Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. September 24, 2019

In This Issue

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Sparking new autism discoveries

While Special Needs Technology Advances Cuts May Be Made to Medicaid

Brain imaging shows how nonverbal children with autism have slower response to sounds

Study: People with autism show atypical brain activity when coordinating visual and motor information

Autism Act Clears Senate

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

NFAR's Engage & Connect Program at Kid Ventures!

Jason Mraz Audition for Malashock Dance

Social Communication Specialists

FREE! - ATPF Parent Mentor Night

RDI and MORE at Therapeutic Approach to Growth

Grant Applications Due October 9th

FREE!! - ATPF 5th Annual Neuroscience Conference

West Coast National TACA Autism Conference

Yoga in the Park Day for Adults with Autism

Empowered Parenting: Identifying the Missing Links

Teen Leadership Board at Friendship Circle San Diego

NFAR WORKS Vocational Training Program!

NFAR Teacher Awards - Due September 30th

NFAR Community Projects for 2020 - Due September 30th


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!

  • Sparking new autism discoveries
  • University of Miami researchers who are collaborating on the world's largest autism research project see promising results in the first study.

    Over the past three years, in hopes of accelerating research on the genetic causes and treatments for autism, University of Miami psychology faculty have recruited nearly 700 children affected by the neurodevelopmental disorder, and both of their parents, to join the world's largest autism research project.

    This month they began to see the fruits of their labors when the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge, or SPARK, which is collecting DNA samples from 50,000 people with autism and their parents, released its first study on 457 families. Published in the Nature research journal npj Genomic Medicine, the study identified nine new genes that could be associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including a new, high-confidence autism risk gene, BRSK2.

    While the study emphasized that the findings are preliminary, it noted that many of the newly identified candidate genes "function in biological pathways that have been previously implicated in autism" and are highly expressed during the mid-stage of pregnancy, "a time in brain development that has been linked to the pathogenesis of ASD." Read on...

    If you and your family would like to participate in the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge, or SPARK at UCSD, 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! Here is their website: There is also more info about SPARK at UCSD below in this newsletter.

  • While Special Needs Technology Advances Cuts May Be Made to Medicaid
  • It is exciting to learn that technology giants like Google are working on ways to improve the lives of those with disabilities. At Google's annual developer conference, CEO Sundar Pichai stated, "We believe technology can help us be more inclusive and (artificial intelligence) is providing us with new tools to dramatically improve the experience for people with disabilities."

    Google went on to share they are working on technologies that will help those with speech impairments communicate by teaching computers to decipher their words and then repeat them. Engineers are also working on adjusting Google Assistant, so non-verbal people will be able to use that technology. It is so exciting to see technology giants like Google turn to the disability community with an eye on accessibility and supported living.

    At the same time as we see technology developments that will continue to assist individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities live as independently as possible, we find the main funding source for these folks, Medicaid, coming under continued cost and management scrutinization. Read on...

  • Brain imaging shows how nonverbal children with autism have slower response to sounds
  • Even though nonverbal or minimally verbal people who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) make up between 25 and 30 percent of the total autistic population, almost no studies have been done focusing on this group and their particular needs.

    To address this gap in knowledge of the true spectrum of autism, researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)'s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center used state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques to determine how this specific group of children who have autism processes auditory stimuli, which could have important diagnostic and prognostic implications across the autism spectrum. The findings were published in the journal Molecular Autism.

    Previous brain imaging studies have found that children on the autism spectrum have prolonged or delayed auditory processing responses compared with their neurotypical peers. However, most imaging studies have focused on verbal children with autism. Children with limited or no speech have previously been excluded because they are more likely to have difficulty understanding the demands and requirements of the imaging process and are less likely to tolerate loud noises or other sensory experiences related to imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Read on...

  • Study: People with autism show atypical brain activity when coordinating visual and motor information
  • A new study in the Journal of Neurophysiology by researchers at the University of Kansas Life Span Institute is the first to look at functional brain activity in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) while they performed precision visuomotor behavior-in this case, a grip-force test.

    The authors found new evidence sensorimotor changes in people with autism involve abnormal cortical and subcortical organization "that may contribute to key clinical issues in patients."

    People with autism performed a precision grip-force test while being scanned inside an MRI machine. They watched a display containing two horizontal bars set against a black background. The subjects controlled the bars in specific ways by pressing a device in their right hand. So did a control group of people without ASD. Read on...

  • Autism Act Clears Senate
  • A bill that includes more than $1.8 billion for federal efforts to address the needs of people with autism is headed to President Donald Trump.

    The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support, or Autism CARES, Act, on Thursday.

