Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. April 28, 2020

In This Issue

5 Reasons Why There's No Wrong Time To Fight For Disability Rights

Strategies to support teens and young adults with autism spectrum disorder during COVID-19

Lithium may treat behavior linked to autism gene

How People with Autism Forge Friendships

Welcome To Our Quarantine

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

IEPs and 504s

The Art Of Autism Announces Women History Art Contest Winners

Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!


Online Activities at Villa De Vida Inc.

CalFresh food benefits can now be used to purchase groceries online at select retailers!

ABA to the Rescue!

School at Home

Communication Options for Non-Speaking People with Autism

NEW ISSUE! Flourishing Families 2020


thomas nelson

  • 5 Reasons Why There's No Wrong Time To Fight For Disability Rights
  • "Now is not the time!"

    It's a cliche because the sentiment itself is so familiar. You have something important to discuss, or an urgent need, but everyone seems to agree that there are more important matters to attend to. Sometimes that's true. Other times it can be an excuse to put off an annoying problem or awkward problem. Either way, it can be frustrating to hear when your own issues seem at least as important as everyone else's.

    It's rarely said out loud, but a powerful argument lurks wherever people talk about disabled people's rights and needs. It's the idea that there are times when it is wrong for disabled people to advocate for our needs and rights. Read on...

  • Strategies to support teens and young adults with autism spectrum disorder during COVID-19
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has been described as "the war of our generation." Millions of families are bravely waging war on COVID-19 by rising to the many challenges of social distancing, including upended school and work routines, financial insecurity, and inability to see loved ones, all compounded by the uncertainty of how long this will last. These challenges are likely magnified for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Features of ASD, including impaired social and communication skills, repetitive behaviors, and insistence on sameness, can make it very difficult to understand social distancing, express distress, and adapt to new routines.

    What has the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic been on teenagers with ASD and their families?

    Social distancing has created many new challenges for families caring for teenagers with ASD in the home. Many teenagers with ASD receive support services including special education, behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, speech services, and individual aides through school. Delivering these services virtually is a major challenge, particularly since many teenagers with ASD already have social and communication difficulties, limiting the utility of video chat. Parents are therefore finding themselves simultaneously expected to play the role of parent, special education teacher, and individual aide, all the while providing care for other children and juggling work-from-home responsibilities. Aggressive and self-injurious behaviors may also increase during this time of fear and uncertainty. Read on...

  • Lithium may treat behavior linked to autism gene
  • The mood-stabilizing drug lithium eases repetitive behaviors seen in mice missing SHANK3, an autism gene, according to a new study1.

    The findings suggest lithium merits further study as a treatment for some people with autism, even though the drug has troublesome side effects, including tremors and impaired memory.

    "Lithium is, of course, a rather difficult, non-ideal treatment," says lead investigator Gina Turrigiano, professor of vision science at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. "It's really hard to get people on a lithium regimen that they can tolerate well." But understanding why lithium works may set the stage for better treatments, she says. Read on...

  • How People with Autism Forge Friendships
  • Most autistic individuals want to and can make friends, though their relationships often have a distinctive quality

    It is lunchtime on a Sunday in January. At a long table inside a delicatessen in midtown Manhattan, a group of young people sit together over sandwiches and salads. Most of them have their phones out. One boy wears headphones around his neck. But there is less conversation than you might expect from a typical group of friends: One of the boys seems to talk only to himself, and a girl looks anxious and occasionally flaps her hands.

    The young people in this group are all on the spectrum. They met through a program organized by the nonprofit Actionplay, in which young people with autism or other disabilities work together to write and stage a musical. Each Sunday, the members refine characters and the script, block scenes and compose songs-and then some of them head across the street to have lunch together. "You meet other people just like you," says Lexi Spindel, 15. Read on...

  • Welcome To Our Quarantine
  • Are there people like these in your sphere? People you are polite to, but have never really gotten to know? Or that your teen is kind to, but not really friends with? If so, I hope that the isolation this pandemic has brought will help you reflect on ways to extend your social connection to them.

    Adam (name and details changed for privacy) was a high school junior when I met him. He was a fine clarinet player, an exceptional dancer, and loved the natural world. He also had an autism spectrum diagnosis. Each day after band practice when I drove up to fetch my son, I'd see Adam waiting apart from the other kids. Adam was often playing hacky sack, but never with the group. I'd see him on Facebook often. He'd have a picture with this kid or that, always just him and one or two others. I've come to realize he was creating these images... inviting others to take a picture with him. It helped to curate an online image that he was part of things, if only for himself. But Adam was acutely aware that he didn't have any "real" friends. He had spent his senior trip crying in a hotel room because he knew he was not really part of things. He didn't know how to be socially. And the kids who were part of things didn't really know how to make him part of things either. It wasn't anyone's fault, really. No one was trying to be mean or hurt him.

    Mason was in 5th grade when I met him. He's now a sophomore in high school. Mason loves rap music. He is creative and gregarious. He plays the violin and the guitar. He tried his hand at wrestling. He's learning Japanese and has a green belt in Karate. He loves Jesus. He is also legally blind and has an autism spectrum diagnosis. Mason is extraverted enough to reach out to people. He often tries to connect with kids over potentially shared interests. His efforts are sweet, but often perceived as socially "off." He hasn't been invited to a high school friend's house in the past two years. When he decided to quit wrestling because he knew he wasn't really part of the team, the coach said, "Well, I've been expecting this," almost with some relief. No one is intentionally trying to harm him, but he doesn't really have any friends at his school in spite of his willingness to extend himself. No one knows how to make him part of things. It's not anyone's fault, it just is. 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.

