Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. January 14, 2020

In This Issue

Autism's genetic drivers may differ by sex

Blue Envelopes Available Across State for Drivers With Autism in CT

How a controversial condition called PANDAS is gaining ground on autism

The Top 3 Books with Autistic Characters: 2019

Jane Wants A Boyfriend Addresses Sibling Issues And Romantic Relationships

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

San Diego Race for Autism Superhero 5K & 1 Mile Family Fun Walk

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

Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation by Autism Mom Yvette Soto

FREE Webinar: Behavioral & Attentional Challenges

Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!

NFAR Mom's Group - January

D'Vine Path Vocational and Life Skills Program Registration Open

Art Contest

Job Opening: VOCATIONAL TRAINING PROGRAM ASSISTANT - Job Coach/Vocational Specialist

Oceanside Sensory Story Time

Adult Information and Support Meeting - TONIGHT!

TACA San Diego Breakfast Club: 2020 New Year, New Goals!

The Beginners Guide to Special Needs Planning

Celebrating a Year of Firsts!


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.

  • Autism's genetic drivers may differ by sex
  • Autism may stem from a different - and larger - set of genetic mutations in women than it does in men, according to a new study1.

    The findings support a growing body of evidence suggesting that women require a bigger genetic hit than men do to have conditions that affect brain development, including autism.

    Autism affects about four men for every one woman, according to a comprehensive analysis from 2017. The cause of this sex bias is an "outstanding question in the field," says Tychele Turner, assistant professor of genetics at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who led the new work. Read on...

  • Blue Envelopes Available Across State for Drivers With Autism in CT
  • The blue envelope joins a green envelope that has been available in Connecticut for years for drivers who are hearing impaired.

    Police departments across Connecticut are working to make people aware of blue envelopes now available for drivers living with autism spectrum disorder. The goal of the colored envelope is to bridge a communication gap between officers and people living with disabilities.

    Lawmakers passed a public act, which became effective January 1, 2020, that requires the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to make blue envelopes available for anyone living with the disorder. The envelopes are meant to hold a driver's registration and license. The outside of the envelope has information for drivers on traffic stops and tips on how to react. Read on...

  • How a controversial condition called PANDAS is gaining ground on autism
  • Some scientists say an immune condition called PANDAS affects as many as 1 in 200 children who have traits similar to those of autism. But many experts contest that figure - and even the condition's very existence.

    Adam Elliott was 2 years old when his parents began to suspect he might have autism. Adam had trouble making eye contact - one telltale sign of the condition - and there were other hints as well. He was a calm, inquisitive child most of the time, but some days at preschool, he would become unfocused and uncoordinated, fumbling with scissors as he tried to cut paper for art projects.

    By the time Adam entered elementary school, his traits had worsened. He began to experience severe separation anxiety and sensory overload in the noisy classroom. He became aggressive. When he was 6, for example, he believed his best friend was saying nasty things about him and scratched the friend in the face with a pencil. At home, Adam would often walk in circles, filled with anxiety. He eventually became so afraid that his food was poisoned, he refused to eat for long periods of time. Read on...

  • The Top 3 Books with Autistic Characters: 2019
  • 2019 was a banger of a year when it came to the representation of autism in books. However, the same can't quite be said for 2019s autistic characters. Sure, novels like The Bride Test, The Helpline and Underdogs created some unforgettable representations but, when it came to the books that questioned where we are at as a community (over what we are as individuals), then even these great novels were outshone by some of the best books with autistic themes, to date.

    The following is my spoiler-free recommendation of what, I believe, were the 3 best autism books from 2019: Read on...

  • Jane Wants A Boyfriend Addresses Sibling Issues And Romantic Relationships
  • This weekend I had the opportunity to watch Jane Wants a Boyfriend, a heartwarming autism-themed film about a young woman with Asperger's Syndrome seeking a romantic relationship. I had learned of this film while browsing the Internet, and I decided to check it out from my local library as my next selection for an autism movie review. Watching the film, I felt that it shed important light on a variety of issues relating to individuals on the autism spectrum.

    Jane (portrayed by Louisa Krause) is a 25-year-old woman with Asperger's Syndrome who lives with her parents but follows her own set of specific routines. Chief among these is Jane's hobby of watching classic romance films from the 1940's and 1950's, during which she recites certain lines from the characters and subsequently adopts their mannerisms when answering the phone or at certain points in a conversation. 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

    I'm seeking diagnostic assessment such as: ADOS, CARS, GARS for my 18yr son. I understood most insurance don't cover so I'm willing to pay cash like everything else. Please email referrals: Thank you for your time! Rebecca

    To East County parents: Our daughter (who is in the middle of the spectrum but is about 4th grade academically) is going to start high school in September and we are looking at high schools in Grossmont Union High School District. Any schools you recommend or would avoid? We are also open to suggestions for non public high schools. Please e-mail Jen 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.

  • San Diego Race for Autism Superhero 5K & 1 Mile Family Fun Walk
  • Saturday, March 28, 2020 at 7 AM - 12 PM at Balboa Park!!!

