Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. March 15, 2019

In This Issue

Please Share This Newsletter and Facebook Page!!!

Report: Low-income and minority youth with autism face worse outcomes than peers

Trump budget pitches capping seniors' out-of-pocket drug costs, cutting NIH funding

A Qualitative Exploration of the Female Experience of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Researchers pan blood test for autism as premature for clinical use

Autistic children thrive at Alexa's Playc in San Diego

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Cara Lucier & Associates

How to Make a Haircut a Breeze for a Child with Special Needs!

No Wait for RDI at Family Guidance

Children's Theatre Workshops at PACT

Therapeutic Approach to Growth Offering Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) & More!

NFAR Mom's Group - Wednesday, March 20th

Engage & Connect at Kid Ventures

Camps and Enrichment Programs

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

3rd Round of Lil' Athletes Soccer Starts March 23rd!

Mito 5K Fundraiser for Mitochondrial Disease Research

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!

  • Report: Low-income and minority youth with autism face worse outcomes than peers
  • Youth with autism are growing up in a world where awareness of autism and expectations for full inclusion in society are increasing. Today, one in 59 children have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder and no two youth with ASD are alike, their service and support needs vary and continually change as they age.

    However, there are few current national statistics about the characteristics and needs of this growing and changing population. Such statistics are needed to ensure policies and programs are appropriately matched to the evolving needs of youth on the autism spectrum. This is where the National Autism Indicators Reports by Drexel University's A.J. Drexel Autism Institute come into play, a series that has been produced since 2015.

    The recently released fourth edition, "The 2018 National Autism Indicators Report: High School Students on the Autism Spectrum," highlights the challenges facing minority youth and those from low-income households. Autism occurs in children from all backgrounds. But the impacts of autism are not felt equally across all groups. Youth from poorer households have fewer choices for services, fewer opportunities for work experiences and generally worse outcomes across a wide range of indicators. Minority youth often face obstacles accessing needed care and experience worse outcomes in many realms. Read on...

  • Trump budget pitches capping seniors' out-of-pocket drug costs, cutting NIH funding
  • The White House on Monday proposed capping out-of-pocket prescription drug expenses for seniors covered by Medicare, re-emphasizing Trump administration support for a concept endorsed both by pharmaceutical companies and congressional Democrats.

    The proposal came within President Trump's draft budget proposal - a document that also calls for a roughly $5.5 billion funding cut for the National Institutes of Health, despite the recent announcement of research and public health initiatives to end new HIV transmissions by 2030 and develop new treatments for childhood cancer.

    The White House budget does not carry the weight of law and, in the past decade, has often gone largely ignored by Congress. While symbolic, the document is seen instead as a yearly opportunity for the administration to identify its spending priorities to Congress. Read on...

  • A Qualitative Exploration of the Female Experience of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • business_finance_research.jpg

    Autism spectrum disorder is thought to be a predominantly male diagnosis, however recent research suggests a smaller gender disparity in prevalence than previously assumed. Accounts of the female experience of autism are important to help reduce likely male-bias in current understanding and recognition of autism. Eighteen autistic females and four mothers of autistic females took part in discussions with a topic guide around diagnosis, impact and coping. A thematic analysis was conducted. Five themes were identified: fitting in the with the norm, potential obstacles for autistic women and girls, negative aspects of autism, the perspective of others, and positive aspects of having autism. We hope that greater understanding of the experiences of autistic females may lead to improved awareness, diagnosis and support for women and girls. Read on...

  • Researchers pan blood test for autism as premature for clinical use
  • Doctors can now order a blood test that its makers say may help flag autism, but experts say the test is not appropriate for use in clinics. The test may even delay children's diagnoses, according to one expert, and at an added expense to parents.

    Wisconsin-based Stemina Biomarker Discovery, made the test available 1 November. The test measures proportions of blood metabolites and is based on a September study funded by Stemina1. The company's staff declined to provide sales figures but say they receive, on average, one inquiry a day from interested doctors.

    The promise of a biological test for autism has long interested - but eluded - scientists. Still, although Stemina's test may be useful as a research tool, experts say, the evidence so far does not support its use for screening for or diagnosing autism. Read on...

  • Autistic children thrive at Alexa's Playc in San Diego
  • There is a unique early education program in San Diego run by Rady Children's Hospital that is changing young lives. It's a place where autistic children can thrive alongside their typically developing peers.

    Alexa's Playc is a program of Rady Children's Hospital and is for kids18 months through kindergarten-age.

    "Alexa's Playc is an inclusion preschool program for children with autism and also for typically developing children," said behavior specialist Nora Comacho.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 110 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

    "I've seen that children with autism are more likely sometimes to learn from peers than adults trying to teach them something,"" said Comacho. 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.

  • Cara Lucier & Associates
  • At Cara Lucier & Associates we believe in the ability of every person to reach their potential. We believe that education is the key to opportunity. We advocate for the rights of individuals and their families:

    • IEP team meetings
    • Mediation
    • Due Process Hearings and Appeals
    • 504 Meetings and Appeals
    • Regional Center Meetings and Appeals
    • IHSS Appeals
    • Civil Rights Litigation
    For a free 60-minute initial consultation, please contact us at (760)505-2498.

