Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. May 26, 2020

In This Issue

'He's Incredibly Confused': Parenting A Child With Autism During The Pandemic

Autistic burnout

Autism training for law enforcement developed in Tempe

Cord blood study provides insights on benefits, limitations for autism treatment

What Causes Autism?

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

IEP Advocacy Services

In the Merry, Merry Month of May...

Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!

Growing Development Through Relationships

Schwartz and Storey, Special Education Attorneys

NFAR PARENT'S GROUP - Zoom Virtual Meeting

Banding Together's T-Shirt Design Contest

How are you coping? How is stress affecting you and your children? Is your current plan sustainable long term?

Jamie Komen Advocacy


Beacons Summer Newsletter 2020

May 30th!!! - ATPF Virtual Heart & Hooves Therapy Workshop

ATPF Special Education Advocacy Workshop



  • 'He's Incredibly Confused': Parenting A Child With Autism During The Pandemic

  • Living with the pandemic has been difficult for everyone: the isolation, the need to wear protective gear like masks and gloves, the adjustment to working or learning from home.

    For those living with or caring for someone with severe autism, those challenges can be exponentially more difficult.

    "Wearing gloves or masks, you know, things like that? That's just not going to happen here," says Feda Almaliti.

    Almaliti is the mother of 15-year-old Muhammed, who has severe autism. She is also vice president of the National Council on Severe Autism. Read on...

  • Autistic burnout
  • "What is autistic burnout has been a term frequently used by autistic adults? Its characteristics, and what may cause or alleviate it, are discussed in Autism and Adulthood.

    Autistic adults use the term to describe a chronic state of exhaustion, loss of skills, and reduced tolerance to stimulus. These characteristics are long-lasting and permeate peoples lives.

    According to the study, autistic adults say chronic life stress and a mismatch of expectations and abilities without adequate supports is very difficult. Autistic burnout had a negative impact on autistic adults health, capacity to live independently, and quality of life, including suicidal behavior. Read on...

  • Autism training for law enforcement developed in Tempe
  • We always say there's no such thing as a routine police encounter. Officers have to rely on body language to read situations and when they're contacting kids or adults with autism, that body language can be completely misleading. Now a new training simulator for law enforcement developed at the VirTra headquarters in Tempe is being used to de-escalate the danger for communities everywhere.

    Retired Valley officer Lon Bartel, director of training and curriculum at VirTra, started working on the program to help police spot behavioral cues of people on the autism spectrum two years ago.

    He lost a friend and fellow officer who had a son on the spectrum and around that time, started researching a lot of dangerous police encounters where officers were simply misreading common behaviors of people on the spectrum. Read on...

  • Cord blood study provides insights on benefits, limitations for autism treatment
  • In a recent study, Duke researchers tested whether a single infusion of a unit of a child's own or donor cord blood could improve social communication skills in children between the ages of 2-7 diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

    Of the 180 children in the study, the subgroup of children without an intellectual disability showed improvements in language communication, ability to sustain attention measured via eye tracking, and increased alpha and beta EEG power, a measure of brain function.

    However, those who also had an intellectual disability did not show social communication function improvement after the infusion. Read on...

  • What Causes Autism?
  • From genes to environment, experts have identified several factors that influence a child's chance of having autism. But risk is not destiny, they say.

    Melissa Smith had always wanted to have three children. Last April, as she was trying to get pregnant for a third time, she learned her youngest child was autistic. After she got over the initial shock, the news came as a relief. "I had known for months that something was wrong," she said. "To finally have an answer, and to have a diagnosis that would afford us solutions and therapy to help, was definitely a relief."

    Still, she couldn't help but worry that her next child would be autistic, too. She feels conflicted: She sees her son's autism as a gift and wouldn't change him, but caring for him takes effort. An additional child with autism could make that even harder. 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.

    Even though the doctor SSI sent us to for eligibility exam commented at the end of the exam that my 10 year old grandson would qualify based on the exam and his diagnosis of autism, my daughter received letter of denial. I think we may be beyond the 60 days to appeal. Looking for help to get thru the appeal process.
    Mary Ann Walker

    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.

  • IEP Advocacy Services
  • We offer caring and comprehensive support to help you understand your child's Individual Education Program (IEP) and become an active member of the team. As your San Diego IEP consultant, my services include:

    • In-depth audit/analysis of your child's current or proposed IEP, 504 Plan, and student records
    • Facilitating collaboration between family, school, and community providers
    • Guiding parents through the special education process/laws and helping parents understand their rights
    • Advocating beside parents at IEP, 504, or Student Support Team (SST) meetings (as appropriate)
    • Preparing parents to become an informed and empowered advocate for their child
    Discovery Meeting: 1-Hour $79
    Includes review of your top 1-2 concerns regarding your child's IEP, related recommendations and resources, detailed summary report.

