Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. February 15, 2019

In This Issue

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What defines 'success' for autism treatments?

Analysis pinpoints genes linked to autism, developmental delay

When your autistic child's biggest bullies are other parents

My Life as a Woman on the Autism Spectrum

Unvaccinated teens are fact-checking their parents - and trying to get shots on their own

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Please Participate in Local Research

Accessibility Mornings at The New Children's Museum

Social Communication Specialists

A Full Life With Autism-The Journey Into Adulthood

What You Need to Know to Make Special Education a Smooth Journey: Important Topics to Know

MSNC Free Webinar Series: "Reading Evaluation & Intervention"

MEBE Learning: Effectively Using Visual Supports in Your Home

NFAR Mom's Group - Wed. Feb 20

Beacons, Inc. is Hiring!!!

Finding Your Inner "MozArt" Art Contest

Autism Society San Diego Spring Family Camp

A Social Event for Parents of Children with Special Needs

"College Success" class to develop skills for college for high functioning ASD, DD or ADHD

Special Needs Resource Foundation Wins


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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.

  • What defines 'success' for autism treatments?

  • What makes a successful autism treatment depends on whom you ask. A researcher may judge a treatment based on the results of a clinical trial or on the outcome measure chosen. For an autistic person, the best measure of success might be an improvement in quality of life. To others, no 'treatment' makes sense for autism's core features.

    To get a glimpse of such disparate perspectives, we asked three researchers and two autistic people to tell us what a successful autism therapy looks like to them. Read on...

  • Analysis pinpoints genes linked to autism, developmental delay

  • An analysis of spontaneous mutations in nearly 11,000 individuals with developmental delay or autism implicates 253 genes in one or both conditions; 49 of the genes are new candidates1.

    The study pools data from individuals with either diagnosis - an approach that increases the numbers, and strengthens the validity of the associations.

    "In terms of actually getting to [candidate] genes faster and being able to give this information back to parents, we should be combining these datasets more often," says lead researcher Evan Eichler, professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read on...

  • When your autistic child's biggest bullies are other parents
  • Having a child on the autism spectrum comes with a host of challenges: Sensory overload that turns into meltdowns and awkward social interactions with no eye contact are just two. I didn't expect that intolerance and bullying from adults would be among the challenges we would have to endure.

    My daughter, Chloe, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when she was 4 years old. She is an intelligent and caring child with a passion for reading, music and art. Though she struggles socially, she gets along well with other children and, for the most part, they are unfazed by her differences. It is adults who have caused problems. Read on...

  • My Life as a Woman on the Autism Spectrum
  • I am not a man. I do not have an interest in train schedules or fruit flies (like my high school biology teacher). I am not a savant. I have a sense of humor, and most of the time I will get your jokes.

    I can make eye contact, but it feels completely unnatural and often times way too intense. I can be a social chameleon, taking on the persona I think might fit best - mimicking others who seem to effortlessly float in and out of conversation. I successfully talk to people all day long and it looks "normal" because I have mastered the art of looking "normal." But it's not. It's exhausting.

    Words sometimes come so fast, it feels like bullets whizzing by my head. I don't have enough time to process them because there are more on the way. Or perhaps I understand the words, but can't determine the intention, and therefore how to respond. Am I supposed to be annoyed for you, happy, curious, concerned? Read on...

  • Unvaccinated teens are fact-checking their parents - and trying to get shots on their own
  • Ethan Lindenberger, frustrated by years of arguments about his mother's anti-vaccination stance, staged a quiet defection on Reddit.

    The Norwalk, Ohio, teenager needed advice, he said, on how to inoculate himself against both infectious disease and his family's dogma. At 18, he was old enough, Lindenberger explained. He wanted to get vaccinated. But he didn't know how.

    "Because of their beliefs I've never been vaccinated for anything, God knows how I'm still alive," Lindenberger wrote days before Thanksgiving.

    As anti-vaccination movements metastasize amid outbreaks of dangerous diseases, Internet-savvy teenagers are fact-checking their parents' decisions in a digital health reawakening - and seeking their own treatments in bouts of family defiance. 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


    HI My name is Jennifer and our family is thinking about relocating to the San Diego area. We currently live in Sacramento. My son is 22, adult with autism. I would love to chat with someone in the area. 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.

  • Please Participate in Local Research
  • Please click on this link to participate:

  • Accessibility Mornings at The New Children's Museum
  • Monday, February 18, 2019 at 8 AM - 9:30 AM
    The New Children's Museum
    200 W Island Ave, San Diego, California 92101

    Join us for Accessibility Mornings on Monday, February 18, from 8am to 9:30am. With a variety of high-sensory activities and designated sensory-break zones, our Accessibility Mornings give special needs families the opportunity to explore the Museum with comfort and safety before the Museum opens to the general public.

    Admission: $8 per child; free for adults/caregivers and members Parking: $5 during program

    Please Note: Adult must be present with child.

  • Social Communication Specialists
  • At Social Communication Specialists, we help socially quirky kids, teens and young adults connect.

    We understand the social challenges kids face today. In order to have healthy friendships, kids need to understand not just the "how", but the "why" of social interactions.

    Service We Offer:

    • Executive Functioning
    • Social Thinking
    • Group openings available for all ages We have groups for grades K-12. We also teach executive functioning! Contact Janet at
    At SCS, we follow the Social Thinking® approach pioneered by Michelle Garcia Winner.

    At the heart of this approach is the understanding that we think about people when we are around them. Then we modify our behaviors based on what we think they may be thinking about us!

    Through fun and innovative lessons and activities, we teach our kiddos social thinking concepts that increase their awareness and improve their abilities to interact with others at school, at home, and in the community.

