Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. March 06, 2020

In This Issue

Disability policies highlight major differences among U.S. presidential hopefuls

Enlarged amygdala linked to severe behavioral problems in autistic girls

Study shows LGBTQ+ individuals with autism have greater health disparities than peers

FDA bans shock device used on mentally disabled patients

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

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

Teen Social Group

Parent Training: Exploring Role of Advocacy in Special Education and the IEP Process

Adult Circle Purim Fiesta

Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation by Autism Mom Yvette Soto

Autism One Conference in Chicago

Parents Advocating Together Meeting on March 11th


Shawn Richardson Life Coaching

Xcite Steps Behavior & Therapy Center's Grand Opening

Dan's Place March Pop Up - Southwest

Challenger Division Football and Cheer

Scholarship Application Open

Sensory Sunday Family Time with Heart and Hooves Therapy



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!


  • Disability policies highlight major differences among U.S. presidential hopefuls
  • Most of the top contenders for the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination have released comprehensive plans for disability policies. To a one, the policies call greater attention than in past elections to problems that affect people with disabilities - including those with autism.

    As of 3 March, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is the only Democratic candidate who has not released a policy. For a comparison of the various plans, click on each candidate's photo - to the left on your desktop, or at the bottom of the article if you're reading this on your mobile device - to see where they stand on the issues.

    Compared with the Trump administration, most of the Democratic primary hopefuls' platforms are also more favorable for autistic people and autism researchers, promising to provide more money for research and public-health funding. Read on...

  • Enlarged amygdala linked to severe behavioral problems in autistic girls
  • Autistic children who have behavioral problems tend to have an enlarged right amygdala, a brain region that helps process emotions and detect threats. And in young girls with autism, the region's size is associated with the severity of these problems.

    The findings come from a study of 300 autistic children aged 2 to 3 years1. They could help doctors be on the alert for psychiatric problems in autistic children early on, the researchers say.

    "I think this is meaningful because they're only 3," says lead investigator Christine Wu Nordahl, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California, Davis MIND Institute. "Things like anxiety and depression don't get diagnosed usually until much later, maybe early adolescence or so." Read on...

  • Study shows LGBTQ+ individuals with autism have greater health disparities than peers
  • Individuals with disabilities or who identify as LGBTQ+ often encounter difficulties in navigating the American health care system. A new study from the University of Kansas has found that people with autism spectrum disorder who identify as LGBTQ+ have greater health disparities than their peers, including being denied service or being told by doctors they couldn't be transgender because autism would prevent them from understanding their own sexuality.

    The study also found these individuals had higher rates of mental illness, smoking and poorer overall health, despite having higher educational attainment than their peers. That finding counters a large body of research showing higher education normally correlates with better health outcomes. Overall, the findings indicate medical professionals and policymakers have much work to do in recognizing and addressing the health care needs of individuals with autism, those from gender and sexual minorities and the intersectionality of these identities. Read on...

  • FDA bans shock device used on mentally disabled patients
  • Federal officials on Wednesday banned electrical shock devices used to discourage aggressive, self-harming behavior in patients with mental disabilities.

    The announcement from the Food and Drug Administration follows years of pressure from patient groups and mental health experts who have called the treatment outdated, ineffective and unethical. The agency first announced its intent to ban the devices in 2016.

    For years, the shock devices have been used by only one place in the U.S., the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center of Canton, Massachusetts, a residential school for people with autism and other psychiatric, developmental or mental disabilities. 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.

  • Teen Social Group
  • Friday, March 6, 2020 at 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    Autism Society San Diego
    4699 Murphy Canyon Rd, San Diego, California 92123

    Join us for this monthly opportunity for teens on the Autism spectrum to make friends and socialize in a comfortable, non-judgmental environment. This is a monthly social group and is open to teens aged 13-17 years old. Meetings will be staffed by an Autism Society San Diego parent-volunteer. Please RSVP through Meetup or FaceBook. Pizza will be provided.

    PLEASE NOTE THAT A PARENT OR OTHER ADULT OVER 18 MUST BE PRESENT FOR THIS EVENT. There will be space available for parents to meet and socialize as well.

