Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. January 10, 2020

In This Issue

Please Share This Newsletter and Facebook Page!!!

The How and Why of Self-Care for Caregivers

Autism heritability: It probably does not mean what you think it means

2019: A Terrible Year in Review

Sleep difficulties in children with autism caused by shallower brain waves

Congress Hands Special Ed Hefty Funding Boost

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Mingle - January 22nd!

Sensory-Friendly Mornings at San Diego Children's Discovery Museum

FREE!! - IEP Parent Bootcamp

FREE Webinar: Behavioral & Attentional Challenges

Positive Action Community Theatre Upcoming Workshops for Teens & Adults

Positive Action Community Theatre New 2020 Children's Theatre Workshops

D'Vine Path Vocational and Life Skills Program Registration Open

Art Contest

Vocational Workshops at Beacon's in Carlsbad!!

Oceanside Sensory Story Time

Adult Information and Support Meeting


The Beginners Guide to Special Needs Planning


Please Share This Newsletter and Facebook Page!!!

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.

  • The How and Why of Self-Care for Caregivers
  • Many caregivers live with chronic stress-the kind that gnaws at mental and physical health. It can lead to burnout, fatigue and strained relationships. Parenting a child with special needs can be all-consuming, but caregivers who practice effective stress-management can improve the whole family's wellness. "I've worked in a hospital environment for 30 years," says Lisa Thompson, RN. "It's very clear that when a parent is agitated, the child is affected. When the parent is able to do self-care, this reflects to the child."

    Those who haven't practiced self-care in a while (or ever) may not know how to begin a new routine. It'll look different than it did before kids. There could be feelings of worry or guilt to acknowledge, address and ultimately set aside. Remember: self-care is vital for caregivers and their children. Here are ideas to get started: Read on...

  • Autism heritability: It probably does not mean what you think it means
  • The question of autism's heritability is compelling for researchers and laypeople alike, but many people in both groups misunderstand its definition.

    Heritability is defined as the proportion of variation in a condition that is attributable to variation in genetics. Heritability estimates can influence how much time and money researchers like me think should be allocated to studying genetic factors versus environmental ones. For families with a history of autism, heritability estimates get right to the heart of the nature-versus-nurture debate, by offering clues about which factors led to an individual's diagnosis.

    These numbers have substantial implications; they probably should not. Autism arises from a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors, and most heritability studies oversimplify these relationships. Read on...

  • 2019: A Terrible Year in Review
  • A Louisiana autism family faces ever-escalating trauma, but finds no relief.

    If I had to pick the hardest year of my life I'd have to say that it was definitely 2019, and believe me when I say that that is saying a lot.

    I have never written publicly about our 17 year-old autistic son's struggles but since it's a new year and a new start I thought I would tell a little about the past year (although kinda cryptically here because no one should hear every gory detail) and also in this post I want to pray and look for hope in the new year.

    My husband and I have been very alone and isolated from the world but very grateful that we have each other (as well as my mom and our incredible three older kids who are amazing with him as well). Together, alone, we have dealt with not only nonverbal self-injurious autism in our precious son (as if that wasn't difficult enough for him) BUT just when we thought it couldn't get any worse for him or for us it did. Read on...

  • Sleep difficulties in children with autism caused by shallower brain waves
  • Children with autism have more significant sleep difficulties caused by shallower brain waves than typically developing children, according to researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). The study was reported in Sleep, the premier journal in the field.

    "For the first time, we found that children with more serious sleep issues showed brain activity that indicated more shallow and superficial sleep," says BGU Prof. Ilan Dinstein," head of the National Autism Research Center of Israel and a member of BGU's Department of Psychology. Read on...

  • Congress Hands Special Ed Hefty Funding Boost
  • Federal funding for special education will rise the most it has in years under a newly approved government spending plan.

    The increase comes as part of a $1.4 trillion package signed late last year by President Donald Trump that will fund the federal government through the end of September.

    The measure includes level funding or increases for most programs that people with disabilities rely on, advocates said. 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.

