Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. April 05, 2018

In This Issue

'Sesame Street' theme park becomes world's first to get certified autism designation

Opinion: Caregivers Are Professionals, Not Entry-Level Workers

The Importance of Joint Attention for Kids With Autism

Social awareness increases demonstrate brain changing in adults with autism

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Sports 4 Exceptional Athletes Newsletter for April!

Friendship Walk San Diego, April 29th!!!

Chula Vista Jam Session Registration Now Open

The NEW 2018 Flourishing Families is Out!!

Summer Camp Sign-Ups!

Safer Than Prescription Medication for Anxiety and the Effects are Permanent!!!

April 16th AutismAwareness Night with the Padres as they take on the Dodgers at Petco Park

Developmental DIR Autism Therapy in Your Home!

Builders of Eloquence and Engagement invites you to join a webinar on College Bound Academy

TAG Talks - Learn About RDI in Temecula!

8th Annual Community Agency Resource Fair

TAG Summer Camp - Pre-teen/Teen Program

See you at our next Dance for Teens & Adults with Special Needs

Free Training on Personal Safety for Self Advocates

6 Session Course Coaching Young Adults with Autism



  • 'Sesame Street' theme park becomes world's first to get certified autism designation
  • The people who brought you the award-winning "Sesame Street" announced Monday that Sesame Place has become the world's first theme park to receive a certified autism center designation.

    The theme park has completed staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training to receive certification by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). This makes Sesame Place the only theme park to receive such a distinction.

    The certification comes as the park prepares for its 38th season, opening on April 28, 2018. It also aligns with National Autism Awareness Month. Read on...

  • Opinion: Caregivers Are Professionals, Not Entry-Level Workers
  • Since its inception in 1961, the nonprofit I lead, Home of Guiding Hands, has provided benchmark programming and housing for men, women, and children with developmental disabilities. The organization has become engaged in the issue of how the remarkable individuals who become caretakers for the developmentally disabled are classified under California state law.

    Home of Guiding Hands has evolved from one 14-acre campus in Lakeside to 31 four-to-six-person homes and numerous community-based services throughout San Diego County and Imperial Valley. It has become one of the largest providers of support and services in San Diego and Imperial Counties, serving more than 2,500 infants, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities.

    Currently, our staff who support our clients are classified as entry-level workers by the state. The wage issue is significant to us, as we witness the depth and breadth of their skill and dedication required every day to maximize the experience of all who come to us. We believe our direct-care staff are grossly underpaid and undervalued for the work that they do. Read on...

  • The Importance of Joint Attention for Kids With Autism
  • Learning is tough for kids who don't have joint attention skills

    As infants, children don't yet have the experience to understand what they are seeing, hearing, or feeling. Very quickly, however, they learn to turn toward a familiar voice, and within a few months, they are able to smile in response to a smile, recognize a beloved face, and respond to a sound by turning their heads.

    By the time they are a year old, most toddlers notice when another person is paying attention to something or someone.

    Even when the adult neither points nor actively attracts the child's attention, the child sees the parent's gaze and follows it. When the parent actively points or attracts attention, the child will intentionally join the parent's focus on, for example, a picture in a book or a bird flying through the trees. This is joint attention. Read on...

  • Social awareness increases demonstrate brain changing in adults with autism
  • Research shows virtual learning platform enhances neural health and social cognition in high-functioning adults on the spectrum

    Researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas, in collaboration with co-leading authors at George Washington University and Yale, have demonstrated in a pilot study that a clinician-driven virtual learning platform, tailored to young adults on the autism spectrum, shows improved social competency. Findings published in Autism Research reveal that increases in socio-emotional and socio-cognitive abilities correlate with brain change. Results included increased activation in the brain's socio-cognition hub with gains linked to improvement on an empathy measure.

    The present findings are among the first to demonstrate neural changes that are associated with significant behavioral gains in young adults with high-functioning autism. Researchers were particularly intrigued by the significant relationships between behavioral and brain changes, as there is a lack of research in this area. Historically, most autism research has focused on early childhood with treatment results typically measured solely by observable and self-reported behaviors. Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • Hello! I am a graduate student studying speech-language pathology and am planning to one day work with adults who are on the autism spectrum. I am currently seeking a summer practicum placement with the adult population that would last for 6 weeks and consist of 10 hours per week. If you are or know of someone who is a certified speech-language pathologist and would be open to supervising me, please contact me at Many thanks!
    Kathleen Winger

    Looking for someone to mentor and support my high functioning adult on the spectrum. Need someone at least over 25 and available weekends and possibly open to overnight stays. We are in east county, La Mesa area.

