Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. February 26, 2019

In This Issue

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New Pop-Up Restaurant in California (Poway) Staffed by Adults with Special Needs

New Hope: A Documentary Filmmaker's Perspective on Peering Over the Cliff

Analysis pinpoints genes linked to autism, developmental delay

Adults With Autism to Benefit From New Employment Center at Rutgers

'Editing' of RNA may play sizeable role in autism

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Please Participate in Local Research!!!

Les Miserables at LJCDS: Sensory-Friendly Theater Performance!

Social Communication Specialists

Launching Beacons Pathfinder Pilot Program

Little Big Steps

No Wait for RDI at Family Guidance

Accepting Applications for NFAR Tech's Program

Transition to Adulthood Information Event

Therapeutic Recreation Services Spring 2019 Calendar

New CONNECTIONS class begins Monday, March 11

Options For All Presents: Project College

Fundraiser: 'Come Away with Me'

The Power of Play Profectum Comference in Pasadena Area

Bingo! An exciting new Superflex game has arrived


Please Share This Newsletter and Facebook Page!!!

ValeriesList is a FREE resource newsletter and Facebook Page for San Diego County and has been for over 18 years. No fees or membership are required to receive this info. An informed public makes better decisions for its' persons with Special Needs. Please share with friends, family, fellow professionals and clients!!! Click here to check out my FB page! Thank YOU!

thomas nelson
Your Child's Education Comes First!

Your child is entitled to a "free and appropriate public education" or FAPE, whereby the school addresses all of your child's unique needs. A school district must provide your child with an appropriate education regardless of budget cuts, what's convenient, or what's available. Too often the school district offers a "one size fits all" program that fits within their needs, but not within the unique needs of your child. Ensuring that your child's education comes first means having the right team on your side. An effective team works cooperatively and collaboratively with the school district, using their knowledge, expertise and experience to foster quick and yet effective resolutions.

As a practicing attorney for over 25 years, Thomas S. Nelson takes great pride in helping special needs children through affordable advocacy and legal services.

  • New Pop-Up Restaurant in California (Poway) Staffed by Adults with Special Needs
  • An opportunity to learn life-skills

    After walking into a beautifully set dining room, with the scent of freshly baked teriyaki salmon coming from the commercial kitchen and live music setting a cheerful atmosphere, you'd be forgiven for thinking Dan's Place is an ordinary pop-up restaurant. Only when you meet the staff do you notice the difference between this food establishment and others in Poway, California. A program by the Friendship Circle of San Diego and directed by Elisheva Green, the restaurant is entirely hosted by adults with special needs.

    The kosher restaurant, which is open for dinner once a month at Chabad of Poway, is an opportunity for individuals with special needs to learn life skills. Through being responsible for its management, the hosts are taught skills for greeting, serving, cooking,and clearing. Green heads up a staff of volunteers, including executive chef Amy Nisen, who are paired up with each host to help guide and train them. Read on...

    You can donate to Friendship Circle San Diego by clicking here!

  • New Hope: A Documentary Filmmaker's Perspective on Peering Over the Cliff
  • In May of 2017, I had the good fortune to begin filming my first feature-length documentary, This Business of Autism about employment opportunities for adults on the spectrum. The film follows the expansion of Spectrum Designs, which is a custom screen-printing and embroidery business located in Port Washington, New York. Seventy-five percent of Spectrum Designs' employees are on the autism spectrum.

    Since their inception in 2011 in a founder's backyard shed, the company has outgrown three facilities, and in March of this year cut the ribbon on their own 7,500 square foot flagship facility, where they project annual revenues will top $3,000,000 within three years.

    While filming this project, I had the opportunity to interview the company founders, senior leadership, industry practitioners, and numerous staff members on the spectrum, their families, and the legend herself, Dr. Temple Grandin. Across this wide array of thoughtful (and often times emotional) contributions, several commonalities emerged regarding techniques that anyone can implement at home to help your child prepare for the workplace. 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...

  • Adults With Autism to Benefit From New Employment Center at Rutgers
  • Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services, the first program of its kind in the country, will more than double in size

    The Rutgers University Board of Governors today approved a proposal by the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology to build a new facility for the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS) on Rutgers-New Brunswick's Douglass campus.

    The two-year-old center, the first of its kind at a higher education institution in the United States, currently provides employment, vocational training and other services to 12 participants who commute from home. The expansion will enable the program to serve up to 30 participants. The project, estimated to cost $9.5 million, will be paid for through philanthropic funds.

    Christopher Manente, executive director of RCAAS, said, "We are committed to serving adults with autism by providing meaningful paid employment, full integration into the Rutgers community and ongoing research and training related to helping adults with autism lead full lives. We serve as a model that can be replicated at colleges and universities, or within small communities across the country." Read on...

  • 'Editing' of RNA may play sizeable role in autism

  • People with autism show scant activity in a poorly understood molecular process thought to regulate gene expression in the brain, according to a new study1. The process, called RNA editing, turns out to involve two proteins central to fragile X syndrome, one of the most common causes of autism.

    The findings suggest that stalled RNA editing is common to several types of autism. They also hint that the fragile X proteins - FMRP and the structurally similar (but lesser known) FXR1P - play a significant role in autism.

    In RNA editing, a specific set of proteins bind to and alter the RNA sequence after it is produced; this may be one way a single gene gives rise to multiple forms of the same protein. Editing of certain RNAs is thought to be altered in autism and related conditions. Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • 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.

