Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. January 24, 2020

In This Issue

Couples With Disabilities Navigate Red Tape On Way To Altar

Why many children with autism have oral health problems

When A Special Needs Mom Struggles With Depression

Autism's genetic drivers may differ by sex

Study ties gene active in developing brain to autism

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

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

Intelligent Lives Screening

Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation by Autism Mom Yvette Soto

FREE Webinar: Toilet Training, A Path to Success

Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!

Miracle League for Del Mar

Webinar: Learn About RDI with Kiki Haddad!

Webinar: Learn About RDI with Brooke Wagner

Life Guide Coaching

Miracle League in South County

Parent Group for Medical Kids

ATPF Adaptive Dance Class

Take a Leap Towards Independence at the Randy Jones Run/Walk

FREE!: Living With Autism


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.

  • Couples With Disabilities Navigate Red Tape On Way To Altar
  • As the wedding photographer snapped away, Sherri and Bill Adams leaned over their wheelchairs for a kiss. One felt good, so they enjoyed another. And another.

    "That's enough!" someone teased.

    Sherri beamed. How long had she waited for this? Five years had passed since she and Bill became engaged. Nearly nine since they'd met. And decades had gone by since she first wondered whether a girl like her could even dream of love. Read on...

  • Why many children with autism have oral health problems
  • The World Health Organisation estimates that 1 in 160 children around the world has an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a condition related to the development of the brain and is usually noticeable by the time a child is three years old. Statistics aren't available for any African country, so researchers like me in South Africa are using international prevalence rates.

    Children with this neurodevelopmental disorder may have difficulty learning language and interacting with people.

    Having autism does not mean that a child's teeth and other facial features will be different. But these children are likely to develop oral health problems for a number of reasons such as unusual oral habits, medications and poor food choices. Difficult behaviours can also contribute to oral problems. These behaviours include head banging, picking at the lips, removing their tooth buds and chewing on harmful objects like stones. These children also prefer soft foods which they tend to pouch at the back of their mouths for long periods of time. Read on...

  • When A Special Needs Mom Struggles With Depression
  • As I woke, I felt a familiar dread spread throughout my body. I had barely opened my eyes, but already felt anxious and sad about what the day would bring. I wanted to turn over, pull the covers over my head, and just go back to sleep.

    After way too long, I finally got up, already behind for the day.

    By 11 AM, I could feel the tears.

    By 2 PM, I was napping on the couch, not caring what screen time my kids had for the day.

    By 6 PM, I was beating myself for not getting up and planning dinner sooner.

    By 9 PM, I was dreading having to get up and do it all over again the next day. Read on...

  • 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...

  • Study ties gene active in developing brain to autism
  • Mutations in a gene called ZNF292 lead to a variety of developmental conditions, including autism and intellectual disability, according to a new study1.

    ZNF292 encodes a protein that influences the expression of other genes. It is highly expressed in the developing human brain, particularly in the cerebellum, an area that controls voluntary movement and contributes to cognition. However, its function in neurodevelopment is unknown.

    Scientists first linked ZNF292 to intellectual disability in a 2012 study. A 2018 analysis of five ZNF292 variants tied the gene to autism, but the work was preliminary2. 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
  • Now is a great time to sign up for the 2020 Race for Autism Superhero 5K on March 28, 2020 in beautiful Balboa Park!

    Register before Jan 31st for the lowest prices! These prices will be gone in a flash! REGISTER HERE:

    This family friendly event attracts thousands of local SUPERHEROES, big and small, and features music, dancing, refreshments, children's activities, capes for kids, medals, and an amazing resource fair.

    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.

  • Intelligent Lives Screening
  • Thu, March 26, 2020
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
    Point Loma Nazarene University
    3900 Lomaland Drive
    Crill Hall
    San Diego, CA 92106

    How do we understand and define intelligence?

    What does it mean to love all our neighbors, including those with intellectual differences?

    Discover local community resources, participate in a panel discussion, and join us for a screening of INTELLIGENT LIVES.

    From award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib comes INTELLIGENT LIVES, a catalyst to transform the label of intellectual disability from a life sentence of isolation into a life of possibility for the most systematically segregated people in America. Click here for all the info about this FREE event and to register!!!

