Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. March 12, 2019

In This Issue

Please Share This Newsletter and Facebook Page!!!

Quick Tips for Potty Training Children With Autism and Special Needs

Long-term Risk of Neuropsychiatric Disease After Exposure to Infection In Utero

Everyone Should Hear What This Man With Autism Has to Say About Love

Drugs that modify gene expression show promise for autism

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

NFAR's Race for Autism! Saturday April 6th in Balboa Park

NFAR Men's Group - Thursday, March 14th

Yvette M. Soto Accounting & Income Tax

Children's Theatre Workshops at PACT

FDA Approved Therapy for Anxiety!

Profile On Employment: Spectrum Designs Foundation

Engage & Connect at Kid Ventures

Camps and Enrichment Programs

Wanting to hear from Anthem CA families who were denied ABA therapy

Webinar: "Implementing Augmentative-Alternative Communication (AAC) With Your Child"

TACA Name Change and Meetings this Week on March 14th

Accepting Applications for NFAR Tech's Program Starting in April

9th Annual ONEHOPE


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!

  • Quick Tips for Potty Training Children With Autism and Special Needs
  • The subject of potty training or toilet training, simple as it seems, can be anything but easy for children with autism or special needs. This milestone is one that all parents strive for as it is an important part of a child's development.

    The current advice from many pediatricians is that you should begin to potty train a child from around the age of three to four years, encouraging your child to sit on the potty several times a day in order to make the transition from nappies to using a toilet.

    For parents with a child with special needs and autism, this milestone may seem unachievable. My own experience as a pediatrician for more than two decades has shown me that for most children with special needs or autism, becoming toilet trained is an achievable and realistic goal. Read on...

  • Long-term Risk of Neuropsychiatric Disease After Exposure to Infection In Utero
  • Question Does exposure to maternal infection during pregnancy increase the long-term risk for major psychiatric disorders in the child?

    Findings In this Swedish population-based cohort study of children born between 1973 and 2014, exposure to infection in pregnancy significantly increased the risk for autism spectrum disorder and depression.

    Meaning Maternal infection during pregnancy may be responsible for some portion of autism and depression in childhood and adulthood among the exposed offspring. Read on...

  • Everyone Should Hear What This Man With Autism Has to Say About Love
  • This man on the spectrum has some thoughts on love that everyone should hear.

    Bryan Chandler is an autism advocate who runs the Asperger's Syndrome Awareness: Bryan's Advocacy Facebook page, which has nearly 190,000 likes.

    Chandler was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was 23 and he now uses his platform to raise awareness and to talk about all the different ways being on the spectrum affects his life.

    Most recently, Chandler tackled the myth that people with autism can't feel love.

    On Monday, February 22, Chandler shared a post on his page talking about the love he feels for his boyfriend, Martyn, who also has Asperger's syndrome. Read on...

  • Drugs that modify gene expression show promise for autism
  • An experimental compound that blocks two enzymes involved in gene expression improves social behavior in young mice, according to a new study1. The mice carry a mutation in SHANK3, a top risk gene for autism.

    Last year, the same team reported that a cancer drug alleviates social problems in SHANK3 mice. Both compounds alter gene expression by modifying chromatin, the complex coil of DNA and protein.

    Together, the studies suggest that the control of gene expression offers promising targets for treating different forms of autism, says lead researcher Zhen Yan, professor of physiology and biophysics at the State University of New York in Buffalo. "Targeting these fundamental mechanisms may have a broad and far-reaching impact," she says. Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • 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

    Professional Office Available for Sublet

    Ideal opportunity for advocate, attorney, or professional. Large private office available with peek ocean views in Carlsbad. Includes wifi, use of conference room, lobby, and children's play area. $500 per month. Preferably someone who cares about and helps people with disabilities.

    Please contact Cara at

    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's Race for Autism! Saturday April 6th in Balboa Park
  • On Saturday, April 6, 2019, we are celebrating the 15th annual San Diego Race for Autism Superhero 5K in Balboa Park.

    This family friendly event attracts thousands of local SUPERHEROES, big and small, to Balboa Park each year and directly supports programs that help individuals with autism and their families in San Diego. To date, the Race has funded over 900 community programs and classrooms.

    NFAR's Technical Training Programs
    NFAR's newest programs are helping to address the growing concern of what individuals with autism will do once they graduate/transition out of the educational system, (unemployment rate for those with autism is 85%) and offers a crucial pathway from the educational system to meaningful employment.

    NFAR Tech is a comprehensive vocational training program teaching quality assurance processes in software testing. Since 2016, 52 young adults have completed this 7 month program, with 75% being placed into paid work internships at companies in San Diego.

