Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. August 13, 2019

In This Issue

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Why We Misunderstand Behaviors in Autistic Children- And How We Can Get It Right

Employment Matters...Especially for Those on the Spectrum

Autism researcher Alysson Muotri's audacious plans for brain organoids

Sensory overload in autism may stem from hypervigilant brain

Being a woman with autism: expressing myself beyond the spectrum

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Beyond the Backpack - Executive Function Program - August 2019

Early Start Denver Model at Ascent Psychological Services

"Back to School" Free Webinar

Managing Picky Eating in Autism

FDA Approved Therapy for Anxiety - Back to School 10% Discount!

5th Annual CAPTAIN Conference

Beacons, Inc. is Now a SDRC Vendor!!!

IEP Parent Bootcamp Series

Social Skills Group 4 Girls Starting in September!

A Social Event for Parents of Children with Special Needs

West Coast National TACA Autism Conference

ATPF 5th Annual Neuroscience Conference


Please Share This Newsletter and Facebook Page!!!

ValeriesList is a FREE resource newsletter and Facebook Page for San Diego County and has been for over 19 years, with a weekly reach of 50,000! No fees, donation or membership are required to receive this info. An informed public makes better decisions for its' persons with Special Needs. Please share with friends, family, fellow professionals and clients!!! Click here to check out my FB page! Thank YOU!


thomas nelson

  • Why We Misunderstand Behaviors in Autistic Children- And How We Can Get It Right
  • An Indiana school recently made headlines after one of its special education teachers presented an autistic fifth grader with an award for "Most Annoying Male" at a school ceremony. While the incident was unfortunate in many ways, perhaps most disturbing was how it revealed that even people who work closely with such children can utterly misunderstand the behaviors that are common in people with autism.

    The story serves to accentuate how important it is to educate people about autism in order to spare any other children and their families from the sort of needless suffering this boy and his family were forced to endure.

    How could a teacher get it so wrong? The misunderstanding stems in part in the wide disparities between the definitions of autism. As described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (known as the DSM-5), autism is a disorder characterized by deficits in social interaction, repetitive behaviors, and sensory processing differences. But to others, including many autistic individuals, autism isn't a disorder, but rather a different way of being in the world-a natural human variation. Many schools and treatment programs favor the former definition, focusing their intervention efforts on trying to modify behaviors deemed "non-preferred" and replace them with those considered more socially appropriate. Read on...

  • Employment Matters...Especially for Those on the Spectrum
  • The job of "raising" a son or daughter significantly impacted by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) does not come to an end when your child reaches the age of majority. It just shifts to a new realm. Indeed, adulthood brings significant new worries and new challenges.

    Vital concerns for parents of emerging adult children with ASD include health/healthcare, safety, housing, and a good social life. But another component, employment, can be every bit as crucial for building a fulfilling life of purpose-the kind of we all want for our offspring.

    In our society, somehow a job is more than just a way to make a living. At some level, it's an identity. Seemingly innate to the human spirit, people with disabilities, or not, want to be included and involved-they want to be contributors. They want that as their identity! Read on...

  • Autism researcher Alysson Muotri's audacious plans for brain organoids
  • It is nearly sunset, and Alysson Muotri ducks into a small, cluttered room in his expansive laboratory at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine in La Jolla, California. An incubator the size of a mini-fridge houses unusual residents - and he wants to make introductions.

    "This is the factory of mini-brains," says Muotri, cracking a smile. His colleague holds a glass tray up to the light, and pink spheres the size of caviar whirl into view.

    The spheres are 3D balls of human cells, called brain organoids - and Muotri spends his days thinking up ways to use them to study the human brain's complexity. Read on...

  • Sensory overload in autism may stem from hypervigilant brain
  • The brains of some autistic children do not adapt to repeated touch or sound, even after several minutes, according to a new study1.

    In most people, sensory stimuli such as noises or unusual textures trigger activity in brain regions that process sensory information. If the stimuli persist, however, the brain tamps down its response. This process, called habituation, enables people to tune out unimportant sensations - such as the sound of an air conditioner or the feeling of a wool sweater on bare skin - so that they can pay attention to new information.

    The new study found that some autistic children don't show habituation - and this may explain why these children show unusual responses to sensations, such as covering their ears in noisy environments or refusing to wear clothes with itchy tags, says lead investigator Shulamite Green, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. Read on...