    Looking for a primary care physician for my 18 year-old severely autistic son -- non verbal with intense self-injuries behaviors and aggression. Prefer internal medicine specialty. Must have patience and compassion; must understand that autistic individuals manifest illnesses and pain with "behaviors"; must respect the parental point of view and expertise in developing treatment plan. Anthem Blue Cross PPO. Please send suggestions to: Thank you.

    Seeking Roommate for Autistic Older Adult
    I am seeking a roommate for my sister, who is almost 60, severely autistic and non-verbal. My sister is not aggressive toward others - she is affectionate and enjoys the company of other people, and is intelligent - but she is not verbally communicative and is very low-functioning.

    Roommate would need to also be a Regional Center client, non-aggressive and be in or entering the Supported Living program.
    Please contact Daria at Thank you!

    Hello! I am looking to get any information, experiences and guidance regarding SSI applications. My daughter is 17 1/2 and we never applied before. George

    We are wondering what parents experiences has been with some organizations for young adults.
    Our son is a client of the Department of Rehabilitation. We need to select a program for job training. We hope to get some feedback about The Arc, Goodwill and Toward Maximum Independence.
    Thanks Laura S.

    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.

  • Sports 4 Exceptional Athletes Newsletter for April!
  • s4ea

    Click here to view their newsletter for the month of April, highlighting all of their upcoming sporting and fundraising events!!!

  • Friendship Walk San Diego, April 29th!!!
  • Walk With Your Heart!!!

    Sunday, April 29th
    Liberty Station, NTC Park, Preble Field
    2455 Cushing Rd., San Diego, CA 92106

    Join us for the 5k Friendship Walk San Diego to raise funds and community involvement for children and adults with special needs. The Friendship Circle, San Diego provides inclusion programming, fun community outings and friendship for children, teens and adults with disabilities throughout San Diego County.

    Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • Chula Vista Jam Session Registration Now Open
  • For Teens and Young Adults with Special Needs

    Has your teen or young adult with special needs ever wanted to be in a rock band? Here is their chance. Unlocking their potential and spotlighting their abilities, this youth group learns the dynamics of building friendships, social skills and self-expression through fresh and creative avenues. Drawing on peers and professionals from the music community, this group experiences music recording, instrument exploration, improvisational songwriting, drumming and other projects based on the interests and needs of the group.
    Check out this video that gives an overview of the program

    Location: Chula Vista
    Mandatory New Parent Meeting: April 12th from 6:00-7:30pm
    Session Dates: April 26; May 10, 17, 24, 31; June 7, 14, 21
    Time: 7:00-8:00pm

    Click here for registration

  • The NEW 2018 Flourishing Families is Out!!
  • The new edition of Flourishing Families, San Diego and Imperial County's resource guide for families with special needs, is now available! Find helpful articles, resources for specific diagnoses and disabilities, as well as special needs camps, educational programs, support groups and more.

    Access the digital edition on the Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego website at

  • Summer Camp Sign-Ups!
  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth
    9466 Black Mountain Rd., Ste. 100
    San Diego, CA 92126
    To sign up, please email

  • Safer Than Prescription Medication for Anxiety and the Effects are Permanent!!!
  • Call 858-367-9108 to schedule your free consulation.

    Microcurrent 4 Kids is San Diego's premiere pediatric microcurrent therapy program for children with special needs. Our program is the clinically proven, BEST therapy for Autism & ADHD, as you will see by the rapid improvement in your child's skills and abilities, because of how well it promotes developmental growth and couples with ALL other therapies.

    4540 Kearny Villa Road, Ste. 211
    San Diego, CA 92123

  • April 16th AutismAwareness Night with the Padres as they take on the Dodgers at Petco Park
  • Join us on April 16th AutismAwareness Night with the Padres as they take on the Dodgers at Petco Park. Buy your ticket at

    Only tickets purchased through the link include the donation and limited edition bag. Limited edition Bag is only available to the first 500 tickets! San Diego Padres Autism Speaks Los Angeles Dodgers - with San Diego Padres, Autism Speaks and Autism Speaks San Diego at Petco Park.

  • Developmental DIR Autism Therapy in Your Home!
  • Real Connections Child Development Institute
    Supporting and partnering with families of children on the autism spectrum through understanding, engagement and relationships.

    Developmental Play Therapy - 1:1 developmental therapy in your child's natural environment. Evidenced- based, emotional, cognitive and neurobiological therapy that assists your child in developing meaningful relationships.

    Parent Coaching & Support - Real-time training and education in your child's individual profile. Learn new ways to engage and connect, while focusing on communicative and cognitive/ social emotional development. Maximize your child's developmental growth through both daily interactions and parent-child intervention sessions.