    Be a SUPERHERO for Autism! Join us in celebrating 16 years of making a difference and changing the futures for thousands with autism in San Diego at the RACE FOR AUTISM SUPERHERO 5K. Grab your cape and run or walk through the heart of beautiful Balboa Park kick off Autism Awareness Month in heroic style on Saturday, March 28, 2020.

    Help NFAR continue to change lives and sign up today. 100% of Race donations support San Diego autism programs, services, and hundreds of local classrooms.

    Featuring a SUPERHERO 5K chip timed run, 5K walk or 1-mile Family Fun Walk, scenic Balboa Park course, educational resource fair, children's activities, music, commemorative medals, and t-shirts, capes for kids, prizes, refreshments and more! Costumes and strollers welcome!

    Create a Justice League for the 2020 Race for Autism Superhero 5K on March 28, 2020! To purchase a Justice League Team Package, please call NFAR at (858) 679-8800.

    The Justice League Package is for:
    *Groups of 15 persons or more.
    *Flat rate of $30 per person. (Includes chip-timing for runners and larger shirt sizes.)
    *Upon receipt of payment, your group will receive a special code to register.

  • 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.

  • Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation by Autism Mom Yvette Soto
  • I offer professional accounting services that are customized to your specific needs, including full service computerized bookkeeping, payroll and tax preparation for individuals and small to medium sized businesses.

    Services Provided:
    - Bookkeeping Services
    - Business Consulting
    - Payroll Preparation
    - Income Tax Return Preparation
    - Notary Public Services

    Customer service is my number one priority. I like to work closely with my clients to make sure they understand how their business is doing.

    As a small business owner it is important that you spend your time on running your business and not on bookkeeping. Let me give you the peace of mind you deserve by utilizing my 20+ years of diversified experience in accounting and in business.

    Call to setup an appointment for a free initial consultation so that I can evaluate your bookkeeping needs and provide you with a quote.

    Yvette Soto
    3633 Camino Del Rio South, Suite 205
    San Diego, CA. 92108
    Phone (619) 977-6586

  • 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.

  • Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!
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    Wondering if your child might benefit from joining a group? Give us a call at 858-558-9552 to schedule a free consultation.

    Social Communication Specialists
    5703 Oberlin Dr., Ste 207
    San Diego, CA 92121
    (858) 558-9552

  • NFAR Mom's Group - January
  • January 15, 2020
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
    Filippi's Pizza Grotto
    5353 Kearny Villa Rd
    San Diego, CA 92123
    Dinner: Pizza, Salad. Dinner is provided

    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.

    January Topic: "Discovering/Creating Social Opportunities at Home-What Can I do?"

    Children need exposure to social examples as well as explanations and opportunities to practice throughout the day. Discover resources and strategies you can use with your child in your daily routines, in your community and in new situations as every new situation comes with a new set of social expectations. Learn strategies that you can embed into your established routines and new activities that can help build social competence and take advantage of all those teachable moments!

    Guest Speaker: Sheri Hughes, MA, CCC-SLP, and Renee Tompkins, MS, CCC-SLP - Poway Unified School District

    Renee and Sheri have each been Speech Language Pathologists for over 20 years. Renee currently works with young adults and Sheri works with children preschool age through middle school. They share a passion for learning and teaching all things social. Renee and Sheri are both members of the PUSD Special Education Foundation and help both special educators and general education teachers in their understanding of social language issues and implementing social cognitive and Social Thinking strategies for children and adults. Sheri Hughes is part of NFAR's Engage & Connect Leadership team, a program for families of young children, ages 2 - 8 years.

  • 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!!!!

  • Job Opening: VOCATIONAL TRAINING PROGRAM ASSISTANT - Job Coach/Vocational Specialist
  • This position is 20-25hours/week

    NFAR's mission is to drive personal and community transformation by empowering people with autism. In this position, you will be responsible for the delivery of quality vocational programs to those with high-functioning autism by helping them developing the technical and soft skills they need in order to secure an entry-level job in a variety of fields in the technology and manufacturing sectors.

    We're looking for smart, compassionate, and resourceful individuals with a passion for inspiring others. The successful candidate for this position is someone who is fundamentally passionate about helping others gain the confidence and skills they need for employment. The candidate we are looking for will be a role model to others, and deliver quality educational opportunities in a hands-on, practical vocational environment.

    This position is a blend of a typical Job Coach and a Production Lead. Click here for all the info!!!

  • 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 - TONIGHT!
  • 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.

  • TACA San Diego Breakfast Club: 2020 New Year, New Goals!
  • Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 10 AM - 12 PM
    Denny's at 10430 Friars Road, San Diego, California 92120

    Bring yourself and your great BIG dreams to Coffee Talk! Come to the TACA table for ideas to get started on your plan. All attendees will receive their own calendar to get ideas, dates and goals written into your new year! RSVP so we can save you a seat!

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

  • Celebrating a Year of Firsts!
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter for all the info!!!

  • 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.