  • Being a woman with autism: expressing myself beyond the spectrum
  • I'm getting married, I live on my own with my fiancée, I can drive, I have a Bachelor's degree and I'm employed full-time working with young children with and without special needs. Someone may ask me why I wanted to pursue working with young children with and without special needs.

    There are quite a few misconceptions people may have when it comes to autism. Many people may think of autism predominantly being a male "disorder" and may see most individuals diagnosed with autism as not being very social and lacking empathy. I am very opposite from that. First of all, I am a total extrovert and am very social. I am also very compassionate and have tons of empathy for others. Secondly, I am also female, not male. And last but not least, I do not view autism as a "disorder!" I view it as a different way of thinking.

    Flashback to the year of 1993, which is the year that I was born in South Florida. I was born very healthy and was developing typically. Then when I was around 18 months old my parents began to get very concerned, as I wasn't beginning to speak much. They also noticed that I wasn't paying much attention to responding when my name was being called and that I wasn't interacting with others. I was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. When a professional told my parents that I'm on the autism spectrum they were at first very overwhelmed because they were worried about my future and if I would ever be successful. That never stopped them from believing in me. My parents always worked hard with me to make sure I can be able to speak and socialize with other people. They brought in lots of professionals to work with me, from therapies to social groups, and it eventually paid off as I began to show lots of progress. At the age of 2 ½, the speech therapist came to my mom and said "Sarah can now speak, but she will not stop talking." 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

    Do you type to communicate? Do you use AAC, RPM, FC, supportive typing? Are you looking to meet up with like minded individuals who use a keyboard to tell jokes and give speeches?

    We are forming a social group, that meets monthly in Point Loma, of typers and their communication partners, just for fun, imagine that. No copays and our only goal is having a good time.

    If you are interested please email me
    See you soon,
    Otto Lana

    The R.O.A.D program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside are seeking experienced leaders to work as a positive adult role model, coach and mentor with small groups of 4 R.O.A.D.S members. Candidates should have a genuine interest in the growth, development and provision of safe nurturing environments for each member.

    This position is a San Diego Regional Center (SDRC) funded position, which follows the established SDRC calendar year; additionally, this position is based on job performance. Must have reliable transportation to and from site. For more info about these job openings click here:

    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.

  • Beyond the Backpack - Executive Function Program - August 2019
  • At Social Communication Specialists, we don't just set up a color coded folder system that your child will never use, We use advanced techniques to directly teach executive functioning skills. The concepts and strategies we teach kids helps them become more independent so you can stop constantly reminding them of what they need to do.

    Please go to for more information.

  • Early Start Denver Model at Ascent Psychological Services
  • Ascent Psychological Services
    11665 Avena Place, Ste.204
    San Diego, CA 92128
    In-Home Services Available
    Insurance and Regional Center Funding Accepted

  • "Back to School" Free Webinar
  • Featuring the expertise of Yoshi Bauer and Benjamin Nelson, special education advocates!

    Join us by registering at

    The webinar will be held on Tuesday August 27th at 12:00 noon and will repeat Thursday August 29th at 7:00 pm.

  • Managing Picky Eating in Autism
  • Sat, August 24, 2019
    11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
    SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders
    6363 Alvarado Court
    San Diego, CA 92120
    Cost: FREE

    The SDSU Center for Autism is pleased to host the third in a three part series of talks in collaboration with Lauren Cox, BCBA. Children with autism often have repetitive and rigid behaviors that will interfere with a successful mealtime. Since eating and mealtime is a necessary part of our day to day lives, so we will review some common challenges that families may experience in getting their kids to eat regularly and eat well. We will also review steps we can take to make eating a more structured time with specific strategies that would help learners expand what they eat as well as when and how much they eat. Childcare will be provided for this event :)

    Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • FDA Approved Therapy for Anxiety - Back to School 10% Discount!
  • Safer Than Prescription Medication for Anxiety and ADHD/ADD and the Effects are Permanent!

    Microcurrent 4 Kids is San Diego's premiere pediatric microcurrent therapy program for children, teens and adults with special needs. Our program is the BEST therapy for Autism & ADHD, as you will see by the rapid improvement in your child's skills and abilities, because of how well it promotes developmental growth and couples with ALL other therapies.

