Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. November 01, 2019

In This Issue

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New gene linked to autism, neuron development

Hollywood's Inclusion Efforts Must Include Neurodiversity

Angelman syndrome's silent gene points way forward for autism therapies

Jessica Zavala Could Not Speak Until She Was 5 And Now She Helps Children To Communicate

Self-Regulation Strategies for the Self-Regulator: Don't Let Rock Brain Win!

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

2nd Annual Autism Speaks North County Walk 2019

TAG is Hiring Registered Behavior Tech

Parent Training: Understanding Special Education Law in Relation to the IEP!

Postsecondary Planning - Creating Effective ITPs & IPPs

Educational Workshop on Strategies for High School and Adult Transition Students

FREE!! Presentation: Improving Social Skills Through Improv

Beware of Fake SDRC Robocalls

North County Autism Support Group

Support & Information for Adults: Self Determination with SDRC

Villa de Vida end of year update

Paint a Mural in Ocean Beach This Sunday and Monday

Autism Diagnosis & Evaluations

Autism Moms Meetup: Rancho Bernardo

Art of Autism Art Contest


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  • New gene linked to autism, neuron development
  • Mutations in the gene CSDE1 lead to a constellation of developmental delays and conditions, including autism, according to a new study.

    CSDE1 encodes a protein that binds to and regulates messenger RNA, the intermediary between DNA and protein. Little is known about the gene's exact function, but previous studies suggest it is needed for neurons to get to their final location and identity during brain development.

    Researchers first identified CSDE1 as a risk gene for autism in a 2014 study1. In the new work, the same team described 16 children and one adult who carry either inherited or spontaneous mutations in the gene. Read on...

  • Hollywood's Inclusion Efforts Must Include Neurodiversity
  • Entertainment Industry Foundation CEO Nicole Sexton outlines a new program that aims to "motivate employers to hire, support and promote inclusive workforces and engage the public to advocate for equality."

    No group has been more vocal about the issues of diversity, inclusion and parity than the entertainment community.

    But nowhere in our conversations have we acknowledged the 6.5 million people in the U.S. with autism, intellectual and developmental differences - even though an astonishing 81 percent of adults with such challenges have no paid jobs. Read on...

  • Angelman syndrome's silent gene points way forward for autism therapies
  • The autism community should be paying close attention to Angelman syndrome, a condition related to autism that is caused by mutations in a single gene.

    Investments in basic and clinical research, along with the efforts of an intrepid community of families, has brought us to the brink of a 'cure' for the syndrome. If successful, these efforts could provide a blueprint for treating other conditions, including autism.

    Angelman syndrome is characterized by a range of features, including developmental delay, motor problems, seizures, sleep problems and, in many cases, autism. Most people with the syndrome are minimally verbal, walk with a wide-spaced, unsteady gait (ataxia) and show repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping. Despite these difficulties, they are frequently exuberant and happy. Read on...

  • Jessica Zavala Could Not Speak Until She Was 5 And Now She Helps Children To Communicate
  • For National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, I interviewed Jessica Zavala an amazing young adult with autism who works as a speech and language pathologist tech. She is an inspiration who proves that with love and perseverance nothing is impossible.

    1. What were some early signs you were on the autism spectrum?
    One of the early signs that my parents noticed right away was that I did not speak at the appropriate developmental age. I also organized my toys from largest to smallest. I didn't make eye contact when having conversations. My parents noticed I walked on my toes. Along with those signs, I had constant breakdowns when I was frustrated or experienced sensory issues. Read on...

  • Self-Regulation Strategies for the Self-Regulator: Don't Let Rock Brain Win!
  • All of us, regardless of age, have vulnerabilities that trigger our Unthinkable powers into action and dampen the power of our superflexible brain. Helping students find their motivation to defeat their own Unthinkables requires us to call on our own superflexible thinking and actions. As we launch social-emotional learning programs in schools and clinics, we all need to take the time to understand students' strengths and vulnerabilities-including anxiety, trauma, learning differences, etc. This balanced approach will allow us to validate their efforts, even when falling short of broader social expectations.

    Brady is an active and adventurous nine-year-old who spends the majority of his time in a general education classroom with 31 other kids, one teacher, one educational assistant, and one parent volunteer. He receives a little extra support for social skills outside the classroom once a week. In the classroom, Brady has strong interests and shows relative strengths in science and math compared to challenges in language arts. Unfortunately, this mismatch in academic abilities means that Brady is engaged, focused, and usually has good participation in science but is equally unengaged, disruptive, and avoidant during most language arts lessons. As you can imagine, Brady's behavior during this time can be distracting and frustrating for the teacher, adults in the room, and other students. 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

    My 21-year-old autistic daughter has OCD-like behaviors such as slamming doors, stealing, obsessive eating/drinking, twitching, yelling, etc. We have tried different medications and supplements but nothing seems to work. Does anyone have any recommendations? Thanks.
    Maya Hu-Chan

    Looking for a peer support/tutor/communication partner in the classroom three days a week for a high school freshman. Must be able to be employed in the US. English must be your first language. Experience with AAC/AT a must. Salary is based on experience. For more information email

    Has anyone had experience with Microcurrent Therapy to treat Autism-related behaviors such as OCD, anxiety, sensory processing, or hyper-activity? How effective is it? What changes have you seen? I am considering it for my 21-year-old autistic daughter. I would greatly appreciate it if you could share your experiences with me. Thank you.

    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:

  • TAG is Hiring Registered Behavior Tech
  • Send your updated resume to Emily Fattouh, Program Coordinator

  • Parent Training: Understanding Special Education Law in Relation to the IEP!
  • Saturday, November 16th
    9:45 AM to 12:30 PM
    Mission Valley Library
    Community Room
    2123 Fenton Parkway
    San Diego, CA 92108

    This Parent Training is presented by Seth Schwartz, Esq., from the Law Offices of Schwartz & Storey. Structured in two parts, we'll cover the important foundational principles of special education law and its relationship to the IEP. Then, we'll discuss how you can effectively use this information to self advocate for better outcomes!

