Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. February 10, 2018

In This Issue

Autism shares brain signature with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder

Make Playtime Fun and Therapeutic for Autistic Children

Games plus group therapy may help adults with autism find jobs

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Are you building a team for the Race for Autism?

Therapeutic Approach to Growth

NFAR Mom's Group - Feb 21 in Kearny Mesa

Conference: Teaching Social Competencies - More Than Social Skills

Friendship Circle San Diego: Men's Club Bowling League

Family Gym Night - Carlsbad

The Art of Autism February Newsletter

The IEP Guy

Movie: Keep the Change

A Social Event for Parents of Children with Special Needs

Coffee Talk in North County

Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights


Community Transition Academy now accepting students for the 2018-19 school year

An Orientation To College Life For Youth with Disabilities


  • Autism shares brain signature with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder

  • Gene expression patterns in the brains of people with autism are similar to those of people who have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, according to a large study of postmortem brain tissue1. The findings appear today in Science.

    All three conditions show an activation of genes in star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes, and suppression of genes that function at synapses, the junctions between neurons. The autism brains also show a unique increase in the expression of genes specific to immune cells called microglia.

    "This study demonstrates for the first time that [gene expression] can be used to robustly define cross-disorder phenotypes that are shared and distinct," says lead investigator Daniel Geschwind, professor of neurology, psychiatry and human genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles. "And these phenotypes are related to the molecular and cellular pathways that likely have gone awry." Read on...

  • Make Playtime Fun and Therapeutic for Autistic Children
  • If there's one issue that's shared by all young children with autism, it's difficulty with ordinary play skills. Little ones with autism may line up or stack toys, play by themselves and resist interaction with their peers, or simply spin, rock or otherwise spend time in their own world.

    It's this self-absorption that makes it so hard for autistic children to learn from imitation, socialize with other children, or connect with the adults in their lives.

    In theory, parents can play a key role in actually teaching their autistic children to play. But while "playing with your child" sounds like a no-brainer, it can be very, very challenging for the parent of an autistic child.​ Read on...

  • Games plus group therapy may help adults with autism find jobs

  • Adults with autism who undergo a therapy designed to bolster social learning show cognitive benefits that may increase their chances of employment, according to a new study1.

    So-called 'cognitive enhancement therapy' combines computer-based tasks to improve problem-solving and memory with structured group sessions that provide practice reading nonverbal cues, taking someone else's perspective and other social skills.

    The program is known to help adults with schizophrenia find steady jobs2. The new work extends this work to adults and adolescents with autism. Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • My name is Sara and I'm wondering if anyone has success with Vital Links headphones? Do you have a used pair you'd like to sell? Contact me:

    My son has autism and I would like to work on his focus and auditory processing. Does anyone have any good therapies that have helped address these two areas? I'd also be interested in any positive experiences with acupuncture. Thanks.
    Best, Kathy (

    Can you ask the group if anyone has set up an Able account for their son or daughter. I know a law pass to allow up to $100,000 to be set aside in an account.

    However California does not have this in place yet. Other states do have this in place and will allow person out of state to open an account. So I was just wondering if anyone had yet and what their experience has been.
    Thanks Laura S.

    Does anyone have a great referral for multiple overnight respite or IHSL care in Encinitas area? My son is 18, high functioning ASD, healthy, happy and easy to be with but needs supervision and direction. Not untypical of this age, he no longer wants to travel with his parents,​​ which we do for business and pleasure We are wanting to hire someone who has the flexibility and availability to stay with him 3-7 days/nights occasionally. When he is in school no care is needed from 8am-3pm. Regional Center nor our Respite Care providers have given us any good options.​ Looking for referrals or ideas. Thank you, Kalli​

    Can anyone share their experience with San Diego Center for Children residential program, good or bad. Thank you!

    Hi there, I'm wondering if you might have any resources for schools in North County SD that have a reputation for being good for kids with Autism? Public, Private, Charter, any...? Thank you!!!

