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Reaching Out - Reaching In, October 15, 2014

KindTree News
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STiLE Fall Term Register August 1
YOU can still register...

Beginning and Intermediate Jewelry Expressions

Making it Tasty Cooking

Art and Communication

Friday Night Socials 

Visit to sign up.
contact Molly Elliot for more info

Let's Go This Way...

KindTree - Autism Rocks Friends and Family Camp hosted over 150 guests with over 70 volunteer this August. The Riley Campbell Memorial Scholarship Fund paid the way for over 30 guests. The Camp depends on money raised through our fundraising, and this year much came from the PROM. These donated funds, along with an almost completely volunteer staff, allow us to keep the guest fee low so more people can come and still have money for their day to day. Your support makes that happen. Thank you.
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Every year our Art Program has run in the red. Art sales do better every year, but do not cover the cost of framing most of the pieces in our "Autism Artism" exhibitions. We are actively seeking more volunteers to set up exhibitions, monitor sales and more. We have over 80 artists from Eugene and all over the world participating. You can read about Barbara Moran from Kansas here and see some Holiday Card designs here. We frame their work, we display it, we market it… Where else can artists get this kind of support? From you, we hope. Thank you.

We're growing our STiLE Program every term. Despite chaos in the Oregon Developmental Disabilities Services Department, with paperwork changing weekly it seems, we are serving more folks in our unique groups. STiLE has four groups every week this term. Plus three free support groups, one social skills group, and a support group for parents of adult children on the spectrum under development. It has become too much for volunteers.

So we contracted an Administrative Assistant, Jane Jordan, last spring. She's really great, and has connected with KindTree's heart. We need to generate more income to cover her position. We price our services the best we can, we look for new participants to expand enrollment, we control our spending carefully, we grow. With you. We grow with you.

Just listen to these comments about the Camp:
▪ I come because this is a magical place with magical people and my son loves it here.
▪ It is comfortable for ALL of us. No pressures of time or space.
▪ We came to support our adult grandson and are overjoyed to have been able to see him have such a wonderful experience. He seems to have grown overnight. A complete opening up in confidence, happiness and so much more. –God Bless you all!

Please use the donation link above, and send your support to KindTree. Your help makes such a big difference in our success, right here in our community. It really does. Thank you so much!

Thanks for listening, Tim Mueller

(I AM AUTISM - Personal stories about autism. If you would like to see your musings on this page, please email Mary-Minn at

Where I Found My Strength
by David Olson, KindTree - Autism Rocks Blog contributor

I was first diagnosed as autistic when I was in third grade. It didn't mean very much to me at the time, because I was so young, although, it did affect my life. There were several supports put into place for me when I was in school. I was unaware of most of them. And then there are all the things I'm doing as an adult. For example, I wouldn't be writing this if I never knew I was autistic.

That isn't really what I want to write about, though. I want to talk about what makes my story unique from all of the other autistic people in the world. I especially want to focus on what has had more impact on my life than anything else.

Like most autistic children, I was bullied when I was in school. I was often pinned to the wall and punched in the chest in the locker room after gym class. Other kids used to spit on me from the school bus after I got off. I was routinely dropped in a trash can, while a teacher was in the room, talking to another student. To this day, I have no idea what she thought was going on.

Sixth grade, my first year in middle school, was the worst for me. The intensity of the bullying increased dramatically. The school principle was no help, saying that that's just what kids do to each other. My self-esteem dropped to almost nothing, and by the middle of that year, I had grown to hate school.

My mom decided that if the school's staff wouldn't do anything about the bullying, she would have to find something else for me. She opened the phone book, and enrolled me in the first martial arts school that she called and didn't get an answering machine.

I would normally recommend looking at several different schools to find the best fit, but I feel I lucked out in this case. The instructor had heard of autism, but, as he told me later, he was scared when my mom told him about it. This was in 1993, so it was unusual for anyone to have even heard the word at the time. It comes as no surprise that he didn't know what to expect.

I went with my mom to watch a class on the day the paperwork was signed. After the class, I met the instructor, Sensei Alan Best. He did something extraordinary that day. Knowing that I didn't like to be touched, he told me that he might need to touch me while teaching me, and asked if that would be okay. Then he waited for my answer. When I said it would be fine, he suggested trying it. He took my hand, showed me how to make a fist, and asked again.

That was not the last time he showed understanding for my differences. After I had started classes, it was the first time I can remember that I had been judged on my merits and abilities, rather than by a label that I had been given. My differences have always been accepted, and sometimes even respected. My self-confidence was eventually completely restored, and then some. Sensei Best, whether he meant to or not, has created a very good environment for neurodiversity.

