Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. January 03, 2020

In This Issue

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Yard House honored for hiring the disabled at Carlsbad, Mission Valley restaurants

What School Could Be If It Were Designed for Kids With Autism

Five hot topics in autism research in 2019

Solidarity: Ending the Emotional Isolation of Parents of Children with the Most Severe Forms of Autism

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Mingle - January 22nd!

FREE! - How to Manage Difficult Behaviors in Autism

FREE!! - IEP Parent Bootcamp

Executive Function Intervention

Positive Action Community Theatre Upcoming Workshops for Teens & Adults

Positive Action Community Theatre New 2020 Children's Theatre Workshops

New SDRC Vendor - Behavior Support - San Diego Start

Parents Advocating Together Upcoming Meetings

Farmer's Insurance Open Benefitting NFAR

Game Night for Adults With Autism!

Dan's Place January Pop Up

Supported Employment with Comprehensive Cognitive Enhancement & Social Skills Training

Flourishing Families, San Diego and Imperial Counties' resource guide

Club Beacons is ready for 2020!


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ValeriesList is a FREE resource newsletter and Facebook Page for San Diego County and has been for over 20 years, with a weekly reach of 50,000! No fees, donation or membership are required to receive this info. An informed public makes better decisions for its' persons with Special Needs. Please share with friends, family, fellow professionals and clients!!! Click here to check out my FB page! Thank YOU!

On Saturday, March 28, 2020 we are celebrating the 16th Anniversary of the Race for Autism in Balboa Park and it's going to be "SUPER!"

This family friendly event gathers together more than 5,000 families, educators, and autism professionals from across Southern California to help raise awareness and funding for one of our country's largest concerns- autism. Once considered rare, autism affects as many as 1 in 59 children in the US, and more than 20,000 families right here in our community.

100% of the Race funds stay right here in San Diego and helps to provide funding for early identification and education efforts, technical training in software testing for young adults, parent programs, instructional workshops and has funded nearly 900 community programs and classrooms, benefiting thousands of local children and families.

Please join us in making a difference on March 28th. Because everyone can be a SUPERHERO!

Positive Action Community Theatre (PACT) is a dynamic non-profit organization that offers improvisational theatre and performing arts workshops that teach life and social skills to teens and adults with autism and other special needs. Those most served by our programs are teens and young adults with high functioning autism (HFA)/Asperger's.

Our workshops include individuals with disabilities, as well as volunteers who act as peer mentors. We encourage a feeling of equality by not pointing out our volunteers or discussing anyone's differences. The fun, low-stress and upbeat environment of these workshops gives those with unique needs an opportunity to express their creativity, reconnect with peers, and learn life skills through observation and interaction.

Mastering an art is a very enriching experience. It also proves to be a great ally in living with the challenges of autism and other disabilities. Studying and expressing the performing arts brings those who have been isolated into a shared world. As they feel more connected, they are better able to express their thoughts and feelings and share their own unique gifts. We all benefit from their contributions.

  • Yard House honored for hiring the disabled at Carlsbad, Mission Valley restaurants
  • Carlsbad location manager said disabled staffers are dependable, hard-working and enthusiastic employees

    Hours before the doors open at The Yard House restaurant in Carlsbad, morning-shift workers like Cathy Rogers and Douglas Need have already come and gone.

    They, and four other North County residents, show up at 8:45 a.m. most weekdays to polish the silverware, roll it carefully into black cloth napkins, dust the tables, refill the candles on each table and replace the batteries in the tabletop ordering kiosks. These workers are clients of The Arc of San Diego, a nonprofit that provides job services to more than 400 San Diego County adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. Read on...

  • What School Could Be If It Were Designed for Kids With Autism
  • Tracy Murray's kindergarten classroom in New York City has a unique approach to supporting students on the spectrum.

    A charming, bright 5-year-old stands out in his classroom at Maurice Wollin elementary school, on Staten Island, as an extremely social, kind, and curious child. He remembers more about his peers-names, significant events, likes and dislikes-than almost any other kindergartner at his school does.