    We are moving within SDUSD boundaries (Carson) is the school within our boundary. It is too big for my son who is in 2nd grade with an IEP for ADHD, SPD and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder).
    He thrives right now in our current school with no Aide/One to one and he has been in Gen Ed since the start of school 76% of his day 24% of his day spent in SPED classroom. He is doing amazing! The only complaint is he 'is bored' He is ahead academically and required quite a bit of redirection to stay on task during his day. He requires a smaller environment and a very Structured, Patient, Positive Teacher.
    Has anyone heard of any Elementary schools within SDUSD boundaries (closer to Mission Valley, Pt. Loma, Linda Vista, Bay Park, OB, Hillcrest, Mission Hills etc. ) that have strong 2nd grade Teachers and the children have been challenged academically and happy at? Thank you for any suggestions!

    I am looking for a summer camp for my 6-year-old son who has autism in Southern California since we are moving to the area this coming May. Please let me know what camps are good!

    Looking for a daytime assistance for a 13 year old with autism. Someone to help with homeschooling and occasional appointments. Please email resume

    I am looking for some resources for my son. He has high functioning autism, adhd and sensory integration disorder. He also has behaviors that can be pretty aggressive at school. I am trying to find a school in San Diego north county that maybe able to assist. I would appreciate any suggestions.

    Hello, I am a of mom of beautiful boy with autism and also a graduate student of clinical counseling program from University of Phoenix. I am couple weeks away from finishing my theoretical classes and looking for the agency, center or private practice that might be able to host me for my practicum and 2 internships, 700 hours, towards my Master Degree in Clinical Counseling. I have an extensive experience in autism field and I am open to any sites that can be autism and family therapy oriented. Please let me know if you might have some ideas or if you would be to provide those hours for me.
    Thank you much !

    I'm a mom of a 17 year old student with high functioning autism who will be applying to college this fall. I wondered if anyone has worked with a professional college coach/planner who has some knowledge of best colleges for students with high functioning autism. Would love to talk to other parents for advice on making the transition from high school to college. Please email me at

    Hi! I am wondering if anyone has a name of a Medical marijuana doctor in San Diego(north county preferred) not a recommendation doctor- but a real doctor who can give advice for strains and doses. Also any info for trials would be appreciated. Please email me at:
    Thank you!

    If you have a question or request for this newsletter group, please send your email request to People who can help you will email you directly with their responses.

  • Are you building a team for the Race for Autism?
  • Are you building a team for the Race for Autism? Then the Justice League Package is perfect for you!

    >>>This offer is available now through February 15th<<<

    Our Justice League Package is designed for groups of 20+ persons, and includes: a flat rate of $28 per person (children, youth, adults) with chip-timing for runners and larger shirt sizes.

    Upon receipt of payment of $560 or more, your group will be set up with a special code for team members to register.

    To purchase a Justice League Package, please contact NFAR at 858-679-8800.

  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth
  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth believes that every individual is unique and has the potential for significant growth. We assume and foster competence while honoring family values and priorities. Our holistic approach is built upon trusting, supportive relationships and collaboration between disciplines and families.

    TAG, Inc. supports individuals of all ages and functioning levels. The following is a list of potential diagnoses we serve; however, this is not an exhaustive list: Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorder, with or without Hyperactivity, Brain Injury, Bipolar Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorders, Down Syndrome, Dysgraphia, Learning Disabilities, Non Verbal Learning Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Tourette's Syndrome.

    Here are the programs we offer:

    • Adult Program
    • Art Therapy
    • Handle
    • Home Programs
    • Life Balance Yoga Therapy
    • Long Distance Services
    • Occupational Therapy
    • Professional Training
    • RDI
    • Sage Learning Center
    • Speech Therapy
    • Summer Programs
    Offering support in the San Diego, Carlsbad, Orange County, Riverside County, and Bay area.
    In addition to supporting our clients directly, we offer guidance to parents, grandparents, therapists, teachers, siblings, school staff, babysitters etc.

    San Diego Office
    9466 Black Mountain Road, Suite 100
    San Diego, CA 92126
    Phone: (858) 689-2027

    Carlsbad Office
    5411 Avenida Encinas, Suite 110
    Carlsbad, CA 92008
    Phone: (760) 448-5837

    Temecula Office
    43537 RidgePark Dr.
    Temecula, CA 92590
    Phone: (858) 689-2027

  • NFAR Mom's Group - Feb 21 in Kearny Mesa
  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
    Giovanni's Italian Restaurant
    9353 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
    San Diego, CA 92123

    Dinner: Pizza, Salad, Soda.
    Dinner is provided

    Please join us! These meetings are for Moms to come together in a fun and relaxed setting. The group will meet the 3rd Wednesday of the month for dinner and guest speakers. It's an opportunity to share resources, experiences and enjoy being with other moms of individuals with autism.