  • 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: Toilet Training, A Path to Success
  • Using the toilet independently is an important accomplishment for every child. A little advanced preparation, and knowledge of evidence-based techniques, can go a long way in making the process faster and easier for children with special needs.

    Join us January 30th at 11:00am PST or 3:30pm PST
    For all the info and to Register: email

  • 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

  • Miracle League for Del Mar
  • For questions, please contact our Program Director at
    Phone: (858) 964-2222

  • Webinar: Learn About RDI with Kiki Haddad!
  • For questions please email or call 858-689-2027

  • Webinar: Learn About RDI with Brooke Wagner
  • For questions please email or call 858-689-2027

  • Life Guide Coaching
  • Over the years, I have found that the stress experienced by families with special needs is often the least talked about challenge. I'm choosing to talk about it and address it.

    Making a difference is always high on my priority list. Working with families with special needs gives me the opportunity to make a difference, one family at a time. It feels familiar and comfortable. It's like a second skin.

    Many of the families I work with share some common traits. The level of stress. The physical exhaustion. The guilt of never doing enough. The resilience. The search for more. The unwavering hope.

    Stress actually affects our ability to be creative, shift perspective, and problem solve. This neurological process can contribute to staying stuck for a long time, as stress prevents us from seeing that anything else is possible. When we see a solution, we may struggle making it happen.

    Although slowing down may seem counterintuitive, it can lead to increased growth for the child and parents. The guilt of taking any personal time and never doing enough for the child can be crippling and affect everyone in the family.

    My professional experience brings over 30 years of knowledge and understanding rooted in hands-on practice. I support parents in making sense of sensory driven behaviors, creating more independence, finding ways to teach emotional and social skills, and improving the child's quality of life.

    My personal life experience brings compassion, patience, and the ability to truly listen without judging. I know how to create a space where my clients feel safe to reflect and consider new options, even when emotions run high.

    All of us, with special needs or not, have the power to continually grow and become the best version of ourselves. I strive to find ways to support people to grow, even under the most adverse circumstances.

    My role is to guide you and support you in creating positive changes for your entire family. I root for my clients - children and parents alike. I get excited when I see my clients overcoming challenges and creating more meaningful lives for themselves.

    Change is difficult - for all of us. If you feel that you could use extra support and guidance, I'd love to partner with your family!

    Chris Vinceneux, OTR/L
    Occupational Therapist - Consultant - Life Coach

  • Miracle League in South County
  • For questions, please contact our Program Director at
    Phone: (858) 964-2222

  • Parent Group for Medical Kids
  • Any questions please contact Lana at 858-722-7503 or email

  • ATPF Adaptive Dance Class
  • Weekly on Saturdays, January to April, 2 PM - 3 PM
    Tap Fever Studios
    2146 Garnet Avenue, San Diego, California 92109

    To RSVP for January 25th, please click here:

    Join us at Tap Fever Studios to have some fun and express ourselves through dance at our weekly Adaptive Dance Class!

    There are only 10 spots available, so sign up today to reserve a spot for your dancer!

    Details: Only available for children ages 5-15. No outside shoes are allowed on the dance floor. Dancers will be asked to either dance barefoot or with socks. Please, no food or drinks inside the studio (Water is okay!).

  • Take a Leap Towards Independence at the Randy Jones Run/Walk
  • Take a Leap Towards Independence!
    The Randy Jones Run/Walk for Independence will take place on Saturday, Feb. 29th (Leap Day) at Crown Point Park. Join us for this can't miss experience.

    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 3,800 infants, adolescents and adults with a developmental disability.


  • FREE!: Living With Autism
  • Mon, February 10, 2020
    6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
    SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders
    6363 Alvarado Court, Suite 250
    San Diego, CA 92120

    This presentation shares my story of autism and the challenges I grew up with as a person with autism.

    In this presentation by a special education attorney and advocate with autism, the speaker shares his experience with autism and how to work towards success in adulthood. It shares the challenges he grew up with as a person with autism, and emphasizes that the treatment is consistent education. The presentation also serves to empower individuals with "diff-abilities" to charge forward and achieve their dreams. Click here for all the info and to register for this free event!!!

  • 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.