    Social Communication Specialists
    5703 Oberlin Dr, Ste 207
    San Diego, CA 92121
    (858) 558-9552

  • A Full Life With Autism-The Journey Into Adulthood
  • Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    17010 Pomerado Road, San Diego, California 92128

    Raising a child with autism leads parents and caregivers to become experts in so many different subjects that we should all walk away with multiple honorary degrees. Our beautiful children inevitably become adults so what's next? Author Chantal Sicile-Kira will share practical advice on how to prepare your child on the autism spectrum for the transition to real life as an adult.

  • What You Need to Know to Make Special Education a Smooth Journey: Important Topics to Know
  • school_supplies_2.jpg

    Saturday, 02/16/2019 at 11:00 a.m.
    10300 Yorktown Drive/Conference Room
    San Diego, CA 92124 (Tierrasanta/Murphy Canyon area)

    Topics Include:

    • Your Parental Rights, IEP Meetings, Annual & Requested
    • Qualifying Conditions
    • Timelines
    • Assessments...Requested, Initials, and Triennials
    • Acronyms
    • Paraprofessionals
    • Placement
    • Emergency IEPs
    • Baselines, Goals and Objectives, Progress on Goals
    • Present Levels, Special Factors, Supplemental Aides & Services, Program Accommodations & Modifications
    • Additional Services, (S/L, O/T, Vision, APE, Music Therapy)
    • Use of Devices
    • Educational Rights, Compensatory Education
    • Parent, Guardian Questions
    There will be a raffle for a one hour free consultation with me, re: any questions the winner may have regarding their child's IEP.

    Coffee and Danish will be available. There will be a $5.00 charge per couple which you can pay in advance.

    Please RSVP by text to 619-341-3595 or by email to

    Richard Spindler, MS (Autism Research)
    Educational Parent Advocate

  • MSNC Free Webinar Series: "Reading Evaluation & Intervention"
  • Featuring Megan Trezza, M.Ed., Educational Therapist & La Jolla LearningWorks Founder

    The webinar will air on February 26th at 12:00 noon and will repeat on February 28th at 7:00 pm.

    Join us by registering at

  • MEBE Learning: Effectively Using Visual Supports in Your Home
  • Thursday February 21st
    6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
    MeBe San Diego Office
    8885 Rio San Diego Dr. Suite 340
    San Diego, CA 92108
    (619) 548 9805

  • NFAR Mom's Group - Wed. Feb 20
  • 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
    **NEW LOCATION**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: Music, Rhythm and Auditory Processing - How music can calm the sensory system and stimulate communication.

    Come learn more about this important topic and how you can help your child.

    Guest Speaker: Nanci Engle, Executive Director, Banyan Tree Educational Services

    Click here for all the info and to RSVP!!!

  • Beacons, Inc. is Hiring!!!
  • Beacons, Inc. is hiring!
    1. Lead Workshop Instructor ($30-$50 per hour) and
    2. Workshop Supporting Instructor (min. $15)

    For more information, contact: (attn: Hiring)

  • Finding Your Inner "MozArt" Art Contest
  • The Art of Autism and Mainly Mozart nonprofits present an Art Contest with CASH prizes for North American individuals who identify as neurodivergent 14 and over.

    As part of this year's Mainly Mozart's Mozart & The Mind, Mainly Mozart and the Art of Autism are sponsoring an art contest with cash prizes titled Finding Your Inner "MozArt." The goal of this contest is to foster inspiration about the genius we all have within and to promote the activities of Mainly Mozart during Mozart & The Mind (May 30 - June 2, 2019) in beautiful San Diego, California. Mozart & The Mind is the opening event of the month-long Mainly Mozart festival. The chosen works will be displayed at the gala events and activities during Mozart & the Mind. Your "inner MozArt" can be anything that inspires you. Work submitted can be of any medium. It can be abstract or realistic. Music-themed art will receive priority in judging. Click here for all the info on entering this contest. Deadline is March 5th!!!

  • Autism Society San Diego Spring Family Camp
  • Mar 15 to Mar 18, 2019
    YMCA Camp Marston
    4761 Pine Hills Rd, Julian, California 92036

    Join us for our Spring Family Camp on Friday, March 15th through Sunday, March 17th! The YMCA of San Diego County Overnight Camps and Autism Society San Diego have teamed up to provide families who are part of the autism community with a fun weekend in the mountains of Julian. Family time is important and there's no better place to make friends and be yourself than YMCA Camp Marston! All meals and activities are included, and we can accommodate special diets with advanced notice. Accommodations are in newly remodeled winterized cabins with indoor plumbing! Each family gets their own indoor bedroom with sleeping accommodations for up to 6. Open to families and children of all ages - come join us for a weekend of relaxing fun!

    Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • A Social Event for Parents of Children with Special Needs
  • Please join us for Dinner at Little Italy Bar and Grill (Approx. $15 per person) In Scripps Ranch
    Monday, February 18, 2019
    7:00 PM
    Located at 10006 Scripps Ranch Blvd

    Please R.S.V.P. with your host Bene' Raphael no later than Feb. 15th at or for any questions please call (760) 845-4551

  • "College Success" class to develop skills for college for high functioning ASD, DD or ADHD
  • Please contact the person closest to you!!!

  • Special Needs Resource Foundation Wins
  • We have exciting news to share!

    The Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego won 2 big awards at the 45th Annual San Diego Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards.

    Our annual publication, Flourishing Families, received 2nd place in the Special Interest/One-Time Publications category. A big win for the special needs communities of San Diego and Imperial Counties!

    A big shout-out and congratulations to our contributing writer, Emily Dolton, who won 1st place in the Education category with the article, Zero to 6: Critical Windows that Impact Healthy Child Development (Flourishing Families, 2018).

    Check out the winning publication now!

  • 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" 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!

  • 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.