    RSVP Required!!! Please email: or call 858-430-8166

  • Postsecondary Planning - Creating Effective ITPs & IPPs
  • Friday, November 15, 2019
    10am to noon, with Q/A after
    Beacons North County
    6150 Yarrow Drive, Ste. E
    Carlsbad, CA 92011

    A Presentation for Parents by Parents: Lucille Lynch, J.D. and Janet Schenker, M.P.A.

    This fall workshop is part of the Beacons, Inc. parent training series. Cost $75 (cash or checks made payable to Beacons, Inc.)

    Please RSVP by November 8th by sending an email to

  • Educational Workshop on Strategies for High School and Adult Transition Students
  • Join us November 6th, in Scripps Ranch, for an Educational Workshop on Strategies for High School and Adult Transition Students.

    This November 6, 2019, NFAR Workshop: "Resource and Strategies to Support Youth During High School and Beyond" is presented by the Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism (CSESA).

    The Workshop is open to educators, families and professionals interested in learning more about the resources, tools, and interventions that can used for high-school and transition age youth to support peer-relations/social skills, reading comprehension, transition planning, and behavior.

    The Workshop is FREE, but please register here!!!!

  • FREE!! Presentation: Improving Social Skills Through Improv
  • Mon, November 4, 2019
    6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
    SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders
    6363 Alvarado Court, ste. 250
    San Diego, CA 92120

    The SDSU Center for Autism is committed to providing free workshops and seminars to the autism community, their families, and their allies. Did you know that your child can strengthen their social skills while having fun? Come learn how Improv is helping to do this for those with autism, and related disabilities. We are excited to have our partners from Unscripted Learning do a talk about their programs teaching kids, teens, and adults with autism social skills through the creativity of improv.

    Speaker: Richie Ploesch, Program Director, Connections, Unscripted Learning
    Richie Ploesch, M.A., BCBA has been working in the field of special education for over 10 years. His specialty is educating students and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He earned his teaching credential in 2006, a Master's Degree in 2008, and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2009.

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

  • Beware of Fake SDRC Robocalls
  • Important notice about fake SDRC calls (shared by Mary Ellen Stives, SCDD).

  • North County Autism Support Group
  • Monday, November 4, 2019
    5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
    Every 1st Monday of the month
    Kasey Howell's Home
    2702 Via Cardel,
    Carlsbad, CA

    This group is open to all parents, professionals, and members of the community interested in improving the lives of those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. The group's demographic includes all ages, home & out of home placements, and all "levels of functioning." There's a wealth of information to be shared by our more "seasoned" families, and it is a welcoming place for those new to the Autism diagnosis.

  • Support & Information for Adults: Self Determination with SDRC
  • Tuesday, November 12, 2019
    6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
    United Way Building
    4699 Murphy Canyon Rd.
    San Diego, CA 92123

    The Department of Developmental Services is developing a new program, called the Self-Determination Program, that will let participants have more control over selecting their services and supports through the regional center. One of the ways this can be done is by giving participants (or their parents or legal representatives) a specific budget to purchase the services and supports that they need to make their person-centered plan work better for them. Participants may choose their services and pick which providers deliver those services. Participants are responsible for staying within their annual budget.

    The Self-Determination Program is based on beliefs that people --

    -Plan their own lives and make their own decisions
    -Determine how funding is spent for their services and supports
    -Plan and choose their own formal and informal supports
    -Take responsibility for the decisions made
    -Validate those decisions through maintaining ongoing control

    Our speaker: Gabriella Ohmstede, Project Manager, Self Determination Program-San Diego Regional Center

    Click here for all the info. No RSVP necessary.

  • Villa de Vida end of year update
  • Click here to read their year end newsletter for all the info about the construction of their new center!!!

  • Paint a Mural in Ocean Beach This Sunday and Monday
  • Sign up here:

  • Autism Diagnosis & Evaluations
  • Are you looking for answers for yourself, your child? The Family Guidance & Therapy Center offers psychological and educational services for children, teens and adults, as well as different therapy options for the whole family. Our brand new diagnosis & testing center offers:

    Autism Diagnosis for Adults
    Autism Diagnosis for children aged 12 months to 18 years
    Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE)
    Re-Evaluation Assessments

    Click here to learn more and schedule an appointment.

  • Autism Moms Meetup: Rancho Bernardo
  • Wed, November 13, 2019
    10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    11770 Bernardo Plaza Ct., Suite #116
    San Diego, CA 92128

    Are you looking to connect with other moms who "get you"? Join us as we laugh, cry, and chat over coffee and snacks. Bring a friend, make a friend, all Autism moms are welcome.

    We will be meeting this month at the new Autism Resource & Treatment Center, ARTC (

    Our monthly meetings are a time for Autism moms to socialize and indulge in well-deserved self care. Our facilitator, Crystal Sanford, is an educational consultant, speech pathologist, and fellow Autism mom. Our goal is to build community and a support network for moms across San Diego County. Join us in this movement of self-care and empowerment!

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

  • Art of Autism Art Contest
  • The Art of Autism and Mainly Mozart nonprofits announce the 2nd annual "Finding Your Inner MozArt Art Contest" open to North American autistic artists ages 14 and over.

    This year's theme is Music and/or Synesthesia. See What is synesthesia?

    Submission Guidelines.

    Art competition is open to North American Artists age 14 and over.

    Deadline for submission is January 20, 2020. Click here for all the info!!!

  • 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.