Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. August 14, 2018

In This Issue

Study revives serotonin as target for autism treatments

Communication: An Important Autism Life Skill

The hidden danger of suicide in autism

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Conference: Love & Autism - Early Bird Pricing Ends TOMORROW!!!

NFAR Community Projects 2019


NEW: Engage & Connect Program 4 Week Series

Therapeutic Approach to Growth

Now Enrolling: Sept-Oct North County Social Clubs!

Encinitas Dance/ Karaoke Party for special needs teens/adults

Now Enrolling: Sept-Oct Central San Diego Social Clubs!

Craft Workshop in Fallbrook

S4EA Softball, Cycling and Tennis Tournament

Self Determination Presentation in Fallbrook, 8/17

Sing and Speak 4 Kids - Participate in Survey

Home of Guiding Hands is looking for caring, empathetic people to be part of our growing team.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) "Fever Effect" Pilot Study Enrollment Announced



  • Study revives serotonin as target for autism treatments
  • Boosting levels of the chemical messenger serotonin makes mice that model autism more social, according to a study published today in Nature1.

    The study suggests the approach may do the same in people with autism. It also offers an explanation for why antidepressants do not ease autism traits: They may increase serotonin levels too slowly to be effective.

    The researchers used a technique that rapidly increases serotonin levels in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region that mediates social reward.

    "Somehow, the release of serotonin in the nucleus accumbens really plays an important role in enhancing sociability," says lead researcher Robert Malenka, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University in California. "The simple hypothesis is it makes the social interaction more reinforcing." Read on...

  • Communication: An Important Autism Life Skill
  • Adults with autism have much to say about the importance of communication.

    "The hardest part of autism is not being able to talk." - Jeremy Sicile-Kira

    Imagine what it must be like to be unable to communicate clearly your wants and needs; this is something most people on the autism spectrum deal with on a regular basis.

    Last week I wrote a bit about how making sense of the world - overcoming sensory processing challenges - was the most important area of need cited by all adults interviewed for my book, Autism Life Skills. The ability to communicate was the second most important area. Those who were verbal tended to have more subtle communication challenges than those who were non-verbal, but those challenges were just as important for surviving in a neurotypical world (discussed further down in this blogpost). Read on...

  • The hidden danger of suicide in autism
  • Many people with autism entertain thoughts of suicide and yet show few obvious signs of their distress. Some scientists are identifying risks - and solutions - unique to autistic individuals.

    Nearly every Sunday since he was 7, Connor McIlwain had panicked about going to school the following day.

    The noise of barking dogs or crying babies, the demands of school and the constant fear of being exposed to one of his phobias was a lot for Connor to handle. Diagnosed with autism at age 3, he would get so upset at school that sometimes he would run into the street; on at least one occasion, he narrowly escaped being hit by a car.

    Connor's mother, Lori McIlwain, recorded one of his Sunday-night tantrums when he was 10 to share with his doctor. "Poof me away. Poof me away," Connor pleads in the audio clip, his voice strained. "I want to leave school forever. Throw me away forever; I really want to go away forever." Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • I wanted to put the word out about Sari Kuperstein, a really fantastic ABA therapist / behavior specialist. She is extremely energetic, loving but firm, patient, has tons of great ideas. She used to work for a school district and has many years of experience.

    She is not presently a vendor for the regional center. We have been employing her several days per week for my severely autistic adult sister, who is now in a day program, so Sari has most days available. Her fees are quite reasonable.

    She can be reached at (754) 215-2219 (texting is best) or

    We have several families (North County Inland) in our parent support group who are looking for day programs, or other providers, for young adults on the spectrum with challenging behaviors. The adults are around age 22 and have been classified as ASD with IDD as a secondary condition. We hope to find providers who are willing to take them out into the community fairly regularly and have ABA or similar background experience--or at least have the needed attitude and people skills! All suggestions considered! --- Thank you!

    Looking for a female caregiver for my adult daughter with high functioning autism. 14.5 hours per week. $10.72/hr (county min. Wage). Payment is through the county IHSS program. Light housekeeping, laundry, assist with food shopping, meal prep and medication refills/adherence. Must have reliable transportation, good DMV record, proof of insurance and background check. No drinking or other substance abuse. SDSU area.
    Thank you so much!
    Debra Berl

    My son has Marge Blanc as a speech therapist guiding his gestalt language development. We are looking for an undergrad SLP or OT major preferably. But experience is not needed. Anyone with desire to learn from the best and play with my son would be great. Again, No experience needed, flexible hours with loads of fun. Marge would train you directly. Must be okay to act like a kid. Must be okay with going to swim, Go hiking. Playing out movie roles. My son is sweet, kind and super smart, no behaviors. We are working on social skills and reciprocal language! Please contact me for an interview. Thank you!

