Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. October 08, 2019

In This Issue

Please Share This Newsletter and Facebook Page!!!

Preparing for the Social Transition to Adulthood With Special Needs

Hospital Apologizes For 'Wall Of Shame'

Analysis pins down prevalence of mental health conditions in autism

The Autism City: Disability Services Arrive at the Crossroads

Simon Baron-Cohen: 'Neurodiversity is the next frontier. But we're failing autistic people'

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

NFAR Family Activity at theNAT! - October 13th

Call Gov. Newsome to Sign AB 911

Microcurrent: FDA Approved Therapy for Anxiety

FREE!! - Autism Begins in Fetal Development and is Largely Caused by Genetic Factors

Social Skills Groups at Ascent Psychological Services

Friendship Circle - Adult Circle Sukkot & Family Sukkot

NFAR Men's Group October Meeting

Hearts & Hooves Therapy Workshop for ATPF Families

NFAR Mom's Group - October

2nd Annual Aces for Autism Charity Golf Tournament

Dan's Place, The Friendship Restaurant

NFAR WORKS Vocational Training Program!

All Ages Halloween Dance Party


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!

  • Preparing for the Social Transition to Adulthood With Special Needs
  • Perhaps the single greatest, and most frightening moment of a parent's life is the birth of a child. As you stare in the innocent and precious eyes of your newborn, the gravity of the task of being a parent falls squarely upon your shoulders.

    No book is given to you that has all the answers of parenting; no guidelines are provided as to what you must do to raise this untainted little soul to become a functioning member of the next generation of our society. The task of being a parent, the responsibilities, and the duties of doing so in an ever-changing dynamic and fluid world become yours alone.

    Yet, with all the knowledge of these monumental tasks that are ahead of you as a parent, the inevitable stopwatch towards adulthood generally begins before you are ready. You have only 18 years that starts from the time you set eyes on that little life to give them the guidance on the bumpy road of life towards adulthood. Read on...

  • Hospital Apologizes For 'Wall Of Shame'
  • The parent companies of a Lewiston hospital where employees created a "wall of shame" of patients with disabilities apologized publicly Thursday to the former employee who took the matter to the Maine Human Rights Commission.

    "We deeply regret that this situation occurred," Stephen Grubbs, president and CEO of Covenant Health, and Steven Jorgenson, president of St. Mary's Health System, said in a written statement emailed to the Bangor Daily News. "(W)e sincerely apologize for the impact this situation has had on Ms. McCann."

    MyKayla McCann, who lived in Turner, discovered the wall of shame on the inside of a cabinet door on her first day of work as a laboratory technician assistant at St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in June 2015. Read on...

  • Analysis pins down prevalence of mental health conditions in autism
  • Eight mental health conditions occur unusually often in autistic people, a new analysis of 96 studies suggests1.

    Certain mental health conditions are known to accompany autism, but estimates of their prevalence in autistic people vary widely2.

    The new study establishes prevalence by pooling data from the studies and conducting a separate statistical analysis for each set of conditions: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, impulse-control and conduct disorders and sleep-wake conditions. The prevalence of these conditions was consistently elevated in autistic people.

    "It gives us a more holistic picture of the increased rates across the board in terms of major and common mental health conditions," says lead investigator Stephanie Ameis, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto in Canada. It also shows that the prevalence of three of the conditions - depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia - increases with age. Read on...

  • The Autism City: Disability Services Arrive at the Crossroads
  • In California, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) oversees a vast network of community-based services for over 333,000 youth and adults with developmental disabilities. Other states have similar sprawling networks-nearly all rooted in disability inclusion theories of the reformers of the 1960s and early 1970s.

    Today, these networks are being buffeted on all sides: soaring caseload numbers and budgets; frustration by service providers with high client-to-staff rations and rapid turnover of personnel; and on going fear of clients and family members that options will be reduced at any time. "The disability services system is at a crossroads", explains Rick Rollens, a representative of service providers, and expert in disability services and costs. Indeed, this fall task forces are being launched in several states, including California, to identify how disability services might be delivered differently in the future.

    The closing of the large state institutions for adults with developmental differences was envisioned to usher in a new era of inclusion and community services, and one that would be financially sustainable. What happened and where does the system go from here? Read on...

