Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. February 05, 2019

In This Issue

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These moms are building a forever home for their adult autistic children

Brain signals hint at speech delay in babies at high autism risk

Special education is so under-staffed that students are missing out on services, San Diego Unified teachers say

Schizophrenia: Restoring brain circuitry to improve symptoms

Severe infections in childhood may boost chances of autism diagnosis

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Race for Autism Superhero 5K and 1 Mile Family Walk

Join Us for a Compass Academy Special Event!

Yvette M. Soto Accounting & Income Tax

North City Basic Ed Spring Flyer

Kulanu Shabbat Experience

Therapeutic Recreation Services Valentine's Dance

New CONNECTIONS class begins Monday, March 11

"I Heart" Club Beacons Celebration

DIR/Floortime Conference in Pasadena Area!

Greatest Hits Benefit Concert

Jeremiah's Ranch February Newsletter

36th Annual Cal-TASH Conference

Learn About RDI in San Diego

Learn About RDI in Carlsbad


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.

  • These moms are building a forever home for their adult autistic children
  • Housing complex would integrate residents with special needs into the larger community

    Susan Wallitsch is the primary caregiver for her 27-year-old son Frank, who is autistic and functionally nonverbal. A few years ago, when she had a health crisis and was temporarily unable to care for him, the solutions she found were limited - and troubling.

    She could look for a group home - but most have long waiting lists and would likely not accept Frank because he has behavior problems. She could apply for funding to put him in his own apartment with a 24-hour caregiver - but in that kind of isolated situation, the rate of abuse for adults with developmental disabilities is alarmingly high. Or, she was told, "you take him to the police station and you drop him off and you leave him."

    Those stark scenarios underlined the agonizing dilemma that parents of severely autistic children face: As they contemplate their own old age and mortality, they don't know what will happen to the children they've spent their lives caring for. Read on...

  • Brain signals hint at speech delay in babies at high autism risk

  • Some infants who have an older sibling with autism have weak brain signals as early as 3 months of age, according to a new study1. The weaker this brain activity, the worse a baby performs on a test of expressive language at age 1.

    The findings point to a possible marker for language delay, a common feature of autism. Detecting language delay early could enable doctors to treat infants when their brain is most flexible.

    "Changes in the brain occur well before even the most skilled and attentive clinicians could ever pick up signs and symptoms [of language delay]," says lead investigator April Levin, instructor of neurology at Boston Children's Hospital. Read on...

  • Special education is so under-staffed that students are missing out on services, San Diego Unified teachers say
  • Some San Diego Unified teachers say the school district is under-staffing special education, causing students to miss out on services that are supposed to be guaranteed by law and saddling teachers with large caseloads.

    Since September, staff at more than 20 San Diego Unified schools have filed grievances with the district's special education director, claiming staffing is below levels required by the district's contract with the San Diego Education Association.

    Teachers also learned Tuesday that the district plans to increase the caseloads of some special education teachers by 20 percent next school year. Instead of having a maximum of 20 students, several special education teaches will be reclassified as "resource specialists," who can be assigned up to 24 students each.

    School officials say the staffing changes are the result of new job descriptions the union helped write and approved. The changes are based on student needs at each school, said Chief Human Resource Officer Acacia Thede. Read on...

  • Schizophrenia: Restoring brain circuitry to improve symptoms
  • Researchers pin down the faulty brain circuitry that drives negative symptom severity in schizophrenia and look at noninvasive methods of targeting and "repairing" this breakdown.

    Schizophrenia is a mental health condition with characteristic symptoms that include delusions and hallucinations. It also has numerous negative symptoms, such as flat affect (lack of emotional expression), anhedonia, monotone speech, and avoiding social interaction.

    According to the National Institute of Mental Health, this condition is among the top 15 causes of disability across the world.

    Currently, although the causes of schizophrenia remain quite poorly understood, treatments include taking antipsychotic medication and undergoing psychological counseling.

    In a new study, researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA have been looking at what occurs in the brains of people experiencing severe negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Read on...

  • Severe infections in childhood may boost chances of autism diagnosis
  • Children who contract serious infections have an increased likelihood of being diagnosed with autism, a study of more than 1 million children suggests.

    Many studies have explored the link between infection in a pregnant woman and autism in her child. The new study is among the first to examine the relationship between autism and infection in a child.

    The researchers found that infections requiring hospitalization increase a child's chances of being diagnosed with any of a number of mental conditions, not just autism. Milder infections seem to slightly boost the chances of some diagnoses, but not of autism. Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • 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.

    Seeking Someone for IHSS Provider
    Looking for someone to become an IHSS Provider for my 11 year old son with autism. Will need to be able to work between 6 and 16 hours per week. Wednesday is a must starting at 2:30 pm. You will also watch my daughter at times and during those times, I will supplement your rate.

    Schedule is not firm at this point, but Wednesday's are an absolute necessity. Ideally:

    Monday 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm
    Tuesday 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm
    Wednesday 2:30 pm to 9 pm
    Friday TBD can discuss
    Saturday TBD can discuss
    Sunday TBD can discuss

    Must be patient and assist my son with redirection, organization, personal hygiene, washing/changing bedding, etc. Constant supervision is required.