    In addition, NFAR is also now offering NFAR Codes classes in software coding.
    And coming soon NFAR Works, a new vocational program to include a broader range of individuals and interests.

    Sign Up Today and be a HERO for those with autism, Race for Autism 2019!

    $30 per person thru March 15

    You can invite friends and family to join you and continue to build your teams at the low price of just $30 per person. This flat fee includes timing fees and larger T-shirt prices.

    ALREADY HAVE A TEAM? Those that have already created a Justice League Team can add persons at this special rate in groups of five persons or more.

    NEW TEAM? To create a Justice League Team, please call us at 858-679-8800. This price applies to teams of 15 persons or more.

    But don't wait.

    The Justice League team special is available now through Friday, March 15th when the Justice Leauge Team special ends.

    Thank you for being HEROES for those with autism!

  • NFAR Men's Group - Thursday, March 14th
  • Thursday, March 14th
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
    **Filippi's Pizza Grotto
    5353 Kearny Villa Rd
    San Diego, CA 92123
    Dinner: Pizza, Salad. Dinner is provided

    The Men's Group is for dads, step dads, and granddads helping to raise a child with autism. We offer dinner, guest speakers and a chance to network with other men in a relaxed setting.

    March Topic: "What Working with those with Autism has Taught Me"

    After working with over 100 young adults with autism, Juan shares his thoughts on the challenges, the successes and how to best prepare your child for the path forward.

    Guest Speaker: Juan Leon, Director of NFAR's Technical Training Programs

    Juan Leon is the co-founder for the National Foundation for Autism Research and the Director of NFAR's technical training programs for young adults.

    Juan holds a Mechanical Engineering Degree from the University of California San Diego and a MBA from the Stanford Business School. Juan has worked with high tech Fortune 500 Companies for over 20 years, overseeing off-shore operations and quality control of high tech products throughout Asia. He has first-hand experience in the product development cycle from idea conceptions to the retail marketplace, working with manufacturers like Hewlett-Packard and Sony and retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon.

    Juan recognizes the strengths and talents of those on the autism spectrum and is working to open up new and expanded opportunities for them.

    To RSVP

  • Yvette M. Soto Accounting & Income Tax
  • 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.

    I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting from the University of San Diego and have more than 20 years of experience in accounting. Before opening up my business I worked as a Staff Accountant for several local CPA firms. I was also was an Accountant/Office Manager for an owner operator of 20+ McDonald's franchises, a Controller of a manufacturing company, an Accounting Manager for a home builder and was in charge of running a local bookkeeping and income tax firm. I am also a Notary Public and speak Spanish.

    I can navigate the tax ramifications of receiving public benefits and credits for special needs because I have twins with Autism. This allows me to provide a very personal level of service because I understand the needs of these families. I enjoy volunteering for local Autism charities and mentor families of newly diagnosed children.

    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 M. Soto Accounting & Income Tax
    3633 Camino Del Rio South, Suite 205
    San Diego, CA. 92108
    Phone (619) 977-6586

  • Children's Theatre Workshops at PACT
  • Contact PACT at 760-815-8512 or email

  • FDA Approved Therapy for Anxiety!
  • Safer Than Prescription Medication for Anxiety and ADHD/ADD and the Effects are Permanent!

    Microcurrent 4 Kids is San Diego's premiere pediatric microcurrent therapy program for children, teens and adults with special needs. Our program is the BEST therapy for Autism & ADHD, as you will see by the rapid improvement in your child's skills and abilities, because of how well it promotes developmental growth and couples with ALL other therapies.

    Some of the neuro-developmental issues we commonly see include:

    • Autism/Asperger's
    • Anxiety
    • Sensory Processing Disorder
    • Depression
    • ADD/ADHD
    • Tourette's Syndrome
    • Developmental Delay
    • Epilepsy
    • And many more!
    Call 858-367-9108 for your free consultation!!!

    Microcurrent 4 Kids
    4540 Kearny Villa Road, Ste. 211
    San Diego, CA 92123

  • Profile On Employment: Spectrum Designs Foundation
  • Spectrum Designs Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting Autism employment. Spectrum operates three social enterprises - custom apparel and promotional items (, gourmet granola ( and a boutique laundry (

    All profits go towards advancing our mission - to help individuals with Autism lead productive and meaningful lives through the world of work. We design, produce and sell customized printed apparel (via screen print, digital print and embroidery), gourmet granola products and laundry services.

    How did Spectrum Designs start?

