Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. September 17, 2019

In This Issue

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Autistic girls' brains show distinct anatomical features

What to consider when you're interviewing candidates with autism

Accepting My Autism Has Been A Process

To Escape My Autistic Son's Violence I Ended Up Living in a Tent

How the mother of an autistic man helped change state law on driver's licenses

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

NFAR's Engage & Connect Program at Kid Ventures!

Fall Family Camp - Weekend

Social Communication Specialists

FREE!!! Mornings without Tears: Practical Strategies to Get Your Child Out of Bed and On the Bus!

RDI and MORE at Therapeutic Approach to Growth

TAG in Temecula

Social Skills Groups at Ascent Psychological Services

Psychotherapy at Ascent Psychological Services

NFAR Mom's Group - September

Segal Speech and Language September Newsletter

You're Invited: Crimson Fall Fest!

Yoga Circle by Friendship Circle of San Diego

NFAR Teacher Awards - Due September 30th

NFAR Community Projects for 2020 - Due September 30th


Please Share This Newsletter and Facebook Page!!!

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  • Autistic girls' brains show distinct anatomical features
  • Nerve fiber tracts in the brains of autistic girls are more fragmented than those of typical girls. By contrast, autistic boys' brain structure is indistinguishable from that of typical boys, a new study suggests1.

    The findings come from one of the largest studies to examine sex differences in brain structure among autistic people. Researchers have had trouble finding a consistent set of brain structure differences between boys and girls.

    "We certainly thought we would see something in girls, but we didn't expect this dramatic result where we didn't see a thing in boys and then [we saw] all these differences in girls," says lead researcher Roger Jou, instructor at the Yale Child Study Center. Read on...

  • What to consider when you're interviewing candidates with autism
  • More and more employers understand the importance of having a neurodiverse workforce. However, they're not going to get there without changing their recruitment practices.

    The unemployment and underemployment of capable workers with autism is a well-documented phenomenon, as a British study showed.

    Employers are gradually getting better at recognizing the value of including neurodiverse people in their organizations, and information about accommodation strategies is starting to become more readily available.

    That said, these accommodations aren't helpful to workers if they are unable to land a job in the first place. Recruitment and selection practices can inadvertently negatively impact candidates with autism. Read on...

  • Accepting My Autism Has Been A Process
  • In my late teen and early adult years, I avoided groups and websites that mentioned support for people with autism. Ironic ... since I'm autistic. The reasons for doing so were unknown to myself so it was hard to admit my autism problems to both strangers and close loved ones. After some reflection in lonely solitary, I think I can now admit the subconscious reasons.

    The first one was the conflict with school. Both middle and high school brought a lot of homework that demanded my attention and energy more than having support from and creating bonds with other teens with autism, except for group therapy that lasted for most of middle school. Being the big geek that I am, I love learning things - mainly history and literature - and thought that going to autism support groups and group therapies would greatly hamper my grades, which would not do for me.

    The second reason was that even though I'm diagnosed with autism, I wasn't allowed to be autistic. Read on...

  • To Escape My Autistic Son's Violence I Ended Up Living in a Tent
  • "So I left. With no money and nowhere to go, I ended up living in a tent, afraid to return home to my autistic son."

    My 21 year-old son, I'll call him B, is about 6 feet tall and 220 pounds. Most of the time he is a sweetheart, but like the flick of a switch, he can start to rage, breaking everything in his path, including me.

    The public face of autism is young and cute, but when our little boys grow up, with large muscles and no impulse control, they can be scary as hell. After all we have been through, I am not ashamed to say I am afraid of my own son. This is the story about how autism made me homeless, reduced to living in a tent.

    B has a history of aggression that started as a child. For example I can recall him pulling his sister's hair, and later trying to bash her head in with a rock. Of course we tried a variety of interventions and medications to help him, but face it, as our kids grow up, and if you have public-benefit insurance, good care is hard to find.

    Last June, in response to a new medication, B started having really bad seizures along with vomiting, he was miserable. With my ex-husband living elsewhere and our daughter away at college, I lived alone with B in our apartment. I knew I was vulnerable but what choice did I have? One night he attacked me for four hours straight. Now, I have done 13 years of karate and know how to defend myself, but I couldn't fend him off anymore. My hair was drenched in sweat, I was bloodied and bruised. B broke everything, I can still see the batteries flying out the phone, the pictures falling off their hooks, their glass shattering on the floor. I screamed out the window, "Help me! Please somebody call 911!" Read on...

  • How the mother of an autistic man helped change state law on driver's licenses
  • In the spring of 2018, Kelly Richardson's 18-year-old autistic son, Hunter, was pulled over by police in Salem while driving home from work.

    "This is like an autism parent's worst nightmare," Kelly Richardson said.

    Hunter Richardson had rolled through a red light to turn right as he left the parking lot of the Walmart on North Broadway, where he worked.

    When the officer approached him and began asking him questions, he became overwhelmed and the officer thought his behavior was "odd," Kelly Richardson said.

    Her son "wasn't sure how to react," she said.