  • Parent Training: Exploring Role of Advocacy in Special Education and the IEP Process
  • Saturday, March 28th
    10:00 AM to 1:30 PM
    Mission Valley Library
    Community Room
    2123 Fenton Parkway
    San Diego, CA 92108

    Let us know you're coming!
    Phone: 858-430-8166

  • Adult Circle Purim Fiesta
  • Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
    Friendship Circle of San Diego
    16934 Chabad Way, Poway, California 92064

    Adult Circle members are invited to a Purim Fiesta! Join us for food, music, and come in costume for a fun Mexican theme.
    $5 per person
    Location given upon RSVP.
    (858) 487-4879 or

  • 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

  • Autism One Conference in Chicago
  • The most rewarding educational and networking experience you can have at any autism conference!

    An exceptional value as you gather new hope, answers, help, and direction.

    This conference will help you answer and understand important concepts:

    --Recovery from autism is possible and children get better!
    --There are medical comorbidities of autism that, when treated, allow the child to enjoy improved learning and behavior

    The AutismOne 2020 Conference will be held May 20-24, 2020, at the Loews Chicago O'Hare Hotel in Rosemont, IL. Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • Parents Advocating Together Meeting on March 11th
  • Come to our free Monthly Parent meetings. Join us at IHOP to meet other parents who have children with special needs. Get your IEP/Regional Center/IHSS questions answered by our advocates.

    16759 Bernardo Center Drive
    San Diego, CA 92128

    Please RSVP to this email or call 858-213-8005 so we can give IHOP an estimate of how many people to expect.

  • STEAM Camp
  • A four-day extravaganza of hands-on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math! Plus daily Bible stories and music.

    Monday June 29 - Thursday July 2
    Ages 4 - entering 6th grade
    9am - 12:30pm
    $75 includes t-shirt (scholarships available)

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

  • Shawn Richardson Life Coaching
  • Shawn Richardson is a mom to a young adult son living with autism and a certified life coach specializing in families with special needs. Her work with clients is pioneering and centers in healing the challenging emotions and hurt that we parents sometimes feel, reframing our personal narrative in a healthier emotional state, acceptance where that is needed, and action planning when that would be supportive. Reach out to her at

  • Xcite Steps Behavior & Therapy Center's Grand Opening
  • March 19th 5 to 8pm
    9245 Activity Rd., Ste. 106
    San Diego, CA 92126

    Join Xcite Steps as we welcome your family to our Grand Opening. You will have a chance to see all that our new facility has to offer! RSVP HERE!!!

  • Dan's Place March Pop Up - Southwest
  • Sunday, March 15, 2020 at 5 PM - 7 PM
    Dan's Place Kosher Restaurant
    16934 Chabad Way, Poway, California 92064

    Dan's Place was created to give the adult and young adult community with special needs the chance to learn vocational skills in the hospitality industry. Each participant commits to learning a position within the restaurant such as chef, server, host and more! Volunteers assist alongside each participant as they practice from setup to cleanup and everything in between.

    Led by Head Chef Amy Nisen, and Creative Director Mina Cohen, each Restaurant Staff member has the chance to be a part of something fun and educational.

    Click here to purchase your $25 for adults tickets!!!

  • Challenger Division Football and Cheer
  • We are a youth football and cheer organization that services the East County area (Alpine, El Cajon, Granite Hills, Rancho San Diego, etc.) We would love to have as many special needs kids from 5-18 years old involved in football and cheer in our Challenger division. It is very affordable ($50) for the season and we provide the uniform. Register at

  • Scholarship Application Open
  • It's that time of the year again. Each year The Foundation for Developmental Disabilities provides funding through the Raymond M. Peterson Scholarship, a resource for the leaders of tomorrow. This scholarship is for those individuals who are attending or planning to attend college in San Diego in the field of psychology or social work. Recipients receive funding ranging from $500 to $3,000. To learn more about the Scholarship program and to download an application please click here.

    The due date for the 2020 application is April 10th.

  • Sensory Sunday Family Time with Heart and Hooves Therapy
  • Sunday, March 29, 2020 at 11 AM - 12:30 PM
    Mission Valley Library
    2123 Fenton Pkwy, San Diego, California 92108

    In collaboration with Autism Society San Diego, Mission Valley Library welcomes families with children who have special needs to a sensory-friendly show featuring a mini-horse! Recommended for children ages 3-10, this interactive program will feature a fun story, a horse show-and-tell, as well as a chance to meet, greet, and paint a horse with bright colors! After the show, families can explore the library, check out items, or enjoy the sunny patio. Regular Sunday hours for the general public start at 12:30. No registration is required. You can prepare your child for this program by using the Social Story, available as a PDF download here.

  • 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.