Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. March 27, 2020

In This Issue

How To Talk About COVID-19 With People Who Have Autism

Growing old with autism

I'm Terrified About What This Pandemic Could Mean for My Child With a Disability

How autism researchers are applying machine-learning techniques

CDC estimate on autism prevalence increases by nearly 10 percent, to 1 in 54 children in the U.S.

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!

Virtual field trips at Monterey Bay Aquarium and San Diego Zoo

Your Child's Education Comes First

Transition Therapy

Participate in a New Survey about Autistic Burnout

Explore 33 National Parks for FREE!

Job Skills and Life Skills at Home

Hope Comprehensive Center for Development

Club Xcite Virtual Academic, Therapy and IEP Related Services

Autism Resources Research

Register Early for Friendship Walk 2020!



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

  • How To Talk About COVID-19 With People Who Have Autism
  • Parents and caretakers of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities such as autism face unique hurtles in communicating about the coronavirus pandemic.

    If you care for someone with a developmental disability that affects their communication skills - something like autism - how do you talk to them about the coronavirus pandemic? NPR's Ashley Westerman had been asking herself that question, so she called someone very close to her. Read on...

  • Growing old with autism
  • For many autistic adults, the golden years are tarnished by poor health, poverty and, in some cases, homelessness. Their plight reveals huge gaps in care.

    Kurt remembers very little of what happened during the 4th of July weekend in 2009. Then 49, he had been in his apartment when all of a sudden he became dizzy, nauseous and unable to speak properly. The right side of his body felt sluggish, so he called a friend to take him to the hospital and then staggered to his bed. (We are withholding Kurt's last name to protect his privacy.)

    When Kurt's friend arrived, he phoned Kurt but got no answer. Peering through a window, the friend spotted Kurt in bed, not moving, so he ran to find the building manager, who let him in.

    The friend helped Kurt to the car and drove him to the hospital, about a mile away in Silver Spring, Maryland. A neurologist there determined that Kurt had had a stroke. His speech was garbled, and he had trouble moving one of his legs. After talking with Kurt, the doctor jotted down an additional diagnosis code - for Asperger syndrome, a form of autism. (The syndrome has since been subsumed into the autism diagnosis.) Read on...

  • I'm Terrified About What This Pandemic Could Mean for My Child With a Disability
  • I have two children with disabilities, and both of them fall under the "at risk" category when it comes to covid-19. My youngest has Down syndrome, and she is immunocompromised. This means that when she gets sick, she gets really sick, and it takes her body much longer to fight sickness.

    The week before our state went into quarantine, she had a fever of over 102. Her doctor asked for us to come in and get her tested. They ran several tests, until the doctor said, "Good news, she has tested positive for strep." She then added, "Not that this is good news, but at least we know what it is." We also knew what it wasn't: covid-19. Read on...

  • How autism researchers are applying machine-learning techniques
  • From identifying a new antibiotic to generating the first-ever image of a black hole, machine learning is changing how scientists approach questions in many fields. Autism researchers are being equally creative, using machine-learning methods to improve diagnosis, classify the condition into subtypes and provide support for people on the spectrum.

    One of the most common applications of machine learning is in making predictions: where and when a hurricane will make landfall, for example, or what the next word in a person's text message might be. One team has applied similar methods to predict which newborns would later be diagnosed with autism. Read on...

  • CDC estimate on autism prevalence increases by nearly 10 percent, to 1 in 54 children in the U.S.
  • Important progress made in key indicators: For the first time, prevalence rates are the same for black and white children, and significant progress made toward number of children receiving developmental screening by age 3.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released today its biennial update of autism's estimated prevalence among the nation's children, based on an analysis of 2016 medical and/or school records of 8-year-olds from 11 monitoring sites across the United States. The new report demonstrates real progress in early screening and diagnosis, the result of more than a decade of awareness and advocacy work by Autism Speaks and other organizations.

    The report reflects a continued increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States. Importantly, for the first time the CDC found no difference in the prevalence rates between black and white children, indicating that gaps in access to screening and diagnosis may be closing. 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.

    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 29, 2020 01:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
    Topic: Check with them.....

    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

  • Virtual field trips at Monterey Bay Aquarium and San Diego Zoo
  • For Aquarium:

    For Zoo:

  • 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

  • Transition Therapy

  • Participate in a New Survey about Autistic Burnout
  • The Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE) is testing a new survey about autistic burnout.

    You may be able to participate in the survey if you:
    * Live in the United States;
    * Can answer an online survey in English, with or without support;
    * Are age 18 or older;
    * Have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum (ASD, autism, Asperger's, or PDD-NOS).

    It will take about an hour to complete the survey.

    If you take part, you will be given an Amazon gift card worth $5.

    To learn more, please contact
    Dora Raymaker
    (503) 725-9634
    PSU IRB#184807

  • Explore 33 National Parks for FREE!
  • I've gathered 33 National Park Tours you can virtually. Yes, that means you can explore National Parks from the comfort of your home and in your pajamas! Click here for all the info!!!

  • Job Skills and Life Skills at Home
  • Job Skills and Life Skills
    Dates: Now through March 30
    Location: Your Computer

    Join us from your computer for this presentation from the National TACA Autism Conference.

    Job Skills and Life Skills is presented by TACA and will give caregivers and parents ideas to help their child with autism work on Job Skills and Life Skills at home.

    Sign in at this link anytime from now until March 30th to obtain password and view this one hour free presentation.

  • Hope Comprehensive Center for Development

  • Club Xcite Virtual Academic, Therapy and IEP Related Services
  • - Virtual Independent Study / Distant learning Tutoring and Coaching

    - Virtual Homeschool Support Teaching

    - Virtual Behavior Intervention and Design and Planning

    - Virtual Counseling and Social Work Services

    - Virtual Psychological Services

    - Virtual Academic Assessments

    - Virtual Therapy Services

    - Virtual Social Emotional Assessments

    - Virtual Private Therapy for Children & Adolescents

    - Virtual Group Programs:
    Virtual Independent Learning Skills groups
    Virtual Therapeutic & Psychoeducational Groups for Students

    Contact Club Xcite at 858 779 9674 or visit for more information

  • Autism Resources Research
  • Click here to view the flyer in English and Spanish. For more info please contact Elizabeth Sanchez Arvizu, M.A. at or (619) 356-1438.

    Survey here:

  • Register Early for Friendship Walk 2020!
  • Sunday, May 17th, 2020 @ 9:00AM
    NTC Park in Liberty Station

    The Friendship Walk is an annual family walk that raises crucial funds and community awareness for the Friendship Circle of San Diego and individuals with special needs. Join us in promoting an inclusive community that welcomes and nurtures all individuals regardless of their abilities.

    9:00AM - Registration & Friendship Fair
    Enjoy family friendly games, activities, entertainment, jumpies, family resources and more!

    10:00AM - Friendship Walk
    Enjoy a leisurely walk around NTC Park in Liberty Station along the water and fields in support of Friendship Circle and all of our amazing families and volunteers.

    11:00AM - IsraelFest
    Join IsraelFest after the Walk with expedited registration and separate entrance for all FC walkers, come say "Hi!" at our Friendship Circle booth inside!

    Be the Captain of your team of friends, family, classmates, coworkers, or just walk as an individual! Contact us for more information on how to get started and for any fundraising tips. Volunteers are needed for day-of as well! Go to

    Want to know more about what programs you will be funding with your registration? Visit

  • 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.