Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. January 28, 2020

In This Issue

Prescription drug improves symptoms of autism by targeting brain's chemical messengers

Why Our Kids With Disabilities Deserve Better 'Life Skills' From School

Children's Hospital of Orange County to open new autism center

Siblings of autistic children may have distinct facial features

Study Challenges Assumptions About Social Interaction Difficulties in Autism

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

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

18th Annual Splash for Cash

Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation by Autism Mom Yvette Soto

News Flash! - The Vida View - Winter 2020

Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!

IEP Bootcamp Series, Part 2 : Parents Empowered

FREE Webinar: Toilet Training, A Path to Success

Looking to Spotlight your Expertise to the Special Needs Community?

Life Guide Coaching

Intelligent Lives Screening

Big Bear Mountain Bus Trip!!!

ATPF Adaptive Dance Class

Little League Challenger Baseball Registration


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.

  • Prescription drug improves symptoms of autism by targeting brain's chemical messengers
  • Bumetanide-a prescription drug for oedema (the build-up of fluid in the body) - improves some of the symptoms in young children with autism spectrum disorders and has no significant side effects, according to a new study from researchers in China and the UK.

    Published today in Translational Psychiatry, the study demonstrates for the first time that the drug improves the symptoms by decreasing the ratio of the GABA to glutamate in the brain. GABA and glutamate are both neurotransmitters-chemical messengers that help nerve cells in the brain communicate. Read on...

  • Why Our Kids With Disabilities Deserve Better 'Life Skills' From School
  • Several months ago, one of my daughters came home concerned about her youngest sister, who has Down syndrome and spends part of her day in the special education classroom.

    "Mom, did you know the kids from Miss Turner's* class are made to clean the cafeteria?"

    I knew my daughter and her classmates worked on "life skills," but I did not know cleaning the cafeteria was part of it. The truth is, I never asked what "life skills" entailed. That was my mistake and I take full responsibility. I knew this class included cooking, learning monetary transactions, learning job related tasks, but I didn't know it also meant she was wiping tables and stocking shelves with chips and other snacks.

    I was planning on talking to Miss Turner about this, but when I asked my daughter how she felt about cleaning the cafeteria she said, "I really like it mom. I have fun with my friends." Read on...

  • Children's Hospital of Orange County to open new autism center
  • A new $9.5-million autism center at the Children's Hospital of Orange County will use a holistic approach to help children and young adults with autism and other developmental disorders when it opens next month.

    The Thompson Autism Center, the first of its kind in the county, will provide support for ages 1 to 21, through a team of care specialists, including psychologists, therapists, gastroenterologists, endocrinologists and neurologists, among others.

    Tom Megerian, the center's clinical director, said the facility will provide an answer to families who generally must travel to various locations for their child's treatment. Read on...

  • Siblings of autistic children may have distinct facial features
  • Siblings of autistic children, like those with the condition, tend to have faces that are more masculine than average, according to a new analysis1. The analysis classified features such as a wide forehead and long nose as masculine.

    The results in siblings follow from a 2017 study by the same team that found that autistic children, regardless of their sex, have more boyish faces than controls do2.

    Family members of autistic children have long been known to sometimes have mild behavioral and cognitive traits of the condition - a phenomenon known as the 'broad autism phenotype.' The new work is the first to suggest that they may also show some physical traits of the condition. Read on...

  • Study Challenges Assumptions About Social Interaction Difficulties in Autism
  • Autism is characterized in part by an individual's challenges communicating and interacting socially with others. These difficulties have typically been studied in isolation by focusing on cognitive and behavioral differences in those with autism spectrum disorder, but little work has been done on how exchanges for autistic people unfold in the real world.

    Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas recently turned the spotlight on social interaction in autism by examining it as a two-way street. Their results, published in December in the journal Autism, suggest that successful interactions for autistic adults revolve around partner compatibility and not just the skill set of either person.

    "Most studies attempting to understand social disability in autism focus exclusively on individual characteristics," said Dr. Noah Sasson, an associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) and corresponding author of the study. "This presumes that any difficulties in social interaction are driven solely by the autistic person. But how each person influences and is influenced by the other is key to understanding affiliation and social quality." 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.

    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.

  • 18th Annual Splash for Cash
  • Sunday, April 26, 2020 at 8 AM - 2 PM
    Aqua Pros Swim School
    4635 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, California 92117

    Join us for the 18th Annual Splash for Cash on Sunday, April 26, 2020 from 8 AM - 2 PM.

    Swimming begins at 9 AM. This annual FUNdraiser is our biggest pool party of the year!

    Help us raise money for our Pool PALS programs which include swimming lesson scholarships, Surf Camp, and our monthly family events--Family Pizza and Pool Party, and our Family Gymnastics Night. Click here for all the info!!!

  • 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

  • News Flash! - The Vida View - Winter 2020
  • On February 26, 2020 at 7:30 AM the Housing Authority of the County of San Diego (HACSD) will be opening a new waiting list for Villa de Vida Poway, a Project-Based Voucher development in the City of Poway, designed to serve adults with developmental disabilities. Villa de Vida Poway will include 53 Project-Based Vouchers. All applicants will be selected from HACSD's new waiting list in accordance with federal housing policies, must meet program criteria, and be screened by the property management for tenancy. Visit for more details about eligibility requirements. Click here for all the info!!!

  • 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

  • IEP Bootcamp Series, Part 2 : Parents Empowered
  • Special Parents:

    *You CAN understand your child's IEP

    *You CAN learn how to advocate like the pros!

    Join us Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM for Part 2 of our IEP Parent Bootcamp Series. Don't be afraid to jump in and learn with us! Our event will be held at ARTC: 11770 Bernardo Plaza Court #116, San Diego, 92128 (

    In an interactive, fun, and intimate environment, you will become empowered as your child's best advocate. You will learn secret tips and knowledge gained from Crystal's 20+ years experience in special education in public schools, while also parenting her own child with Autism. Click here for all the info!!!

  • 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

  • Looking to Spotlight your Expertise to the Special Needs Community?
  • Providers -

    We've had an amazing response from parents towards our free webinar series which has grown to over 150 participants with our recent webinar!

    If you'd like to expand your reach to the Special Needs Community and be highlighted in our upcoming San Diego newsletter, sign up to launch a webinar with us!

    We do all of the work!
    We come to you, film + edit + release the webinar

    If you are an OT, PT, Speech Therapist, Advocate, Educational Specialist, Psychologist, LMFT, Transition Specialist, ABA Provider, or any other provider that has information to share with the Special Needs Community, please click below !

    Sign up!

  • 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

  • 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!!!

  • Big Bear Mountain Bus Trip!!!
  • Therapeutic Recreation Services
    (619) 525-8247

  • 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!).

  • Little League Challenger Baseball Registration
  • Little League Challenger Baseball 2020 open for registration. Baseball players of any skill level age 5-18 welcome. Games are played Saturday mornings March thru May and Little League neighborhood boundaries do not apply.

    For more information or to register call 1-619-206-2655 or visit our website at

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.