate more easily with the doctor once they get there.

Success Story: Matt Ward

Here is a success story about Matt Ward, shared by his mother, Nancy Alar. We would like to share other success stories from members of our Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin. Send your story to us at info@autismsouthcentral.org. If your story is about someone else, like your child, please only share the story if it is okay with the person the story is about.

Matt Ward, shoveling the snow on the back deck

My “gloriously autistic” son, Matt Ward, gave us a great holiday gift this year.   It had snowed quite a lot on Dec. 31 and we needed to shovel our back deck.  We planned to do that after we got back from a “geezer” Euchre card party the afternoon of Jan. 1.  Matt was staying with us for the weekend, but he lives in his own apartment most of the time.  He stayed at our house that afternoon since he is neither a geezer nor a Euchre player. 

When we got back from the party, we discovered Matt had shoveled the deck for us!  It was such a happy surprise!  We hadn’t asked him to shovel or even discussed that it needed to be done.  He has never done a task like that without prompting (or lots of grumbling) before.  The best part of the whole thing was being able to praise Matt so much for taking the initiative to help us out when we hadn’t even asked.  We could tell he was very proud of himself.  Matt is 40 years old and and still growing and changing.

Volunteer Spotlight: Jenn Moore

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi! My name is Jenn and I am mama to our amazing 6 year old son on the spectrum who keeps me and my husband of almost 19 years on our toes! I enjoy reading when I can sneak it in, watching movies, and snuggling with my son.

2. How did you get involved with ASC and what do you do as a volunteer for ASC?

Our son was diagnosed with Autism when he was two and a half years old. Shortly after his diagnosis I found the Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin. I joined and started attending events and activities such as Mom’s Night Out, pool parties, and an IEP Advocacy workshop.

One of the best things that ASC has provided is the opportunity to connect with and learn from some wonderful autistic people, as well as people with loved ones on the spectrum. Being able to hear their perspectives and stories about their experiences has had an impact on me and our family.

Having enjoyed being a member of ASC and donating when I could, I wanted to get more involved. Living in the Columbia/Sauk County area there are not a lot of resources or opportunities that I had found to connect with other families like ours. So when ASC started asking for volunteers to help with town halls in the counties they support, I volunteered to help find a meeting location and put up some flyers. After that I started thinking about other ways I could help ASC. I became a team captain creating a team of friends and co-workers for the annual One Walk, Big Strides walk in April. Not only did we have a great time at the walk, but we also raised money for ASC to be able to provide services like the ones that have been so beneficial for our family. I have helped with Art in Mill Park and with submitting notices to calendar of event pages for the Band Together for Autism event. In between there I also decided to apply to be a member of the Board of Directors. Happily, this past June, I was approved as a new board member. In addition to volunteering time helping with events, I also attend meetings and volunteered to chair the fundraising committee to help raise money.

3. What is the most rewarding part of volunteering with ASC?

The people. Accepting, caring, compassionate, fun, smart people. I have met the most incredible people who are so passionate about improving the lives of those impacted by autism. Being a part of this group working toward providing more opportunities and services for our autism community makes me feel good. Whether it has been taking a few minutes to tell someone else about ASC or set-up a Facebook fundraiser, taking an hour to print and post some flyers for a town hall, or spending a few hours in meetings or helping with an event, I know my time volunteering however big or small is helping contribute to making a difference.

Thank you, Jenn, for all you do for ASC!

Jenn Moore with her husband and son

Autism and Feeding Intervention Study

A UW-Madison research lab is recruiting for a Parent-Mediated Feeding Intervention Study for children with ASD and their families, which will begin in late January/early February. Here’s the information about the study:

We are looking for volunteers to take part in a pilot intervention
study for children ages 2 to 7 years with autism spectrum disorders and feeding challenges.

As a participant in this study, you would be asked to participate in an intake assessment, ~3 interviews focused on your child’s feeding challenges and behaviors, group parent training sessions, individual parent training sessions and weekly intervention sessions for you and your child that focus on their feeding concerns.

Individual training sessions and delivering the intervention in your home will be approximately 5 to 7 hours per week over six months. You will also be asked to complete standardized assessments as well as a three-day diet record for your child. The intervention study will take place over a six-month time period. Interviews, intervention sessions, and observations will be conducted in your home. Two assessments may also occur at the Waisman Center. In appreciation for your time, you will receive $100.00 for completing the study. If you withdraw from the study, you will receive $50.00.

Your child may benefit from the parent-mediated feeding intervention with improved feeding skills. However, this is a pilot study and there is no guarantee of any direct benefit.

For more information about this study or to volunteer for this study, please contact:

Karla Ausderau at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Phone: (608) 262-0653 or Email: kausderau@wisc.edu

Thank you Steve Stricker and American Family Insurance!

Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation

We are excited to announce that we have received a very generous grant from the Steve Stricker American Family Foundation! The Foundation raises money through their annual American Family Insurance golf Championship for local charities “aimed at building strong families and healthy kids, empowering them to chase and achieve their dreams.”

This grant will help us continue the support groups and programs we already offer and will enable us to expand some of our programming into 4 of our surrounding counties.  If you know anyone involved in the Steve Sticker American Family Insurance Championship please thank them next time you see them; their involvement helped support over 80 nonprofits this year!

Fun at Breakfast with Santa!

This was our first year partnering with Knights of Columbus 531 to put on a Breakfast with Santa for area families with children who have autism and intellectual disabilities. We welcomed over 130 families and kids and are happy to report that fun was had by all! There was a free breakfast, cooked by Knights of Columbus volunteers, visits and pictures with Santa, donut decorating, coloring, origami swans and a special gift for each child!

Thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help from the Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin, the Knights of Columbus 531, Badgers with a Heart, Phi Kappa Theta, and the Waisman Center LEND program.

We are already looking forward to partnering with the Knights of Columbus to offer this event again next year!

Introducing our new Executive Director

Hi, I’m Kirsten Engel, the new Executive Director here at the Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin. I started in November and have been busy getting to know the ins and outs of this great organization. One thing that has really stood out to me already is the wonderful volunteers that keep so many programs running. I’ve been happy to have met a number of you as I’ve attended various events in the last month and am looking forward to getting to know more of you in the following year.

A little about me and my background: I’ve have been involved in the disability community both professionally and personally for over 20 years. Most of that time my main focus has been on disability rights and independent living, empowering people with disabilities to live as fully and independently as possible. I’m excited to bring that experience to the ASC community to help support and empower people affected by autism.

When I’m not working you can find me out hiking in the woods, creating art, taking photos, spending time with my horses or watching my son compete in Power Soccer.

I look forward to getting out of the office and into the 10 counties of our service area to meet you all and hear your ideas of how we can better meet the needs of people affected by autism here in South Central Wisconsin.

Happy New Year!


Jacob Trotter Memorial Scholarship 2018 winner

The Jacob Trotter Memorial Scholarship gives a scholarship of $500 to a student on the autism spectrum. It is funded by David and Greta Menke of Bristol, Wisconsin, in memory of their grandson Jacob David Trotter. Jacob Trotter was born June 25, 2001, in Madison, WI, and died unexpectedly at home on September 25, 2014. He was a student at Lodi Middle School in Lodi, WI. He was the light of his parents’ and grandparents’ lives. Jacob was an avid history buff. His favorite topics were Civil War, WWII, European Theater, and WWII Reenactments. 

This year’s winner of the Jacob Trotter Memorial Scholarship is Scott Schoeller of Janesville, WI. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from UW-Whitewater, and is now pursuing a masters of science in computer science at the same school. Congratulations, Scott!