    IEP Coaching and Comprehensive IEP Analysis
    May include: complete IEP documentation review, in-depth audit/analysis report, crafting of emails to IEP Team, parent coaching to prepare for your IEP meeting, and/or travel and attendance at one IEP meeting. Price determined based on your unique case.


    Sanford Autism Consulting

  • In the Merry, Merry Month of May...
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter for all the info about the services they are able to provide!!!

  • 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

  • Growing Development Through Relationships
  • Growing Development Through Relationships: An Introduction to the DIR-FCD Model
    June 2nd and June 4th, 2020
    Cost: $60

    Created By: Monica Osgood, Executive Director, Lynn Abelson, MA, CCC-SLP, OTR/L, Marilee Burgeson, MA CCC-SLP, Griff Doyle, PhD, Psych., Caroline Ferguson-Walsh, MS-LP(C), CCC-SLP and the Profectum Presentation Task Force

    An inspiring introduction to the basic foundations of the Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based (DIRĀ®) Model. Development grows within a structure of foundational capacities that support relating, communicating, functioning and thinking. Within this presentation, you will learn that each child brings unique sensory processing strengths and differences that foster growth and development at different rates. Affect-rich, attuned relationships with caregivers are central to this model and support the child's development through emotionally meaningful experiences. The powerful connections between the caregiver and child that are strengthened through the use of this model unlocks the potential for the Foundational Capacities for Development (FCDs). Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • Schwartz and Storey, Special Education Attorneys
  • Special Education Legal Advocacy and Representation

    As special education attorneys we're here to help answer questions and find solutions to the difficult issues facing children with special needs. From legal advocacy to representation in court, the Law Offices of Schwartz & Storey works to secure the best possible outcome in the shortest amount of time. Please feel free to reach out if you're looking for information or would like to stop by and discuss a particular concern.

    • IEP & 504 Meetings
    • Manifestation Determinations
    • Record Requests & Review
    • Organization & Planning
    • Compliance Complaints
    • Due Process Hearings
    • Regional Center Fair Hearings
    • Appeals
    • More Services
    The legal services of a special education attorney vary widely but primarily focus on issues concerning "education and equality." Education applies to special and general education, early intervention, vocational, and higher education. Concerns range from access to education, activities, and services, validity of assessments and testing, to the nature of the program itself. Equality generally refers to civil rights protections. If you have a concern that is not represented here please feel free to reach out for information or an opinion.

    Law Offices of Schwartz & Storey
    2247 San Diego Ave. Suite #237
    San Diego, CA 92110

  • NFAR PARENT'S GROUP - Zoom Virtual Meeting
  • May 27, 2020 **7:00 - 8:00pm**

    TOPIC: Prepare to RELAX! Join us for a mindfulness exercise!

    ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Meghan Fitch, NFAR Vocational Training Instructor & Mindfulness Guide

    Meghan will guide you through a relaxing mindfulness experience of deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and visual imagery. No experience necessary! Come as you are. Ideally, join the Zoom meeting in comfortable clothes, from a quiet place where you can sit or lie down comfortably. Let go and let Meghan do the work. Meghan is a part of the instructional team for the NFAR Vocational Training Programs, NFAR Tech and NFAR Works. She is also a Mindfulness enthusiast and leads mindfulness exercises at retreats and Zoom meetings. Come experience the benefits these exercises bring to so many with busy, stressful lives!

    * Please RSVP by no later than 4pm on May 27th using this link to Eventbrite (please select the May 27th date) for ZOOM session access. >>> <<<

    * On May 27th, we will send those that have RSVP'd an email with a link to join the meeting on ZOOM. (Email sent by 10am for early RSVPs and another at 5pm.)

    Any questions? Please feel free to call us at 858-679-8800

  • Banding Together's T-Shirt Design Contest
  • Banding Together's T-Shirt Design Contest deadline is quickly approaching!!! We love the submissions we are getting for this art contest! Do you have an entry to add? It's not too late! Visit our contest website for more info:

  • How are you coping? How is stress affecting you and your children? Is your current plan sustainable long term?
  • More than ever, special needs families are stressed. Managing every day expectation in addition to the generalized uncertainty related to COVID-19 is pushing many parents close to breaking point. When parents are stressed, everyone in the family is stressed.

    How are you coping? How is stress affecting you and your children? Is your current plan sustainable long term?

    Some of the recurring issues I address with families include:

    • How to decrease stress
    • How to sleep better
    • How to find some personal time
    • How to prioritize when everything is important
    • How to address sensory needs
    • How to minimize meltdowns
    • How to use everyday interactions to teach your child about social-emotional skills, self regulation, and problem solving
    Although slowing down may seem counterintuitive, it can lead to increased growth for the child and parents. The guilt of taking any personal time and never doing enough for your child can be crippling and affect everyone in the family. I bring compassion, patience, and the ability to truly listen without judging.

