Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. August 31, 2018

In This Issue

Who's Got Back-to-School Jitters? Mom and Dad, That's Who.

Sibling study bolsters role of common variants in autism

The Power of Embracing What I Don't Know As an Autism Parent

DNA and the Environment: What Determines How Our Genes Work?

Ketamine for depression may contribute to opioid dependence

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Cara Lucier & Associates

Be Proactive NOT Reactive

FDA Approved Therapy for Anxiety!

Welcome to our SDSC TOPSoccer Program!

Cortica Care: Comprehensive Autism Treatment

Make Sure Your Child's Supplemental Aides, Services Accommodations and Modifications Are In Place On the First Day of School

*NEW* Engage & Connect Program - 4 Week Series

Family Fun at theNAT!

Social Stories for Many Museums in Balboa Park!

Outshine Speech Therapy!

ATPF Musical Playgroup

Fall Family Camp

Conference: Love & Autism



  • Who's Got Back-to-School Jitters? Mom and Dad, That's Who.

  • Nerves and butterflies don't just happen to school-bound students once autumn approaches and the streets fill up again with big yellow buses. Nope. We parents get the jitters, too-especially parents of kids with special needs. We worry: Will his new teacher "get it?" Will the academic and social supports work? What will happen at lunch and recess? Will my calls be returned? And it all boils down to the question: Will my beloved child be OK?

    As the mom of an autistic son, a former school board president and a special needs advocate-roles I had before becoming a children's author-my life revolved around these questions for many years. So let's imagine we are sitting down for a chat over coffee (maybe decaf, since we already have the jitters). Here's some stuff I've learned about prepping for the new school year and easing nervous jitters of the parental variety. Read on...

  • Sibling study bolsters role of common variants in autism
  • Children with autism, as a group, are genetically more similar to one another than to a group of their unaffected siblings, a new study suggests1. The findings support the notion that people with the condition share common inherited variants that boost autism risk.

    Studies comparing people who have autism with unrelated controls suggest common variants can contribute as much as 49 percent to autism risk. But ethnic differences between the two groups in previous studies may have skewed this estimate too high, says Michael Wigler, professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.

    In the new study, Wigler and his team compared people with autism with their unaffected siblings, who have similar genetic backgrounds. They found strong evidence that variants of small effect that are passed down for generations contribute to autism risk, Wigler says. "It was significant at a very substantial level," he says. Read on...

  • The Power of Embracing What I Don't Know As an Autism Parent
  • I'm a reasonably intelligent man, but I know nothing. I'm simply a dad, only five years into my adventure as an autism parent, trying to learn and share my observations. That's a good place to start if, like me, you want to be involved in healthy dialogues on autism. We can't be clinging too tightly to ideas and acting like we know it all. But, we can't keep our ideas to ourselves either.

    As a parent of two autistic boys, every day feels like a struggle to find the perfect answer. I want to appropriately direct their behavior and be productive while respecting their identity and creating happy, comfortable lives for them. How the heck do I do that?

    Which therapies are appropriate for them and at what point are they being pushed a bit too far? If I believe there's nothing "wrong" with my sons, which I surely do, can I justify rigorous strategies to change their behavior? Where am I supposed to draw the line? Add this to the regular moment to moment stresses of being an autism parent, and it's a wonder my brain hasn't exploded yet. Read on...

  • DNA and the Environment: What Determines How Our Genes Work?
  • One of the hottest areas of research is the study of how the outside world - the air we breathe, the food and medications we consume, the experiences we have - affects the way our genes work.

    Unfortunately, it's also an area of science that is easily misunderstood. Take the recent reports suggesting that astronaut Scott Kelly's genes were changed by space travel, so much so that he and his identical twin were no longer identical. The authors of those articles confused genetics - our DNA - with epigenetics - the chemicals and proteins that surround our DNA and influence their work, as The Washington Post noted. Kelly's DNA was not changed. But the experience of living in space for almost a year had altered his epigenetics.

    Of course, you do not need to leave Earth to experience changes to your epigenome. The epigenome describes the "chemical compounds and proteins that can attach to DNA"2 and, like a bossy sibling, tell it how to do its work. Understanding epigenetics is crucial to understanding autism. "Given that neurodevelopment is influenced by genetic and epigenetic factors, it is important to study both processes to fully understand the basis of autism and related disorders," said Silvia De Rubeis, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment in New York. Read on...

