Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. February 28, 2020

In This Issue

Melatonin may ease autistic children's sleep troubles

Top Ways Dogs Can Impact Kids With Autism

Autism expert Temple Grandin worries schools are 'screening out visual thinkers'

Anti-psychotic medication linked to adverse change in brain structure

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

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

Autism Society Family Camp in Julian

Looking to Spotlight your Expertise to the Special Needs Community?

FREE One-Day Tennis Clinic

Social Skills Groups at Ascent Psychological Services

EmpowED Parenting Conference

Spring Into SPARK with the UCSD Autism Center of Excellence

A Warm Welcome to D'Vine Path's New Class of 2020!

Sibshop in Escondido

Winning Entries of the Finding Your Inner MozArt Art Contest

IEP Parent Bootcamp Class

Sensory Friendly Family Purim

Friendship Walk SD 2020

Your Special Needs Wellness and Travel Newsletter



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

  • Melatonin may ease autistic children's sleep troubles
  • Melatonin is safe for long-term use in autistic children who have difficulty sleeping, according to a new study1.

    The study tracked the sleep hormone's effects in autistic children over a two-year period. Melatonin has previously been suggested as a sleep aid for children on the spectrum, but the new study is the first to systematically assess its long-term safety. Read on...

  • Top Ways Dogs Can Impact Kids With Autism
  • Dogs are often referred to as man's best friend. In fact, the American Pet Products Association found that in 2019, 63.4 million Americans own a dog.

    Countless studies support the claim that having a dog improves overall well-being, especially for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There are three areas where trained dogs can benefit ASD families: at home, in therapy, and on search and rescue missions.

    When an ASD family contemplates getting a therapy dog, considerations such as the therapeutic benefits, cost, and overall lifestyle change must be taken into account. When families do end up getting a dog, the bond between the autistic child and pet often validates the decision.

    Research has shown that for a child with autism, a dog companion not only provides therapeutic benefits, but also supports other positive behavioral changes. Having a dog improves social interactions for children with autism, prompting them to converse with other kids about having one. One study found that when an animal, such as a dog, is present, social behaviors increase in children with autism. Additionally, stress levels in children with autism are statistically lower for those with dogs as opposed to without. Read on...

  • Autism expert Temple Grandin worries schools are 'screening out visual thinkers'
  • At a talk Monday in Springfield, autism expert Temple Grandin posed the question of how sculptor Michelangelo, composer Ludwig van Beethoven and inventor Thomas Edison would fare in today's American education system.

    She pointed out Michelangelo - and the others - were not typical students. They were different. They were bullied and underestimated. They did not fit in.

    "Where would he end up today? Probably in the basement playing video games," she said. "That's the problem." Read on...

  • Anti-psychotic medication linked to adverse change in brain structure
  • In a first-of-its-kind study using advanced brain imaging techniques, a commonly used anti-psychotic medication was associated with potentially adverse changes in brain structure. This study was the first in humans to evaluate the effects of this type of medication on the brain using a gold-standard design: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

    The study, conducted across several North American centers, and just published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, could have an immediate impact on clinical practice according to lead author Dr. Aristotle Voineskos, Chief of the Schizophrenia Division, and Head of the Kimel Family Translational Imaging-Genetics Laboratory at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada.

    Until the 1990s, antipsychotic medications were primarily administered to people with schizophrenia. But since then their use has expanded to major depression and a range of pediatric, adult and geriatric disorders, including anxiety, insomnia and autism, for which one in five patients are prescribed anti-psychotics. 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.

    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

    Hi Valerie, I am a teacher at Linda Vista Elementary and I built a Miller Method Elevated Square years ago to use with my students. I am no longer able to use it with my class because we no longer have a teacher to student ration that would support the program. I would like to give it to someone and feel like your newsletter may be a good way to offer it. The person who picks it up would need a truck. Georgeanne Gedney 619-244-2527

    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.

  • NFAR: San Diego Race for Autism Superhero 5K & 1 Mile Family Fun Walk
  • Now is a great time to sign up for the 2020 Race for Autism Superhero 5K on March 28, 2020 in beautiful Balboa Park!


    This family friendly event attracts thousands of local SUPERHEROES, big and small, and features music, dancing, refreshments, children's activities, capes for kids, medals, and an amazing resource fair.

    JUSTICE LEAGUE DISCOUNT PACKAGE Start a company or school team and enjoy extra savings on registration!

    The Justice League Package is for:
    *Groups of 15 persons or more
    *Flat discount rate as follows:
    --$30 per person through March 5th by 4:00 pm.

    *Includes children, youth, adults, chip-timing for runners and larger shirt sizes.
    *Upon receipt of payment, your group will be set up with a special code for team members to register.

    Already Have a Justice League Team?
    --You can add team to your team in groups of 5 or more.
    --Additional members can be added at the Justice League rate available at the time.

    To purchase a Justice League Package, please contact For questions, please call us at 858-679-8800.

  • Autism Society Family Camp in Julian
  • We are happy to offer Family Camp to our current Autism Society San Diego Members. Click here to become a member!

    Friday March 13 - Sunday March 15, 2020
    YMCA Camp Marston, Julian, CA 92036

    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. Click here for all the info and to sign up!!!

  • Looking to Spotlight your Expertise to the Special Needs Community?
  • Providers -
    We've had an amazing response from parents towards our free webinar series which has grown to over 150 participants with our recent webinar!

    If you'd like to expand your reach to the Special Needs Community and be highlighted in our upcoming San Diego newsletter, sign up to launch a webinar with us!