    February Topic: Authentic Parenting: Cultivating Joy + Belonging for 2018

    Please click here for all the info and to RSVP!!!

  • Conference: Teaching Social Competencies - More Than Social Skills
  • Our mission is to help people develop social competencies to better connect with others and live happier, more meaningful lives. We do this by creating concepts, curricula, and materials that help professionals and parents teach social competencies and help individuals as young as four and across the lifespan meet their personal, academic, and professional goals.

    Join us in San Diego! March 12-15, 2018
    Professionals save 20%
    Parents & students save 30%
    Offers expire February 27, 2018.

    Learn practical strategies for self-regulation, executive functioning, perspective taking, and more at the four-day conference. Learn More & Register!

  • Friendship Circle San Diego: Men's Club Bowling League
  • For all the info and to sign up please email or call 858.487.4879!

  • Family Gym Night - Carlsbad
  • Saturday, February 17, 2018
    4:00-6:00 PM
    Magdalena Ecke YMCA Gymnastics Center
    6100 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad, CA 92011

    Join other families affected by autism at a Family Fun Gymnastics Night in North County. The YMCA will provide the gym equipment. Together we will be the fun AND PIZZA! Bring the entire family for an enjoyable relaxing night of family recreation. Donations of (minimum) $5 per family GREATLY APPRECIATED!

    *Please remember there is NO childcare provided at this event. For safety reasons, ATTENDEES are expected to SUPERVISE their children at ALL times. The YMCA staff will be enforcing this rule.

    Click here for all the info!!!

  • The Art of Autism February Newsletter
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter for all the info!!!

  • The IEP Guy
  • Developing an appropriate IEP should not feel like trying to unravel a Rubik's cube.

    The IEP Guy is an experienced non-attorney special education advocate working side by side with families to obtain appropriate placement, services, and outcomes for students.

    The IEP is the heart and soul of special education. Think of it as the heliocentric model of our solar system. Just as the planets orbit around the sun, so do placement, services, and outcomes revolve around the IEP.

    Therefore, it is imperative that parents develop an appropriate IEP for their child given the major impact it has on the student's academic and functional performance.

    Say goodbye to hourly rates! All services are provided on a flat fee basis. No surprises!

    IEP Services

    • IDEA Compliance
    • Student Eligibility
    • Placement
    • Related Services
    • Goal Development
    • Evaluations
    • Manifestation Determinations
    • State Complaint Procedure
    • Due Process
    • Student Suspension and Expulsion
    • Involuntary Transfers
    • Exclusion from Extracurricular Activities
    Academic Disputes
    • Grade Reduction and Loss of Credit
    • Student Record Removal
    • Student Promotion and Retention (K-8)
    Parent Coaching
    • Administrative Complaint Procedures
    • Section 504 Plans
    • Education Code
    Leo Marchena
    The IEP Guy
    4275 Executive Square, Suite 200
    La Jolla, CA 92037

  • Movie: Keep the Change
  • Call for visit the JCC Box Office: 858-362-1348 or

  • A Social Event for Parents of Children with Special Needs
  • Monday, February 19, 2018
    7:00 PM
    Little Italy Bar and Grill
    10006 Scripps Ranch Blvd
    San Diego, CA
    (Approx. $15 per person)

    Please R.S.V.P. with your host Bene' Raphael no later than Feb. 16th at or for any questions please call (760) 845-4551

  • Coffee Talk in North County
  • Wednesday, February 21st
    9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
    Panera Bread
    2521 Palomar Airport Road, Carlsbad

    Sit....Chat....Relax. This is an opportunity to meet up with others facing similar life challenges in a comfortable, relaxing environment.

    Click here for all the info!!!

  • Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights
  • The exhibit is presented by the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability, at San Francisco State University, to discover a remarkable moment in U.S. history when individuals with disabilities occupied a government building to demand their rights. Known as the "Section 504 Sit-In," the protest profoundly changed the lives of individuals with and without disabilities, and paved the way for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. Please refer to the curriculum guide if interested in seeing the exhibit.

