Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. October 30, 2018

In This Issue

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Unique patterns of neural communications found in brains of children with autism

Discover SPARKBACK UCSD Researcher Spotlight: Karen Pierce

Understanding Autism, Aggression, and Self-Injury: Medical Approaches and Best Support Practices

How Macroeconomic Changes Can Impact People with Special Needs

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

FDA Approved Therapy for Anxiety!

You're invited to TAG's Halloween Party!

Therapeutic Approach to Growth Offering Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)

Radically Inclusive Holiday Gift Fair

Cortica Care: Comprehensive Autism Treatment

Sweet Pea Connect: A nanny service for families with special needs

Machado Behavioral Consultanting

San Diego Best Buddies Friendship Walk


RSVP for a Free Open House Carnival at the San Diego Center for Autism

San Diego People First Meeting


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ValeriesList is a FREE resource newsletter and Facebook Page for San Diego County and has been for over 18 years. No fees 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!

  • Unique patterns of neural communications found in brains of children with autism
  • Think of the brain as a complex transportation hub, a place where neural traffic heads off in any number of directions to make connections while processing something as simple as a mother's smile.

    Now consider the same center in a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). At a time different parts of the brain are supposed to be talking to each other or working together, this traffic-the communication between different regions of the brain-takes unexpected exits and detours for no apparent reason.

    A team of San Diego State University researchers, studying MRI scans of school-age children's brains, found just such unique patterns of neural communication involving the amygdala, the area of the brain responsible for processing social information. In children with ASDs, the amygdala connections with other parts of the brain proved to be weaker with some regions -and stronger with others-when compared with typically developing children of the same age. Read on...

    To participate in this study, please go the bottom of this newsletter and view: 'Brain Imaging Studies for all Ages with or without Autism'!!!

  • Discover SPARKBACK UCSD Researcher Spotlight: Karen Pierce
  • Karen Pierce did not have a peaceful introduction to autism. As an undergrad at Stonybrook University in New York, Pierce worked in a research lab whose focus was aggressive adolescents with autism. Most used very little language. Out of frustration, they would sometimes pull hair and throw chairs.

    On one of her first days at the lab, the staff took one of the kids to an ice cream parlor as a reward for not using aggressive behavior. Pierce recalls the boy getting excited about ice cream, walking on his toes and flapping his arms. Then, out of nowhere, he punched her in the face. "I fell down and the world turned black for a moment," she says. (The boy was 16 years old and 6'2".)

    A grad student rushed over and told a shocked Pierce not to cry or look at the boy because it "might reinforce the behavior." The lab employed specific treatments based on principles of applied behavioral analysis (ABA), a common, evidence-based intervention for autism, to treat behavioral problems. A core tenet of ABA is to reinforce desirable behaviors but not undesirable ones. "It was an extreme introduction to autism," she says. Read on...

    UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence partners with Simons Foundation SPARK study to help launch largest ever autism research study in U.S.
    Click here to read more about the study. If you are interested in participating, please contact study coordinator at (858) 534-6906 or email us at

  • Understanding Autism, Aggression, and Self-Injury: Medical Approaches and Best Support Practices
  • I'd like to give everyone a big group hug. Regardless of who you are, if you experience meltdowns, if you are a parent or professional trying to support someone through meltdowns, this is hard on everybody. We need to treat each other gently.


    For people who have cognitive and communication differences, illness frequently presents as a change in behavior or function instead of a patient complaining of a sign or symptom. For example, a broken bone is not usually a hard diagnosis to make. A person comes in and says, "I fell, and I think I broke my ankle." Their doctor does an x-ray and sure enough, you broke your ankle. But in situations where people are unable to effectively communicate the cause of their distress, it's amazing how easy it is to miss something as obvious as a broken bone. If it is hard to notice a broken bone, imagine how easy it is to miss something such as a headache or heartburn?

    Whenever there's a change in behavior or function, it's important to think that it could be a medical problem. Read on...

  • How Macroeconomic Changes Can Impact People with Special Needs
  • I am sure you have heard the saying, "the left-hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing." This statement can be quite evident when the decisions by the US government are explored. For many individual states, the minimum wage became a hot-button issue, and quite a number of state governments decided to pass laws to increase the minimum wage. Unfortunately, this one decision has seen a domino of other consequences that have impacted individuals with disabilities and their families.

