Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. March 20, 2020

In This Issue

Special Needs Parenting in the Age of Pandemic

My autism led me to become a champion of outsiders

Now hiring: What autistic people need to succeed in the workplace

Ed Department Offers More Special Education Guidance Amid COVID-19

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

NEW ISSUE! Flourishing Families 2020

Support for Special Needs Families during School Closures

Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!

37th Annual Involved Exceptional Parents Day

Your Child's Education Comes First

Resources for COVID-19

MicroCurrent 4 Kids is Now a Nonprofit!!

Spring Break Intensive Private Swim Lessons for Students with Autism

Camp I CAN Opens Registration



San Diego Race for Autism Superhero Interactive Virtual Race

Be a SUPERHERO for Autism! Join us in celebrating 16 years of making a difference and changing the futures for thousands with autism in San Diego at the RACE FOR AUTISM SUPERHERO INTERACTIVE VIRTUAL 5K. Grab your cape and run or walk your own course in heroic style on Saturday, March 28, 2020, 7am to 12pm.

Help NFAR continue to change lives and sign up today. 100% of Race donations support San Diego autism programs, services, and hundreds of local classrooms.

DUE TO CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS, the 5K run and 1-mile Walk will now be hosted online at the morning of March 28. The virtual event will feature a VIRTUAL RESOURCE FAIR, photo and video sharing (we still want to see all your great costumes!), prizes, an online race competition, and more surprises. All registrants will receive their Race bib, commemorative medal, t-shirt, and capes for kids through the mail.


thomas nelson

  • Special Needs Parenting in the Age of Pandemic
  • I was on a ship that was headed out of the Gulf after three months of grueling summertime interdiction operations when 9/11 happened. We were extended indefinitely. For months, I spent six out of every 18 hours driving a ship. The other twelve were spent managing an engineering division and trying to find a few hours of sleep. We had no idea how long we would be there. It lasted three months longer than it was supposed to.

    I went 103 days without stepping foot on land.

    It sucked.

    On my next deployment, my team was sent to the most remote part of Africa in which U.S. forces were operating. We were supposed to be there for three weeks. We ended up staying seven months. No internet. No running water. Just a cot, MRE's, a tent and an ongoing war with a troop of baboons who had staked out that territory a few hundred thousand years ago. Read on...

  • My autism led me to become a champion of outsiders
  • Charlotte Amelia Poe grew up knowing she was different. Now it's her mission - through her art and writing - to bring about change

    For artist and writer Charlotte Amelia Poe, 30, every day feels like a walk across a frozen pond. "It's how it's always been," she explains. "You're trying to navigate it and stay safe, but you're aware that at any moment the ice is likely to crack, and at that point you will sink into the water."

    The worst of it is that, when she feels that way, she has no idea how she can avoid going under. "You think you're doing fine and you're treading carefully enough not to crack the ice. But suddenly you've gone under. You've got it completely wrong - and you've no idea why."

    Poe is describing how it feels to be autistic. She wants the rest of us to understand, she says, because it really matters, perhaps more than it's ever mattered (of which more later). Her mission to break open the mystery of how it feels to be autistic has already been impressively successful: last year she won the Spectrum art prize for her video piece How To Be Autistic and recently she wrote a book of the same name. Her hope is that, by opening up about her own journey through childhood, school and adolescence, she can change other people's perceptions and expectations about what autism is like, from the inside. Read on...

  • Now hiring: What autistic people need to succeed in the workplace
  • Autistic adults have more job opportunities than they used to, and a small neurodiverse workforce is thriving - but mainly at select companies that invest heavily in such employees.

    Adrienne Rutledge graduated from college with a biology degree. She went on to earn a master's degree and then, in various short-lived and contract jobs, picked up programming and data processing, coveted skills in the marketplace. Still, she could not land a fulfilling full-time position. Rutledge is African American and has autism, and she had trouble making it past the interview stage.

    When her contract job ended more than a year ago, she decided to boost her technical expertise and enrolled in a six-week data 'boot camp' with a nonprofit organization based in San Jose, California. She finally got a break when, in March 2019, she presented her project to an audience that included Hiren Shukla, who leads the accounting firm Ernst & Young's Neurodiversity Centers of Excellence. Shukla was so impressed with Rutledge, he immediately invited her to apply for a position in the company. Read on...

  • Ed Department Offers More Special Education Guidance Amid COVID-19
  • As schools across the nation shutter in response to coronavirus, federal officials are giving educators additional insight on how to handle the needs of students with disabilities.

    The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights issued a webinar and fact sheet this week for education leaders aimed at ensuring that students' civil rights are upheld while schools are closed due to COVID-19.

    The webinar reminds school officials that distance learning must be accessible unless "equally effective alternate access is provided." 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.

    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.

  • NEW ISSUE! Flourishing Families 2020
  • We're excited to share with you our newly released 2020 issue which is the most comprehensive listing to date, with 1,200 special needs resources in San Diego and Imperial Counties.

    Use the guide to find service providers, research institutes, specialized doctors, resource providers, camps, therapists, advocates, associations and so much more.

    Flourishing Families is available as a print magazine, a digital issue and on so you can access via your mobile phone.