  • Ketamine for depression may contribute to opioid dependence
  • Researchers have found that ketamine can act quickly to relieve symptoms of severe depression, but it remains unclear how. A new study asks whether this drug is just "another opioid" in disguise and advises specialists to exercise caution.

    Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on research that found that ketamine can quickly relieve symptoms of severe depression, such as suicidal thoughts.

    That being said, researchers are still working to understand what makes ketamine so effective, and even more importantly, whether the temporary relief it provides is worth it compared with side effects such as dissociation and risks such as addiction. Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • 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!

    Hi we are a new family who is in the military and are moving to San Diego I wanted help with guidance on school system and ABA, speech and OT services. We will be living near Murphy Canyon.

    Congregation Beth Am, in Carmel Valley, is looking for an inclusion specialist to oversee it's program on Sunday mornings, Wednesday afternoon and Thursday afternoon's. They are also looking for candidates to hire to shadow students with special needs. If interested please contact Rabbi Earne at Congregation Beth Am Or phone the JLC (Jewish Learning Center), 858-481-2869.

    I'm looking for music classes for my 10 year old Autistic Son. I would like to go to the studio if it's close to where I live which is in Rancho Bernardo Area or Carmel Mountain Area.
    Thank you

    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.

  • Cara Lucier & Associates
  • At Cara Lucier & Associates we believe in the ability of every person to reach their potential. We believe that education is the key to opportunity. We advocate for the rights of individuals and their families:

    • IEP team meetings
    • Mediation
    • Due Process Hearings and Appeals
    • 504 Meetings and Appeals
    • Regional Center Meetings and Appeals
    • IHSS Appeals
    • Civil Rights Litigation
    For a free 60-minute initial consultation, please contact us at (760)505-2498.

    Law Offices of Cara Lucier
    Civil Rights and Education Law
    701 Palomar Airport Road, Suite #300
    Carlsbad, CA 92011
    Phone: (760) 717-3451

  • Be Proactive NOT Reactive
  • Does this sound familiar?

    The school year starts off pretty well. But a few weeks in and your child starts experiencing the same social difficulties as last year.

    Your child says he has friends but isn't invited to any get-togethers. Maybe he's entering middle school and old friends seem to have disappeared. He's spending more and more time playing video games and beginning to refuse to participate in activities. You aren't getting calls for playdates. Maybe your daughter is experiencing bullying.

    It's painful to see your kid struggle and know that something isn't working but not know what to do differently. You aren't sure what to tell your kid and truth is they probably wouldn't listen to you even if you knew what to say.

    We can help.

    At SCS we create customized groups that teach kids and teens how to be socially competent. We help them learn to develop new perspectives and increase their ability to consider the perspectives of others. We don't teach rote social skills, but rather the concepts, skills and mindset that allows kids to apply what they've learned at school, home and beyond. Kids learn to be more socially competent in a fun, supportive and energetic learning environment.

    The start of a new school year is the perfect time to schedule a free consultation. Customized groups are being formed now that will allow your child to start developing the skills needed for success today. Don't wait for things to get more difficult mid-semester.

    Groups start the week of September 10th. For more information and to schedule a free consultation, please contact Janet Dudley at or call 858-558-9552.

    Social Communication Specialists
    5703 Oberlin Dr, Ste 207
    San Diego, CA 92121

  • FDA Approved Therapy for Anxiety!
  • 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.

    Microcurrent 4 Kids
    4540 Kearny Villa Road, Ste. 211
    San Diego, CA 92123
    858 367-9108

  • Welcome to our SDSC TOPSoccer Program!
  • Fall 2018 Dates
    Sundays, September 9 - November 18

    Rancho Bernardo High School Stadium
    13010 Paseo Lucido
    San Diego, CA 92128
    Cost: $20

    We welcome all challenged athletes and their families who love playing soccer to enjoy our spring and fall sessions. In addition, we provide opportunities for our TOPSoccer athletes to participate in soccer festivals and tournaments year-round, including one of SDSC and San Diego's biggest tournaments, the Pegasus Cup.

    Click here for all the info and to register or ask questions!!!

  • Cortica Care: Comprehensive Autism Treatment
  • Experience a unique and effective approach to autism therapy.

    Our aim is to bring to families everywhere the most effective therapies for the treatment of autism. Our integrated care model is based on the scientific research and clinical practice of our founder, Dr. Suzanne Goh. We seek to set a new global standard for autism care by achieving superior developmental outcomes for the children and families we serve.