    A "Whole Child" Program

    • Flexible Thinking
    • Problem Solving
    • Scripting
    • Perserveration
    • Meltdowns
    • Executive Function Skills
    • Regulation
    • Sensory Integration
    • Spatial Processing
    • Individualized Program
    Real Connections San Diego
    415 North Highway 101, Suite C
    Solana Beach, CA 92075
    619-840-0015 or 858-768-0313

  • Builders of Eloquence and Engagement invites you to join a webinar on College Bound Academy
  • This is a free seminar for people who type and are college bound. Email her and she will add you.

    Builders of Eloquence and Engagement invites you to join a webinar on College Bound Academy. Learn about the road to College for individuals who use ACC.

    Dr. Ellyn Peña will share her research on College bound students and the College Bound Academy.

    Once you have confirmed virtual attendance, They will send you the link to access the Webinar.

  • TAG Talks - Learn About RDI in Temecula!
  • Join us for lunch and learn about RDI!
    April 9, 2018
    12:00 to 1:30pm
    43537 Ridgepark Dr.
    Temecula, CA 92590

    Seating is limited! Please RSVP to or call 858-689-2027

  • 8th Annual Community Agency Resource Fair
  • As a part of Autism Awareness and Acceptance month, we are hosting our 8th annual community agency resource fair in Kearny Mesa. This is a great opportunity to increase your awareness of services and supports that are available here in San Diego and have a chance to speak with representatives one on one. Hope to see you there!
    Click here for all the info!!!

  • TAG Summer Camp - Pre-teen/Teen Program
  • TAG for Grow in Carlsbad
    5411 Avenida Encinas, Ste. 110
    Carlsbad, CA 92008

  • See you at our next Dance for Teens & Adults with Special Needs
  • RSVP to Caroline at 602-502-2743!!!

  • Free Training on Personal Safety for Self Advocates
  • RSVP to 619-688-3323 or email

  • 6 Session Course Coaching Young Adults with Autism
  • Interview and Beyond: Skills to Get and Keep a Job

    This 6-session course, facilitated by occupational and speech therapists, will coach young adults with autism how to navigate the unspoken rules of the workplace. As participants work through simulations, virtual reality practice, and group projects, they will develop awareness of common employer expectations and develop skills to navigate them confidently. Skills targeted include: successful interviewing, workplace social skills, organization and time management, self-advocacy and ability to accept workplace feedback. Participants must be at least 16 years old and have a high school diploma or verification from a teacher that they have a 6th grade or higher reading level. Tuition includes a year subscription to two web-based job training programs, SIMmersion and Jobtips.

    TO REGISTER, CALL (858)673-5437 OR GO TO

  • 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.

    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.

  • Vanderbilt Kennedy Center: Residential and Respite Care Services Survey

  • The survey will take less than 30 minutes to complete. The survey is anonymous and voluntary and the responses are confidential. The responses will be helpful in determining issues and supports related to residential and respite care services. We will raffle ten $25 gift cards at the close of the survey for participants who complete the survey.

    Click here to take the survey and help with research to improve lives!!!

  • Parents Who have a Child with Autism Wanted for an Online Survey
  • Participate in Research: Attention Differences in Boys with ASD and their Family Member

  • Boys with ASD between the ages of 8 and 16 and both of their biological parents are invited to participate in a study examining attention skills and genetics.

    Boys who are typical developing and their biological parents are also invited to serve as a control group.

    This research is taking place at the Neuroscience Center of Alliant International University under the supervision of Alan Lincoln, Ph.D., MSCP, BCBA-D and Shamayne Brown, M.A. You must be able to travel to the lab to participate.

    Study Requirements
    -Both biological parents and the son must participate.
    -Each parent will complete questionnaires about him or herself.
    -This should take about 30 minutes.
    -Each parent will complete a brief standard cognitive measure. This should take about 30 minutes.
    -Each parent will complete a computer task. This should take about 30 minutes.
    -One parent will complete questionnaires about your son. This should take about 25 minutes.
    -Your will complete the brief standard intelligence measure. This should take your child about 30 minutes.
    -Your son will compete the computer task. This should take about 30 minutes.

    Upon completion of participation, your son will receive $20 and each parent will receive a $10 gift card. You may also receive, upon request, results of your performance and/or your child's performance.

    Refer another family to the study and be entered in a drawing for a $200 Visa gift card.

    Some individuals may be excluded from participation in the study on-site. If your child is excluded, he will receive a $5.00 cash gift for his participation in the preliminary assessment. If a parent is excluded, he or she will be given a $5 gift card for participation in the preliminary assessment.

    If you are interested in participating, please call 858-635-4068 or by email: or Thank you in advance for your time and assistance!

    Approved by Alliant IRB (#1604025150R001)


    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.