Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. February 21, 2020

In This Issue

Commentary: California must face reality: Autism cases are increasing

How to Safeguard Children with Special Needs From Bullying

Repetitive behaviors and 'stimming' in autism, explained

BPA alternative, bisphenol S, could negatively affect mother's placenta and developing baby's brain

Prenatal phthalate exposure associated with autistic traits in young boys

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

FREE! - Managing Selective Eaters in Autism

GYMGUYZ of Coastal San Diego

FREE! - Toilet Training for Children with Autism

Executive Function Intervention Group for ages 14-16

Executive Function Intervention Group for ages 11-13

SJSU Research Study Participants Needed

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

  • Commentary: California must face reality: Autism cases are increasing
  • In 1999, the state of California was in shock: baffling even the most seasoned of authorities, autism cases in the developmental services system had spiked from about 4,000 in 1987 to about 13,000 cases in 1998.

    As it turns out, that was just a hint of what lay ahead: today, the Department of Developmental Services counts nearly 10 times that, more than 122,000 autism cases.

    Though we hear little about autism data from our public health leaders or media, California's autism rates continue to surge, with no plateau in sight.

    Schools can't keep up with ever-growing demand. Emergency rooms and police departments are reeling from increasingly frequent crisis cases. Families are desperate for support and solutions.

    The future looks even bleaker, as autistic students are aging out of school and into an adult services system woefully unprepared to meet their complex needs. Based on Department of Developmental Services data, the demand for adult services and housing will likely grow five-fold over the next 20 years, from 28,000 developmentally disabled autistic adults over 21 today, quintupling to about 140,000 in 2040. Read on...

  • How to Safeguard Children with Special Needs From Bullying
  • When young Cody joined the peer inclusion preschool at his neighborhood public school, he fit in from the start. His class was a mix of neurotypical "peer mentors" and children with disabilities, including students like Cody with apraxia of speech, a motor speech disorder that made communication complicated. The school's curriculum encouraged understanding and advocating for students with disabilities, and he felt accepted and included.

    Because the peer inclusion program wasn't offered after preschool, Cody enrolled in another local school for kindergarten. That's when the bullying began. Cody began experiencing harassment and physical bullying nearly every day, mostly from students in his class. When he reacted, he was punished by missing recess or simply sitting in "time out," recalls his mother, an active member of the local Special Needs PTA. "We were getting 4, 5, 6 disciplinary notices every week, and I knew something was really wrong, because that wasn't an issue at his other school." Read on...

  • Repetitive behaviors and 'stimming' in autism, explained
  • Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors constitute one of two criteria that define autism in the diagnostic manual for psychiatry.

    But this domain encompasses a wide range of traits that may appear in a variety of combinations, and with different severity, among people with autism. Here, we describe the changing understanding of the importance of repetitive behaviors in autism, and the movement for their acceptance. Read on...

  • BPA alternative, bisphenol S, could negatively affect mother's placenta and developing baby's brain
  • Using "BPA-free" plastic products could be as harmful to human health-including a developing brain-as those products that contain the controversial chemical, suggest scientists in a new study led by the University of Missouri and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    For decades, scientists have studied BPA extensively in animal models with results indicating the chemical plays a role in early pregnancy loss, placental diseases and various negative health outcomes after birth. As these adverse health effects have become more widely known, companies have turned to using alternative chemicals to develop plastic products-namely water bottles and food containers-and often labeling them "BPA-free." However, MU scientist Cheryl Rosenfeld warns these chemical alternatives, such as bisphenol S (BPS), still aren't safe for people to use. Read on...

  • Prenatal phthalate exposure associated with autistic traits in young boys
  • Exposure in the womb to phthalates, a group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals present in cosmetics and other common household products, was associated with autistic traits in boys, ages 3 and 4, but not in girls, according to a new study led by a University of Massachusetts Amherst environmental epidemiologist.

    Fewer of these autistic traits-which are characterized by social behavior, repetitive behaviors and restricted interests, but do not constitute an autism diagnosis-were found among boys whose mothers had taken the recommended dose of supplementary folic acid during their first trimester of pregnancy.