  • Simon Baron-Cohen: 'Neurodiversity is the next frontier. But we're failing autistic people'
  • All different types of brains are normal, but greater understanding has not led to more money for autism, says world-leading expert

    As a graduate in the 1980s, Simon Baron-Cohen taught autistic children at a special school in London. Little was known about autism then, and people often misheard him, assuming he taught "artistic children".

    "People would be ashamed if they had an autistic child, or ashamed of saying, 'I am autistic', whereas now it's treated as more ordinary and there's less judgment," he says. "In the 1980s, autism was seen as categorical, so 'you either have it or you don't' ... nowadays, we talk about a spectrum."

    Today, Baron-Cohen, 61, is a world expert on autism, a Cambridge professor and director of the university's influential Autism Research Centre. There is also greater awareness of autism, a lifelong condition affecting how people interact or process information. 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.

    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

    I'm looking for someone or someplace that has a physical fitness program for special needs. I have an autistic 22 year old son.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated
    Thank you Georgie

    I'm looking for a life coach/mentor for my 29 yr. old daughter recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. This is a private pay position, insurance is not involved, salary is negotiable.

    The coach/mentor MUST be female with extensive experience working with young adults with AS. In addition, she would Ideally be somewhat close in age, have a reliable car and be available to work in the afternoons and or evenings, days & hours are flexible as my daughter does not work.

    The following are some of the areas she needs help with:
    1) Setting Goals, building confidence
    2) Shopping & Preparing healthy meals
    3) Fitness/Exercise
    4) Organization, prioritizing
    5) Keeping house clean, organized, scheduling misc. maintenance, personal appointments....
    6) Socialization, making connections/friends, getting out & living life...

    Please reply to Corey at 949-422-1198 or

    We're looking for a good psychiatrist who's ASD-friendly, not too far from the San Diego/Mission Valley/LaMesa general area. If someone knows a wonderful psychiatrist in another part of the county, we'd like to hear about that person. The patients in need are young men in their early and middle 20's. One is a first-timer; the other has moved and needs to find a doctor closer to his new home.
    Thank you very 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.

  • NFAR Family Activity at theNAT! - October 13th
  • You're invited! Join us at the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) on Sunday, Oct. 13th for a morning of discovery and fun! theNAT has some special activities planned for our families - including a sensory-friendly 2D film.

    Enjoy the museum exhibits, & activities with other autism families in a welcoming and comfortable environment.

    theNAT is generously offering NFAR families FREE admission before 9:45AM but please register so that we can plan accordingly. (Regular admission is $12 per child, $19 per adult.)

  • Call Gov. Newsome to Sign AB 911

  • Our bill, AB 911, known as the Manny Alert Act is on Gov. Newsom's desk waiting for his signature. This bill will put us on a path to develop a statewide system that would allow families to voluntarily provide first responders with helpful information - such as calming techniques - in advance of an emergency.

    I care for an adult son with autism and for years have been leading our union in seeking solutions for safer interactions between law enforcement and people with disabilities.

    I worry that a police officer won't see what I see when I look at my son. They won't know how much he loves music-especially Nora Jones and Beethoven. Or about his favorite things to watch on his tablet: Dora Explorer, Blues Clues, and Disney movies. Instead they'll see a strong and aggressive young man, one who doesn't respond to their commands to stop or calm down.

    AB 911 is personal to me, and I know it's personal to so many of you. That's why I am asking that you join in me in calling Gov. Newsom and asking him to sign AB 911 and bring us one step closer to saving the lives of people with cognitive and developmental disabilities.

    Call 1-844-817-6807 today and ask Gov. Newsom to sign AB 911.

    Thank you for calling and thank you to everyone who helped make this bill a reality.

    Astrid Zuniga
    UDW Statewide Vice President

    Click here to see info about AB 911.

  • Microcurrent: 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.

    Some of the neuro-developmental issues we commonly see include:

    • Autism Spectrum Disorders
    • Anxiety
    • Sensory Processing Disorder
    • Depression
    • ADD/ADHD
    • And many more!
    Our program uses the most advanced microcurrent device on the market today, the Electro-Equiscope. Call 858-367-9108 for a free consultation!!!

