Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. January 22, 2019

In This Issue

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Special education enrollment in California is up. No one can say exactly why

Researchers conduct first population-based study of suicide risk in people with autism

How to help underserved groups gain access to autism care

The Curious Link Between GI Symptons, Mental Health and Autism

5 Important Things to Do Before an IEP Meeting

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Social Communication Specialists

Introduction to PROMPT, April in Oceanside

Gateway Learning Group

NFAR Codes Informational Session

Cortica Care: Comprehensive Autism Treatment

Club Beacons - Sports Night

Participate in SPARK

A Night to Remember Prom in Chula Vista

Beyond the Surface - Occupational Therapy

Randy Jones Run/Walk for Independence 5K benefiting Home of Guiding Hands

Bubbly Brunch with TV Stars Christina Sanz and Steven Clark - This Sunday!!!

ATPF Musical Playgroup

iCan Bike This May!!!


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 18 years. No fees 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!

thomas nelson

Your Child's Education Comes First!

Your child is entitled to a "free and appropriate public education" or FAPE, whereby the school addresses all of your child's unique needs. A school district must provide your child with an appropriate education regardless of budget cuts, what's convenient, or what's available. Too often the school district offers a "one size fits all" program that fits within their needs, but not within the unique needs of your child. Ensuring that your child's education comes first means having the right team on your side. An effective team works cooperatively and collaboratively with the school district, using their knowledge, expertise and experience to foster quick and yet effective resolutions.

As a practicing attorney for over 25 years, Thomas S. Nelson takes great pride in helping special needs children through affordable advocacy and legal services.

  • Special education enrollment in California is up. No one can say exactly why
  • Neda Raheem is a 34-year-old mother of twin boys and a physician assistant. Her boys seemed normal and healthy at first, but when they were 14 months old, doctors sensed they might have a condition.

    "They didn't have any problems hearing but a lot of problems with movement," Raheem said. "They didn't like to be in a swing and they didn't like their hands, especially, to be touched."

    The boys were diagnosed with autism and cerebral palsy. Three months into preschool, the family moved from West Sacramento to Elk Grove in part because the schools offer more options for special education students. Read on...

  • Researchers conduct first population-based study of suicide risk in people with autism
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 59 children in the United States is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). After decades of research, much about this condition remains unclear. Researchers at the University of Utah Health conducted the first population-based study of suicidality in individuals with ASD in the United States. The 20-year retrospective study found that for individuals with autism, particularly females, the risk of suicide has increased through time compared to their non-autistic peers. The results are available online on January 17 in the journal Autism Research.

    "There has been an unfortunate assumption that people with autism are in their own world and are not affected by social influences commonly associated with suicidality," said Anne Kirby, Ph.D., OTRL, assistant professor of Occupational Therapy at U of U Health and first author on the paper. "There is now growing realization among clinicians and families that suicidal thoughts and behaviors can be a real concern for autistic individuals." Read on...

  • How to help underserved groups gain access to autism care

  • Professionals who specialize in autism diagnosis and treatment often set up shop in specialty clinics or autism centers, typically in children's hospitals or major medical centers. They tend to wait for children with autism to come to them, usually referred by pediatricians or concerned parents.

    But this system favors families who are regular consumers of healthcare, are able to make it through the doors of specialty clinics and know how to make their voices heard. These families tend to have means and good health insurance. Appointments are booked months out, so even they have to wait for specialists who can administer a gold-standard diagnostic test, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). The process is even more difficult for families with fewer resources: It may be complicated by lack of awareness and information about autism, language barriers, lack of parental empowerment to share concerns, reluctance to question a doctor's recommendations, providers who dismiss parents' concerns or give alternative diagnoses, and a complex and slow diagnostic process1.

    There are more efficient, and equitable, ways to help underserved communities gain access to autism diagnosis and care. Read on...

  • The Curious Link Between GI Symptons, Mental Health and Autism
  • When a child or teenager with autism seeks mental health treatment, do doctors and psychologists ask about gastrointestinal (GI) problems?

    Perhaps they should, according to a new study. At first glance, constipation and other gastrointestinal problems may seem unrelated to anxiety, depression, aggression or disruptive behaviors. However, researchers found a link between them in youth with autism.