    In Arizona, the increase in the minimum wage has caused group homes to close and services to dry up (such as respite, in-home support, and employment support) which has put great pressure on families to find a new way to care for their child. The connection comes from the fact that direct support professionals can find new employment opportunities that pay the same hourly rate or higher, so many organizations have seen a flight of employees without the ability to keep up.

    They are unable to keep up because reimbursement rates from Medicaid and the state have risen only 11% since the minimum wage law was passed while the cost of employees has risen 31%. The Arizona situation has been mirrored in many other states, and it is just another example of how one decision that seems right, has consequences that can be dire for others. Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • 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!

    I have a three-year old son with ASD. We toured a preschool today that's part of SD Unified that is not a good option for him. Does anyone have any recommendations for the best preschool programs for children with ASD? We are more than willing to relocate to a different school district, including Del Mar, Solana Beach, etc. All referrals are greatly appreciated! Thank you!!

    My family & I are relocating to San Diego in November for my husband's new job in Sorrento Valley. We have two boys aged 8(2nd grade) & 10(5th grade) who have high functioning autism. Academically they are on par, but have the behavioral/social issues. We are trying to figure out what the best school district would be for our boys in terms of in-school programs. We currently live in North LA county (the Santa Clarita area). They are in a SDC for high functioning autism & they have programs that go all the way through high school. Some of the places we are looking to buy in are Rancho Bernardo (Westwood), South Carlsbad, Rancho Peñasquitos, Scripps Ranch. I know that is all over the place but we'd like to stay in north county and are open to any other suggestions. Schooling for the boys is most important in our move. I would love any input. Not just for elementary schools but beyond. We are open to charter schools as well if you know of any that would suit their criteria.

    I hear so many opposing opinions as to which are the best and the worst districts. So hard to navigate and I am feeling lost:( I would really appreciate any guidance.
    Thank you in advance,

    I am writing this ad for the amazing family of caregivers who have worked for us for the past six years, caring for my father until his death, and then my severely autistic, non-verbal sister and our mother, both, until they both recently passed away. The caretaker is a licensed CNA, super responsible, kind and personable. He is young and strong, and has experience working with the elderly, those with autism, the physically disabled, and those in a hospice type situation. He has an outstanding work ethic, and cared for our family members regularly during the night as well as the day. He is completely reliable in ordering and dispensing meds. He did extensive "diaper duty" and showering / bathing for incontinent family members with never any complaints. He has a wife who is as sweet as he is, and two young children, and they all lived in with first my father and then my mother (divorced). This would be optional, though it was a great thing, as his wife was the relief caretaker. I would be happy to talk on the phone or in person further about our experiences with this family, their compensation, or anything else. The caretaker has a car and valid driver's license, speaks good English, and is a recently naturalized US citizen. They are willing to relocate. Daria or 619-788-2042

    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.

  • 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/Asperger's
    • Sensory Processing Disorder
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • ADD/ADHD
    • Tourette's Syndrome
    • Developmental Delay
    • Epilepsy
    • And many more!
    Call 858-367-9108 for your free consultation!!!

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

  • You're invited to TAG's Halloween Party!
  • You're invited to TAG Carlsbad's 2018 Halloween celebration! Parents/staff are encouraged to engage with their child/student on a project they can contribute to the party! (E.g., singing a Halloween song, making treats together, creating a fun game, choreographing a fun dance, etc!). This is a great time for connection and fun! We look forward to seeing you next week in your festive costumes!

  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth Offering Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)
  • 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

  • Radically Inclusive Holiday Gift Fair
  • Radical Inclusion is the title of a new book by Andrea Moriarty. The phrase refers to including people of all abilities in profound and essential places where it hasn't been done before. Inviting adults with autism or Down syndrome into the limelight to pursue their dreams, interact with mentors, and showcase their accomplishments is life-changing for everyone.