I want to digress for a moment to tell a quick story. Shortly before I started classes, one of my schoolmates pulled down my pants in front of everyone. My response was to chase him down and give him a black eye. We were both suspended, and we and our parents were asked to meet with the vice principle before rejoining classes. My mom and I went, but he and his parents did not. We were both admitted back into school. My response to the initial act is not something I'm proud of, but most of the physical bullying did stop after that.

Verbal bullying and threats of physical bullying continued. Between my increased self-esteem and the above mentioned story, physical bullying had mostly disappeared; however, I was still very reluctant to return to school for seventh grade. Sensei Best talked to me about it. I told him that the other students bullied me because they were stronger than me. He pointed out that he was stronger than them and asked if he should bully them. That's when I understood that bullying is not normal or acceptable behavior. I eventually learned to ignore verbal bullying when I realized if people will have a problem with me no matter what I do, I just don't care what they think of me.

I was transferred to a different high school after eighth grade. Very few people knew me there. I still had problems with a couple of people. However, the staff of the school felt it necessary to put a stop to it. This was the beginning of a new era for me. I was able to focus more on learning (which happened outside of class, more than in class), and my martial arts study.

Now, I have to acknowledge that, as with all other autistic people, I've had difficulties navigating social situations. This is something that most of us are able to overcome through learning. I wanted to mention this here because this is another thing that I've been able to benefit from through martial arts.

In martial arts classes, I was always surrounded by people who were willing to accept me as I was. This made it easier to practice my social skills, since I knew I would be forgiven for making social mistakes. Yet again, having a safe environment allowed me another opportunity to grow as a person.

When I was almost out of high school, Sensei Best asked me to start helping with children's classes. The teaching experience I've gained from that has developed my leadership skills. (to page 5) (from page 2) I've been placed in various other leadership positions outside of martial arts since then, when someone was needed. I had always wondered, until a few years ago, why I was frequently chosen for those jobs. More recently, I've actually volunteered myself to do some of the things I felt needed to be done. I feel that if it weren't for teaching, I wouldn't have done most of the things I do now for the autism community.

There appears to have been an increase in the number of autistic students in martial arts classes over the years. This may be due to people like my mom and myself recommending it. I'm glad to see more autistic people, especially children, have something they can completely absorb themselves in that can also provide opportunities to increase their social abilities. I hope it can provide them the same kinds of benefits that it has given me.

When I look back at my life, I don't regret the bullying. I wouldn't wish it on anyone else, since it involves some horrible experiences. However, if it hadn't happened to me, I would have missed the single greatest influence on my life.

David Olson
Follow David here:


Holiday Art Sale

A selection of our best selling Holiday Cards is now on sale at

Ray of Hope
Candy Waters

Snow Kitty
Kwang Lee

Plus so much more on sale at
Eugene's Holiday Market
Thanksgiving Weekend:

Winter Branches
Jane Strauss

T-shirts on sale, too !

Community Calendar
see listings online

Friday Night Socials:

November 14, December 12 -
Second Friday of every month:
6:00 - 8:00 PM,
at Reality Kitchen,
645 River Rd., Suite 2., Eugene. LTD bus #51, Join others for a free night of pizza, comedy, and music.

Mask Making Party 2014

Oct. 26, 2014, 1-3pm
Cozmic, 8th & Charnelton
With Karaoke by Frankie Sharp

We supply the mask blanks, the feathers, the beads, the glue guns, the markers and paints, and all the other crazy stuff to make you own unique mask.

Bring your family and friends, order some pizza or wine or beer, or just enjoy the great KindTree - Autism Rocks atmosphere of safety and acceptance.

Support/Success Strategies for Autism Spectrum
Oct. 30, 2014 9:30-12:30
The Arc of Lane County

In this workshop, Monica & Mary-Minn will share innovative, effective resources to support individuals with social communication, organization, sensory, and emotional regulation challenges.

Holiday Market Weekend 2014
Nov. 28, 2014


This is a great weekend to connect to your Holiday Spirit, wandering through the aisles among the crafters, artisans, local growers, great musicians, savory food and body healers.

Visit KindTree - Autism Rocks in the Holiday Hall, the southernmost side of the main building, across the hall from the large room. We will be in a non-profit space offered by the Holiday Market with our Notecards, T-shirts, "Autism Rocks" aprons, and framed original works by artists with autism.

Everything has special pricing, too, with our $3.00 Notecards on sale for only $1.00 each. Short sleeved T-shirts just $12 (regularly $18). WOW!

More Upcoming Events

Images from
Friends and Family Camp 2014




"Is it really me, am I the one to blame? Because I looked the other way?
I don't wanna say..."

P O Box 40847
Eugene, OR 97404