Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. March 19, 2019

In This Issue

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Amy Schumer Reveals Husband Chris Fischer Is on the Autism Spectrum

Autism diagnosis often followed by identification of other conditions

Meet Richie Smith - A Remarkable Man With Big Ambitions

To the Parent Who Asked, 'Was My Child Born With Autism?'

How Temple Grandin inspired me after receiving an autism diagnosis

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

TACA San Diego's 3rd Annual IEP Day

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

NFAR Mom's Group - Wednesday, March 20th

Engage & Connect at Kid Ventures

Functional Integrated Therapeutic Services New Office Grand Opening

D'Vine Path Newsletter

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

Mindful Heroes Networking Event / Resource Fair

Mozart & the Mind


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  • Amy Schumer Reveals Husband Chris Fischer Is on the Autism Spectrum
  • Amy Schumer is getting personal in her new Netflix special.

    The 37-year-old comedian gets candid about her pregnancy, marriage and more in the upcoming Amy Schumer: Growing, which hits Netflix on Tuesday. During the hour-long special, she reveals that her husband, Chris Fischer, is on the autism spectrum.

    "I knew from the beginning that my husband's brain was a little different than mine," she tells the crowd during the special, which was filmed in Chicago."I have to start this over because I really want to get this right because I love him very much."

    "My husband was diagnosed with what used to be called Asperger's. He has autism spectrum disorder. He's on the spectrum. And there were some signs early on," Schumer says, before telling a story of how her husband reacted abnormally to her falling down during a walk together. "Nine out of 10 people would go, 'Oh my god, are you OK?!' Maybe more like 10 out of 10 people...Instead, my husband went-- He kind of froze and became a lighthouse, opening and closing his mouth." Read on...

  • Autism diagnosis often followed by identification of other conditions

  • Behavioral conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) crop up in about one in three autistic people within 15 years of their autism diagnosis. About 20 percent of autistic people are diagnosed with anxiety in that time period.

    A study of nearly 6 million people reveals the onset and prevalence of nine such diagnoses that often accompany autism1.

    The work, which includes 30,423 people with autism, is the largest to focus on psychiatric and developmental conditions that occur together.

    Most of the findings fit with prior research. For example, the ADHD finding jibes with several smaller studies reporting that roughly one in three people with autism has ADHD. But the new analysis draws on an unprecedented amount of data. Read on...

  • Meet Richie Smith - A Remarkable Man With Big Ambitions
  • Richie Smith is a managing director of Awesometistic, a unique autism training business. Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at 33 years old, Richie's goal is to generate autism understanding and acceptance wherever he goes.

    Can you share with me what life was like growing up without an official autism diagnosis?
    Growing up without a diagnosis of autism was difficult. I struggled immensely with everyday life and didn't understand where I fit into the world. I did all these different behaviors that at the time I didn't understand, but struggled to stop. Growing up not having answers for the way I was acting was really scary, and it did affect my confidence. I had to hide away and compress everything deep inside.

    This helped me become self-aware of what my body was needing, and I have learned a lot about myself and become very self-aware. This meant I could take myself away into a place where no one was giving me what I needed, which allowed me almost to reset my system. I feel this put me in a very good position as an adult to help families, businesses, schools or the general public learn more about ASD and how they can change their environment or their behavior to help people with autism. Read on...

  • To the Parent Who Asked, 'Was My Child Born With Autism?'
  • When you told me about your child, when you first saw signs of autism in them right around their 2nd birthday, you looked at me with tears running down your face. You told me that was the first time you got him a diagnosis and how relieved you were finally to know what it was so you could help.

    You then asked me, "Do you think my child was born with autism? Was it something I did? What could I have done differently?"

    I didn't know what to tell you at that time. It reminded me of a time before when I was again speechless when a parent had asked me what will happen to their child when I'm gone. I believe it's these types of questions that are always the most difficult and most sensitive for our community to answer.

    I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. How I started telling you there is no medical detection or cure for autism today and how if you've met one child with autism, you've met one child with autism. Then I started to tell you about my story. How I was nonverbal until I was 2 and a half, had regressed shortly after that and how I was diagnosed with autism at 4. Read on...

  • How Temple Grandin inspired me after receiving an autism diagnosis
  • As an over-forty college graduate, I attributed my difficulties to complex childhood trauma. Although I was in therapy for PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder, I become discouraged. No matter how hard I struggled to "normalize" my emotional regulation, something always felt "off" inside. Jumping at sudden sounds was a common symptom of PTSD. However, I could not stand to be around crowds or any noises that were unexpected or conflicting. After my diagnosis of Autism in 2013, I suddenly had a word to anchor my reality.

    Shortly after receiving my diagnosis, I went to the beach for a much-deserved vacation. Shells have always fascinated me with their intricate shapes and patterns. Some of my favorites are those broken hundreds of years ago and worn smooth of jagged edges by the push and pull of the ocean's tides. I could relate to broken shells far better than I could relate to other humans. That was until (while sitting in the hotel room sorting through my newly acquired treasures) a movie began playing on the freebie channel: Temple Grandin. Pushing aside shards of rose, coral, and ivory, I grabbed my pillow. Two hours later, my feet sat us down on a new planet. SOMEONE ELSE understood what it was like to be me! I was no longer alone. 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

  • TACA San Diego's 3rd Annual IEP Day
  • Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    RBCPC Lower Fireside Room
    Speakers: Cara Lucier, Esq., Thomas Nelson, Esq, Special Education Advocates Alishia Goyette and Shannon Primer

    Come be a part of TACA SD's 3rd Annual IEP Day Workshop. Learn as much as possible to prepare for your child's IEP Meeting. The IEP (Individualized Education Program) is the foundation for your child's education, and you are a very important member of the team that develops it. Increase your knowledge so that you can be an active, prepared member of your child's IEP team. RSVP to save your chair at this very-knowledgeable table. If you are new to TACA, you'll receive the Autism Journey Guide as a take-home resource. We will have short presentation by the attorneys followed by direct support from the 2 attorneys and 2 advocates for your loved ones IEP. Remember to bring the IEP to receive maximum support.

  • 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!

  • Functional Integrated Therapeutic Services New Office Grand Opening
  • Come join us for our Grand Opening March 21st. We provide in clinic services to children of all needs. Our services include Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis, and other enrichment programs.

  • D'Vine Path Newsletter
  • A dynamic program for adults with autism, developmental delays and/or learning disabilities, providing vocational and life skills development in viticulture, agriculture & arts in the Fallbrook/Bonsall area. Click here to read their latest newsletter!!!

  • 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.

  • Mindful Heroes Networking Event / Resource Fair
  • Mindful Heroes is a networking event and resource fair for families and professionals who are passionate about raising mindful and conscious youth. This event is perfect for you if you are interested in meeting mindful families or connecting with local mindful family-oriented services. There will be a speaker, raffle prizes, food and more!

    We are offering a special discount for Val's List readers, enter the code "valslist" at check out for 50% off your ticket!

  • Mozart & the Mind
  • May 30 - June 2
    On June 1 and June 2, keynote speakers are Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Susan Baum

    For all the info and to purchase tickets, click 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" 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.

  • 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.