    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

    I'm looking for a online high school for my son to complete his senior year. We're currently enrolled in an online Charter school which does a gods job of providing services and accommodations but the curriculum is too hard.
    Does anyone know of an online program that works with kids on the spectrum?
    Than you, Heidi

    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!

  • Sensory-Friendly Mornings at San Diego Children's Discovery Museum
  • Families with children on the spectrum or with sensory sensitivities are invited to this early morning event that provides a welcoming, comfortable environment for them to enjoy the museum. Sundays, 8:30-9:30 am. Regular admission fees apply. Learn more here.

  • 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!!!

  • FREE Webinar: Behavioral & Attentional Challenges
  • Featuring the expertise of Amy Lajiness; LCSW, PPSC

    Join us by registering at

    The webinar will be held on Tuesday January 28th at 12:00 noon and will repeat Thursday January 30th at 7:00 pm.

  • 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

  • D'Vine Path Vocational and Life Skills Program Registration Open
  • We are now accepting applications for our Spring 2020 session!

    1. Click the link below to print our application.

    2. Complete application to submit at interview.

    3. Call to schedule required interview by January 25th (949) 233-6515

    D'Vine Path 2020 Program Application

  • Art Contest

    The Art of Autism and Mainly Mozart nonprofits announce the 2nd annual "Finding Your Inner MozArt Art Contest" open to North American autistic artists ages 14 and over.

    This year's theme is Music and/or Synesthesia. See What is synesthesia? Deadline for submission is January 20, 2020!!!!

  • Vocational Workshops at Beacon's in Carlsbad!!
  • To register, visit:

    Costs: Workshops for postsecondary SDRC consumers may be funded by the San Diego Regional Center if supported by the consumer's IPP goals. Beacons Vendor # PY1700, Service Code: 102 (subcode: Spring).

    Questions? Please visit our website listed above or contact us at: or call: 760-448-6230.

  • Oceanside Sensory Story Time
  • My name is Kristine Moralez, and I'm the Community Outreach Coordinator at the Oceanside Public Library. I wanted to share with you a flyer with information about the Library's Sensory Storytimes happening this month. These storytimes will take place at the Civic Center Library on January 14, 21 and 28 at 2 p.m., and are designed for children on the autism spectrum and their families. We would really appreciate if you would share the information with your community. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 760-435-5571 or email me at

  • Adult Information and Support Meeting
  • Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at 6 PM - 8 PM
    Autism Society San Diego
    4699 Murphy Canyon Rd, San Diego, California 92123

    TOPIC: Stuck at home.
    So many of our adult children have trouble getting out into the community. They are often stuck at home, with very limited lives, and we are there with them trying to figure out how to help them. There are a range of things that we can do to try to help, from community resources to therapies to medical treatments. In this meeting we will talk as a community about these situations and our efforts to help our children and our families to help build more meaningful lives.

    Joshua D. Feder, MD
    is a child and family psychiatrist in Solana Beach, California and Editor in Chief of the Carlat Child Psychiatry Report. Dr. Feder runs a research incubator at Fielding Graduate University program in Infant and Early Childhood Development, and does clinical research with UCSD and SDSU. He is on the faculty of The Interdisciplinary Network on Development and Learning (ICDL) and Profectum. Dr. Feder serves as Medical Director in the SymPlay division at Quicksilver Software, Inc., developing technology to support relationship-based interventions, is active in legislative and policy advocacy, and he travels extensively as a Senior Associate Member of the International Network on Peace Building with Young Children.

    We welcome all community members who are interested in issues facing autistic adults to attend our meeting.

  • Emotional Regulation Peer Group Sessions Join us for our winter STG workshop, for children ages 4-10 who are having a difficult time controlling their emotions in peer interactions, at school or at home. Using concepts from the Zones of Regulation and Social Thinking Curriculum, children will learn more about feelings, identify triggers that make them feel "out of control" and create tools for regulation through various fun activities and play.

    Parents will receive tips and guidance on how to implement strategies at home.

  • The Beginners Guide to Special Needs Planning
  • RSVP: or call 858-633-4126

  • 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.