    A study of almost 2,800 children and teenagers with autism in the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC) research project found that GI symptoms - usually constipation, diarrhea and excessive gas - were linked to psychiatric symptoms in those youth.

    Other factors linked to higher levels of psychiatric problems include having: Read on...

  • 5 Important Things to Do Before an IEP Meeting
  • Preparation is the key to being an effective, confident advocate at your child's IEP meetings. Here are five important things to do before an IEP meeting. Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • I'm looking for a part time communication partner (CP) for my teenage son who uses supportive typing to communicate. CP must have English as a first language. Must have a working knowledge of high school academic curriculum. Must be familiar with software such as Word and PowerPoint. Must be eligible to work in the United States. Must have current LiveScan. Experience with Facilitated Communication preferred.
    Please email me at if interested or want more details.

    Hi Everyone,
    I have 10 years old nonverbal Autistic son. I will be Home schooling him but I am having hard time with Curriculum. I am looking for something ABA based, to teach him daily life skills etc. He is/ was not able to learn anything Academic.we live in La Mesa CA Thanks.

    I'm trying to find out if anyone knows a music or art professional who has experience with individuals with autism and can provide one-on-one sessions?

    Thanks for your help! Horacio

    Good evening I have a 5 year old girl with autism is functional, I am looking for a private school for her I know that public schools have programs for children with autism but I can not put my girl in public school because I live in Tijuana so I have to pay for your education, I will appreciate if you know of any private school in the area of Chula Vista that accepts children with autism I appreciate your kind attention.

    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.

  • Social Communication Specialists
  • At Social Communication Specialists, we help socially quirky kids, teens and young adults connect.

    We understand the social challenges kids face today. In order to have healthy friendships, kids need to understand not just the "how", but the "why" of social interactions.

    Service We Offer:

    • Executive Functioning
    • Social Thinking
    • Group openings available for all ages We have groups for grades K-12. We also teach executive functioning! Contact Janet at
    At SCS, we follow the Social Thinking® approach pioneered by Michelle Garcia Winner.

    At the heart of this approach is the understanding that we think about people when we are around them. Then we modify our behaviors based on what we think they may be thinking about us!

    Through fun and innovative lessons and activities, we teach our kiddos social thinking concepts that increase their awareness and improve their abilities to interact with others at school, at home, and in the community.

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

  • Introduction to PROMPT, April in Oceanside
    PROMPT, an acronym for PROMPTS for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets, is a multidimensional approach to speech production disorders has come to embrace not only the well-known physical-sensory aspects of motor performance, but also its cognitive-linguistic and social-emotional aspects. PROMPT is about integrating all domains and systems towards positive communication outcome. It may be used (with varying intensity and focus) with all speech production disorders from approximately 6 months of age onward. To achieve the best outcome with PROMPT it should not be thought of or used mainly to facilitate oral-motor skills, produce individual sounds/phonemes or as an articulation program but rather as a program to develop motor skill in the development of language for interaction. More info here!

    The price of this Workshop is $775. USD. Be one of the first to register and save $50.

    April 26-28, 2019
    TERI Inc.
    251 Airport Rd
    Oceanside, California 92058

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

  • Gateway Learning Group
  • Gateway Learning Group is a leader in providing behavior therapy for children with autism. Every day, Gateway advances the lives through compassionate, evidence-based treatment. Since being founded in 2005, Gateway has expanded from its San Francisco base to serve families across California.

    For more information please visit our website at For more information email us at or call us at 877-264-6747.

  • NFAR Codes Informational Session
  • Informational Session for the upcoming NFAR Coding Class
    Saturday, Jan. 26th, 10 - 11:30 am
    National Foundation For Autism Research Office
    9815 Carroll Canyon Road, #203
    San Diego, CA 92131

    Interested in learning to Code? Come learn more about our new Coding class by attending our informational session!

    NFAR is introducing a new class that will provide instruction on how to code in a game development engine called Unity, one of the tools used by the game development industry.

    This class will be held 2x per week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in 2 - 3 hours sessions for a total of 70+ hours. Classes will begin on Wednesday, Feb. 6th and run through May.

    Topics include basic coding in C#, and 2D and 3D modeling and design.

