Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. October 25, 2019

In This Issue

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Antidepressant doesn't ease obsessive behaviors of autism

Drug combination reverses hypersensitivity to noise in a model of autism spectrum disorder

Intimate new documentary quietly prods excruciating questions about the future for adults with severe autism

Fever's immune effect on brain may ease autism traits

Mass-produced organoids hint at diversity of autism

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

2nd Annual Autism Speaks North County Walk 2019

Autumn Autism & Art Soirée

RDI and MORE at Therapeutic Approach to Growth

Coffee with Crystal: You Got this Special Parents!

Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!

Untangle Your Child's IEP Speech-Language Goals

Aging Out Premiere

Beyond the Diagnostic Label - Facilitating Communication and Interaction

ATPF Ready, Set, Go! Workshop

Conference on Self-Determination in November

Best Buddies Gala, Champion of the Year

IEP Noncompliance Webinar

Social Thinking Conference in Orange County - January 2020


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!

  • Antidepressant doesn't ease obsessive behaviors of autism
  • The commonly used antidepressant Prozac doesn't appear to help reduce obsessive-compulsive behavior in children and teens with autism, new research suggests.

    The study randomly compared use of the drug to a placebo over 16 weeks. In the end, the researchers saw no meaningful clinical benefits from the drug.

    "We found that there was little evidence for the effectiveness of fluoxetine [Prozac]. The evidence is not strong enough to recommend it as a treatment," said study author Dr. Dinah Reddihough, a pediatrician at Royal Children's Hospital in Victoria, Australia.

    But, she added that the researchers couldn't exclude the possibility that the medication might help some children. Read on...

  • Drug combination reverses hypersensitivity to noise in a model of autism spectrum disorder
  • People with autism often experience hypersensitivity to noise and other sensory input. MIT neuroscientists have now identified two brain circuits that help tune out distracting sensory information, and they have found a way to reverse noise hypersensitivity in mice by boosting the activity of those circuits.

    One of the circuits the researchers identified is involved in filtering noise, while the other exerts top-down control by allowing the brain to switch its attention between different sensory inputs.

    The researchers showed that restoring the function of both circuits worked much better than treating either circuit alone. This demonstrates the benefits of mapping and targeting multiple circuits involved in neurological disorders, says Michael Halassa, an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences and a member of MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Read on...

  • Intimate new documentary quietly prods excruciating questions about the future for adults with severe autism
  • Brian Cassano has severe autism and has aged out of his residential school placement and into adult services. His devoted big sister Heather, a budding documentary filmmaker, has decided to film Brian over the course of several months to probe, it seems, a number of difficult questions. On the surface you see a handsome young man jumping, flapping and yelping, but can we peer deeper into the complexities in his head and heart? And on a more pragmatic level, given his minimal functional abilities, what will he do in his adult life, to fill his waking hours? Who will care for him, now, and forever? And who will pay this colossal bill, not just for Brian but for the hundreds of thousands like him?

    The Limits of My World is a quiet, slow-moving film that never preaches or rubs your face in policy debates. Rather it lets the camera rest on the protagonist and those around him, immersing the viewer in a gritty reality of autism that could not be farther from the fantasy of The Good Doctor. But in the quiet lulls the viewer cannot help but ponder these painful questions.

    The story unfolds: despite abundant therapies that started when he was a young child, plus specialized schooling, Brian remains minimally verbal and seriously intellectually and functionally impaired. He has a history of aggression and property destruction that has rendered his aging parents unable to handle him. Read on...

  • Fever's immune effect on brain may ease autism traits
  • An immune molecule produced during a fever improves sociability in three mouse models of autism. The findings may explain why fevers have sometimes been reported to temporarily improve autistic children's behavior.

    The molecule, interleukin 17A (IL-17A), has been the source of intense interest among autism researchers for the past few years. Levels of IL-17 are elevated in some autistic children. And mice exposed to it in the womb have autism-like behaviors.

    The new work strengthens the link between IL-17 and autism. Researchers presented the unpublished findings today at the 2019 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

    The findings hint at the prospect of a targeted therapy that could harness fever's benefits without its harmful side effects. Read on...

  • Mass-produced organoids hint at diversity of autism
  • Researchers have analyzed thousands of brain organoids derived from six autistic people, gaining the potential to rapidly screen drugs. The organoids can also help them study autism's biology.

    For example, they have found an excess of brain activity in the organoids and have begun to probe the effects of mutations found in autistic people.

    They detailed the unpublished results yesterday at the 2019 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

    Researchers typically produce only a few organoids from a single person. Making hundreds instead enables researchers to more robustly evaluate differences among people. 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

    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.

    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!

    I am looking for a baby sitter for our 10 year old non verbal son who has autism. He is a very outdoorsy person who loves to swim. Bike ride, hike and go to the park.
    Please let me know if you have any resources.

    I am looking for a reliable and professional babysitter for my son who was just diagnosed with mild ASD.
    Any help will be appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Natalie von Herrath

    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.

