Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. October 04, 2018

In This Issue

Simple Ways Parents and Professionals Can Help Children With ASD

Separate thinking skills underlie autism, attention deficit

A Hands-On Visual Schedule For Older Kids

Stress-regulating brain area larger in depression, bipolar

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Developmental DIR Autism Therapy in Your Home!

The Music Therapy Center of CA Exciting October Events!

2018 Love & Autism Conference

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

NFAR Family Activity at theNAT Sunday, Oct. 14th!

NFAR Men's Group - Thu. Oct 11

The Drummer and the Keeper - Feature Film at the San Diego International Film Festival

Now Enrolling: Oct-Dec North County Social Clubs!

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

Now Enrolling: Oct-Dec Teen San Diego Social Club!

Jeremiah's Ranch October Newsletter

Post-Secondary Transition Special Needs Planning

My Special Needs Connection October Newsletter - Ask an Advocate

The Beginners' Guide to Special Needs Planning


  • Simple Ways Parents and Professionals Can Help Children With ASD
  • As a professional working extensively in the area of special education needs I saw a pattern as I interacted with different professionals and parents. The interesting part is that this pattern is unintentional as we don't know whether what we are doing is right or wrong which leads to a lot of anxiety and confusion for the child and ourselves.

    In many cultures, the biases and prejudices that abound pose huge obstacles and there are also invisible social barriers that make it anything but easy to allow these families and children to feel like they are an equal part of the social fabric. Even if families are prepared to step outside their own homes with a child with special educational needs (SEN), this attitude comes at a price. The impediments are far deeper and greater in the external environment than just those presented by the child's condition.

    Here is the list of some of the things where we can work as parents and professionals to help children and ourselves: Read on...

  • Separate thinking skills underlie autism, attention deficit

  • For more than 30 years, scientists have debated which of two cognitive abilities, theory of mind and executive function, is more closely related to autism.

    Difficulty with theory of mind - the ability to infer other people's mental states - can complicate social behavior and communication1.

    Trouble with flexible thinking, working memory and self-control - the core executive functions - can impair the ability to adapt to changing situations, understand new concepts, set goals and keep calm2.

    Until now, research into which of the two abilities relates more to core autism traits has been inconsistent. My team has new findings suggesting that theory of mind is the more important contributor to autism and that problems with executive function are more often associated with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). The latter often accompanies autism. Read on...

  • A Hands-On Visual Schedule For Older Kids
  • When my son was younger, we used a visual schedule.

    We had a pouch up on the wall with various laminated pictures depicting our activities for the day. As he completed the activity, he took the picture out of its pouch and set it aside until the next day.

    It worked very, very well. It helped with transitions and kept our days on track.

    That visual schedule was essential in our early years.

    Fast forward and my son is now 12 years old. Profoundly dyslexic, he still struggles to read. He also still struggles to keep track of time, to not feel overwhelmed by the day's tasks and to transition from one activity to the next.

    Moreover, his tasks and activities often happen outside our home in the form of therapies, doctor appointments and classes. Read on...

  • Stress-regulating brain area larger in depression, bipolar
  • The left side of the hypothalamus was revealed to be 5 percent larger in a new study of people with affective disorders such as depression and bipolar.

    Over 16 million adults in the United States have had at least one episode of major depression during the past year.

    In fact, depression is one of the most prevalent mental health problems in the U.S.

    At least 9 million more people aged 18 and over are living with bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

    The precise underlying causes for both of these conditions remain unknown, but neuroscientists are unraveling more and more aspects that can affect a person's chances of developing these disorders. Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • I am a mother of a 12 year old boy, diagnosed with moderate autism, almost nonverbal. I am having to work more hours, as result he will be under care of different care takers. I am searching for a GPS/Tracker where I could hear his surroundings and if needed talking to him to calming him down. He is not able to use a cell phone so this will not be an option. I will appreciate ideas. Thank you

    I have a freshman son who will be having a transition plan IEP soon to discuss high school, and post high plan vocational/education objectives.

    I am looking for parents that can give an overview of what this process entails with do's and don'ts, or whoulda, shoulda, coulda's. What do we need to know to as parents to guide our teens yet still advocate and work with the school for the best outcomes and objectives. I know a few other parents with freshman and we are all at different high schools looking for support and guidance in this education process. Any help and resources are appreciated. Thank you so much!

    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.

  • Developmental DIR Autism Therapy in Your Home!
  • Real Connections Child Development Institute
    Supporting and partnering with families of children on the autism spectrum through understanding, engagement and relationships.