    Law Offices of Cara Lucier
    Civil Rights and Education Law
    701 Palomar Airport Road, Suite #300
    Carlsbad, CA 92011
    Phone: (760) 717-3451

  • How to Make a Haircut a Breeze for a Child with Special Needs!
  • Join Gateway Learning Group and tHAIRapy Hair Salon to learn how to make your child with special need's next haircut a breeze! Families will learn easy to use tips and tricks to implement prior to and during a haircut to reduce stress and anxiety for your child. In addition, tHAIRapy Salon will provide a discount rate for your next visit. Children are encouraged to come and explore the fun and engaging salon!

    The seminar will cover:
    *Q&A with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst
    *Complimentary Social Story
    *Discount for Your Next Haircut

    Monday, March 25th, 2019 from 5:30-6:30 pm
    tHAIRapy Salon
    3405 Kenyon Street, Suite 112, San Diego, CA 92110
    This event and parking are FREE!
    RSVP: To save your seat, email Kelly at by 3/21/19.

    Kelly Majestic Eales, BCBA, Gateway Learning Group
    Justin Waldman, BCBA, Gateway Learning Group
    Amy Mullins, Owner, tHAIRapy Salon

    About Gateway Learning Group: Gateway is a leading provider of autism and behavior intervention services in Northern and Southern California. Gateway Learning Group's direct therapy programs are organized on behalf of children and their families, often in collaboration with school districts, regional centers, and health insurance providers.

  • 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

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

  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth Offering Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) & More!
  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth believes that every individual is unique and has the potential for significant growth. We assume and foster competence while honoring family values and priorities. Our holistic approach is built upon trusting, supportive relationships and collaboration between disciplines and families.

    We specializing in the development and implementation of individualized comprehensive programs utilizing Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), Occupational Therapy, Sensory Integration, Sensory Processing, Applied Behavior Analysis, Art Therapy, and Life Balance Yoga Therapy.

    Offering support in the San Diego, Carlsbad, Orange County, and the Inland Empire.

    In addition to supporting our clients directly, we offer guidance to parents, grandparents, therapists, teachers, siblings, school staff, babysitters etc.

    Therapeutic Approach to Growth
    (858) 689-2027

  • NFAR Mom's Group - Wednesday, March 20th
  • 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
    **NEW LOCATION**Filippi's Pizza Grotto
    5353 Kearny Villa Rd
    San Diego, CA 92123
    Dinner: Pizza, Salad. Dinner is provided

    These meetings are for Moms to come together in a fun and relaxed setting. The group will meet the 3rd Wednesday of the month for dinner and guest speakers. It's an opportunity to share resources, experiences and enjoy being with other moms of individuals with autism.

    March Topic: My Life With Autism

    Please join us for this special NFAR Mom's Group as Ethan shares his experiences of growing up with autism.

    Guest Speaker: Ethan Hirschberg, Professional Blogger and Motivational Speaker

    Ethan Hirschberg is a teenager with High Functioning Autism. In March 2017, he started a blog called The Journey Through Autism where he shares his personal experiences, insights, and advice to individuals on the spectrum, parents, caregivers, educators, and providers. Ethan is also a motivational speaker and entrepreneur who loves to educate, advocate, and inspire others regarding Autism Spectrum Disorders.

  • 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"

  • 3rd Round of Lil' Athletes Soccer Starts March 23rd!
  • Please contact Family Wellness Center at 858-634-8300 or email

  • Mito 5K Fundraiser for Mitochondrial Disease Research
  • My name is Christina Whaley. Both of my daughters were born with Mitochondrial Disease, which is a disease where which the cell's mitochondria are not functioning, leading to a depletion of energy in the body. This can cause seizures, inability to walk or talk, developmental delays, and tragically short lifespans. Additionally, the cause behind Mitochondrial Disease is also the cause of many other diseases such as Autism, so finding a cure for Mitochondrial Disease will mean a cure for most of the diseases and disorders we know of today.

    When my daughters were diagnosed and I was informed of their tragically short lifespan expectancy, I had two options: I could either sit down, cry, and wait for the end, or I could get up and do something about their grim prognosis. I chose the latter and founded the UC San Diego Mitochondrial Disease Research Fund. 100% of the money generated goes directly towards funding Dr. Naviaux's research at UC San Diego, and our efforts have proved to be fruitful! Because Autism has the same underlying cause as Mitochondrial Disease, in 2017, Dr. Naviaux understood the mitochondrial mechanisms behind Autism and found a highly effective treatment for it, turning nonverbal children with Autism into neurotypicals once he administered his drug, Suramin. Currently, he is working on expanding the study with more participants, and eventually making the treatment widely available. For more details about the study, click this link.

    However, science research is costly, and we need to continue help him by funding his research. My foundation hosts various events and fundraisers throughout the year to both raise awareness for Mitochondrial Disease and to raise funds for Dr. Naviaux's trailblazing research.

    Our annual Mito 5k is coming up on May 18 at NTC Park in Liberty Station, and we hope to gain more participants and sponsors each year. Here is a video of last year's event so you can get a better idea of what the 5k is like. Click here to view brochure.

  • 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.