    Microcurrent 4 Kids
    4540 Kearny Villa Road, Ste. 211
    San Diego, CA 92123

  • FREE!! - Autism Begins in Fetal Development and is Largely Caused by Genetic Factors
  • Wed, October 23, 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 is committed to providing the latest info on autism and combatting misinformation and stigma. We are proud to be hosting a talk looking at what we know about what "causes" autism.

    Once considered a very rare disorder of uncertain cause and studied by few, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is now recognized to be startlingly common. Combining greater general interest in autism research with new biological and computational technologies have revolutionized our understanding of autism.

    This revolution has clarified what autism is and is not. Eric Courchesne will review recent key findings that now challenge long-held views of autism. It is now clear that ASD is not due to vaccines, is not caused by parents or any of a myriad of unfounded speculations, is not due to just a small handful of genes, does not start in early childhood or involve late regression, is not due to a single stage of deviate development in the majority. Instead, new findings show it is largely a genetic disorder with heritability at 80% or more and with significant percentage due to non-inherited genetic mutations. Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • 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!

  • Friendship Circle - Adult Circle Sukkot & Family Sukkot
  • Adult Sukkot
    Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 5 PM - 7 PM
    Location Given Upon RSVP

    Adult Circle members and their families are invited to celebrate Sukkot with dinner, music, games! Free with RSVP! Address given upon RSVP.

    Prior to registering for any Friendship Circle event, if you are not a member of Friendship Circle, please fill out the new family or new volunteer form:

    Family Sukkot
    Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 10:30 AM - 12 PM
    Friendship Circle of San Diego
    16934 Chabad Way, Poway, California 92064

    Come join your Friendship Circle Family and Friends on Sunday, October 20th at the Chabad of Poway to celebrate Sukkot!

    For any question about these events or more please contact Tanya at (858)-487-4879 or

  • NFAR Men's Group October Meeting
  • Thursday, Oct 10, 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

    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: "Understanding how to navigate and advocate for IEP goals."

    Learn about IEP goals and how they relate to present levels and areas of need. Goals are how we track a student's progress from year to year and should be measurable and meet all areas of need. We'll look at some of the common concerns and discuss ways to advocate for solutions. Goals also relate directly to the services you are seeking for your child. We'll discuss this relationship and how to know when more, or a different type, of a service is appropriate.

    Guest Speaker: Seth Schwartz, Esq., Special Education & Equality Attorney, Law Offices of Schwartz & Storey

    Seth Schwartz is a managing partner at the Law Office of Schwartz & Storey. The firm focuses on helping children with special needs and their families navigate special education and related areas. Mr. Schwartz received his Juris Doctorate, magna cum laude, from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and undergraduate Bachelors of Arts in History from California State University of Northridge. Both of his degrees focused on social interaction and are a driving force behind my desire to find a meaningful way to contribute in the legal field.

    Practicing special education law was a very personal decision for Mr. Schwartz, whose sister has autism and he experienced the direct impact of the disability on her education and the family. Mr. Schwartz noted that "growing up I watched my parents struggle when making the choices that affected my sister's emotional, social, and academic growth. When I think about my job as an attorney and legal advocate I always keep that perspective in the forefront."

    The Schwartz & Storey philosophy is "do right law." Do right law means placing a focus on issues that have a positive, transformative, effect on the lives of others. As attorneys, we get to help people. Sometimes it is preventative, reviewing concerns and planning ahead. Other times I provide information, advise on a course of action, and, or, speak for those having trouble being heard. By helping find clarity and, or, closure, our clients can focus on the future.

  • Hearts & Hooves Therapy Workshop for ATPF Families
  • Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
    Heart and Hooves Therapy
    1500 Ashley Rd, Ramona, California 92065

    Special thank you to our 1 FUR 1 Foundation for generously sponsoring this event, making it free of charge!

    Calling all ATPF Families! We are so excited to partner with Heart and Hooves Therapy for a fun outdoors workshop! Come on out to the ranch and enjoy 2 hours of learning outdoors about mini horse safety, knowledge and interacting with them. Each kid will be paired up with a mini horse and handler for the duration of the session. Together they will learn to correctly approach, handle and groom their mini horse, as well as lead them through the obstacle course while playing educational games. We will have a group game working on patience, listening, focus, taking turns and respect. Then we will have horseshoes game, roping cow head to learn on and a snack!