    But despite his genuine interest in his classmates and their well-being, he often struggles with interpreting their feelings and intentions-he has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). (This 5-year-old and the other students mentioned in this article have been granted anonymity to protect their privacy.) One morning last month, in the middle of a math lesson, a soft-spoken classmate accidentally bumped into his shoulder, and quickly apologized with a big, friendly smile. But the sociable child concluded that his classmate was being mean, and punched him in the shoulder, then dropped to the floor, crying, his arms flailing and his voice growing louder. Read on...

  • Five hot topics in autism research in 2019
  • This year, researchers unearthed clues to the causes of autism - and how to treat it -from a variety of sources.

    Advances in tiny models of the human brain bared new details about the biology of autism and provided possible platforms for testing therapies. Studies of heart rate put a spotlight on the autonomic nervous system as a potential wellspring of autism traits. And others forged a controversial connection between the gut microbiome and autism.

    A few studies revealed important information about the time points at which different forms of autism are amenable to therapy. This year also saw scrutiny of tests used for screening and diagnosis, revealing gaps and limitations in the system for identifying autistic children.

    Here are the year's top five topics in autism research. Read on...

  • Solidarity: Ending the Emotional Isolation of Parents of Children with the Most Severe Forms of Autism
  • Bruised and bitten, these autism parents are hidden inside homes equipped with helmets, arm pads, and mats. They are traumatized and need help.

    I am the mom of a beautiful 10 year-old boy named Santiago (Santi), who suffers from severe autism and bipolar disorder. Because of his extreme self-injurious behaviors (SIBs) and aggression towards others, Santi has been hospitalized at the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) in Baltimore, Maryland for the last 17 months. Prior to this, he had three psychiatric admissions in Ohio where we live. Thankfully, in September he started electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) at Johns Hopkins and due to his great response, he is expected to come home on January 3, 2020.

    As with many of the kids at the very end of the autism spectrum, Santiago is a non-responder /poor responder to most psychiatric medications and he is also labeled behavioral intervention resistant. Before ECT, Santi would hit his forehead against hard surfaces (e.g., floor, kitchen counter, bathtubs, sidewalks, and especially his knee) many times per hour. He had two permanent big calluses on the top of his head that would open, bleed and close just to be re-opened again in a matter of hours, or days if we were lucky. Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • Do you receive SSI? Don't miss out on food benefits!
    Beginning June 2019, many Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will become eligible for CalFresh Food Benefits.

    There is NO CHANGE or reduction to SSI/SSP amounts. For more information Click, Call or Come in to your county office to apply and find out more.

    Click to apply online
    Call 1-877-847-3663 (FOOD)
    Come in/find an office at

    San Diego Futures - I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of this organization because it can be a helpful resource to families in need of computers and other technology who may not have the resources they need to secure technology for their homes. If anyone needs a laptop or desktop and cannot afford one, please consider reaching out to this group. Desktops and laptops are available at VERY low prices for eligible families.

    Our son recently got diagnosed with Autism and we are currently trying to setup RESPITE services for him.

    We were approved for 8hrs of RESPITE per month. We selected "24HourHomeCare" as our RESPITE agency. The agency mentioned that they don't have care givers available at this point and we were asked if we knew anyone that can join 24HourHomeCare.

    Can you please help us find caregivers specialized in Autism and someone that can provide us RESPITE services.
    Thanks, Kalyani.

    I'm looking for recommendations of a psychologist or psychiatrist experienced in working with adults with autism. My 32 yr. old son has recently developed anxiety and signs of hypochondriasis. Has anyone had experience with someone they would recommend or not recommend? Any help is greatly appreciated. Sharon

    I would love to find a theatre, dance or improv teacher to volunteer teach at my son's school in Poway. They're 18 -22 years old. Can you help? Thank you.