  • Support for Special Needs Families during School Closures
  • In an effort to serve our families and communities better during this time of school closures, we are offering a weekly free Parent Support Group webinar on Sundays at 1p PST. Our hope is to have these weekly not only so we can provide tips on working with your child with special needs from home, but also to build a community so everyone feels supported and less isolated during this uncertain time period.

    Our first week's topic is: We Survived Week 1 of Homeschooling, Now What? Pre-registration is required and we will be recording the webinar for those who cannot attend.

    As a reminder, participants are encouraged to use only first names when entering the webinar. By participating in the webinar, you implicitly and explicitly assume responsibility for maintaining the confidentiality of you and your student. Advocacy Associates Inc. is not liable for any violation of confidentiality occurring during the webinar as your participation is voluntary. This is not a therapeutic support group.

    You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
    When: Mar 22, 2020 01:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
    Topic: We Survived Week 1 of Homeschooling: Now What?

    Register in advance for this webinar:

    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

  • Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!
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    Wondering if your child might benefit from joining a group? Give us a call at 858-558-9552 to schedule a free consultation.

    Social Communication Specialists
    5703 Oberlin Dr., Ste 207
    San Diego, CA 92121
    (858) 558-9552

  • 37th Annual Involved Exceptional Parents Day
  • Keynote Speaker, Kristin Wright, Director
    Special Education Division, CA Department of Education Kristin Wright has spent more than a decade working in education with a focus special Education. Since December 2014, she has worked for the California State Board of Education. Kristin holds a CA Education Specialist Teaching Credential and a Masters in Special Education with a focus on students with moderate to severe disabilities. She is a former special education student teacher, and a mother of a child with disabilities.

    Saturday, April 25, 2020
    7:30a.m. to 3:00p.m.
    Click here for all the info and to register!!!!

  • Your Child's Education Comes First
  • thomas nelson

    Your child is entitled to a "free and appropriate public education" or FAPE, whereby the school addresses all of your child's unique needs. A school district must provide your child with an appropriate education regardless of budget cuts, what's convenient, or what's available. Too often the school district offers a "one size fits all" program that fits within their needs, but not within the unique needs of your child. Ensuring that your child's education comes first means having the right team on your side. An effective team works cooperatively and collaboratively with the school district, using their knowledge, expertise and experience to foster quick and yet effective resolutions.

    An Affordable Approach
    Because of the "Attorney Fee Recovery" provision of the law, we often work with clients on limited incomes. Before concluding that you are unable to afford an attorney, call us for a free evaluation. Knowing your child's rights allows you the ability to direct the next step! Call for a free consultation: 858-945-6621

    About Thomas S. Nelson
    As a practicing attorney for over 25 years, Thomas S. Nelson takes great pride in helping special needs children through affordable advocacy and legal services. Through his advocacy and legal representation, Mr. Nelson helps children get the services they need. With a collaborative approach, Thomas brings years of experience to the table to ensure that all of your child's needs are met so they can reach their fullest potential.

    The Special Education Advocacy & Law Offices of Thomas S. Nelson
    16466 Bernardo Center Drive, Suite 106
    San Diego, California 92128

  • Resources for COVID-19
  • Resources for COVID-19 for People with Developmental Disabilities & Their Families

    Visit Our Coronavirus Resource Page

  • MicroCurrent 4 Kids is Now a Nonprofit!!
  • Microcurrent 4 Kids is now recognized by the IRS as a non-profit (501(c)(3)) corporation! This means that our innovative therapy program for Autism and other neuro-developmental conditions is now accessible to everyone -- regardless of their financial situation!

    Previously our full 3-month program cost upwards of $3000. Understandably, this was unaffordable for many families. Our mission has always been to make a meaningful impact in the lives of kids and families affected by Autism, and so we made the decision to change our structure so that money is not a barrier for families in need to participate in our program.

    Safer than Prescription Medication for Anxiety and ADHD/ADD and the Effects are Permanent!

    FDA Approved Therapy for Anxiety!!!

    MicroCurrent 4 Kids is San Diego's premiere microcurrent therapy program for children, teens and adults with special needs. Our program is the BEST therapy for Autism and ADHD/ADD, 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.

    MicroCurrent 4 Kids
    4540 Kearny Villa Rd. Ste. 211
    San Diego, CA 92123

  • Spring Break Intensive Private Swim Lessons for Students with Autism
  • March 30th - April 3rd, 2020
    Boys and Girls Club
    4635 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
    San Diego, CA. 92117

    During the week of Spring Break, March 30th - April 3rd 2020, Aqua Pros Swim School will be providing a full week of private swim lessons for students with autism.

    The swim lessons will be a half hour long each day Monday March 30th-Friday April 3rd. You will need to register a class time that you will be able to attend for the entire week.

    The cost of the entire week is $125 Non-Members and $50 for current members of the Autism Society San Diego.

    To register or if you have additional questions, please contact Aqua Pros Swim School at:
    Phone: (619) 209-2990

    Non-Refundable Fees are required at the time of registration. In addition, this is a special program and there will be no make-ups or refunds for missed classes.

    Space is limited and registration must be completed by Thursday March 27th at 6PM.

    We hope to see you at the pool!

  • Camp I CAN Opens Registration
  • Registration for Camp I CAN has begun. You can get more information and request registration forms here: Camp I CAN 2020

  • 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.