In May 2006, after discussion within the Tuesday’s Child Asperger Support Group, The Red River Valley Asperger-Autism Network (RRVAN) was founded by families, counselors, adults with ASDs and others living or working with individuals with ASDs. After a presentation in mid-May 2006 at the North Dakota Mental Health Symposium in Mandan, the audience suggested that we continue to “spread the word” about Asperger Syndrome (AS). Thus the mutual interests of several group members, the inspiration provided by our professional advisor Dr. Barb Stanton, and the encouragement from people who heard our panel presentation all aligned and resulted in the formation of the network. Thirteen people were founding members: Dr. Barb Stanton, Kay Farris, Sharon Solum, Murray Nelsen, Madonna Nelsen, Kris Wallman, Ruth Lewis, Becky Borg, Dustin Bjugstad, Kate Bringe, Sheryl Weeks, Pam Triebold, Sue Amicucci.
A mission statement was written and a website started. In June 2006 the discussion turned to becoming a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. The group decided to work closely with Mark and Jocelyn Sloan as they developed the North Dakota chapter of the Autism Society of America. Because AS is on the autism spectrum, the group decided it made sense to work closely with the new chapter. Many of the group members became charter members of the ND ASA chapter.
The group had been working on creating a video for presentations at community events and for informational presentations. In September 2006 it was decided we would develop a speaker’s bureau. That same month our first presentation was given to the Fargo School District special education staff. Barb Stanton talked with the Fargo Police Department about establishing a data base of people on the autism spectrum. Additional presentations were scheduled and plans made for hosting training and additional speakers. The website was receiving 450 hits a day. In November 2006, after receiving a $400 fee for giving a presentation, the group discussed formalizing the group and identifying a board of directors.
The group was established on January 19, 2007 as the Red River Valley Asperger Network. Members of the board of directors at that time were: Dr. Barb Stanton, Kay Farris, Sharon Solum, Murray Nelsen, Madonna Nelsen, Kris Wallman, Ruth Lewis, Becky Borg, Dustin Bjugstad, Kate Bringe, Sheryl Weeks, Pam Triebold, Mark Sloan.
We received our 502(C)(3) status October 31, 2007. The name was expanded to the Red River Valley Asperger-Autism Network in 2010 to demonstrate our interest in serving all people on the autism spectrum, but with a special interest in those with Asperger’s.