    The measure, H.R. 1058, ensures funding for research, prevalence tracking, screening, professional training and other government activities related to autism. It renews an existing federal law that originated in 2006 for another five years. 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

  • Jason Mraz Audition for Malashock Dance
  • Malashock Dance is hosting an open audition for standardly AND differently-abled students to perform in 2 original dances with Jason Mraz in February of 2020.

    Audition details:
    Sunday, October 6 from 2:30-4: 30 pm
    Location: Malashock Dance, 2650 Truxtun Rd, Room 200 (Located in Liberty Station), San Diego, CA, 92106
    Audition Requirements: Please wear athletic gear and running/athletic shoes. The audition may also be barefoot depending on the choreography.

    I have attached the FB event and our Webpage below. We are asking all students to please RSVP for the audition.



  • 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! - ATPF Parent Mentor Night
  • Thursday at 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    Autism Tree Project Foundation Office
    2845 Nimitz Blvd, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92106

    Mentors are both parents and professionals with strong knowledge of autism spectrum disorders in addition to a passion and commitment for empowering those who face the daily challenges of raising or educating a child with autism. Mentors are there to lend an ear, help families problem solve, find the help they need for their child and offer emotional support. The ATPF Parent Mentor Program is a way to provide face-to-face support in a caring and warm environment for families new to the autism diagnosis. Mentors are both parents and professionals with strong knowledge of autism spectrum disorders in addition to a passion and commitment for empowering those who face the daily challenges of raising or educating a child with autism. Click here for all the info and to RSVP!!!

  • 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

  • Grant Applications Due October 9th
  • Our next grant application deadline is October 9th. We are looking for transportation, employment and self advocacy programs that empower people with developmental disabilities. If you feel your organization would benefit from our funding please click here to download the grant application, or contact Sitara Sethi, Director of Programs and Development at

  • FREE!! - 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.

    Register for FREE here:

  • West Coast National TACA Autism Conference
  • October 18 - 20, 2019 at 8 AM - 9 PM
    Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa
    3050 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, California 92626

    Join hundreds of parents and professionals to learn the latest in research, treatment options and therapies for individuals with autism. The National TACA Autism West Coast Conference will feature three days, and now four tracks of presentations to cover all aspects and levels of the autism journey. Topics will include special diets, therapies, beginner and advanced biomedical treatments, IEP, inspiration, navigating adulthood, and much more. Whether your child is recently diagnosed or you have years of experience, you will walk away from the conference with a plan for the next steps of your autism journey. For all the info and to register:

  • Yoga in the Park Day for Adults with Autism
  • Sat, September 28, 2019
    10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    Princess Del Cerro Park
    6195 Wenrich Drive
    San Diego, CA 92120

    The SDSU Center for Autism is hosting a Yoga in the Park event for Adults with Autism (18 yrs or older). This sensory friendly outdoor event will take place at the beautiful Princess Del Cerro Park from 10-11:30 am on September 28th. Our partner, Nazdira Cuevas, will teach modified poses and breathing tools to regulate and reduce anxiety. She will help attendees create a mind/body connection and focus on the present. There will be guided visualizations at the end. Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • Empowered Parenting: Identifying the Missing Links
  • Starting Saturday, September 28, 2019
    2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
    The Center for Health and Human Potential
    6342 Riverdale Street
    San Diego, CA 92120

    Supporting the growth of special needs families
    Self care is paramount for the well-being of the family unit. Guilt, stress, confusion and an overall lack of energy can affect each family member. Identify your missing links and reconnect with a purpose beyond parenting to improve the quality of your family's life.

    Shift your perspective. Gain clarity. Create a roadmap. 12 hours of learning! The cost of the entire program is the same for one or two parents!! Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • Teen Leadership Board at Friendship Circle San Diego
  • 5 Dates - Oct 6, 2019 - May 17, 2020
    The Bean - @ The JCC

    Looking to go above & beyond with in a leadership role? FRIENDSHIP Circle is accepting OUTSTANDING teen leaders. Previous volunteerism experience with FC required.

    Plan events - create new programs - help others - scholarship opportunities - earn community service hours.

    For more info please contact Tanya at

  • NFAR WORKS Vocational Training Program!
  • NFAR Works is a comprehensive vocational training program for young adults with autism (ages 18-29).

    The Program has been designed to offer participants an opportunity to develop skill sets needed for entry level positions in a typical corporation, including office environments and light manufacturing.

    NFAR Works is vendored through the San Diego Regional Center.

    To learn more about the program, and/or fill out an Interest Form here or call NFAR at 858-679-8800.

  • 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.