Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. August 16, 2019

In This Issue

Please Share This Newsletter and Facebook Page!!!

Art Was My Voice

The problems with prenatal testing for autism

The Crucial Element of Parental Support: John Paul's Story

Drugs that calm 'touch neurons' may ease autism traits

Medical 'home' programs offer coordinated care for autistic people

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Mingle - September 18th!

UCSD ACE - SPARK Event - Saturday August 17th!!!

RDI and MORE at Therapeutic Approach to Growth

Managing Picky Eating in Autism

Registration for Shooting Stars Now Open!!

5th Annual CAPTAIN Conference

ATPF 5th Annual Neuroscience Conference

Fall VIP Soccer Season

Villa de Vida, Inc. Update - Join our Healthy Lifestyles Classes

Social Skills Group 4 Girls Starting in September!

A Social Event for Parents of Children with Special Needs

West Coast National TACA Autism 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

  • Art Was My Voice
  • As art and music is being excluded form more and more schools it pains me to know that others might not get the opportunity to express themselves through their artistic and musical abilities.

    As long as I could remember words were always trapped inside my head. I was always the quiet one. The silent one everyone forgot about or over looked. At home I spent my time alone in my room with my cats. People often talked about me as if I was deaf and could not hear them simply because I did not speak. They asked others if I could speak instead of asking me.

    School was especially difficult for me. My family moved around a lot and it made a quiet shy kid withdraw even more. My family moved 3 times when I was in the 2nd grade alone.

    During class when the teacher would ask a questions that I knew the answers to I was afraid to answer. Even when specifically called upon I would just look down and shake my head no. The answers were all there, but trapped inside my head behind my lips. At recess when other kids would play and socialize I would walk out into the dense fog of the grass fields at my school and disappear alone. Even in high school at lunch break I would pretend to be a sleep so that I would not have to talk or interact with people. Selective mutism is the term that I had heard about decades later that seemed to fit. Read on...

  • The problems with prenatal testing for autism
  • As prenatal testing improves, it presents a host of thorny issues - including what to test, how to interpret the results and what to do about them.

    When Maureen Bennie's son, Marc, was 10 months old, he started missing developmental milestones. He had had feeding problems since birth and developed a sleep disorder - and Bennie quickly grew concerned. "I had friends who had children around the same time," she says. "He really was a very, very different baby in all regards."

    Bennie took Marc to see a doctor but did not come home with a clear diagnosis. And when she got pregnant again when Marc was 17 months old, it didn't cross her mind that the child she was carrying might face similar challenges. Marc's autism diagnosis was confirmed when he was almost 3. His baby sister, Julia, was diagnosed about a year later at 23 months. "You just can't believe it's happening the second time around. You think: what are the chances?" says Bennie, who later founded the Autism Awareness Centre Inc, a company based in Canada. Read on...

  • The Crucial Element of Parental Support: John Paul's Story
  • Growing up with autism is challenging. And as somebody who has Asperger's syndrome, I know this all too well.

    Raised in a middle-class family in one of the nicest counties in the Atlanta area, everything was fairly typical for me in my day-to-day life as a child. My father is a pilot for UPS, and my mother is a retired flight attendant for American Airlines. I had a lot of friends, and I got along well with most of my peers in my earlier years.

    My parent's experience during this time was mixed. One thing they noticed early on was my intellect. I tended to be quite knowledgeable about certain things, particularly animal life. I had a vast cranial database about a wide-ranging variety of animals including snakes, sharks, and dinosaurs.

    Not only did my family notice this but the people around us began to notice as well. I remember when my father would take me to the barbershop and how I would geek out about science. A lot of people in the shop were impressed by my expansive vocabulary, and they'd jokingly tell me to stop using such big words that people at a barbershop couldn't possibly understand. Read on...

  • Drugs that calm 'touch neurons' may ease autism traits
  • An experimental drug that muffles the activity of neurons in the skin moderates heightened reactions to touch in six mouse models of autism, according to a study published today in Cell1. The drug also tempers anxiety and a few social difficulties in some of the mice.

    The findings hint at a new strategy for treating autistic people who are highly reactive to touch. Unusual sensory responses are one of the core features of autism.

    "It's a hopeful, possible therapeutic avenue for treating specific features of autism," says Lauren Orefice, assistant professor in molecular biology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Orefice worked on the project as a postdoctoral fellow in David Ginty's lab at Harvard. Read on...

  • Medical 'home' programs offer coordinated care for autistic people
  • When we first met Rafi, then a 9-year-old boy, at our clinic a decade ago, he and his family faced multiple daunting challenges. Rafi had been diagnosed with autism at age 2 but had received no behavioral therapies.

    Rafi was nonverbal, not toilet-trained and needed help eating, dressing and bathing. He watched videos obsessively, and if they were taken away, he would hit walls - and sometimes even his caregivers and siblings - in an effort to communicate his displeasure. Our team's evaluations showed that, along with autism, Rafi had constipation, insomnia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and a mood disorder. His blood-sugar levels were in the pre-diabetic range, and his liver function was impaired. Rafi's parents had long had difficulty obtaining adequate care for him, in part because they were financially strapped and are native Spanish speakers who cannot communicate easily in English. 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

    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.

    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.

  • Mingle - September 18th!
  • Wednesday, September 18, 2019
    6 PM - 9 PM
    Rockin' Baja Lobster - Old Town
    3890 Twiggs St, San Diego, California 92110

    Join us for Mingle, where we bring parents, families, and professionals in the special needs community together for an evening to mingle, socialize, and make new connections while sharing our collective experiences and resources. At Mingle we have facilitated introductions, highlight community organizations, and feature a non-profit (Excelsior Academy) and other resources (FITS OT, Therapy Changes, RiteCare, and Rogers Behavioral Health). Click here for all the info!!!

  • UCSD ACE - SPARK Event - Saturday August 17th!!!
  • The UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) is hosting live-registration events at the Balboa Park Carousel to sign up families who have a child diagnosed with ASD for SPARK. SPARK is committed to transforming our understanding of autism and helping improve the lives of individuals affected by autism and their families. Over 18,000 families nationwide are already participating in SPARK! There is no cost to participate. Simply complete a 20-30 minute registration process, provide some saliva, and enjoy FREE carousel rides along with other fun activities at the event!

    Only two Saturdays left (August 17th or August 24th)! Please visit our website here for additional details. To RSVP or learn more about the event, contact us via phone (858-534-6906) or via email (!

  • RDI and MORE at 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

  • 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!!!

  • Registration for Shooting Stars Now Open!!
  • Shooting Stars Season 14 Registration Reminder:

    We wanted to send a quick reminder that registration is now open at We ask that if you are planning to play this season that you register by Friday, 8/23 so that we can make sure your player has a uniform on the first day!
    We look forward to seeing everyone soon!
    Coach Rick

  • 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!!!

  • 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!!

  • Fall VIP Soccer Season
  • Registration is currently open for our Fall season of VIP soccer. Please visit to register your player. The cost for fall season is $50.00.

    Our first game will be on September 8th at the Upper Softball Fields in San Elijo Hills. Games are from 1pm - 2pm. Coach Dan, the buddies and I are all looking forward to seeing you out there on the field! If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at

  • Villa de Vida, Inc. Update - Join our Healthy Lifestyles Classes
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter for all the info!!!

  • 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:

  • 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.