    Adding to a situation fraught with anxiety and communication barriers, the officer was a plainclothes detective in an unmarked vehicle, Kelly Richardson said. 08-886e-1d7e72dc0448.html">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.

    Great Opportunity for College Student Interested in Autism
    Caregiver Wanted

    Looking for a female caregiver for my 23 year old adult daughter with high functioning autism. 13 hours per $17/hour. Assist with prompting to encourage laundry, good hygiene, nutrition, assist with food shopping, meal prep and medication refills/adherence. Also needs support at times with managing schoolwork and planning. Must have reliable transportation, good DMV record, proof of insurance and be willing to complete a background check. References also required. Most important is a positive, supportive attitude with good boundaries! She resides in Carlsbad and hours would mostly occur on weekdays after 4:00 PM and weekends. Contact Debra Berl at or 619 672-8893 to apply.

    I have a very experienced and amazing therapist that wants to start a social group with at least 3 autistic children. We would want the kids between the ages of 10-12 years old, have language, minimal behaviors but struggle with social interactions at school. This will be a fun group that will go to places and do age-appropriate activities. The cost will be $40 for 2-hours per person and the plan so far is to do it once a week, but I need to have at least two other kiddos to make it happen.

    Please contact me via email at if you are interested

    One of my son's caregivers (who I highly recommend) is looking for additional part-time hours, ideally 3-4 days per week, and is available now. She has a bachelor's degree in Therapeutic Recreation and a minor in Child Development and loves working with kids of all abilities. Her career path includes working in Special Education classrooms as an assistant teacher. She is experienced in working with individuals with Autism, developmental delays, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and speech impairments.

    She owns a vehicle, has a clean driving record, and is both CPR and First Aid certified. Additional positive attributes include:

    Fluency in Spanish
    A patient, kind demeanor
    Ability to adapt easily and highly organized

    The days and times she is available are:
    Monday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
    Tuesday 6:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
    Wednesday 6:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
    Thursday 6:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
    Her rate is $20/hr. Please call or text her at (507) 217-0583 for more information.
    Tracey Franks

    Hi - My daughter just had her SSI benefits cut and I would like to discuss this with someone versed in the subject as soon as possible. Thanks!

    I am looking for a psycho-therapist for a young woman on the spectrum, diagnosed with aspergers. The woman is 21 years old and has behavioral problems including tantrums, meltdowns and yelling which make it challenging for her family to live with her, so we are seeking help. If anyone has any info about excellent therapists who work with such individuals I would be grateful for any leads or referrals. Amy Gerstler

    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.

  • NFAR's Engage & Connect Program at Kid Ventures!
  • Engage & Connect is a program for the whole family of children with autism, ages 2-8. Activities include circle time, motor skills, and fun activities meant to increase engagement in a fun filled, creative environment.

    Our next 4 week session begins on Thursday, October 3 and runs for 4 consecutive sessions. (10/3, 10/10, 10/17, 10/24) Session are 5:15pm-6:30pm.

    Location: Kid Ventures - 4S Ranch, 10760 Thornmint Rd, San Diego 92127

    To sign up for our next session, please contact us at (858) 679-8800 or email

  • Fall Family Camp - Weekend
  • Oct 4 at 4 PM - Oct 6 at 11 AM
    YMCA Camp Marston
    4761 Pine Hills Rd, Julian, California 92036

    Join us for our Fall Family Camp on Friday, October 4th through Sunday, October 6th! 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!

    Registration and more information at:

    You must have submitted a registration and received confirmation in order to attend. For scholarship information, please contact YMCA Camp Marston directly at 760-765-0642 and ask to speak with Otilia Cervantes.

  • Social Communication Specialists

  • 2019 - 2020 Communication & Executive Functioning Groups Enrolling Now! Groups for all ages including young adults!

    At Social Communication Specialists, we help socially quirky kids, teens and young adults communicate, relate and connect.

    We understand the social challenges kids face today. In order to have healthy friendships, kids need to understand not just the "how", but the "why" of social interactions.

    For all the info about our groups please email Janet Dudley at or click here.

    Social Communication Specialists
    5703 Oberlin Dr, Ste 207
    San Diego, CA 92121
    (858) 558-9552

  • FREE!!! Mornings without Tears: Practical Strategies to Get Your Child Out of Bed and On the Bus!
  • Wed, September 25, 2019
    6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
    SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders
    6363 Alvarado Court #250
    San Diego, CA 92120

    The SDSU Center for Autism will be hosting a workshop to make morning routines a little less painful!

    Objectives: Parents will learn strategies to assist their child with transitions and morning task completion, including utilization of visual schedules, timers, and priming.

    Content: MeBe will provide instruction in the strategies mentioned above. MeBe will bring customizable, visual schedules for parents to take home, and a handout that summarizes the strategies presented. MeBe will bring a Spanish speaking translator as well. Click here for all the info and to Register!!