    This Radically Inclusive Holiday Gift Fair will showcase handmade products by local artisans with social needs who have their own businesses. Come engage with these supported entrepreneurs at The Church at Rancho Bernardo on Sunday, November 18th in the front parking lot. Be sure to get a signed copy of Radical Inclusion: What I Learned About Risk, Humility, and Kindness from My Son with Autism as well as some baked goods, glycerin soap, artwork, greeting cards, or ceramics for yourself or as a gift. This year, your Christmas gift giving can tell a story.

    LIVE MUSIC: Jungle Poppins

    Jungle Poppins is an animated troupe performing quirky originals and movie soundtracks. Anything but average, Jungle Poppins let music upstage autism every time they perform.

    REFRESHMENTS: Kevin the Baker and Smoothie Princess

    VENDORS include:
    Sydney's Soaps
    Inclusion Art by Katie
    Jeremy's Vision
    Alex Nichols Freestyle Weaving
    Jasmine's Bunting
    Kevin the Baker
    Smoothie Princess
    Bella Nova Ceramics succulents
    Emily Rose Sews
    Joel Anderson books and art
    Jack Medved artwork and dog portraits
    Ethan Marr greeting cards
    John Brower ceramics
    Brendan Kerr graphics

  • Cortica Care: Comprehensive Autism Treatment
  • Experience a unique and effective approach to autism therapy.

    Our aim is to bring to families everywhere the most effective therapies for the treatment of autism. Our integrated care model is based on the scientific research and clinical practice of our founder, Dr. Suzanne Goh. We seek to set a new global standard for autism care by achieving superior developmental outcomes for the children and families we serve.

    At Cortica, we believe the world needs a higher standard of care for all those living with autism, or a potential diagnosis of autism. Families like yours deserve effective, collaborative, caring therapies that are accessible and reasonably priced, no matter who you are or where you live.

    The Cortica Care Model:

    • Neurophysiology
    • Family and Home
    • Biochemistry
    • Cognition and Behavior
    • Sensorimotor
    • Communication
    Together, we clarify the complex, celebrate extraordinary efforts, and witness moments of brilliance as our children grow new skills and abilities. Many of our services are covered by medical insurance plans. Contact us for all the info!!!

    Cortica Care
    7090 Miratech Drive
    San Diego, CA 92121
    16800 Aston, Suite 175
    Irvine, CA 92606

  • Sweet Pea Connect: A nanny service for families with special needs
  • Sweet Pea Connect, San Diego's leading special needs nanny agency, connects families with specially trained full and part-time caregivers.

    Parents choose Sweet Pea Connect because they're dedicated to pairing kids with the ideal nanny. The process includes in-depth interviews of all parties and selection of two or three nannies that fit the child's needs. Families choose the best candidate. Sweet Pea Connect also helps create contracts between families and caretakers to ensure a smooth outcome.

    For more information visit

  • Machado Behavioral Consultanting
  • At MBC we believe that learning doesn't stop at age 22

    MBC provides behavioral support and coaching for teens and adults on the autism spectrum in their home and community environments. Behavior consultation addresses a variety of needs such as Social and Leisure Skills, Communication, Behavior Management, Daily Living Skills, Community Skills, and Organization/Time Management. Families looking to avoid the "services cliff" that occur upon graduation, will benefit from individualized goals tailored to their unique life experiences and desired outcomes. MBC assists young adults with the ever-changing landscape of adulthood by increasing autonomy and seeking fulfillment for each individual.

    *MBC accepts most major insurance carriers and is vendored with the San Diego Regional Center.

    Contact us:
    (619) 990-2611

  • San Diego Best Buddies Friendship Walk
  • Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 8 AM - 12 PM
    Crown Point on Mission Bay, San Diego 92019

    The Best Buddies Friendship Walk is the number one walk in the country raising awareness and funds to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The walk plays a key role in funding Best Buddies programs dedicated to one-to-one friendships, leadership development, and integrated job opportunities for individuals with IDD. Each walk provides an opportunity to see the Best Buddies mission in action at a local level.
    Click here for all the info!!!