    At Cortica, we believe the world needs a higher standard of care for all those living with autism, or a potential diagnosis of autism. Families like yours deserve effective, collaborative, caring therapies that are accessible and reasonably priced, no matter who you are or where you live.

    The Cortica Care Model

    • Neurophysiology
    • Family and Home
    • Biochemistry
    • Cognition and Behavior
    • Sensorimotor
    • Communication
    Together, we clarify the complex, celebrate extraordinary efforts, and witness moments of brilliance as our children grow new skills and abilities. Many of our services are covered by medical insurance plans. Contact us for all the info!!!

    Cortica Care
    7090 Miratech Drive
    San Diego, CA 92121
    16800 Aston, Suite 175
    Irvine, CA 92606

  • Make Sure Your Child's Supplemental Aides, Services Accommodations and Modifications Are In Place On the First Day of School
  • school_supplies_desk.jpg

    As a previous Special Educator and Graduate Professor in the field of Special Education, emphasizing in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), I am noticing a trend in our Public Schools. Public Schools are slowly phasing out Special Day Classes (SDC), whether they are Non Severely Handicapped (NSH) or Severely Handicapped (SH).

    This new trend, as all changes do, has pros and cons. Full Inclusion to the General Education Classroom can be a great opportunity for your Special Needs Child to socialize with their A-Typical, age and grade appropriate peers, and allow your child Full Access to the General Education Curriculum as well as Full Access to their Education.

    However, Special Needs students are now in a classroom with 30+ students and the teachers, as dedicated as they may be, are not educated in the field of Special Education. With this situation I can't help but wonder, how will Parents be guaranteed their Child's IEP will be implemented in the General Education Classroom? The IEP runs the student's program, not the other way around. Since an IEP is a Federally Legal Document the Goals, and in some cases Short-Term Objectives, Modifications and Accommodations should be in place in the General Ed. Environment.

    Your child's Case Manager is responsible to ensure everything written above is in place. I now work as an Educational Parent Advocate. I have observed on several occasions, the IEP, Supplemental Aides, Modifications and Accommodations are in fact, not in place. In addition the Goals and Short-Term Objectives are not running the student's Program, the Teacher's lesson plan is. The student(s) I am representing as an Educational Parent Advocate often are quietly sitting at their desks, not wanting to call attention to themselves, and are not participating in academics or interacting with their A-Typical Peers.

    To be clear, this is most times not the fault of the General Education Teacher. I find the root of the problem to be overwhelmed Case Managers with many students on their case loads, lack of time to meet with each teacher to review all of the Special Needs Student's IEPs, and most of all, Lack Of Communication. To ensure a successful school experience for Special Needs Students, communication between the Program Specialist, Case Manager, General Education Teachers and Parents is key. This way Case Managers can offer support to the General Education Teachers and Program Specialists can advise and support Case Managers and General Education Teachers. Finally, parents, perhaps the most important members of the IEP Team, need to be included in the communication process. This type of communication between parents and school can be implemented through a Teacher's web-site and/or e-mail, a daily Communication Log or by phone. In my experience as a Special Educator, Administrator and Parent Advocate when these steps are taken, Special Needs students and their Parents will find school to be a safe and welcoming environment.

    Of course, it will take time to make trusting, open, honest relationships with all of the players involved. However, with dedication, determination, and desire all of what is necessary to make sure your child is set up for success in school, can and will happen. If you have any questions, concerns or have a need for an Educational Parent Advocate, please feel free to send an e-mail to: or call me at 619-341-3595. As an Advocate I focus completely on the success of your child and make sure the IEP Team is following all Policies and Procedures as well as Special Education Law. I am happy to give a FREE one hour consultation to all perspective clients. I look forward to answering any questions you may have.

    Richard Spindler, M/S
    Educational Parent Advocate
    Graduate Professor

  • *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 sign up for a once-a-week program for 4 consecutive weeks. Limited spots available.

    Program has been modified, with structured activities and social play to be facilitated by special education professionals and therapists.

    The first 4 week series will be held at the Kid Ventures indoor recreational play center in 4S Ranch on Thursdays in October from 5:00 - 6:30 pm. The dates are Oct 4, 11, 18 and 25.

    To register, or learn more - please contact NFAR at 858-679-8800. The program is free of charge but a credit card must be given to reserve your spot.

    Kid Ventures, 4S Ranch location
    10760 Thornmint Rd, San Diego, CA 92127

  • Family Fun at theNAT!
  • Join us at the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) on Sunday, Oct.14th for a morning of discovery & fun!