    Seeking Special Needs Ministry Team Volunteers
    I am seeking any volunteers who would be interested to be part of a developing Volunteer Special Needs Ministry Team I have proposed already onboard Miramar Base starting with the Catholic Community at Airman & Marine Memorial Chapel. I am in the beginning planning phase and hoping will be approved . I envision making the Special needs ministry all inclusive meaning for all disabilities if possible and for all ages . I was also envisioning the team to be comprised of but not limited too support volunteers of professionals like a BCBA who could help with addressing any challenging behaviors that may arise , Special education or Faith formation teachers who have experience working with children and adults with special needs so could help modify the curriculum and help with materials , interpreter for the deaf on an as need basis , speech therapist who could help with creating social stories and other communication and social needs , occupational therapist who could help with sensory regulation needs and more , guest speakers for informational sessions may be offering and more .You do not need to be military but that would be most welcomed as we are serving the military community on board Miramar . If all goes well and receive permission to proceed forward with my proposal then would like in the future to include the other faith based communities served on base . As mentioned this is a team I am currently forming so wanted to reach out to the Special Needs Community to see if any of you are interested to volunteer your time to assist me. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or if interested to Michele at

    Looking for LVN for respite in North County
    Regional Center determined my son needs LVN-level respite care because he might need medication by mouth if he has a seizure. Having a very hard time finding anyone. (We live in Encinitas.) If you have any leads, please email me at

    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.

  • Mingle - January 22nd!
  • Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at 6 PM - 9 PM
    Rockin' Baja Lobster - Old Town
    3890 Twiggs St, San Diego, California 92110

    Join us for Mingle, where we bring parents, families, and professionals in the special needs community together for an evening to mingle, socialize, and make new connections while sharing our collective experiences and resources. At Mingle we have facilitated introductions, highlight community organizations, and feature a non-profit (Unscripted Learning) and other spotlight resources (Breain Learning and more!). As we turn in to the new year we will officially announce more spotlight resources!

  • FREE! - How to Manage Difficult Behaviors in Autism
  • Monday, January 20, 2020 at 6 PM - 8 PM

    SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders
    6363 Alvarado Court, Suite 100, San Diego, California 92120

    The SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders is hosting a talk on learning effective strategies to deescalate behaviors in kids with autism. Our guest, Daniel Lowery from the Psychiatric Centers of San Diego, will help parents identify common triggers that lead to behavioral escalation and what to do to prevent them. We will explore the energy cycle of behavioral escalation, how to identify each phase and how to respond appropriately with each phase. We will cover the most effective communication strategies for interacting with kids to prevent behavioral escalation and reduce escalation once a child has already in an excited state. Click here for all the info and to RSVP!!

  • FREE!! - IEP Parent Bootcamp
  • Saturday, January 11th and Saturday, January 18th, 2020
    Sponsored by Sanford Autism Consulting (
    Location: ARTC (Autism Resource and Training Center)
    11770 Bernardo Plaza Ct. #116, San Diego, CA 92128

    Cost: 99$/session/$198 for complete course - I have become vendored through the Regional Center, so the entire 2-part course is free for parents. Vendor# PY2076

    Just need to apply through their Regional Center case manager and on my site: Click here!!!

    IEP Bootcamp Series, Part 1 : Advocate like a Pro!

    IEP Bootcamp Series, Part 2 : Parents Empowered

    Presentation by Crystal Y. Sanford, M.Ed., M.A. CCC-SLP and autism mom!!!

  • Executive Function Intervention
  • Based on neuroscience research, the program is developed to enhance Executive Functioning skills used to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, being flexible, paying attention, remembering, & managing time & space.

    Intricate Mind Institute
    2247 San Diego Ave #136
    San Diego, CA 92110
    (858) 205-9809

  • Positive Action Community Theatre Upcoming Workshops for Teens & Adults
  • Starting January 25th, PACT offers Improvisational Theatre and Performing Arts workshops throughout the year, including summer. Workshops are "inclusive", consisting of peers with and without disabilities. Most participants are in their mid-teens, but the program is also open to adults.

    For more info and to register please visit our website: For questions please call us at 760-815-8512 or email

  • Positive Action Community Theatre New 2020 Children's Theatre Workshops
  • PACT will be offering children's theatre workshops, starting on January 25, 2020. These workshops are designed to teach social and communication skills to elementary school-age children with autism. The group will enjoy improvisational theatre activities in an inclusive environment.