    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.

  • IEPs and 504s
  • Free Live Webinar
    Tuesday, May 12, 2020 from 7:00-9:00 pm

    RSVP Required for log in instruction:

  • The Art Of Autism Announces Women History Art Contest Winners
  • The Art of Autism is proud to announce the winners for the 2nd Annual Women History art contest. Thank you Art of Autism Board Member Kimberly Gerry-Tucker who curated this exhibit during the month of March, Women's History Month, on The Art of Autism Facebook page. We were overwhelmed with the number of entries. Thank you all who participated!

    This year we had two categories: 18 and under and over 18. Click here to view all the winning art!!!

  • 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.

    Tele Health now in use during COVID-19!!!

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

  • Save the Date: ATPF SWEET 16 CANDLES GALA
    6:00 PM - 11:00 PM
    DEL MAR, CA 92014

    $1,850 TABLE AMBASSADOR (seats 10)
    BUY YOUR Table by contacting Lisa Kaufmann, Director of Development - 619-318-6713 OR LISA@AUTISMTREEPROJECT.ORG

    It's all hands on deck to make this event our best yet! Want to JOIN our VOLUNTEER COMMITTEE? Sign up to be a volunteer here:

    Our ATPF 16 Candles 1,000 person Gala Celebration believes that every child is entitled to the best possible start in their development. IGNITE EVERY CHILD is about creating access to all children, regardless of income, language or family status. Early intervention services for children are vital to their health and development and reduce costs by minimizing the need for special education and related services in later years. Click here for all the info!!!

  • Online Activities at Villa De Vida Inc.
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter for all the info!!!

  • CalFresh food benefits can now be used to purchase groceries online at select retailers!
  • Click

  • ABA to the Rescue!
  • View our upcoming offerings by visiting our Events page. To register for each workshop, click the link to Register on Zoom.

  • School at Home
  • Now through April 30th. From your own home. Any time.

    Log in at

  • Communication Options for Non-Speaking People with Autism
  • Have you wondered what you, as a parent, can do to build communication with your non-speaking child?

    Have you struggled with exploring strategies and supports that can help them access academics or social opportunities?

    Join fellow TACA parent, Michelle Del Rosario, as she shares her journey to presuming competence and successfully utilizing multi-modal communication across settings with her son, William.

    When: Thursday, April 30th
    Time: 10:00 am PST * 1:00 pm EST

  • 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.
    Click here for all the info!!!

  • 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

  • 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
  • SJSU Research Study Participants Needed

  • My research team and I are writing to let you know of an exciting opportunity for your online community to participate in a research study. The research study is looking at friendship quality, social participation, and social networks in young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We would like to understand the causes and impacts of social deficits in order to contribute to the development of social skills training programs for use with adolescents and young adults. This is our capstone project to partially fulfil our Master's degree, and the Principal Investigator (PI) of the study is Dr. Megan Chang at San Jose State University.

    We are recruiting individuals diagnosed with ASD between the ages of 18-35 who have adequate conversational skills. If you believe that your community may be interested in participating in this study or if you would like additional information, please contact myself at By volunteering, participants may benefit through reflection and may develop increased self-awareness.

  • 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!

  • Volunteers Needed for Study!!!

  • My name is Thanh Nguyen and I am an occupational therapy student at San Jose State University. My group is conducting a cross-cultural (U.S. vs Taiwan) study, examining the differences in occupational participation of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at home, school and in the community. We are inviting participants who are parents or legal guardians of children with ASD, 9-12 years of age, in the United States to answer an anonymous online survey that takes approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. I would greatly appreciate if you can share this attached flyer in your newsletter so that anyone who is interested in participating in the study can help us fill out the survey.

    Here is the link to the survey:
    Potential participants can also access the survey by scanning the QR code on the flyer.

  • Autism Resources Research

  • For more info please contact Elizabeth Sanchez Arvizu, M.A. at or (619) 356-1438.

    Survey here:

  • Autism Research Survey
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    Please help us make a difference and change lives with those who are affected with autism by completing our Status of Autism Research survey. PLEASE SHARE with anyone who you know/think maybe able to participate and Contribute.

    We are conducting research through Point Loma Nazarene University. The survey will take 10-20 min & your participation will affect the lives of children in many countries.

    We want to understand the trajectories in the lives of individuals who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (formerly known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder).

    The purpose of this study is to determine the current status of those individuals in order to better inform current treatment practices and create recommendations for the treatments and therapies that will be used for the next generation of kids with autism.

    The more people who respond and the more diverse the individuals with autism, the better the statistics and therefore the better quality recommendations will be.

    This study is open to the following:
    * Any parent or caregiver over the age of 18 of a child with Autism
    * Any spouse of an individual over the age of 18 with Autism or Asperger
    * Any individual over the age of 18 with Autism as long as they can participate without the help of a caregiver/aide.
    * The study is open to individuals regardless of current location

    *** Apologies to those who object to the term "person with autism" as opposed to autistic person. All questions had to be approved by the IRB and as such had to follow medical guidelines.


    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.