    To learn more about the program.

    Please join us for an information session on Saturday, Jan 26 between 10 - 11:30 am.


  • Cortica Care: Comprehensive Autism Treatment
  • Comprehensive autism treatment. Built on neuroscience. Delivered with compassion.

    The Cortica Care Model is the culmination of Dr. Suzanne Goh's research experience and clinical practice. This innovative approach combines optimal biomedical treatment with the most effective strategies for advancing cognition, communication, and behavior. Through the program, children achieve more meaningful social interaction, greater capacity for self-regulation, enhanced cognitive function, and improved overall health across all body systems. Over months and years, the treatment program evolves to match a child's new skills and abilities, making possible meaningful progress toward independent living, social relationships, occupation, and recreation.

    The Cortica Care Model:

    • Neurophysiology
    • Family and Home
    • Biochemistry
    • Cognition and Behavior
    • Sensorimotor Integration
    • Communication
    Together, we clarify the complex, celebrate extraordinary efforts, and witness moments of brilliance as our children grow new skills and abilities. Many of our services are covered by medical insurance plans. Contact us for all the info!!!

    Cortica Care
    7090 Miratech Drive
    San Diego, CA 92121

  • Club Beacons - Sports Night
  • Saturday at 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM
    Beacons, Inc.
    6150 Yarrow Drive, Suite E, Carlsbad, California 92011

    Get revved up for the Super Bowl by joining Club Beacons teammates in celebration of all sports! Pre-registration required!!! Go to:

  • Participate in SPARK
  • 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!

  • A Night to Remember Prom in Chula Vista
  • A Night to Remember Prom REGISTRATION OPENS for HONORED GUESTS (students with special needs ages 15-22) on January 15th. In order to attended you MUST register on our website at and click "Honored Guest". Registration fills up fast!

    Volunteer positions for both Student Hosts (mainstream ages 15-22) and Adult Volunteers (must be 18+) will open on March 1st.

    We look forward to another unforgettable night on April 26, 2019!

    Cheryl Shields
    Founder/Director of A Night to Remember Prom for students with special needs
    Tax ID #95-1863913
    619-777-6602 cell

  • Beyond the Surface - Occupational Therapy
  • Beyond the Surface
    Kaitlin Dollard, MS, OTR/L

  • Randy Jones Run/Walk for Independence 5K benefiting Home of Guiding Hands
  • Join Us February 23, 2019
    Randy Jones Run/Walk for Independence 5K
    Crown Point Park - San Diego, CA 92109

    Home of Guiding Hands (HGH) ( and Randy Jones, former San Diego Padre and National League CY Young Award Winner, will once again join forces to support over 3,200 infants, adolescents and adults living with a developmental disability in San Diego County.

    Together we can make independence possible. Click here for all the info and to register:

  • Bubbly Brunch with TV Stars Christina Sanz and Steven Clark - This Sunday!!!
  • Join us for a Bubbly Brunch with Born This Way!

    Spend an inspirational morning with cast members from Born This Way. Mingle, munch, and enjoy as we thank our volunteers and supporters and celebrate another year of friendship together. Proceeds will benefit Friendship Circle San Diego's many programs!!!

    Sunday, January 27th, 2019
    11:00am - 1:00pm
    16934 Chabad Way, Poway, CA 92064
    Dress code is dressy casual.
    Click here for all the info and to purchase tickets!!!

  • ATPF Musical Playgroup
  • Saturday, January 26th at 10 AM - 11 AM
    Autism Tree Project Foundation
    2845 Nimitz Blvd, San Diego, California 92106

    You and your family are invited to join us! We will learn valuable interaction, communication, and social skills through group music making in a fun and friendly environment. The ATPF playgroups are facilitated by board-certified music therapists from the music Therapy Center of California.

    Ready to make some music? Register today!

    Call 619-222-4465 or Email

  • iCan Bike This May!!!
  • Call 760 315 1311 (new phone number) or email

    View our video

    Sponsorships, item donations, and discounted items for our families are welcome, and all donors will be listed on this year's T-shirts!

  • 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

  • City of San Diego Park & Recreation Therapeutic Recreation Services Program

  • The City of San Diego Park & Recreation Therapeutic Recreation Services program provides sports, recreation, leisure and outreach services to people with physical, mental and emotional disabilities.