    For more info and to register please visit our website: For questions please call us at 760-815-8512 or email

  • New SDRC Vendor - Behavior Support - San Diego Start
  • San Diego Start. Start is a "wrap around" support program for people aged 6+ who are a SDRC client, has a history of behavioral and/or mental health challenges and who have been hospitalized. Services include: consultation and training, community partnerships, crisis plan development, therapeutic coaching, crisis prevention and interventions. San Diego Start is the result of a collaborative initiative with the SDRC and Exodus Recovery. Contact your SDRC service coordinator for more info.

  • Parents Advocating Together Upcoming Meetings
  • Come to our free Monthly Parent meetings. Join us at IHOP to meet other parents who have children with special needs. Get your IEP/Regional Center/IHSS questions answered by our advocates.

    Please RSVP to this email or call 858-213-8005 so we can give IHOP an estimate of how many people to expect.

    Click here to view their FB page!!!

  • Farmer's Insurance Open Benefitting NFAR
  • Looking for great holiday gifts? We have Farmers Insurance Open Tickets for only $35! (This is $30 OFF the regular price!)

    Tickets for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, January 22-26, 2020 can be purchased through NFAR for just $35 each and mailed to you.

    • Tickets provide same access to the Tournament as the $65 tickets!
    • NFAR tickets are good for any one day during the tournament.
    • Every ticket purchased through NFAR gives $25 to autism initiatives!
    To purchase tickets: click HERE or call NFAR at (858) 679-8800. We thank you for your support!

  • Game Night for Adults With Autism!
  • Friday, January 17, 2020 at 6 PM - 10 PM
    SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders
    6363 Alvarado Court, Suite 100, San Diego, California 92120

    The SDSU Center for Autism and the Self-Empowerment for Adults with Social Anxiety or ASD support group are hosting a game night and social for adults with autism. Join us for a fun-filled evening and meet new people! Bring your favorite board or card game. This event is FREE. We will have some food, but bring snacks to share! Click here for all the info and to RSVP!!!

  • Dan's Place January Pop Up
  • Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 5 PM - 7 PM
    Dan's Place Kosher Restaurant
    16934 Chabad Way, Poway, California 92064

    Dan's Place was created to give the adult and young adult community with special needs the chance to learn vocational skills in the hospitality industry. Each participant commits to learning a position within the restaurant such as chef, server, host and more! Volunteers assist alongside each participant as they practice from setup to cleanup and everything in between.

    Led by Head Chef Amy Nisen, Etiquette Coach Michal Arbib, and Creative Director Dawne Ellison, each Restaurant Staff member has the chance to be a part of something fun and educational. Click here to get your tickets!!!

  • Supported Employment with Comprehensive Cognitive Enhancement & Social Skills Training
  • A program, adapted for adults with ASD from evidence-based compensatory cognitive training, to develop the soft skills necessary for employment.

    Intricate Mind Institute
    2247 San Diego Ave #136
    San Diego, CA 92110
    (858) 205-9809

  • Flourishing Families, San Diego and Imperial Counties' resource guide
  • The 2019 edition of Flourishing Families, San Diego and Imperial Counties' resource guide for parents of children with special needs is now available!

    The 2019 issue is a one-of-a-kind guide containing more than 1,050 resources including service providers, research institutes, specialized doctors, resource providers, camps, therapists, advocates, associations and so much more.

    Find over 1,050 resources online at

  • Club Beacons is ready for 2020!
  • Club Beacons is ready for 2020! All we need is you!

    Please read carefully about updated RSVP and Cancellation Instructions

    Complete an annual Registration
    Sign an annual Waiver
    Online Payment

  • ASD Mornings at the NAT

  • The San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat) is pleased to offer a program for the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community: a once-a-month ASD Morning in which the Museum opens early for adults and children on the autism spectrum and their families, friends, and caregivers. This innovative program encourages individuals to explore, play, and discover the treasures The Nat has to offer in an environment that is comfortable for them.

    ASD Mornings take place the second Sunday of every month. The Museum will open at 9 AM*, one hour earlier than its standard 10 AM opening time, providing a quiet and less-crowded environment for visitors to explore the Museum's galleries at their own pace. In addition, on ASD Mornings the Museum will offer a "quiet room" from 9 AM to noon if visitors need a quiet space to decompress or desensitize. General admission rates apply during ASD Mornings.