  • Registration is open for INVOLVED EXCEPTIONAL PARENTS' DAY!
  • Involved Exceptional Parents' Day (IEP Day) is an annual conference for parents, family members and caregivers of individuals with special needs. This year, the 35th annual conference, will be held on Saturday, March 17, 2018 at the Handlery Hotel in Mission Valley. We are busily making plans for the 15 featured workshops (offered in English and Spanish), a networking luncheon, huge resource fair and more for the nearly 400 people who attend. This year's conference theme is "Finding Our Balance".

    The Registration Packet and online registration are on the conference website: Scholarships and SDRC funding may be available. For scholarships please check the conference website. For SDRC funding, please talk with your service coordinator.

  • Community Transition Academy now accepting students for the 2018-19 school year
  • Community Transition Academy (CTA) of Include Autism, our Transition NPS is accepting a limited amount of students, 11th grade through transition age, with moderate to severe disabilities, ages 17-22. CTA is a community-based program located in the heart of the centrally located Hillcrest neighborhood.

    The school day at CTA will balance classroom learning, with hands-on community experiences led by highly skilled staff trained in ABA techniques and supports. Our academic focus is enhanced with vocational, life-science, social skill, and inclusive post-school community opportunities that tie into the classroom lesson plans. Enrollment is very limited to keep the class size very small affording our staff the opportunity to personalize each student's educational transition program. The CTA Team upholds the philosophy that every student at CTA is entitled to the support necessary to maximize his/her potential as an active adult in the greater community with the least possible restrictions and most possible chosen opportunities. With roots in the community, our students flourish!

    We wish to invite you to call us at (858) 360-0282 for more information or to schedule a site visit. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

  • An Orientation To College Life For Youth with Disabilities
  • Applications Now Being Accepted!
    Spend 6 nights and 5 days on a college campus experiencing all that college life has to offer.

    June 17 - 22, 2018
    On the Campus of The University of San Diego

    Project College is specially designed for those in college, entering college in the fall or completing their senior year of high school. Click here for all the info!!!

  • ASD Mornings at theNAT
  • Autism Accessibility Morning at the Fleet!

  • The third Saturday of every month, Fleet invites the Autism Spectrum Community to enjoy our museum through this special opportunity. Adults and families with children with autism can enjoy the Fleet's exhibit galleries in a quieter setting, an hour before regular open hours to the general public and with access to a special cool-off space. Visitors are welcome to stay and enjoy the museum all day. Admission includes a special IMAX film screening at 10 a.m. with the house lights on and a lower soundtrack volume.

    For more information, visit

  • San Diego Sibshop

  • October 2017 - August 2018

    WANTED: Siblings who have a brother/sister with special needs

    AGES: 7 - 12 years old
    Older siblings are welcome to attend as "Junior Leaders"

    WHAT: A fun-filled opportunity geared to the specific needs of siblings with brothers/sisters with special needs. Join us for games, crafts, hikes, cooking, and art. Meet other sibs - lunch provided

    TIME: 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

    Feb. 25: Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center
    March 25: Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center
    May 20: Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center
    August 19: Santee Lakes, 9310 Fanita Pkwy, Santee, CA 92071**

    DONATION: $5.00 - $10.00 per meeting per family for craft materials, supplies and lunch for the kids

    REGISTRATION: Pre-registration requested by email (if possible) the Thursday before the event.

    CONTACT: Email for a Sibshop registration form and / or additional information.

    Sibshop Leaders:
    Jody BonDurant-Strong, Administrator
    Ndoto BonDurant-Strong - adult sibling & CSUSM student
    Gina Clifton, ECSE Medically-Fragile Teacher, Special Education
    Pat Moulton, Retired

    Directions for Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor's Center (MTRP):
    1 Father Juniper Serra Trail (92119). Interstate 8 to 15 North / East on Friars Road.
    Stay to left - turns into Mission Gorge Road / Turn left on 1 Father Juniper Serra.


    I never endorse anyone or anything. Opinions expressed in what I send out, may not be shared by me. Everything is for informational purposes only.
    People who "advertise" through this newsletter have never been checked out by me. Same goes for the "Sponsors". This includes professionals and even people who are interested in babysitting, etc. So, please take the time to thoroughly check out anyone and everyone who will be working with or caring for your child/adult. We are all sadly aware, through news stories and word of mouth, of people who prey upon special needs children and adults because of their extra vulnerability.

    Valerie Dodd-Saraf
    President, Foggy Coast Ventures, Inc.