Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. May 29, 2020

In This Issue

What can people with autism teach businesses about social distancing? Jefferson Center gathering answers

Helping Autistic People Means Shifting Your Attitude Not Changing The Person

Rare mutations in autism genes tied to intellectual disability

A Carroll County family created a comic to help their daughter cope with pandemic disruptions

Social brain may differ between men and women

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

IEP Advocacy Services

Music Therapy of CA May Newsletter

Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!

Beacons 2020 Summer Workshops

Schwartz and Storey, Special Education Attorneys

Heros are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary

Banding Together's T-Shirt Design Contest

Online Activities at Villa De Vida Inc.


Beacons Summer Newsletter 2020

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

ATPF Special Education Advocacy Workshop



  • What can people with autism teach businesses about social distancing? Jefferson Center gathering answers
  • While some people on the autism spectrum are struggling with the pandemic, a subset of that group - for whom a socially distant world is ideally suited - is actually thriving.

    Dr. Wendy Ross is hoping members of that subset can provide advice for people having difficulties adjusting to workplace and environment changes that have occurred during the Covid-19 outbreak.

    "There is a lot to be learned from some people on the spectrum about remote learning and remote interactions," said Ross, director of the Jefferson Center for Austim and Neurodiversity. "I would not wish Covid on the world, to be clear, but this is an opportunity for people who have traditionally been seen as different, or people who are seen as needing to learn how to be social. Here is an opportunity for them to be the educators and the leaders. It's a role-reversal." Read on...

  • Helping Autistic People Means Shifting Your Attitude Not Changing The Person
  • Most attempts to "help" autistic people are about making those around them more comfortable rather than acting in the best interests of the person. Parents, teachers and therapists need to shift their attitudes about autism.

    A young child dashes down the street, sobbing, while his teacher screams. He rushes to the safest person he knows, his speech therapist, and clings to her.

    I am passing them, and even though the child is in severe distress he is told to say hi to me. He doesn't make eye contact or speak, but he spins in circles. I recognize this behavior, and a moment later my hunch is confirmed, as the speech therapist explains to me that Alexander, the little boy, is autistic.

    There are more encouragements for him to say hi, or acknowledge me in a way that neurotypicals view as acceptable. Behind us, the teacher is still screaming. Alexander states that he's going to run away. PE that day had been difficult. A basketball activity was planned, and Alexander was so terrified by the pounding noises that he fled. Read on...

  • Rare mutations in autism genes tied to intellectual disability
  • Autistic people who have rare mutations in autism genes tend to have lower intelligence quotients (IQs) than those with common mutations, according to a new study1.

    The results support the idea that a small subset of particularly damaging variants contribute to autism and co-occurring intellectual disability, whereas autism alone stems from a combination of genetic factors, says lead investigator Santhosh Girirajan, associate professor of genomics at Pennsylvania State University.

    Previous studies have reached the same conclusion by comparing the DNA of autistic people with and without intellectual disability. Girirajan and his team took a different tack, comparing the intellectual abilities of individuals with and without rare mutations in autism genes. Read on...

  • A Carroll County family created a comic to help their daughter cope with pandemic disruptions
  • Deborah "Debbie" Brusio finds it scary and confusing that schools are closed and her home has become her classroom.

    Debbie, a junior with autism at Century High School, has had a hard time adapting to the coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted her daily routines. She frequently checks to see if she can return to school, but they're still closed. To help, her family worked together to make a comic, "Debbie Fights Coronavirus," to help Debbie and other kids with autism understand and cope with the pandemic.

    "It's a tangible form of what is a popular term being used now, 'edutainment,' and that is educating people and entertaining them at the same time,'" said Vincent Brusio, Deborah's father. "It's portable, it's full of color, it's a PDF format so it can be seen on any plane, any tablet, any computer because of the universal application." Read on...

  • Social brain may differ between men and women
  • Brain structures differ in volume depending on a person's social environment and socioeconomic status, and between men and women, according to a new analysis1. The findings could help explain differences seen in the brains of autistic women and men, many of whom find social communication challenging.

    Researchers analyzed brain scans from about 10,000 people enrolled in the UK Biobank, a large-scale initiative to understand health trends in the United Kingdom. The participants were 55 years old, on average. They completed surveys, answering questions about their income level, satisfaction with friends and family, participation in social activities and feelings of loneliness. 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

  • Music Therapy of CA May Newsletter
  • 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

  • Beacons 2020 Summer Workshops
  • Summer is coming! Starting June 29 and going through August 6, Beacons will offer six weeks of fun to help individuals aged 16+ learn something new this summer!

    ‚Äč Onsite or Virtual?
    Due to COVID-19, workshops at this time are expected to be provided virtually. Participants in workshops that use materials will be provided "kits" for individuals to pick up to use at home. Ratios are no more than 10:3, although some may be smaller depending on the workshop.

    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

  • Heros are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter!!!

  • 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:

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

  • 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.