Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. January 31, 2020

In This Issue

Scientists discover link between autism and cognitive impairment

The Torrential Surge in Autism Continues Unabated

Gut feelings: Gut bacteria are linked to our personalities

Structure of brain matter in young autistic children may show distinct patterns

Old Lady...New Diagnosis

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

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

A Night to Remember

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!

ATPF - USD Baseball Mentor Program

Club Beacons: Valentine's Day Celebration!

Looking to Spotlight your Expertise to the Special Needs Community?

D'Vine Path's Latest Newsletter

18th Annual Splash for Cash

Big Bear Mountain Bus Trip!!!

Participate in a Study at Research on Autism and Development Laboratory at UCSD

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.

  • Scientists discover link between autism and cognitive impairment
  • Autism can bestow brilliance as well as cognitive difficulty, but how either scenario plays out in the brain is not clear. Now a study by University of Toronto researchers has found that a tiny gene fragment impacts the brain in a way that could explain swathes of autism cases that come with mental disability.

    Researchers led by Benjamin Blencowe, a professor of molecular genetics in the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, and Sabine Cordes, a senior investigator at Sinai Health System's Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI), have identified a short gene segment that is crucial for brain development and information processing. Writing in the journal Molecular Cell, the researchers describe how an absence of this segment is sufficient to induce altered social behaviour-a hallmark of autism-in mice, as well as learning and memory deficits, which are seen in a subset of autism cases. Read on...

  • The Torrential Surge in Autism Continues Unabated
  • Defying experts' expectations, rates have yet to plateau, portending nothing short of catastrophe for families and our besieged social services systems.

    A decade ago in autism research circles it was commonly assumed that autism rates, which had mysteriously skyrocketed between 1980 and 2010, would quickly plateau. But the opposite is occurring: rates are accelerating.

    Data from the California Department of Developmental Services, which tracks only developmental-disability type autism cases, shows 451 autism cases from birth year 1984 (those who turn 36 this year), compared to 7,273 cases for birth year 2014 (those who turn 6 this year), with hundreds more born in 2014 expected to seek admittance. Read on...

  • Gut feelings: Gut bacteria are linked to our personalities
  • Sociable people have a higher abundance of certain types of gut bacteria and also more diverse bacteria, an Oxford University study has found.

    Dr. Katerina Johnson, who conducted her Ph.D. in the University's Department of Experimental Psychology, was researching the science of that "ut feeling"-the relationship between the bacteria living in the gut (the gut microbiome) and behavioral traits. In a large human study, she found that both gut microbiome composition and diversity were related to differences in personality, including sociability and neuroticism.

    She said, "There has been growing research linking the gut microbiome to the brain and behavior, known as the microbiome-gut-brain axis. Most research has been conducted in animals, whilst studies in humans have focused on the role of the gut microbiome in neuropsychiatric conditions. In contrast, my key interest was to look in the general population to see how variation in the types of bacteria living in the gut may be related to personality." Read on...

  • Structure of brain matter in young autistic children may show distinct patterns
  • The long fibers of neurons in the brains of young children with autism are structured differently than those of their neurotypical peers, according to the largest analysis of its kind1.

    The study, which looked at children aged 2 to 4 years, confirms the results of a handful of smaller studies in children of that age. However, the observations run counter to those widely reported in older children and adults with autism.

    Nerve fibers and the support cells that connect different regions of the brain together compose 'white matter.' Some researchers have proposed that connectivity between brain regions is disrupted in autistic people, perhaps as a result of anomalies in white matter. Read on...

  • Old Lady...New Diagnosis
  • I don't even remember how it started, but somehow the answer finally came to me: Autism. I must be autistic. My social awkwardness, my inability to sail through the simplest tasks, my ineptness at mom-stuff. If I'm autistic I can stop feeling so incompetent and guilty, right? Right?

    So, like any good addict in recovery, I started researching autism and learning about it and then obsessing about it. Wait a minute - that sounds like addiction and autism.

    Of course, when you're 62, people don't take you very seriously if you come up with something goofy like this. But I persisted and found a doctor in Rochester who specializes in treating adults and teens on the spectrum. 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!

    My 23 year-old son's psychologist is retiring and I am having trouble finding a new psychologist who has experience working with young adults with special needs/disabilities. My son is on the spectrum and has recently suffered anxiety and depression due to some difficult health issues. He also suffers from feelings of isolation and loneliness. I would love any recommendations for someone in the San Diego area and it would really be a plus to find a provider who also contracted with Medicare. You can contact me 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!


    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.

    Start a company or school team and enjoy extra savings on registration!

    Justice League Team Package
    The Justice League Package is for:

    *Groups of 15 persons or more
    *Flat discount rate as follows:
    --$28 per person through January 30, 2020.
    --$30 per person through March 5th by 4:00 pm.

    *Includes children, youth, adults, chip-timing for runners and larger shirt sizes.
    *Upon receipt of payment, your group will be set up with a special code for team members to register.

    Already Have a Justice League Team?
    --You can add team to your team in groups of 5 or more.
    --Additional members can be added at the Justice League rate available at the time.

    To purchase a Justice League Package, please contact NFAR . For questions, please call us at 858-679-8800 .

  • A Night to Remember
  • April 24, 2020
    About A Night to Remember
    A Night to Remember is a FREE Prom honoring students with special needs ages 15-22 years old. Every Honored Guest attending the prom is offered, free of charge, a tuxedo or prom dress, hair styling and make-up by professional cosmetologists, a corsage or boutonniere, a ride in a limousine, a walk down the red carpet (complete with paparazzi and cheering fans), a night of dinner and dancing, a gift bag and special memories that will last a lifetime. Each student with special needs is partnered up with a San Diego student who serves as their host. Click here for all the info 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

  • 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

  • ATPF - USD Baseball Mentor Program
  • Starting Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 2 PM - 4 PM
    USD Fowler Park
    San Diego, California 92110

    Join us for a fun afternoon to kick off our 2020 season! Kiddos will get a chance to meet their player mentors and play some baseball. Kids and siblings of all ages are welcome!

    New to this ATPF Program? Here's why you'll want to join:
    - Your kid (siblings included too!) will each be paired with a baseball player as their buddy to cheer on for the 2020 season
    - Chance to develop a long-term relationship between your family and your player mentor, who is happy and eager to support the growth and development of your kid

    - Kids might not love sports, but LOVE their player! Long lasting friendships often happen in this program
    - Your family is invited to attend ALL USD Baseball Home Games throughout the season
    - Be a part of a community - all our families sit in the same section of stands at home games and cheer together!

    This event is FREE to atttend.

    Interested in attending? Sign your family up TODAY! Click this link:

    Questions? Contact or call our office at (619) 222-4465

  • Club Beacons: Valentine's Day Celebration!
  • Please RSVP by Thursday 2/6/20

  • 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!

  • D'Vine Path's Latest Newsletter
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter for all their upcoming events and programs!!!

  • 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!!!

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

  • Participate in a Study at Research on Autism and Development Laboratory at UCSD
  • Click here to view the PDF for all the info!!!! For questions, please contact

  • 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.