    Services include therapeutic recreation programs and adaptive sports opportunities. These address the special needs of individuals with disabilities who have difficulty accessing and participating in recreation opportunities offered to the general public.

    Under the direction of Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists, activities and services are designed to maintain or improve the physical, cognitive and social functioning of those who have limitations. The target population is children and adults, ages 3 and up, with any type of disability.

    For additional questions about Therapeutic Recreation Services, please call 619-525-8247.

    Click here to view their 2018-2019 newsletter and calendar of events!!!

  • "Autism Through the Lifespan" Monthly Parent Support and Information Meetings

  • October 2018 - May 2019
    PLNU Graduate Education
    4007 Camino Del Rio South - Fourth Floor
    San Diego, CA 92108

    Please join other parents, caregivers and professionals at the following monthly informational and support group meetings in Mission Valley. These meetings will discuss the various aspects of autism through the lifespan. Each meeting will feature an expert speaker and an ASA parent mentor. This is a time for you to meet other parents, ask questions and network.
    The meetings are free and open to all.

    Please RSVP for Spanish Translation support
    For further information, please contact:
    Lisa Larsson - (619) 725-8080 ext. 7946 email:
    Maryann Collins - email:
    Grace Fantaroni, Ed.D. - (619) 563-2839 email:

  • Participate in Research!!! Can a Safe 'Fever' Help Autism Syptoms? Spanish Speakers Welcome!!!
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    Can a Safe 'Fever' Help AUTISM Symptoms?

    Una 'Fiebre' Para Disminuir los Sintomas de AUTISMO? 

    Pilot Study Enrollment

    This pilot study will enroll 12 families with ASD children ages 2-17 years old in a controlled study, in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas. We are testing a dry heat therapy from an FDA-cleared medical device with simulates the effect of a low-grade fever by non-invasively infusing heat into the circulatory system. The Fielding Graduate University IRB approved study is entitiled: "The Fever Effect: Do kids with autism do better when they use a device to warm their blood? Effects of six-week AVACEN Treatment Method on Autism Spectrum Disorder".

    If you are interested in participating in this pilot study please contact Frances Poteet at and provide your phone number, email address, zip code and best time to reach you so that we can contact you. If you are not selected as part of this pilot study, you may be offered an opportunity to participate in a larger study of the device at a later date.

    Participants who complete the entire study will receive a $200 Amazon gift card. Enrolling now! Limited openings available!

    We can offer services in English and Spanish (all the way from the Orientation throughout the course of the study.)

  • Participate in Research: Caregiver/Family Member Survey
  • business_finance_research.jpg

    My name is Richie Sapp. My twin brother, Mikey, has been attending the TERI day program for several years now. I am a third-year medical student (MS3) at Stanford School of Medicine where I am currently taking a research year to focus my efforts in medical education, specifically to improve patient care for individuals with disabilities. I am creating an elective course for medical students/PA students for Winter Quarter 2018/19 and I could use your help.

    Please consider completing this first survey and if your son/daughter would like to complete the second survey on their own, I would welcome that too.

    1) This survey is for parents/caregivers of individuals with disabilities. Caregiver/Family Member Survey, which will help me with what content to put together for the course. Please feel free to share the survey with anyone who might be interested in sharing their experiences. Here is the link:

    2) Additionally, if you know anyone with a disability who would like to speak about their own experiences, there is a separate survey for individuals with disabilities. The link is below:

    Thank you so much for all your support!

    Please email me if you have any questions.

    Thank you,
    Richie Sapp

  • Brain Imaging Studies for all Ages with or without Autism

  • The Brain Development Imaging Labs at San Diego State University are looking for individuals with diagnosed or suspected autism to participate in a brain imaging study. Participants would receive around $150 plus free cognitive testing and an MRI scan. Child participants would receive a free assessment summary and image of their brain as a bonus! We are looking to recruit from all ages, but we especially need adults, ages 40-65 years, to participate. If you know someone who might be a good fit for our study, please share this information with them. Thank you.

    At SDSU!!! To find out more, please call 619-594-0176 or email BDIL@SDSU.EDU.


    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.