    My son is 27 yrs old. I am looking for a recommendation for a regular MD that accepts Medi-cal in the Chula Vista area.
    Thanks in advance, Tracey

    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:

  • Les Miserables at LJCDS: Sensory-Friendly Theater Performance!
  • On Friday March 8th, 2019 La Jolla Country Day School is hosting a FREE sensory-friendly theater performance of Les Miserables in our Theater at 10:00am.

    We would love to personally invite any members of our San Diego Community who would benefit from this sensory-friendly performance to attend. If any of you would like to bring an entire class, grade, or subsection of students, it would be our pleasure to welcome your group. We have specifically decided to have this performance in the morning in hopes of many of our friends in Special Education school programs attending with ample time to travel to and from their schools during the normal school day.

    You can find a link to request tickets here and we have a list of FAQ here. Additionally - please feel free to share this email far and wide, we'd love to have a packed house for this very special event!

  • 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

  • Launching Beacons Pathfinder Pilot Program
  • Beacons, Inc. will be launching pilot workshops for those 18+. Workshops will focus on workforce planning and social skills. The workforce planning workshop is being made possible by an NFAR grant and will focus on office skills.

    For more information on the programming, please visit:

    To apply to be considered for the pilot, please complete this form:

    Space is limited for this pilot launch to 6 individuals per workshop. Questions should be directed to:

  • Little Big Steps
  • We are very excited to announce the opening of Little Big Steps - a new site-based, community readiness ABA program for children ages 2.5 to 6 years who are experiencing challenges in behavioral, social, and language development. Our young participants attend onsite in a structured setting where they receive 1:1 ABA instruction as well as small group interaction with peers.

    Our staff of highly trained ABA therapists utilizes the principles of ABA to develop and promote skills to generalize into school and community settings. Our site-based setting offers the structure necessary to target the pivotal and pre-requisite skills needed for success in school-based settings, while our group settings offer access to peers in order to address social and play skills.

    Little Big Steps is a program CTA program. Sessions take place at the Poway location in the mornings until 1:00 PM. Please contact Lauren Enriquez, BCBA at (858) 603-6628 or for inquiries.

  • No Wait for RDI at Family Guidance
  • Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®)

    Our primary approach for treatment of autism spectrum is a developmental program called Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®). RDI® is a unique treatment approach that empowers parents to guide their child to succeed in our dynamic world. Children who learn to actively engage with the support of their parents in safe but challenging learning opportunities develop a strong motivation to explore and expand their world, as well as develop competence and trust in themselves and their guides.

    Why RDI®?
    Foundations of the adult mind are developed in the first years of life through the "Guiding Relationship". From the middle of the first year of life, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, in every culture on earth, children interact with parents and other important adults in deceptively simple encounters, with a very serious underlying agenda; constructing the architecture of the child's mind and brain. Click here for all the info about RDI®!!!

    The Family Guidance and Therapy Center
    Locations in Point Loma and Mira Mesa

  • Accepting Applications for NFAR Tech's Program
  • Are you ready to work but not finding that opportunity? Then NFAR's vocational technical training program might be the right choice for you!

    NFAR Tech is a comprehensive hands-on training program that helps build technical and employment skills to prepare young adults with autism for entry level jobs in today's workplace as software testers and other vocations.

    NFAR Tech will be starting a new class this April.

    Learn more by visiting our website or contacting NFAR at 858-679-8800.

  • Transition to Adulthood Information Event
  • Free for North County School Districts parents, students and staff.

  • Therapeutic Recreation Services Spring 2019 Calendar
  • Click here to view our new Spring 2019 calendar!!!

    Important dates to remember:
    Saturday, February 16, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
    Registration begins for Spring activities

    Saturday, March 2nd, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
    Registration begins for Summer Camps

    You may sign up online at or at our office 3325 Zoo Drive, 92101.

  • New CONNECTIONS class begins Monday, March 11
  • We're currently registering students for our next CONNECTIONS class, which will begin on Monday, March 11th and continue until Monday, April 15th from 4:30-6:00 pm.

    We still have plenty of room in the class, and would love to find more students. If you have any friends who might be interested, please feel free to pass along the attached flyer.

    Registration is currently available online on our website at

  • Options For All Presents: Project College
  • Project College, now in its 8th year, offers a weeklong orientation to college life for youth with disabilities. Held on the campus of the University of San Diego, Project College is specially designed by Options For All, The University of San Diego, The Invisible Disability Project, and The State Council on Developmental Disabilities - San Diego/Imperial Office.

    June 23rd-28th, experience all that college life has to offer!

    For more information please review the links below or contact our COO, David Drazenovich!

    Project College Brochure

    Project College FAQ

    2019 Application

  • Fundraiser: 'Come Away with Me'
  • Thursday, March 14, 2019 @ 6:00 PM
    Brick, 2863 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106

    Join us at our 10th Annual Taste of Our Community: 'Come Away With Me' and celebrate a decade of raising awareness and necessary funds for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Click here for all the info and to purchase tickets!!!

  • The Power of Play Profectum Comference in Pasadena Area
  • The Power of PLAY

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

  • Bingo! An exciting new Superflex game has arrived
  • Superflex Bingo $29.99-now 15% off through Mar. 5, 2019. No coupon code necessary!

    Superflex Bingo offers a fun way to engage kids in the Superflex curriculum and expand their self-regulation and superflexible thinking powers! Students listen to a scenario and figure out a Social Thinking concept or Superflex character that fits the situation, placing a game piece on the square that matches their thinking. Includes multiple themed card packs to keep students learning throughout the year-it's like 12 games in one box! Perfect for use in the classroom, clinic, or home. For kids already working with You Are a Social Detective and the Superflex curriculum who are familiar with core Social Thinking Vocabulary.

    Sounds Fun!

  • 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.