Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. February 18, 2020

In This Issue

Dating: Tips for autistic teens and adults

Sleep problems in children, teens with autism are focus of new AAN guideline

Striatum, the brain's reward hub, may drive core autism traits

Trump's 2021 budget drowns science agencies in red ink, again

Researchers develop new tool to help detect hidden signs of autism in adults

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!

Parent Training Workshop: All the "Write" Moves for Postsecondary Planning

Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation by Autism Mom Yvette Soto

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

Webinar: Breaking down the "One Size Fits All" myth!

The Profectum Immersion Experience: DIR® Model Assessment & Intervention

Registration is open for the Spring Season of VIP Soccer!

Sensory Friendly Performance: Once Upon a Mattress

IEP San Diego

La Jolla Playhouse Sensory Friendly Performance: POP Tour - EMILY DRIVER'S GREAT RACE THROUGH TIME AND SPACE

La Jolla Playhouse Sensory Friendly Performance: FLY

Therapeutic Recreation Services 2020 Spring Calendar

Announcing Social Skills and Parent Training Groups!



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

  • Dating: Tips for autistic teens and adults
  • A few years ago, we posted a piece on the Autism Speaks website, 'Ten Steps to Help a Teen with Autism Navigate Dating.' This is such a pertinent topic, and perhaps equally if not more important for teens and adults themselves to have tips to navigate the complicated dating world.

    The term dating means seeing someone with a purpose and being romantically involved with them. Dating activities are often the same as socializing with friends, but the person's thoughts and feelings differentiate dates from friendship. Often, people date with the hopes of establishing a committed relationship.

    Being in a romantic relationship can have a lot of benefits, including providing a source of social and emotional support and having someone to enjoy shared activities with. Many people (whether they have ASD or not!) find it confusing and intimidating to initiate and maintain a romantic relationship. Read on...

  • Sleep problems in children, teens with autism are focus of new AAN guideline
  • It is not uncommon for children and teens with autism spectrum disorder to struggle with sleep. Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep or refusing to go to bed are just some of the sleep problems they can experience. To help families, neurologists and other healthcare providers make decisions on the best treatments, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has issued a new guideline for sleep problems in children and teens with autism, published in the February 12, 2020, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

    The guideline is endorsed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Autism Speaks, the Child Neurology Society and the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. The American Epilepsy Society has affirmed the value of the guideline to epileptologists. Read on...

  • Striatum, the brain's reward hub, may drive core autism traits
  • Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors are hallmarks of autism. They can take many forms: Some autistic people flap their arms or rock back and forth; others ritualistically line up objects or insist on a rigid daily schedule.

    Several studies have suggested that repetitive behaviors originate in the striatum, a cluster of neurons in the center of the brain that helps initiate and execute movements. In support of this idea, people who have a damaged striatum show autism traits, including repetitive, inflexible behaviors and various movement problems.

    In the past two decades, however, scientists' understanding of the striatum has expanded, yielding tantalizing hints that the region is involved in the characteristic social difficulties seen in autistic people. Read on...

  • Trump's 2021 budget drowns science agencies in red ink, again
  • It's another sea of red ink for federal research funding programs in President Donald Trump's latest budget proposal. The 2021 budget request to Congress released today calls for deep, often double-digit cuts to R&D spending at major science agencies.

    At the same time, the president wants to put more money into a handful of areas-notably artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum information science (QIS)-to create the new technology needed for what the budget request calls "industries of the future."

    Here is a rundown of some of the numbers from the budget request's R&D chapter. (The numbers reflect the portion of each agency's budget classified as research, which in most cases is less than its overall budget.) Read on...

  • Researchers develop new tool to help detect hidden signs of autism in adults
  • Researchers have developed a potential new tool to help clinicians detect hidden signs of autism in adults.

    Autism is usually diagnosed in childhood but a growing number of adults are being diagnosed with the condition, even in mid-to-late adulthood.

    Many adults develop compensatory psychological strategies to hide their symptoms from clinicians, employers and even their own families.

    These strategies make the developmental condition much harder to diagnose and "performing" to fit into society can place a huge mental strain on the autistic person. 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.

  • 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

  • Parent Training Workshop: All the "Write" Moves for Postsecondary Planning
  • We're putting together another parent workshop. Here's info if you need help with ITPs or IPPs.

    Re: Cost - SDRC consumers can have 1 workshop per year funded by the SDRC up to $200 (cost for our workshop is $150). Some organizations also provide scholarships to help families attend.

    Click here to RSVP (first some first served basis)!!

  • 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

  • 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.

    Thursday, February 20
    6:00-7:30 pm
    San Diego Regional Center, Room #101
    4355 Ruffin Rd., San Diego CA 92123
    Click here to sign up for your free tickets!!!

  • Webinar: Breaking down the "One Size Fits All" myth!
  • Featuring the expertise of Thomas Nelson Esq., special education attorney

    Join us by registering at

    The webinar will be held on Saturday, February 22nd at 10:00 AM and will repeat Tuesday, February 25th at 12:00 noon and Thursday, February 27th at 7:00 pm.