    Some of the neuro-developmental issues we commonly see include:

    • Autism Spectrum Disorders
    • Anxiety
    • Sensory Processing Disorder
    • Depression
    • ADD/ADHD
    • And many more!
    Our program uses the most advanced microcurrent device on the market today, the Electro-Equiscope. Call 858-367-9108 for your 10% discount and a free consultation!!!

    Microcurrent 4 Kids
    4540 Kearny Villa Road, Ste. 211
    San Diego, CA 92123

  • 5th Annual CAPTAIN Conference
  • Join us for the 5th Annual CAPTAIN Conference, presented by the California Autism Professional Training and Information Network, Point Loma Nazarene University, and Autism Society San Diego. This informative conference will help keep you up to date on all the latest strategies for supporting learners on the autism spectrum. Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • Beacons, Inc. is Now a SDRC Vendor!!!
  • Exciting Beacons, Inc. news! We just received news that we have been approved officially as a SDRC vendor. Our vendor number is #PY1700. For those wishing to attend our fall vocational training workshops, please visit our fall pathfinder page to learn more!

  • IEP Parent Bootcamp Series
  • August 17
    IEP Bootcamp Series, Part 1 : Advocate like a Pro!
    Sat, August 17, 2019
    9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
    Sanford Autism Consulting Office
    4823 Alfred Ave.
    San Diego, CA 92120
    Cost: $75
    Click here for all the info and to register!!!

    August 31
    IEP Bootcamp Series, Part 2 : Parents Empowered
    Sat, August 31, 2019
    9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
    Sanford Autism Consulting Office
    4823 Alfred Ave.
    San Diego, CA 92120
    Cost: $75
    Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • Social Skills Group 4 Girls Starting in September!
  • Our groups are tailored to girls ages 7 and older with average to strong language and learning skills who struggle with some aspect of social interaction (making friends, joining groups, perspective taking, etc.) The typical diagnostic profile of our girls includes: Autism (Levels 1 and 2), ADHD (Inattentive Type), Social Anxiety, Social Communication Disorder, or related challenges.

    Thursdays 4:30-5:30PM, Ages 11+
    Fridays 3:30-4:30PM, Ages 7-10

    Each month we cover different themes, such as keeping friendships strong, winning and losing, how to meet new people, what happens when relationships go wrong, etc. Our activities include journaling, movement breaks, group games and crafts, all while learning and practicing our "social smarts".

    Click here for all the info, contact info and intake form!

  • A Social Event for Parents of Children with Special Needs
  • "My Time for Dinner" was created to give parents a special time for themselves to enjoy an evening out to dinner.

    August 19, at 7:00 PM
    Please RSVP no later than Friday, August 16th with your host Sara Gil at or for any questions please call (858)722-6539.

  • West Coast National TACA Autism Conference
  • Friday, October 18, 2019 at 8 AM - 9 PM
    Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa
    3050 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, California 92626

    We're gathering some of the nation's best doctors, researchers, therapists, lawyers, and educators under one roof for the West Coast.

    Join us to learn the latest in research, treatment options, and therapy for individuals with autism. It will be a one-stop shop for support, knowledge, inspiration, and HOPE.

    For more information and to register, click here:

  • ATPF 5th Annual Neuroscience Conference
  • Friday, November 1, 2019 at 8 AM - 7 PM
    Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine
    2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, San Diego, California 92037

    Our goal in creating the ATPF Annual Neuroscience Conference in 2015 was to build a heart connection between the families we serve every day and the world class Neuroscience community, right here on the Mesa, right here in San Diego. Since then, this one-day annual conference has become one of San Diego's premiere events that offers a forum for neuroscientists and forward-thinking business and community leaders to come together and learn more about synergy here in San Diego, while making significant advancements in the autism field. Our annual Conference is Chaired by Dr. Alysson Muotri and Moderated by Roger Bingham.

    Click here to register for FREE!!

  • 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

  • Learn About RDI in San Diego!
  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth
    9466 Black Mountain Road
    Suite 100
    San Diego, CA 92126
    Phone: (858) 689-2027

  • Learn About RDI in Carlsbad!
  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth
    5411 Avenida Encinas
    Suite 110
    Carlsbad, CA 92008
    Phone: (760) 448-5837

  • 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!

  • 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.