Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. February 07, 2020

In This Issue

Person-Centered Planning: What is it, and why does it matter?

How abuse mars the lives of autistic people

Autism screening rate soars with use of CHICA system

Thoughts About My Aging Autistic Son Keep Me Up at Night

Six Flags earns Certified Autism Center designation at all 26 parks

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

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

Support & Information for Adults: CARD Adults Program

Looking to Spotlight your Expertise to the Special Needs Community?

BIG NEWS to share-TERI Take Newsletter

Social Skills Groups at Ascent Psychological Services

The Profectum Immersion Experience: DIR® Model Assessment & Intervention

NFAR Mom's Group - February

Free Intensive Independent Facilitators Training for Diverse Individuals

Mitochondrial Medicine - Back to the Future.

Karaoke at Kaminski's BBQ

Parent Speaker Series: Early Diagnosis Through Rapid Whole Genome Sequencing: The Process, Present Outcomes and Hope for the Future for Families

TAG Temecula - Free Event for Family & Friends

Lil' Athletes Soccer

Virtual Group ~ Moms of Special Needs~ Tuesday Morning



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!

thomas nelson

  • Person-Centered Planning: What is it, and why does it matter?
  • Person-centered planning is more than just a buzzword, it is a system shift that puts the desires and life goals of a person in the center of a support system.

    Historically and today, people with autism and other intellectual/developmental disabilities are often not given the opportunity to decide or be considered when thinking about who will care for them or how they will spend their time. Many find themselves in the situation where they are simply looking for a solution, a place to put their loved one during the day to break up the monotony of movies or video games on the couch.

    Instead of asking, "In what program does Sarah best fit?" Person-centered planning and programming asks, "Sarah, what are your life goals? What makes your life joyful? What makes you feel alive? What drains the life from you?" By starting with the person first, we can begin to construct a support system around an individual instead of forcing people into programs that don't fit.

    To help clarify what this may look like in practice, let's take a look at two different stories: Read on...

  • How abuse mars the lives of autistic people
  • Many people with autism experience a triad of trauma: neglect at home, abuse from trusted adults and bullying at school or work.

    The bullying began early. When she was just 5, Kassiane Asasumasu remembers other children taking her belongings and lying about it because they knew that she was face-blind and would not be able to tell on them. At a slumber party when she was 10, girls poked her, froze her underwear and made a game of seeing how many times they could make her cry. Her post-slumber-party meltdown lasted 48 hours. The following year, classmates locked her in a locker - and then she got in trouble for kicking the door open.

    "Most of my childhood memories are of other kids being mean to me," says Asasumasu, who was diagnosed with autism when she was 3. "I cried every day of elementary school." Some days, she cried so hard that she threw up. Even when she didn't give in to tears, the insults gutted her. Read on...

  • Autism screening rate soars with use of CHICA system
  • Universal early screening for autism is recommended for all children but is not routinely performed. A new study from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine researchers, published in JAMA Network Open, reports that the system they designed and developed called CHICA (short for Child Health Improvement through Computer Automation), increased the autism screening rate at 24 months of age from zero to 100 percent.

    CHICA is a computerized decision support tool that can interface with any electronic health record (EHR) system. Responses to questions entered on a tablet computer by parents in the waiting room alert CHICA to produce personalized, evidence-based recommendations allowing the pediatrician to focus on what the specific patient really needs. CHICA may highlight the need for screening for autism, depression, diabetes, tuberculosis, or anemia, counseling for the parents on smoking or on proper child car seat installation. Read on...

  • Thoughts About My Aging Autistic Son Keep Me Up at Night
  • Parenting a child with developmental disabilities, including High Functioning Autism (HFA), is no doubt, a challenging but exhausting responsibility which I have struggled with for the past 45 years when my son was diagnosed with what was referred to in the late 1990's as Asperger's syndrome.

    Looking back at my son's growth and development within the context of the family and community, I am amazed by how so many of his accomplishments and achievements came into fruition for him as well as for his family, as both benchmarks and beacons of strength and hope. My son has defied far too many pessimistic predictions by becoming a fluent and avid researcher and reader, fully bilingual and bicultural, a college graduate and a respected colleague, team member and employee in a nonprofit organization, Shekel, the Organization for Inclusion of People with Disabilities, located in Jerusalem, Israel where he lives semi independently.

    Navigating the demands imposed by the web of bureaucratic systems, however, including education, health, employment, housing as well as legal and financial often included working with people who were less than sympathetic to our situation. Read on...