  • school_supplies_desk.jpg

    Author: Richard Spindler, MS
    Educational Parent Advocate

    Procedural Rights and Safeguards, Present Levels, Special Factors, Proposed Draft of New Goals, Offer of a "Free and Appropriate Public Education" (FAPE), the Triennial Review, Assessment results from your Case Manager, School Psychologist and his/her Interdisciplinary Report. Results from all other Service Providers and their Protocols. All of this presented to you, the Parent, inclusive of Acronyms, Raw Scores, Standard Scores and Percentiles can be overwhelming, frustrating and confusing. Especially when spoken about by the Professionals who might assume you understand all that is being discussed during your "Individualized Education Program," (IEP) Meeting or a Triangular Meeting.

    California Education Code States: "Special Education Students Must Have Access to Their Education," and they must have "Access to the General Education Core Curriculum." This is the bottom line. So, ask yourself, "Is my child accessing his/her Education as well as the General Education Core Curriculum?"

    In addition your child's Education Plan must be run by his/her IEP Goals and Short Term Objectives, not by the Teacher's Lesson Plan. This is stated in the "Individuals with Disabilities Education Act," (IDEA). There are many Laws, Policies and Procedures which must be adhered to when and if your child qualifies for Special Education Services.

    As a former Education Specialist, Special Education Administrator and an Interim Graduate Professor, teaching Special Education Teachers working on earning their Masters Degree in Special Education, I know only too well the highs and lows of understanding Special Education Law as well as Policies.

    Now, working as an Educational Parent Advocate I represent families across San Diego County. The work I do as an Advocate takes stress off of Parents, is Productive and extremely helpful across the spectrum of the Special Education Process.

    I offer a FREE one hour Consultation for all of my new clients. This is a great way to get to know one another and discuss any questions, concerns or comments you may have as they pertain to your child's IEP. In addition we can review Accommodations, Modifications and any services, such as O/T and Speech/Language your child requires to be successful in school.

    If you have any questions or concerns relevant to your child's Special Education Program and/or the IEP, please don't hesitate to call, text or send me an email. I am available seven days a week.

    I look forward to hearing from you if you think my services, experience and knowledge will prove helpful to your child's progress through this most important journey.

    Richard Spindler, MS
    Educational Parent Advocate

  • RSVP for a Free Open House Carnival at the San Diego Center for Autism
  • For all the info and to RSVP, click here!!!

  • San Diego People First Meeting
  • Please RSVP to Debbie Marshall at or call 619-688-3323.

  • 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.

  • "Autism Through the Lifespan" Monthly Parent Support and Information Meetings

  • October 2018 - May 2019
    PLNU Graduate Education
    4007 Camino Del Rio South - Fourth Floor
    San Diego, CA 92108

    Please join other parents, caregivers and professionals at the following monthly informational and support group meetings in Mission Valley. These meetings will discuss the various aspects of autism through the lifespan. Each meeting will feature an expert speaker and an ASA parent mentor. This is a time for you to meet other parents, ask questions and network.
    The meetings are free and open to all. See the flyer for all the info!!!

  • Participate in Research!!! Can a Safe 'Fever' Help Autism Syptoms?

  • This pilot study will enroll 12 families with ASD children ages 6-16 years old in a controlled study, within the San Diego.

    If you are interested in participating in this pilot study please contact Frances Poteet at

    Participants who complete the entire study will receive a $20 Amazon gift card!

  • Participate in Research: Caregiver/Family Member Survey
  • business_finance_research.jpg

    My name is Richie Sapp. My twin brother, Mikey, has been attending the TERI day program for several years now. I am a third-year medical student (MS3) at Stanford School of Medicine where I am currently taking a research year to focus my efforts in medical education, specifically to improve patient care for individuals with disabilities. I am creating an elective course for medical students/PA students for Winter Quarter 2018/19 and I could use your help.

    Please consider completing this first survey and if your son/daughter would like to complete the second survey on their own, I would welcome that too.

    1) This survey is for parents/caregivers of individuals with disabilities. Caregiver/Family Member Survey, which will help me with what content to put together for the course. Please feel free to share the survey with anyone who might be interested in sharing their experiences. Here is the link:

    2) Additionally, if you know anyone with a disability who would like to speak about their own experiences, there is a separate survey for individuals with disabilities. The link is below:

    Thank you so much for all your support!

    Please email me if you have any questions.

    Thank you,
    Richie Sapp

  • 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.