    We do all of the work!
    We come to you, film + edit + release the webinar

    If you are an OT, PT, Speech Therapist, Advocate, Educational Specialist, Psychologist, LMFT, Transition Specialist, ABA Provider, or any other provider that has information to share with the Special Needs Community, please click below !

    Sign up!

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

  • FREE One-Day Tennis Clinic
  • Aceing Autism, USPTA - Elevate and I are teaming up to provide a free tennis clinic for children with autism between the ages of 5-18. The event will be held on Saturday April 4th, 2020 from 3:00-5:00pm at Bobby Riggs Tennis Club.

    The goal of this free tennis clinic is to provide an opportunity to children interested in tennis that might not have had the option of playing in a group setting before. The event will lead into a 6-week tennis session starting on Saturday April 18th, 2020 at Lomas Santa Fe CC.

    Clinic Participants:

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

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

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

  • EmpowED Parenting Conference

  • Spring Into SPARK with the UCSD Autism Center of Excellence
  • Visit UC San Diego's Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) on Saturday, March 14th for free refreshments, games, entertainment, and the opportunity to join SPARK - the largest study of autism ever! Thousands of families across the country have already joined. There is no cost to participate in the study and parking is free at the event.

    RSVP is REQUIRED. Contact us at 858-534-6906 or

    Learn more here:

  • A Warm Welcome to D'Vine Path's New Class of 2020!
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter for all the info about upcoming events!!!

  • Sibshop in Escondido
  • To sign up or find more information visit or contact us at

    Emmanuel Faith Community Church
    639 E 17th Ave
    Escondido CA 92025

  • Winning Entries of the Finding Your Inner MozArt Art Contest
  • The Art of Autism and Mainly Mozart nonprofits thank all who submitted their art to the Finding Your Inner MozArt art contest. Mainly Mozart is providing $1,700 of prize money to the 1st through 3rd place winners of this contest. The winning entries will be available for auction at the Mozart & The Mind Showcase gala on April 11 at Oceanside Museum.

    We would like to thank professional artist Will Weston and Director Emeritus of the San Diego Museum of Modern Art Hugh Davies for their judging comments and expertise. The theme of this year's art contest was music and/or synesthesia.

    Click here for all the info and to see the winning art!!!

  • IEP Parent Bootcamp Class
  • Sat, March 14, 2020
    9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
    11770 Bernardo Plaza Court #116
    San Diego, CA 92128
    Cost: $198 - possibly payable by SDRC vendor #PY2076

    *Are you confused by your child's IEP?

    *Do you wish you knew more about special education to better help your child?

    *Are you convinced that your child could be performing better at school?

    *Are you ready to learn how to advocate for your own child, just like the pros?

    If these questions apply to you, then you must join us in March for our IEP Parent Bootcamp Series. Don't be afraid to jump in and learn with us!

    In an interactive, fun, and intimate environment, you will become empowered as your child's best advocate. You will learn secret tips and knowledge gained from Crystal's 20+ years experience in special education in public schools, while also parenting her own child with Autism. Now Crystal serves the special needs community by advocating strong alongside fellow California Autism moms in IEPs. Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • Sensory Friendly Family Purim
  • Sunday, March 8th - 2pm to 4pm
    Chabad Poway
    16934 Chabad Way
    Poway, CA 92064

    For questions and to register: 858.487.4879

  • Friendship Walk SD 2020
  • Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM
    Liberty Station NTC Park
    2455 Cushing Rd., San Diego, California 92106

    Walk With Your Heart

    The annual Friendship Walk is the Friendship Circle's largest fundraiser of the year. Individuals, families, organizations, and businesses unite to show their committed support for a cause that touches the heart of the San Diego community. Again, the Federation of San Diego is teaming with the Friendship Circle of San Diego in honor of Israel's Day of Independence by offering exciting festivities for everyone to enjoy after the walk! Funds raised through this year's walk will greatly benefit the lives of individuals with special needs in San Diego. Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • Your Special Needs Wellness and Travel Newsletter
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter!!!

  • ASD Mornings at the NAT

  • The San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat) is pleased to offer a program for the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community: a once-a-month ASD Morning in which the Museum opens early for adults and children on the autism spectrum and their families, friends, and caregivers. This innovative program encourages individuals to explore, play, and discover the treasures The Nat has to offer in an environment that is comfortable for them.

    ASD Mornings take place the second Sunday of every month. The Museum will open at 9 AM*, one hour earlier than its standard 10 AM opening time, providing a quiet and less-crowded environment for visitors to explore the Museum's galleries at their own pace. In addition, on ASD Mornings the Museum will offer a "quiet room" from 9 AM to noon if visitors need a quiet space to decompress or desensitize. General admission rates apply during ASD Mornings.

  • Autism Accessibility Morning at the Fleet!

  • The third Saturday of every month, Fleet invites the Autism Spectrum Community to enjoy our museum through this special opportunity. Adults and families with children with autism can enjoy the Fleet's exhibit galleries in a quieter setting, an hour before regular open hours to the general public and with access to a special cool-off space. Visitors are welcome to stay and enjoy the museum all day. Admission includes a special IMAX film screening at 10 a.m. with the house lights on and a lower soundtrack volume.

    For more information, visit

  • Everyone Deserves a Loving Home

  • Contact Lynn Scott for more information 619-954-7847 or

  • Autism Through the Lifespan

  • Please RSVP for Spanish Translation support

    For further information, please contact:
    Carolyn Carterette, M.A. (619) 725-8080 email:
    Grace Fantaroni, Ed.D. (619) 563-2839 email

  • Therapeutic Recreation Services 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.

  • 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.