    Seeking Educational Aid for First Grader at Private Catholic School
    Hours: 8:30-11:30, Monday thru Friday
    Location: Sacred Heart Parish School in Coronado
    Pay: $14 an hour

    We are seeking an educational aid for a spirited, loving first grader with ADHD to assist in maintaining attention and focus while completing school assignments. The ideal person would be very firm but kind. The child is currently medicated but still struggles with attention and focus to stay on task. Child also struggles with handwriting so assistance and help with that also required.The person would need to have good people skills and respect the classroom environment, working well with first grade teacher and her assistant with minimal guidance. Aid may be asked to assist with test-taking. The ideal candidate would be available August 22 start date (there is flexibility on this) Experience with spirited kids with ADHD or children with attention/focus and sensory integration issues would be very helpful! (There is some flexibility with hours.)

    Please text Christine at 858-405-7264 to set up a time to speak or email
    Thanks for your consideration!

    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.

  • Conference: Love & Autism - Early Bird Pricing Ends TOMORROW!!!
  • October 13-14th, 2018
    9:00AM - 4:30PM
    Liberty Station Conference Center, San Diego, CA

    100% autistic representation on main stage
    We value neurodivergent leaders and reject the pathology paradigm because the development of healthy autistic identities matters. Allowing love to lead us, we create powerful change in the world. Don't settle for the status quo, trust your heart. This is Love & Autism

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

  • NFAR Community Projects 2019
  • Autism affects one in every 59 children in the United States, and a growing number of families and their loved ones across San Diego County.

    To help, NFAR hosts the Race for Autism each year to raise funds to help support initiatives that are making a difference and creating unique opportunities for those with autism. Funding will be distributed based on the following criteria; Impact; Reach; Immediacy; and Relevance.


    • Applications are due by September 30, 2018
    • Awards will be announced on February 1, 2019
    • Awards range between $2,500 and $10,000
    • Proposed project should be a 3 - 12 month effort and start in 2019. (Certain types of projects may extend up to 18 months.)
    Guidelines and Restrictions are on the website. To apply or learn more.

  • Please keep SB 399 alive and sign this bill! Californians with autism deserve insurance funding for whichever evidence-based treatment method their doctors prescribe for THEM.

    Families seeking help for autism are regularly denied insurance coverage for physician-prescribed, treatment. The myth that ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) is the only scientific approach is simply not true. Families deserve to receive ANY of the evidence-based treatments their doctors believe would be helpful. A "one size fits all" method doesn't work for every patient... SB 399 ensures that families will have choices!

    Click here to view the petition and sign!!!

  • NEW: Engage & Connect Program 4 Week Series
  • Families of young children with autism, ages 2 - 8 (and their siblings) are invited to join us for a 4-week program series called "Engage & Connect".

    Participants will sign up for a once-a-week program for four consecutive weeks. New, fun play activities will be facilitated by special education professionals and therapists designed to encourage engagement, communication and enjoyment.

    The first series will be held at the Kid Ventures indoor recreational play center in 4S Ranch on Thursday evenings in October from 5 - 6:30 pm.

    Register or learn more

  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth
  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth believes that every individual is unique and has the potential for significant growth. We assume and foster competence while honoring family values and priorities. Our holistic approach is built upon trusting, supportive relationships and collaboration between disciplines and families.

    We specializing in the development and implementation of individualized comprehensive programs utilizing Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), Occupational Therapy, Sensory Integration, Sensory Processing, Applied Behavior Analysis, Art Therapy, and Life Balance Yoga Therapy.

    Offering support in the San Diego, Carlsbad, Orange County, and the Inland Empire.

    In addition to supporting our clients directly, we offer guidance to parents, grandparents, therapists, teachers, siblings, school staff, babysitters etc.

    Therapeutic Approach to Growth
    (858) 689-2027

  • Now Enrolling: Sept-Oct North County Social Clubs!
  • Sign up deadline is 8/24!
    Please contact 858-428-0222 or email

  • Encinitas Dance/ Karaoke Party for special needs teens/adults
  • Saturday at 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
    Performing Arts Workshop
    1465 Encinitas Blvd, A102, Encinitas, California 92024

    Please join us for our monthly fun! The first half of our event is dancing and second half is karaoke. If you would like to sing, please come with a song in mind, $5 to $10 donation, healthy snack to share if you wish, and your happy selves. Be with old friends and make new ones! . Chaperones are requested for dance party attendees who may have behavioral or physical challenges. Let's have some fun! Click here for all the info!!!