    Must be punctual and able to meet the school bus.

    Must be willing to help with transportation to appointments or activities.

    Would like a high school or college student that is close to the Rancho Bernardo area.

    Must like children and pets
    Must be self driven
    Must be punctual
    Must have reliable vehicle
    Must have good, clean driving record
    Must be willing to take and pass a background check
    Must be willing to take 3 hour IHSS Provider training


    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.

  • Race for Autism Superhero 5K and 1 Mile Family Walk
  • Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 7 AM - 11 AM
    Balboa Park
    1549 El Prado, San Diego, California 92101

    Register today at! Prices go up on Feb. 1st! TODAY!!!!

    On Saturday, April 6, 2019 we are celebrating the 15th 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 more than 900 community programs and classrooms, benefiting thousands of local children and families. To learn more about NFAR, click on about NFAR or go to

    Please join us in making a difference on April 6th. Because everyone can be a SUPERHERO!

  • Join Us for a Compass Academy Special Event!
    9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
    SAN DIEGO, CA 92106

    Compass Academy is a private school with flexible options for students in grades 2-8. Please join us for our Open House, where our founder and director, Nanci Engle, will present an overview of the school and have a Q and A about our program. You will learn what makes Compass Academy different, and how we help students become more confident and successful in school and in life!

    We look forward to seeing you there!

    Banyan Tree Compass Academy
    (858) 367-5428

  • Yvette M. Soto Accounting & Income Tax
  • 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.

    I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting from the University of San Diego and have more than 20 years of experience in accounting. Before opening up my business I worked as a Staff Accountant for several local CPA firms. I was also was an Accountant/Office Manager for an owner operator of 20+ McDonald's franchises, a Controller of a manufacturing company, an Accounting Manager for a home builder and was in charge of running a local bookkeeping and income tax firm. I am also a Notary Public and speak Spanish.

    I can navigate the tax ramifications of receiving public benefits and credits for special needs because I have twins with Autism. This allows me to provide a very personal level of service because I understand the needs of these families. I enjoy volunteering for local Autism charities and mentor families of newly diagnosed children.

    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 M. Soto Accounting & Income Tax
    3633 Camino Del Rio South, Suite 205
    San Diego, CA. 92108
    Phone (619) 977-6586

  • North City Basic Ed Spring Flyer
  • Registration is FREE!
    For enrollment information or an intake appointment contact Katie Serbian at 619-388-1800 or email

  • Kulanu Shabbat Experience
  • Friday, February 15, 2019 at 6 PM - 7:30 PM
    The Hive at Leichtag Commons
    441 Saxony Rd., Encinitas, California 92024

    The Kulanu Shabbat Experience is for anyone who has ever stayed away from a sanctuary for fear of making noise, needing to move around, social judgment, or any other reason. Kulanu means all of us and that is the point of this musical, interactive, and special Shabbat experience. It is for anyone with special needs, young children, and open to all ages! Led by Craig Parks and Rabbi David Frank, this evening is sure to bring smiles to everyone's faces as we level the Shabbat playing field and make it right for everyone!

  • Therapeutic Recreation Services Valentine's Dance
  • Call them at 619-525-8247.

  • New CONNECTIONS class begins Monday, March 11
  • We're happy to announce that our newest set of classes for CONNECTIONS will begin on Monday, March 11th and continue until Monday, April 15th from 4:30-6:00 pm.

    Registration is currently available online on our website at

  • "I Heart" Club Beacons Celebration
  • Beacons, Inc.
    A California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation
    6150 Yarrow Drive, Suite E
    Carlsbad, CA 92011

    Please RSVP to: by Thursday 2/7/19 - 5pm to determine sufficient volunteers and participants. Beacons, Inc. reserves the right to cancel events if less than 10 participants sign up by RSVP deadline.

  • DIR/Floortime Conference in Pasadena Area!
  • The Power of PLAY

    Building Dynamic Relationships: Promoting Capacities for a Meaningful Life and Unlocking Potential for Individuals with Autism and other Social and Mental Health Challenges Across the Lifespan

  • Greatest Hits Benefit Concert
    143 S. Cedros Ave, Solana Beach, CA 92075

    $15 advanced / $20 day of show
    $32 reserved loft seating

    Click here for all the info about this event, purchase tickets and also info about becoming a sponsor for this event!!!

  • Jeremiah's Ranch February Newsletter
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter for all the info and for upcoming events!!!

  • 36th Annual Cal-TASH Conference

  • Civil Rights: Equity, Opportunity, & Inclusion
    February 22-23, 2019
    Town and Country Hotel in San Diego, CA
    Regional Center vendor #PW2184
    Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • Learn About RDI in San Diego
  • Please RSVP!!!

  • Learn About RDI in Carlsbad
  • Please RSVP!!!

  • 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

  • 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 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!

  • 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.