  • 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

  • TAG in Temecula
  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth
    3537 Ridgepark Drive
    Temecula, CA 92590
    Phone: (858) 689-2027

  • Social Skills Groups at Ascent Psychological Services
  • An 8 week program that takes an innovative approach to create natural, exciting social opportunities through discovery and exploration in interaction with peers.

    Ascent Psychological Services
    11665 Avena Place, Suite 204
    San Diego, CA 92128
    (858) 200-8480

    Please call to join our waitlist for group availability at our south location and upcoming group for Ages 3-7!

  • Psychotherapy at Ascent Psychological Services
  • Our flexible, developmental approach to psychotherapy is customized based on age, preferences and needs. We offer therapy in our office or while walking about the lake at Webb Park, behind our building, which may be beneficial for adults.

    Ascent Psychological Services
    11665 Avena Place, Suite 204
    San Diego, CA 92128
    (858) 200-8480

  • NFAR Mom's Group - September
  • September 18, 2019
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
    Filippi's Pizza Grotto
    5353 Kearny Villa Rd
    San Diego, CA 92123
    Dinner: Pizza, Salad.
    Dinner is provided

    These meetings are for Moms to come together in a fun and relaxed setting. The group will meet the 3rd Wednesday of the month for dinner and guest speakers. It's an opportunity to share resources, experiences and enjoy being with other moms of individuals with autism.

    September Topic: "Improving Social Skills Through Improv"

    Did you know that your child can strengthen their social skills while having fun? Come learn how Improv is helping to do this for those with autism, and related disabilities.

    Guest Speaker: Richie Ploesch, Program Director, Connections, Unscripted Learning

    Richie Ploesch, M.A., BCBA has been working in the field of special education for over 10 years. His specialty is educating students and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He earned his teaching credential in 2006, a Master's Degree in 2008, and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2009.

    Since then, he has not only taught special education classes but also has taught as an adjunct professor, consulted with family members internationally, and provided in home behavioral therapy to improve social skills and increase independence.

    Richie Ploesch is Director of Partnerships at Autism Spectrum Therapies (AST) and the Program Director for Connections at Unscripted Learning. Last year, he was recognized by the Daily Transcript as one of their Top Forty Under Forty

    To Learn More about Unscripted Learning.

    Click here for all the info!!!

  • Segal Speech and Language September Newsletter
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter for all the info about their programs!!!

  • You're Invited: Crimson Fall Fest!
  • TERI Crimson Center for Speech & Language Pathology
    9606 Tierra Grande St., Suite 107
    San Diego, CA 92126

    To RSVP for this event please call 760-315-1311.

  • Yoga Circle by Friendship Circle of San Diego
  • Nine Upcoming Dates!!!
    September 2019 thru May 2020
    Contact for location.

    Relax & learn yoga with us! A beginners guide to yoga taught by a certified instructor, followed by magic lessons tough by Jessy Podolsky.

    Early Bird Rate - $20 Annual Fee, $36 at the door.

  • NFAR Teacher Awards - Due September 30th
  • Attention Teachers, Speech & Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Resource & Autism specialists, serving students with autism and related disorders...

    APPLY TODAY! NFAR's Teacher's Awards grant application period is OPEN!

    Open to Classroom Teachers, Speech & Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Resource and Autism specialists, serving students with autism and related disorders, this funding is designed to support the specialized academic needs of their students with autism.

    ---> Funding averages $500 per award <---
    To date, NFAR has over 700 Teachers Grants, benefiting thousands of students with autism.

    Completed applications are due on September 30th. To learn more/apply, please visit

  • NFAR Community Projects for 2020 - Due September 30th
  • Each year, funds raised by the Race for Autism help to support autism programs and new initiatives in our community. Together, we have supported over 90 major initiatives, increasing the learning, social, training and employment opportunities for those with autism in San Diego.

    "NEW" - NFAR is working to build a more inclusive San Diego. Proposals are sought for initiatives that are helping to include those with autism into the mainstream fabric of San Diego's community. These can have an educational, employment or leisure based focus. Neurodiversity has been shown to create more dynamic, creative and accepting environments for all persons. THIS YEAR, we are asking for Letters of Intent from applicants for initiatives that align with this vision of building a more inclusive community. Click here for all the info and to apply!!! Due September 30th!!!

  • 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

  • San Diego Park and Rec Program for the Disabled Fall Calendar

  • Click here for the Fall 2019 program calendar. Registration is open now!

    Registration can be done online at or at our office at the War Memorial Building (3325 Zoo Drive, San Diego, Ca 92101)

  • 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

  • TAG Temecula Info Session Online Webinar Every Month

  • For all the info and to RSVP please contact Emily Fattouh Program Coordinator at or call 858-689-2027.

  • Toddler MRI Study at SDSU

  • Our Center's research arm, the Brain Development Imaging Labs, is conducting a fascinating study looking at how young children's brains change as they get older. We are looking for kids (15 months to 5 years old) who are on the spectrum or who are suspected to have autism. Participants get a free assessment (plus assessment summary), free MRI scan, $150, AND a free picture of their brain! For more info or to sign up, please call us at 619-594-2500 or email us at Thank you!

  • 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.