  • 2nd Annual Autism Speaks North County Walk 2019
  • Saturday, November 16, 2019 at 9 AM - 1 PM
    Mance Buchanon Park
    425 College Blvd, Oceanside, California 92057

    The second annual Autism Speaks North County Walk is back at Mance Buchanon Park on November 16th. Every dollar raised helps fund research, advocacy and support for those living with autism and their loved ones. Join us and sign up today! Find out more:

  • Autumn Autism & Art Soirée
  • Friday, November 8, 2019 at 5 PM - 7:30 PM
    SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders
    6363 Alvarado Court, Suite 100
    San Diego, California 92120

    Indulge yourself in an evening of wine and cheese while mingling with talented artists on the spectrum and autism researchers.

    The SDSU Center for Autism and The Art of Autism invite you to the Autumn Autism & Art Soiree!

    Join us on November 8th for an evening of wine and cheese, art, and autism science. Mingle with talented artists who are on the spectrum, and converse with autism researchers and clinicians about the latest findings and projects underway at the Center for Autism. Stroll through the recently renovated Center for Autism lobby, exhibiting some of the best art curated through The Art of Autism organization. This is a "donate what you can" event. No amount is too small or too large to help us continue serving our community. 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

  • Coffee with Crystal: You Got this Special Parents!
  • Tue, November 5, 2019
    6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
    Sanford Autism Consulting Office
    4823 Alfred Ave.
    San Diego, CA 92120
    Cost: $10

    *Are you feeling overwhelmed as a special needs parent?
    *Do you have fear about your child's educational future and beyond?
    *Not sure you have what it takes to handle the ongoing challenges of managing your child's special education?

    If your answer is yes to one or more of these questions, then you must join me at our next coffee talk meeting. This month, our topic will focus on building resilency for special needs parents and how this will help as you navigate special eduction for your child. In a relaxed and casual environment, you will gain tips and resources to strengthen yourself as an individual first and as a parent of a child with unique needs. Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!
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    Wondering if your child might benefit from joining a group? Give us a call at 858-558-9552 to schedule a free consultation.

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

  • Untangle Your Child's IEP Speech-Language Goals
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    Karyn Searcy, M.A.,CCC
    Clinical Director/TERI SLP
    Crimson Center for Speech & Language
    P: 858.695.9415
    9606 Tierra Grande St. #107
    San Diego, CA 92126

  • Aging Out Premiere
  • Friday, November 22, 2019 at 6 PM - 7 PM
    Dove Library in Carlsbad
    1775 Dove Ln, Carlsbad, California 92008

    Premiere of the long-awaited film, followed by Q and A with filmmaker and special friends.

  • Beyond the Diagnostic Label - Facilitating Communication and Interaction
  • FREE Speaker Event for parents of children ages 0-7! Join the Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego on Oct. 30, 6:30-9pm at the San Diego Regional Center, Room 101, as they host their first speaker series topic: Beyond the Diagnostic Label - Facilitating Communication and Interaction.

    This topic will be presented by Karyn Lewis Searcy, M.A. CCC-SLP. She will discuss all elements of communication and how a delay or disorder impacts parent-child interactions. Strategies that target the development of communication and interaction will be addressed and video examples will be presented. Limited seating. Sign up here!!!

  • ATPF Ready, Set, Go! Workshop
  • Saturday, November 2, 2019 at 10 AM - 12 PM
    Autism Tree Project Foundation
    2845 Nimitz Blvd, Suite C
    San Diego, CA 92106

    This workshop, led by Mary Ann Newell, M.S., is designed for teens and young adults who would like to learn more about the system of support provided at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Learn more about the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support ASPIRE program, and how to use their successful model in your young adult with autism's life.

    RSVP TODAY! Contact or call 619-222-4465.

  • Conference on Self-Determination in November
  • Click here for all the info about the conference. Speakers, schedule, location and registration.

  • Best Buddies Gala, Champion of the Year
  • Join us for a special evening of celebration and Inclusion! Best Buddies Gala, Champion of the Year is taking place on Saturday November 2nd at the Hotel Karlan in Rancho Penasquitos.

    Along with gourmet food, silent & live auctions, and music, the evening will be filled with friendship and celebration as we crown our Champion of the Year for San Diego County.

    Vying for Champion of the year are six candidates you may be familiar with... Buddy Ambassador Vesna Vasich, Tyler Gaffney, Holden Brosnan, Trevor Jensen, Danial Bushong and Bill Mullett.

    For all the info and to purchase your tickets, click here!!!

  • IEP Noncompliance Webinar
  • Featuring the expertise of Thomas Nelson Esq., special education attorney.

    Join us by registering at

    The webinar will be held on Tuesday November 5th at 12:00 noon and will repeat Thursday November 7th at 7:00 pm.

  • Social Thinking Conference in Orange County - January 2020
  • Orange County, CA | January 29 - 31, 2020
    DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Santa Ana-OC Airport
    201 East MacArthur Blvd
    Santa Ana, CA 92707

    Strategies to Build Social Competencies Join us in Orange County to gain evidence-based strategies to help people in every stage of life improve their social competencies, including: self-regulation, social-emotional learning, executive functioning, perspective taking, and social problem solving.

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

  • 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.