    Spectrum Designs Foundation began in 2011 in a 1-room barn in Co-Founder, Stella Spanakos' backyard. Stella's son, Nicholas (who inspired the organization) is a young man with Autism. When Nicholas was in Middle School, Stella began researching opportunities that would be available to her son as school-based programs finished at age 21. She was not encouraged with the day programs she saw which offered limited education, vocational training, social interaction or productivity. She knew these young men and women were deserving and, given the opportunity and support, were capable of so much more. Read on...

  • Engage & Connect at Kid Ventures
  • Spring Session

    Engage & Connect is a program for the whole family of children with autism, ages 2 - 8 years of age.

    Activities include circle time, motor activities, and fun activities meant to increase communication and social skills, in a fun filled, creative environment.

    To find out more, or to sign up on our interest list for our Spring session (May), please contact us at, and give us your name, and the name and age for each child.

    It's a way to engage and connect for the whole family! Click here for more info!

  • Camps and Enrichment Programs

  • Good news!
    There is a plethora of inclusion and special needs camps in San Diego. Click here to see the list!!!

  • Wanting to hear from Anthem CA families who were denied ABA therapy

  • (Note from editor: I received this notice from Karen Fessel, Dr PH
    Executive Director and Founder
    Mental Health and Autism Insurance Project for sharing.)

    "I am an attorney representing a young man with autism who was denied coverage for ABA therapy at age 15 by Anthem because he was too old and because Anthem believed ABA was "not likely" to benefit him. All of my client's doctors believed, and still believe, that ABA is medically necessary to treat his autism.

    So, my client is suing Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Cross of California, alleging that his insurers have a pattern and practice of unfairly denying ABA therapy in order to save money. To prove those allegations, my client needs to show these practices are widespread and affect many people.

    Anthem denial letters citing: 1) age; 2) intellectual limitations/disability; and/or 3) the "likely" benefit of ABA as a reason for denying coverage are of particular interest to us. Also, we are looking into patterns of denials written by the following Anthem reviewers:

    Timothy Jack, M.D.;
    William Fenton
    Marina Bussel, M.D.; and
    Paul Keith, M.D.

    If you or your family members have had a similar experience with Anthem and would like to share your story, please reach out to my office. My office phone number is 310-552-3800 ext 300, and my email address is (Please do not publish any medical or other private information in response to this posting without proper permission.)

    Thank you,
    Michael P. Lewis, Esq.
    Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack"

  • Webinar: "Implementing Augmentative-Alternative Communication (AAC) With Your Child"
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    This webinar will provide information on the 3 main steps to teaching your child to use augmentative-alternative communication:

    * Model - Using Aided Language Stimulation to model language using picture-based communication

    * Core Words - Using core words which are the key words in language for children and adults

    * Genuine communication- Using real messages to reflect what the child wants to say, not just what answers we want them to give

    * Keep moving - Moving beyond single words or two-word phrases.

    Featuring Susan Berkowitz, M.S.-C.C.C.,SLP, M.Ed. Best-selling author of "Make the Connection!: A Practical Guide to Parents and Practitioners for Teaching the Nonverbal Child to Communicate - with AAC"

    Join us by registering at

    The webinar will air on March 26th at 12:00 noon and will repeat on March 28th at 7:00 pm.

  • TACA Name Change and Meetings this Week on March 14th
  • "I am excited to share with you the launch of our new name: The Autism Community in Action. The great news: we are still TACA! More great news: the new name better describes what we do.

    As we launch into our 19th year, I know what TACA does best. TACA helps families find solutions along the lifespan of their autism journey..."

    Read more from Lisa Ackerman, TACA's Co-Founder and Executive Director, by clicking here:

    TACA San Diego Chapter is having three meetings this week all on March 14th in different areas of San Diego:

    North County Coffee Talk in Oceanside

    Rancho Bernardo Coffee Club

    Central San Diego Breakfast Club

  • Accepting Applications for NFAR Tech's Program Starting in April
  • 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.

  • 9th Annual ONEHOPE
  • Be sure to mark your calendar for the 9th Annual ONEHOPE Autism Care Today for Military Families 5k/10k and Family Festival on Saturday, April 20, 2019, to be held at Tecolote Shores Park in San Diego. Formerly known as ACT Today! Autism Care and Treatment, this race has truly become a favorite event among runners, military families, the autism community and families with school-aged children; and we hope you will join the approximately 1,000 + participants for another fun-filled event.

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

  • 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:

  • 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.

  • Beacon's Inc. is Hiring!!!

  • Beacons is hiring a Lead Instructor and Support Staff for our new vocational workshops - 'Beacons Pathfinder Program'. Go to our website for employment opportunities details!

  • 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.

  • Please Participate in Local Research!!!

  • Please click on this link to participate:


    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.