  • 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!!!

  • Registration is open for the Spring Season of VIP Soccer!
  • For questions, please contact:
    Margaret Fetters VIP Coordinator


  • Sensory Friendly Performance: Once Upon a Mattress
  • Click here for info about this performance!!!

    Click here to purchase your tickets!!!

  • IEP San Diego
  • There are many special education advocates that you can choose. What makes IEP San Diego unique is Karla Maldonado, IEP San Diego's founder and only Special Education Advocate.

    Karla has first-hand experience in dealing with the Special Education process as she is the parent of children who require Special Education services. Because of their struggles and having been trained in Special Education Advocacy she decided to help other parents and caregivers through the complex world of understanding and obtaining appropriate special education services for their children.

    She has experience in advocating during IEP and 504 Plan meetings; reviewing special education assessments, identifying areas of need, consulting with parents, school district staff and professionals regarding students' special needs; the organization and maintenance of Special Education files; and the preparation for cases that may need to move to Due Process.

    She is fluent in both spoken and written Spanish and English. Karla understands the day to day struggles of caring for a child who has a handicapping condition while trying to obtain the right services from school districts and community providers for that child. And the impact that an inappropriate school program has on the child and his or her family and how it can hurt the student and waste their time.

    Karla Maldonado
    Special Education Advocate
    (858) 300-1880

  • La Jolla Playhouse Sensory Friendly Performance: POP Tour - EMILY DRIVER'S GREAT RACE THROUGH TIME AND SPACE
  • This year's POP Tour, EMILY DRIVER'S GREAT RACE THROUGH TIME AND SPACE, in partnership with National Disability Theatre, brings together a team of actors, writers and designers with disabilities to create an original story (seen by over 20,000 students in San Diego County!). See the POP Tour at the Playhouse for our public performances: Sat., Feb. 29 at 1 & 3pm, Sun., Mar. 1 at 1pm + RELAXED PERFORMANCE Sun., Mar. 1 at 3:00 pm.

    About the show: As a history-obsessed 12-year-old, Emily Driver uses her YouTube channel to celebrate landmark moments of activism and launches into a time-traveling trip across the country where she meets trailblazing leaders from the past who have fought for equal rights. On the journey, she learns the power of how one voice can inspire others to create a more accessible world.

    For questions, email or call (858) 550-1010.


  • La Jolla Playhouse Sensory Friendly Performance: FLY
  • Don't miss this stunning new musical whose creative team members have won Tony, Emmy and Grammy Awards for such shows as Hamilton, Sesame Street and Avenue Q!

    Wendy's life is about to change forever when she meets a boy named Peter, a pirate named Hook, and a beguiling, beautiful Crocodile, who's much more than meets the eye. In this thrilling, funny, dangerous look at J.M. Barrie's novel Peter and Wendy, a whole new Neverland comes to life. Fly will take audiences on an adventure propelled by a powerful and percussive score, dynamic choreography and aerial acrobatics.

    For questions, email or call (858) 550-1010.


  • Therapeutic Recreation Services 2020 Spring Calendar
  • The Spring 2020 Calendar is now available! Here is the link to the new program calendar:

    The 1st day of registration for Spring activities will be this Saturday, February 15 at 10:00 a.m. Registration can be done online at or at our office at the War Memorial Building- 3325 Zoo Drive, San Diego CA 92101. If you plan on registering at our office, please remember we no longer take cash as a method of payment.

    The 1st day of Summer Camp registrations will be on Saturday, March 7th at 10:00 a.m. Camp dates and times can be found on page 7.

  • Announcing Social Skills and Parent Training Groups!
  • We are writing to inform you that, in collaboration between the SDSU Center for Autism and the SDSU Psychology Clinic, we are announcing two group-based treatment programs, to commence in the coming weeks:

    Parent Management of Challenging Behavior (child ages 2 - 17)
    An 8-10 week, group-based treatment program that teaches parents effective strategies for managing challenging child behaviors (e.g., aggression, non-compliance, defiance, and temper tantrums) and promotes positive parent-child relationships. Sessions are approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.

    Social Skills Training (child ages 7 - 17)
    A 12 to 14-week, group based treatment program that includes concurrent parent and youth sessions. Youth sessions teach critical social interaction and friendship-making skills. Parent sessions focus on facilitating opportunities for youth to develop peer relationships and reinforcing the development of youths' social skills. Sessions are approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.

    Although the age ranges above are quite broad, we are planning to pair up children in the social skills training based on a more closely matched age group (e.g., children ages 7 to 11; or 12 to 15).

    Please note that these treatment programs are offered for any children with disruptive or challenging behaviors, regardless of their diagnosis (e.g., ADHD or ASD). The program is provided in collaboration with the SDSU Psychology Clinic clinical psychologists, Drs. Feion and Miguel Villodas, for a low fee (to be determined, up to $20/ session).

    Please contact Community Engagement Director, Vinton Omaleki (, if you are interested in one of these groups.

  • 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

  • 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.