    "This is one of the largest cohort studies about phthalates and neurodevelopment," says lead author Youssef Oulhote, assistant professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at UMass Amherst's School of Public Health and Health Sciences. "One of the most important findings is how adequate folic acid supplementation in pregnancy may offset the potential harmful effects of phthalates in regard to autistic traits." 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

    Can I ask your perspective on the Medi-Cal dentist scene in San Diego? Have you heard of any particular M-Cal dentists who are good with adults on the spectrum? Our son has always had his dental work done while he's "asleep" through anesthesia. He simply doesn't have the ability to cooperate--other than getting into the chair and getting through the anesthesia process. That's a challenge in itself but it's manageable. Thank you for your recommendations. Our son lives near SDSU so anything central would be great but we're willing to drive for great service. Thank you! -- Julie

    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 come 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

  • FREE! - Managing Selective Eaters in Autism
  • Join us for a workshop on how to get your child to eat better.
    Mon, February 24, 2020
    6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
    SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders
    6363 Alvarado Court
    San Diego, CA 92120

    The SDSU Center for Autism is pleased to host the third in a three part series of talks in collaboration with Lauren Cox, BCBA. Children with autism often have repetitive and rigid behaviors that will interfere with a successful mealtime. Since eating and mealtime is a necessary part of our day to day lives, so we will review some common challenges that families may experience in getting their kids to eat regularly and eat well. We will also review steps we can take to make eating a more structured time with specific strategies that would help learners expand what they eat as well as when and how much they eat. Childcare will be provided for this event.
    Click here to reserve your tickets for this FREE event!!!

  • GYMGUYZ of Coastal San Diego
  • Owned by a special needs family member. Provides in-Home Personal Training for children and adults of all abilities with certified trainers with special needs experience. A fitness readiness assessment including medical history and body composition analysis leads to a comprehensive plan of goal setting, ability-appropriate exercise, and nutrition counseling. All equipment is brought to your home, park or workplace.

    Call to Schedule your Complementary In-Home Consultation worth $110.

    Call 619-641-9740 and check us out at:

  • FREE! - Toilet Training for Children with Autism
  • Mon, March 9, 2020
    6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
    SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders
    6363 Alvarado Court
    San Diego, CA 92120

    The SDSU Center for Autism is pleased to host the second in a three part series of talks in collaboration with Lauren Cox, BCBA. Toileting is one of the most necessary skills for a young child to have in order to be successful outside of the home environment. Many schools require that your little one be toilet trained before she or he is able to enroll in school. Becoming toilet trained is a common struggle for children on the autism spectrum due to language and motor impairments. We will go step by step to prepare you and your little learner to be successful in toilet training. We will cover some common programs to begin with your child, and how we can support the family during toilet training. Childcare will be provided at this event.
    Click here to reserve your tickets for this event!!!

  • Executive Function Intervention Group for ages 14-16
  • Intricate Mind Institute
    2247 San Diego Ave #136
    San Diego, CA 92110
    Old Town San Diego
    (858) 205-9809

  • Executive Function Intervention Group for ages 11-13
  • Intricate Mind Institute
    2247 San Diego Ave #136
    San Diego, CA 92110
    Old Town San Diego
    (858) 205-9809

  • SJSU Research Study Participants Needed
  • My research team and I are writing to let you know of an exciting opportunity for your online community to participate in a research study. The research study is looking at friendship quality, social participation, and social networks in young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We would like to understand the causes and impacts of social deficits in order to contribute to the development of social skills training programs for use with adolescents and young adults. This is our capstone project to partially fulfil our Master's degree, and the Principal Investigator (PI) of the study is Dr. Megan Chang at San Jose State University.

    We are recruiting individuals diagnosed with ASD between the ages of 18-35 who have adequate conversational skills. If you believe that your community may be interested in participating in this study or if you would like additional information, please contact myself at By volunteering, participants may benefit through reflection and may develop increased self-awareness.

  • 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.