    Developmental Play Therapy - 1:1 developmental therapy in your child's natural environment. Evidenced- based, emotional, cognitive and neurobiological therapy that assists your child in developing meaningful relationships.

    Parent Coaching & Support - Real-time training and education in your child's individual profile. Learn new ways to engage and connect, while focusing on communicative and cognitive/ social emotional development. Maximize your child's developmental growth through both daily interactions and parent-child intervention sessions.

    A "Whole Child" Program

    • Flexible Thinking
    • Problem Solving
    • Scripting
    • Perserveration
    • Meltdowns
    • Executive Function Skills
    • Regulation
    • Sensory Integration
    • Spatial Processing
    • Individualized Program
    Real Connections San Diego
    415 North Highway 101, Suite C
    Solana Beach, CA 92075
    619-840-0015 or 858-768-0313

  • The Music Therapy Center of CA Exciting October Events!
  • We are welcoming in October with a variety of new exciting events and opportunities! Now that the back to school flurry is starting to settle, we're looking forward to enjoying lots of music making this month - everything from Jam Sessions to Songbirds, Rock Star Club to the annual Autism Speaks Walk.

    Click here to read their latest newsletter for all the info on these programs and more!!!

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

    When we started this conference 5 years ago, it was a small, local conference with the belief that everyone deserves the highest quality relationship possible. There was, and still is, a devastating and pervasive myth that autistic people are not interested in creating meaningful relationships, nor capable of love. We know every human being needs love and human connection.

    Today, Love & Autism is so much more than our original vision. Our mission grew along the way. We are creating a world where autistic people are valued and worthy.

    • 100% autistic representation on main stage
    • 15 main stage presenters, 4 main stage performers & 15+ breakout sessions
    • 4 unique conference tracks including conference track for young autistic self-advocates 12+
    • Accommodations designed to create safe autistic space throughout the entire conference experience
    • Music, art, special events, and more!
    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!!

  • 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

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

    theNAT has some special activities planned for our families - including a sensory-friendly 2D film.

    theNat offers our participants FREE admission for ASD Mornings until 9:45 AM.

    Sign Up

  • NFAR Men's Group - Thu. Oct 11
  • Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
    Filippi's Pizza Grotto
    5353 Kearny Villa Rd
    San Diego, CA 92123

    Dinner: Pizza, Salad.
    Dinner is provided

    The Men's Group is for dads, step dads, and granddads helping to raise a child with autism. We offer dinner, guest speakers and a chance to network with other men in a relaxed setting.

    October Topic: The IEP - Tips and Practical Suggestions

    Guest Speaker: Allan Roth, M.S.Ed., Alliance Resources and Associates, Inc.

    Click here for all the info about this presentation!!!

  • The Drummer and the Keeper - Feature Film at the San Diego International Film Festival

    Gabriel is the drummer of an up and coming rock band in Dublin, who when not playing, can barely keep a handle on his drinking and depression. Following his latest incident, his sister forces him into a therapy where he strikes up an unlikely friendship with a teen diagnosed with Asperger's. What follows is a winning and completely unpredictable story of finding your family.

    Friday October 12, 2018 | 4:00pm

    Saturday October 13, 2018 | 7:30pm

    Click here for all the info about the entire festival and to purchase tickets!!!

  • Now Enrolling: Oct-Dec North County Social Clubs!
  • SIGN UP DEADLINE IS 10/12/18!!!

    SIGN UP: or call 858-428-0222.

  • Now Enrolling: Oct-Dec Central San Diego Social Clubs!
  • SIGN UP DEADLINE IS 10/12/18!!!

    SIGN UP: or call 858-428-0222.

  • Now Enrolling: Oct-Dec Teen San Diego Social Club!
  • SIGN UP DEADLINE IS 10/12/18!!!

    SIGN UP: or call 858-428-0222.

  • Jeremiah's Ranch October Newsletter
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter for all the upcoming events and other news!!!

  • Post-Secondary Transition Special Needs Planning
  • For more info or to RSVP please call Camille Favor at 619-524-0916 or email

  • My Special Needs Connection October Newsletter - Ask an Advocate
  • October Newsletter

    Ask An Advocate!

    Learn how it can help your child! Click here for all the info!!!

  • The Beginners' Guide to Special Needs Planning
  • Thursday, October 18, 2018
    6:30 to 8:00 PM
    Lawrence Family JCC
    4216 Executive Drive
    La Jolla, CA 92037

    RSVP by 10/15 to or call 760-334.3199.

    (The Special Needs Planning Institute
    a 501(c)(3) non-profit created to educate and advocate for the individual with special needs, the family and community by providing for their current and future care, security , and quality of life.)

  • 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.

  • 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.