  • Six Flags earns Certified Autism Center designation at all 26 parks
  • Six Flags Entertainment Corporation across the country has earned the Certified Autism Center designation at all 26 of its North American park locations.

    The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards partnered with the theme park company to equip team members "with the tools and training needed to better serve guests with special needs," said Jason Freeman, Six Flags vice president of safety. 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'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

    A quick question about parents dealing with removing wisdom teeth for their kids on the spectrum. Is it really necessary to remove wisdom teeth? I know the dentists will said it is so. But if they are not bothering my son, why bother?
    If parents have children or young adults, that have gone through the procedure, can we get some feedback?
    Thanks Bart, Laura and Jack Schley

    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!

    The Justice League Package is for:
    *Groups of 15 persons or more
    *Flat discount rate as follows:
    --$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 .

  • Support & Information for Adults: CARD Adults Program
  • Tuesday, February 11, 2020
    6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
    United Way Building
    4699 Murphy Canyon Rd
    San Diego, CA, 92123

    The CARD Adults program is an extension of ABA services provided by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, LLC. CARD Adults was established in 2015 under the direct guidance of CARD Founder Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA-D. The program originated from the idea that as children with ASD age, they deserve clinical program and support that are tailored to their long-term success. Since its inception, CARD Adults has filmed adaptive skills training videos, launched Skills for Life a comprehensive assessment and clinical programming tool for teen and adult learners with exceptional needs and opened CARD centers specifically designed to meet the needs of teenagers and adults- The CARD Adults Center for Excellence (CARD ACE).

    The presentation provided by CARD representatives will describe the CARD organization and the patients that we serve, our curricula and technology used in our clinical programs, as well as our location of services. There will also be an opportunity to answer any additional questions that guests might have regarding our services.

    Linda Watson is a Clinical Supervisor at CARD in the San Marcos and Poway offices.

    Vanessa Alvarez is the Manager of the CARD Adults Program at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders.

    We welcome all community members who are interested in issues facing autistic adults to attend our meeting. Click here for all the info!!!

  • 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!

    Click here for all the info about My Special Needs Connection!!!

  • BIG NEWS to share-TERI Take Newsletter
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter for all the info!!!

  • Social Skills Groups at Ascent Psychological Services
  • Our clinic is located in Rancho Bernardo, and our in-home services are available throughout San Diego county.

    All of our services take an understanding, collaborative and strength-based approach. Please feel free to reach out, we would be happy to answer any questions. We accept both insurance and San Diego Regional Center funding. Please call for details.

    Ascent Psychological Services
    11665 Avena Place, Suite 204
    San Diego, CA 92128
    (858) 888-9062

  • The Profectum Immersion Experience: DIR® Model Assessment & Intervention
  • A 2-Day, In-person Intensive Training, Learning and Networking Event for Clinicians, Educators, Paraprofessionals and Parents/Caregivers

    We invite you to join us March 14-15, 2020 at the Villa Esperanza School in Pasadena, California for The Profectum DIR® Model Immersion Experience, an intensive, in-person training opportunity for clinicians, educators, paraprofessionals and parents desiring to advance their DIR® Model Assessment and Intervention abilities through video case-based discussions. Guided by the stellar Profectum Faculty, this "Immersion" experience will allow you to delve into the DIR® Model by working together in small groups supported by fellow professionals or parents. You will hone your skills of observation and problem solving through multidisciplinary lenses about children with developmental challenges. Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • NFAR Mom's Group - February
  • Wednesday, February 19, 2020
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
    Filippi's Pizza Grotto
    5353 Kearny Villa Rd
    San Diego, CA 92123
    Dinner: Pizza, Salad. Dinner is provided.

    These meetings are for Moms to come together in a fun and relaxed setting. The group will meet the 3rd Wednesday of the month for dinner and guest speakers. It's an opportunity to share resources, experiences and enjoy being with other moms of individuals with autism.

    February Topic: "Young Adult Panel"

    Have you ever wondered what life will be like when your child with autism is no longer a child? What will the challenges be when they are in the workforce and not in school? Where will they find help and support? And most importantly, what will your role be as a mom? If so, come to this month's NFAR moms group to meet three young men with autism who recently graduated from our NFAR Technical training program who are now working at local technology companies to hear them share with you the struggles and successes they have faced on their personal journeys from a child with autism to an adult with autism.

    NOTE: Seating is limited. To attend this meeting - please RSVP. Thank you! Click here to RSVP!!!

  • Free Intensive Independent Facilitators Training for Diverse Individuals
  • Click here to register!!!