  • 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

  • Everyone Deserves a Loving Home

  • Contact Lynn Scott for more information 619-954-7847 or

  • Autism Through the Lifespan

  • Please RSVP for Spanish Translation support

    For further information, please contact:
    Carolyn Carterette, M.A. (619) 725-8080 email:
    Grace Fantaroni, Ed.D. (619) 563-2839 email

  • Therapeutic Recreation Services - Winter Calendar 2019

  • Here is the TRS Newsletter for Winter of 2019.

    First day of registration is Saturday, November 16th at 10:00 a.m.

    You may register online or at our office at the War Memorial Building (3325 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92101). If you plan on paying at the office, please remember we no longer take cash as a payment.

    If you have any questions, please contact the office at (619) 525-8247.

  • Toddler MRI Study at SDSU

  • Our Center's research arm, the Brain Development Imaging Labs, is conducting a fascinating study looking at how young children's brains change as they get older. We are looking for kids (15 months to 5 years old) who are on the spectrum or who are suspected to have autism. Participants get a free assessment (plus assessment summary), free MRI scan, $150, AND a free picture of their brain! For more info or to sign up, please call us at 619-594-2500 or email us at Thank you!

  • Participate in SPARK at UCSD

  • UC San Diego's Autism Center of Excellence is seeking individuals diagnosed with ASD and their biological family members to participate in SPARK, the largest national genetics research project in US history! The SPARK study aims to gain a better understanding of the causes and potential treatments of autism by building a cohort of 50,000 diagnosed individuals to facilitate research on an unprecedented scale. There is NO cost to participate in the study and it can even be completed without leaving the house!

    What we do
    SPARK researchers extract genetic data through a saliva sample and analyze information collected from thousands of people with autism and their biological parents. UCSD and over 20 of the nation's leading medical schools are part of this effort.

    How to join*
    1. Sign up online at -- registration typically takes about 20 minutes. Using this link connects you to our site, which enables us to better follow up with you if you encounter any issues or have specific questions.
    2. Complete a few questionnaires online.
    3. Provide a saliva sample. A saliva collection kit will be sent directly to your home after registration. When you are done, simply mail it back in the prepaid mailer.

    Benefits of joining
    1. Individuals with autism will receive gift cards valued at up to a total of $50 for participation.
    2. SPARK hosts monthly webinars, featuring psychologists, researchers, or speakers from the autism community, that provide useful information for families and individuals with autism.
    3. If a genetic finding is discovered related to the cause of autism, results will be shared back with families.
    4. The information you provide may help others with ASD for generations to come!

    *Our site also offers the option for home appointments where a member of our SPARK team can come to your home and assist you in the registration process, collect the saliva samples, and mail them in for you! This is typically the preferred method for families as everything gets completed at once. Please note that we ask that both biological parents and individual diagnosed with ASD be present for these appointments. We can accommodate a variety of dates and times outside normal business hours on the weekdays or weekends -- whichever is most convenient for you and your family! Alternatively, we can also schedule in-clinic appointments at our office if that is preferred.

    You can visit our SPARK FAQ page for additional details. Please contact us via email at or via phone at 858-534-6906 if you would like to set up an appointment or if you have any questions!

  • Older Adults with Autism (40-75 yrs old) Needed for Study

  • We are looking for older adults with autism (40-75 yrs old) to be in our brain imaging study! Anyone with a diagnosis or suspects that she or he has autism is invited to reach out to us. Participants receive a free assessment, free MRI brain scan, and around $150! If you know anyone who might be interested in this, please have them email or call us at 619-594-0176. Thank you!

  • SDSU Center for Autism Brain Study Needs Volunteers!

  • The SDSU Center for Autism is conducting a behavioral and brain imaging study with youth (7-21 years old) on the spectrum. We are trying to understand how the brain changes as children become young adults. Participants get a free assessment, a free MRI scan, about $150, and a free picture of their brain! If you are interested, call us at 619-594-0176, or email us at Thank you!


    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.