    I know how to create a space where my clients feel safe to reflect and consider new options, even when emotions run high. My role is to guide you and support you in creating positive changes for your entire family. I root for my clients - children and parents alike. I get excited when I see my clients overcoming challenges and creating more meaningful lives for themselves. If you feel that you could use extra support and guidance, I'd love to partner with your family.

    I am passionate about my work and about making a difference. If you feel that my approach would be a good fit, I would love to work with your family.

    Contact me for more info at (619) 347-9810 or

    Christian Vinceneux
    Consultant - Life Coach

  • Jamie Komen Advocacy
  • Jamie Komen has a private practice advocating for individuals with special needs by helping parents obtain and navigate programs and services offered through Regional Center and In-Home Support Services (IHSS). She supports parents' efforts to knowledgeably, accurately, and timely complete relevant Agency Applications, Intake Assessments, Requests, and Appeals. She guides parents through the overwhelming technicalities, which can directly affect the approval or enhancement of services granted. Through active participation and attendance in meetings with community service personnel, Jamie helps to ensure that they provide an optimal level of service and support.  

    With over 20 years of experience as an Education Specialist and Advocate, Jamie leverages her expertise, knowledge, and skills to assist parents in acquiring community-based services. As a successful and dynamic private practitioner, she excels in areas that require a high ability to effectively collaborate and communicate with a strong understanding of cognitive, academic, and adaptive behavior skills. Empathetic and patient, she is highly intuitive to the social/emotional and behavioral needs of both child and parent(s). 

    Jamie Komen Advocacy
    Regional Center and IHSS Navigator
    P: 847-341-4300

  • MozArt@OMA
  • MozArt@OMA was an exhibition scheduled for April 11-26, 2020, in honor of National Autism Awareness Month. The exhibition was, unfortunately, unable to be presented due to OMA's temporary closure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The artwork chosen for this exhibition is a unique and inspiring collection of music- and synesthesia-themed art by 11 Southern California and Baja California artists. This collaboration between OMA, Mainly Mozart, and The Art of Autism promotes the creative abilities of people with autism and synesthesia. A relatively rare condition, synesthesia is when one sense is simultaneously and spontaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses. Sometimes synesthetes join objects such as letters, shapes, numbers, or people's names with a sensory perception such as smell, color, or sounds. Many of the artists presented in this show join color with emotions, attributes, and shapes to create their art.

    This exhibition was planned as part of the 2020 Mozart & The Mind gala, originally scheduled for April 25, 2020. This annual gala explores the limitless potential of the human mind across all its manifestations "because the world needs to hear ALL of its Mozarts."

    See additional works by the artists and learn more about The Art of Autism nonprofit in the galleries they created inspired by this exhibition.
    See Gallery One here
    See Gallery Two here
    See Gallery Three here

  • Beacons Summer Newsletter 2020
  • Join us for popular summer courses! Sign ups start May 25th!!! Click here for all the info!!!

  • May 30th!!! - ATPF Virtual Heart & Hooves Therapy Workshop
  • Special thank you to our 1 FUR 1 Foundation for generously sponsoring this event, making it free of charge!

    RSVP today:

    Calling all ATPF Parents! We are so excited to partner with Heart and Hooves Therapy for virtual workshop! Visit the ranch virtually via Zoom and enjoy a 1 hour interactive learning experience with the use of different farm animals. We will work on identifying farm animals, basic body parts of animals, and mini horse safety, while playing a fun educational game!

    Learn more about our program here:

    Questions? Contact or call 619-222-4465.

  • ATPF Special Education Advocacy Workshop
  • Saturday, May 30th at 12 PM - 1 PM

    Calling all ATPF Parents! We are excited to provide a NEW branch of our ATPF Parent Mentor Program, once a month Special Education Advocacy Workshops! Led by Volunteer Director of our Parent Mentor Program & Special Education Advocate Michelle McGowan, join us in a community of parents learning and sharing as we all navigate distancing learning.

    This class will provide 20 minutes of knowledge and advice on a specific Special Education Advocacy topic, then will allow parents to sharing their challenges and successes, get peer support, and collaborate on more effective ways to educate and advocate for our children.

    RSVP today here:

    Questions? Contact

  • 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 Liane Wilson, Vice President of Community Services, for more information at 619-938-2889 or

  • 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!

  • 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
  • Autism Research Survey - This research survey is conducted through Point Loma Nazarene University. Please share with both autistic adults over 18 years old and parents of children with autism, autistic parents with autistic children, verbal and nonverbal. #Autistic, Autism parents, Autism dad, Autism mom. The survey will take 10-20 minutes & your participation will affect the lives of children in many countries.

    The research is 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.

    Please fill out our Autism Research survey and PLEASE SHARE with anyone who you know/think may be able to participate and contribute. Please make sure to make a recommendation at the end.

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

    To participate click link


    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.