    Click here for all the info about Disability Voices United!!!

  • Mitochondrial Medicine - Back to the Future.
  • On behalf of the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF), the Mitochondria Research Society, the Mitochondrial Medicine Society and PeerPoint Medical Education Institute, we would like to invite you to attend Mitochondrial Medicine 2020, the UMDF's international symposium dedicated to mitochondrial medicine, to be held June 24 - 27, 2020, at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. This year's theme will be Mitochondrial Medicine - Back to the Future.

    The symposium planning committee has brought together another spectacular faculty for this year's symposium. Based on our past annual symposia, we expect several hundred researchers and clinicians to attend this meeting.

    This is the 22nd annual conference organized by UMDF, bringing together clinical and basic science researchers sharing an interest in mitochondria. Participants come from many fields, including biochemistry, genetics, neurosciences, cardiology, cancer, diabetes, nephrology, hematology, pediatrics and aging research. At any major scientific meeting, a handful of presentations on mitochondrial disease will be found, but in order to stimulate research interactions in this ever-expanding cross-disciplinary field, the UMDF symposium focuses entirely on mitochondrial medicine.

    The UMDF mission is to promote research and education for the diagnosis, treatment and cure of mitochondrial disorders and to provide support to affected individuals and families.

    Join us in Phoenix, Arizona, as we continue to set the pace in mitochondrial medicine, encouraging the exchange of information and cultivating networks among physicians, researchers, patients and families!

    Richard H. Haas, MB, BChir
    University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA

    Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD
    University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA

    Click here for all the info about the conference.

  • Karaoke at Kaminski's BBQ
  • By popular request, we're going to be meeting for Karaoke at Kaminski's BBQ on Sunday February 23rd from 2pm-5pm. Please bring $10 for snacks and a drink (or you can buy your own meal). I've heard amazing things about their food from other social club members and I'm looking forward to singing with you guys and gals!

    We will be having a strict 15 person maximum for this event. So please let us know you'll be attending by sending an email to

  • Parent Speaker Series: Early Diagnosis Through Rapid Whole Genome Sequencing: The Process, Present Outcomes and Hope for the Future for Families
  • Do you have (or support) a child who is repeatedly sick, but undiagnosed?
    Does your child have a less commonly known genetic anomaly?

    Come to this parent-friendly education session with the Rady Genomics Team who will share their results from genetically testing sick infants, toddlers and parents. The team will explain how understanding the results has lead to more accurate diagnoses, improved medical treatments and therapies, and other findings that affect the future health of children.

    We recommend this workshop for parents, social workers, doctors and therapists who serve this population.

    February 20
    6:00-7:30 pm
    San Diego Regional Center, Room #101
    4355 Ruffin Rd., San Diego CA 92123

    Sign up for your FREE tickets on Eventbrite today!

  • TAG Temecula - Free Event for Family & Friends
  • Mini-horses, story-time and snuggles with our TAG therapy dogs, Valentine's day themed crafts and snacks, and much more! Come and join us at Trailhead Family Chiropractic to learn more about our comprehensive approach to therapy, as well as our programs available in the Temecula area!

  • Lil' Athletes Soccer
  • Structured, basic skills training program to support kids with social and behavioral challenges, to build self -confidence, and have fun! Reduced fees and scholarships available

    Contact Family Wellness Center at or call 858-634-8300.

  • Virtual Group ~ Moms of Special Needs~ Tuesday Morning
  • Your leaders Sandi Anderson and Mary Winter have a passion for helping other moms, like themselves, who serve as caregivers for their special needs children. First Place helps them stay on track with four core areas of their lives: spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mental well-being.

    Meeting Time: Tuesdays, 9:45 to 11:00AM Central Time 7:45am-9am PST
    Topic: Beyond Free
    Session Length: Twelve Weeks
    Leader: Sandi Anderson and Mary Winter
    Virtual Group Session Cost: $44.99, plus order materials.
    The first meeting for all members Tuesday February 4th, 2020, 9:45 to 11:00AM Central Time

    Information Meeting Friday Jan 24 10:30AM and 7:30PM Central Time provides an overview and time to familiarize yourself with the video conferencing technology.

    Group size limited to ten participants, developing close connections as you journey to wellness together. Virtual meeting via video conferencing using your PC, Mac, iOS or Android device, on Zoom.

    Each participant needs the My Place Member's Kit (basic) with the Bible study Beyond Free Order your materials directly from the First Place for Health Online Store at

    Any questions please call Sandi Anderson 760-579-8929

  • 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!

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