  • Now Enrolling: Sept-Oct Central San Diego Social Clubs!
  • Sign up deadline is 8/24!
    Please contact 858-428-0222 or email

  • Craft Workshop in Fallbrook
  • Please RSVP by August 15th to Karen Douglas at

  • S4EA Softball, Cycling and Tennis Tournament
  • Hosted by SPORTS for Exceptional Athletes
    Sunday, September 9 at 9 AM - 5 PM
    Morley Field Sports Complex
    2221 Morley Field Dr, San Diego, California 92104

    Softball and Tennis will take place at Morley Field in Balboa Park 2221 Morley Field Dr., San Diego 92104. Cycling will take place at the Velodrome at Morley Field in Balboa Park (near Texas & Upas St.) 2221 Morley Field Dr., San Diego 92104.

    Registration Forms can be found on the bottom of the Sports page of the S4EA website located at For more information or to obtain a Registration Form, call SPORTS for Exceptional Athletes at (858)565-S4EA (7432).

  • Self Determination Presentation in Fallbrook, 8/17
  • For more info visit

  • Sing and Speak 4 Kids - Participate in Survey
  • We're preparing a NIH research grant proposal for the online program SING AND SPEAK 4 KIDS that helps children with autism and speech delays. We're offering a free trial of the program to clinicians, teachers and parents experienced in this area and willing to share their knowledge in a 3 minute online survey:

    NIH has requested info regarding current interventions, products and services that are being used for childhood speech-language delays or disorders.

    For your contribution, the beta version of SING AND SPEAK 4 KIDS will be available to you for free, including 6 songs with 36 target vocabulary words. You can find more about it at

    Thanks so much for your support!

  • Home of Guiding Hands is looking for caring, empathetic people to be part of our growing team.
  • We are one of the largest providers of support services in San Diego County for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Please consider referring any qualified candidates who would enjoy a rewarding career with an organization that inspires, advocates, and empowers more than 3,200 infants, children, and adults.

    Our mission is "to improve the lives of those we serve," and we stand by it every day.

    We are currently hiring for the positions below. Click each title to read the full description.

    - Residential Service Technician

    - Residential Behavior Technician

    - Residential Facilitator

    - House Manager

    Please contact Gina Stabile, Recruitment Coordinator, for additional information: or (619) 938-2886.

    Visit Us On The Web at

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) "Fever Effect" Pilot Study Enrollment Announced
  • Click here to view the flyer. For more info and to enroll please contact

  • ASD Mornings at theNAT
  • 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

  • San Diego Sibshop

  • October 2017 - August 2018

    WANTED: Siblings who have a brother/sister with special needs

    AGES: 7 - 12 years old
    Older siblings are welcome to attend as "Junior Leaders"

    WHAT: A fun-filled opportunity geared to the specific needs of siblings with brothers/sisters with special needs. Join us for games, crafts, hikes, cooking, and art. Meet other sibs - lunch provided

    TIME: 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

    August 19: Santee Lakes, 9310 Fanita Pkwy, Santee, CA 92071**

    DONATION: $5.00 - $10.00 per meeting per family for craft materials, supplies and lunch for the kids

    REGISTRATION: Pre-registration requested by email (if possible) the Thursday before the event.

    CONTACT: Email for a Sibshop registration form and / or additional information.

    Sibshop Leaders:
    Jody BonDurant-Strong, Administrator
    Ndoto BonDurant-Strong - adult sibling & CSUSM student
    Gina Clifton, ECSE Medically-Fragile Teacher, Special Education
    Pat Moulton, Retired

  • Accepting Applications for NFAR's Teachers Grants Program

  • Autism affects one in every 59 children in the United States and a growing number of students each year in classrooms across San Diego County.

    To help, NFAR established a program in 2005 that awards funding to educators to support the specialized academic needs of their students with autism.

    The 2018/2019 NFAR Teachers' Applications are due September 30th.

    Sample grant applications, Guidelines and Restrictions are on the website.

    Apply or learn more!

  • Accepting Applications for NFAR Tech's October Program

  • Are you ready to work but not finding that opportunity? Are you sitting at home despite a college degree? Then NFAR's vocational technical training program might be the right choice for you!

    NFAR Tech will be starting a new class in October.

    NFAR Tech is a comprehensive hands-on training program that teaches technical and employment skills. It prepares young adults with autism for entry level jobs in today's workplace as software testers and other vocations.

    If you are interested in learning more, visit our website, and/or contact us at 858-679-8800 if you have any questions.

  • Best Buddies Friendship Walk, November 3rd
  • Brain Imagining Studies for all Ages with or without Autism

  • At SDSU!!! To find out more, please call 619-594-0176 or email BDIL@SDSU.EDU.


    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.