    Max 20 participants of all ages - first come, first served! RSVP today: or call 619-222-4465.

  • NFAR Mom's Group - October
  • October 16, 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.

    October Topic: "Effective Communication - Changing Your Trajectory One Keystroke at a Time"

    How finding the right "type" of communication can change your world.

    Guest Speaker: Otto Lana

    Otto Lana is now fifteen years old. He lost his ability to speak at age two and was diagnosed with Autism at two and a half. By age six intellectual disability was added to the list. At seven he was no longer on a diploma bound academic track and landed in a life skills program. No one wanted to teach him the alphabet or numbers. No one wanted to discuss world events beyond the weather and the days of the week in circle time. History was confined to a "first this / then that" choice board and a visual schedule of daily events. This was his life because an IEP team in 2011 decided he did not have the capacity to learn. They decided he had no receptive language therefore anything other than a laminated card with a drawing, an icon representing an action or item, was beyond his reach, beyond his intellectual capacity. The list of diagnoses continued to grow and by the time he was twelve included Anxiety, Apraxia, and Seizure Disorder. But this list no longer defines his future, it simply assigns codes for medical billing purposes. In 2014 Otto met Darlene Hanson SLP and his life changed. He, for the first time, had access to a mode of effective communication. Darlene taught Otto how to type. Now Otto is a freshman in high school. He can tell you the rest on October 16th!

  • 2nd Annual Aces for Autism Charity Golf Tournament
  • Saturday, October 26, 2019 at 1 PM - 10 PM
    St. Mark Golf Club
    1750 San Pablo Dr, San Marcos, California 92078

    ATPF is so grateful for our community partner, EVOL!

    Join us for Aces for Autism: a golf tournament,celebration dinner and silent auction hosted by to benefit kids with autism. All proceeds will be donated to Autism Tree!

    1PM - Golf Tournament begins
    6-10 PM - Dinner, Auction and Awards begin

    To purchase tickets or learn more:

  • Dan's Place, The Friendship Restaurant
  • Reservations are now open for Dan's Place October Pop Up - Persian!
    Sunday, October 27, 2019 at 5 PM - 7 PM
    Dan's Place Kosher Restaurant
    16934 Chabad Way, Poway, California 92064

    Dan's Place was created to give the adult and young adult community with special needs the chance to learn vocational skills in the hospitality industry. Each participant commits to learning a position within the restaurant such as chef, server, host and more! Volunteers assist alongside each participant as they practice from setup to cleanup and everything in between. (858)-487-4879

  • NFAR WORKS Vocational Training Program!
  • NFAR Works is an 11-month, comprehensive vocational training program for young adults with autism and related disabilities designed to provide participants with skill sets needed for entry level positions in office environments and light manufacturing.

    The program has four main components:

    Technical and Basic Office Skills Training: Students receive training in common skills expected in the workplace, followed by specific skills needed in the job function.

    Soft Skills Training: Students also receive training in the soft skills needed to be successful in the work place. The core of the soft skills training is through the SUCCESS (Supported Employment, Comprehensive Cognitive Enhancement, & Social Skills training) program, which is delivered in a small group setting by trained facilitators.

    Work Experience and Vocational Training: Training is conducted in a simulated work environment and participants are taught tasks typical of an entry level position in that job function.

    The program is designed to prepare students to be successful in the following common job categories found in mid-sized companies:

    • Shipping & Receiving
    • Production Assembly
    • Copy/ Mail Centers
    • Data Entry/Reporting
    • Records Management/Processing
    • Stock Management & Material Handling
    Job Readiness/Job Search: the participants would be supported in preparation for the job search process consistent with the interest and mastery of skills in the program.

    Skills will be taught by hands-on training and solidified through repetition and work experience. The program was specifically created to help students identify areas they are currently best suited for and have an affinity towards. Click here for all the info about this great program right here in San Diego!!!

  • All Ages Halloween Dance Party
  • Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 5:30 PM - 8 PM
    Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego
    4635 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, California 92117

    Join us for our annual ALL AGES Special Needs Halloween Dance Party! Come dance and have fun as we celebrate the season. Costumes are welcome but not required - please no weapons or sharp props.

    Tickets are only $5 per person and can be purchased at

  • 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.