    TheNAT is planning some special activities for our families, including a sensory-friendly 2D film that morning!

    SPECIAL: TheNat is offering our participants FREE admission for ASD Morning until 9:45am. Doors open at 9am. (After 9:45am are regular admission prices at $19/adult and $12/child).

    We hope that you can make it! Please RSVP here:

  • Social Stories for Many Museums in Balboa Park!
  • Social stories (in English and Spanish) for 7 museums in Balboa Park (The Nat, The Fleet, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Museum of Art, Museum of Man, San Diego History Center, and Japanese Friendship Garden) are available online. These were created by young adults with autsim as part of the SPECTRUM Social Stories Project here at The Nat.

  • Outshine Speech Therapy!
  • Services are provided to clients: in-home, after school programs, Preschool, and other settings as needed by parent request and client needs. We can collaborate or overlap with other service provider and ABA providers to assist in generalization of gained skills.

    Bilingual Farsi and English speech therapy is available in Carlsbad and Encinitas.

    Please call us for free consultations. (760) 410-8487

    Please request from your service coordinators for our services.

  • ATPF Musical Playgroup
  • You and your family are invited to join us! We will learn valuable interaction, communication, and social skills through group music making in a fun and friendly environment. The ATPF playgroups are facilitated by board-certified music therapists from the music Therapy Center of California.

    Ready to make some music? Register today!

    Call 619-222-4465 or Email

  • Fall Family Camp
  • Hosted by Autism Society San Diego
    Oct 5 - Oct 8, 2018
    YMCA Camp Marston
    4761 Pine Hills Rd, Julian, California 92036

    Join us for our Fall Family Camp on Friday,October 5th through Sunday, October 7th! The YMCA of San Diego County Overnight Camps and Autism Society San Diego have teamed up to provide families who are part of the autism community with a fun weekend in the mountains of Julian. Family time is important and there's no better place to make friends and be yourself than YMCA Camp Marston! All meals and activities are included, and we can accommodate special diets with advanced notice. Accommodations are in newly remodeled winterized cabins with indoor plumbing! Each family gets their own indoor bedroom with sleeping accommodations for up to 6. Open to families and children of all ages - come join us for a weekend of relaxing fun!

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

  • Conference: Love & Autism
  • 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!!!

  • ASD Mornings at theNAT
  • Social stories (in English and Spanish) for 7 museums in Balboa Park (The Nat, The Fleet, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Museum of Art, Museum of Man, San Diego History Center, and Japanese Friendship Garden) are available online. These were created by young adults with autsim as part of the SPECTRUM Social Stories Project here at The Nat.

  • 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 Therapeutic Recreation Services Newsletter for Fall 2018
  • The City of San Diego Park & Recreation Therapeutic Recreation Services program provides sports, recreation, leisure and outreach services to people with physical, mental and emotional disabilities.

    Services include therapeutic recreation programs and adaptive sports opportunities. These address the special needs of individuals with disabilities who have difficulty accessing and participating in recreation opportunities offered to the general public.

    Fall Calendar

    Under the direction of Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists, activities and services are designed to maintain or improve the physical, cognitive and social functioning of those who have limitations. The target population is children and adults, ages 3 and up, with any type of disability.

    For additional questions about Therapeutic Recreation Services, please call 619-525-8247.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 4th Annual Captain Conference on Supporting Inclusion
  • Saturday, October 27 at 8:30 AM - 3 PM
    Liberty Station Conference Center
    2600 Laning Rd, San Diego, California 92106
    $15 registration in advance - $30 at the door

    Learn about the research and practical guidelines for using evidence-based practices to promote inclusion throughout the lifespan.

    Breakout sessions will include:
    • Visual Supports for community settings
    • Social Skills Overview
    • Reinforcement and ABI: Easy Modifications
    • SUCCESS program
    • Peer Mediated Supports and Interventions
    • And more...
    Register at

  • 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!!!

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

  • Click here to view the flyer. For more info and to enroll please contact

    'This study is really interesting. So many times I have heard of kids who have great days just as they are coming down with a cold. Other times kids get cranky. This device can safely raise body temperature and maybe help some people. But it has to be looked at carefully, which is why we are doing this controlled pilot study. Please let us know if you want to try it!'

    Joshua D Feder, MD
    Child and Family Psychiatry

  • Brain Imaging 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.