Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. November 10, 2018

In This Issue

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Autism severity in children tracks with mothers' serotonin levels

Is Your Family Prepared for a Disaster?

Revised test offers reliable way to track autism over time

Autism is associated with zinc deficiency in early development-now a study links the two

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Opening Night Tickets! JK Rowling's The Crimes of Grindelwald

Support & Information for Adults: Public Benefits Information

No Wait for RDI at Family Guidance

NFAR Mom's Group - Wed. Nov. 14

Cara Lucier & Associates

Announcing Building Bridges: Science & Community Forum on Nov. 30th!

November Free Webinar: Measurable IEP Goals and Data Collection

My Special Needs Connection November Newsletter

Hops for Heroes

The Legal Aid Foundation of San Diego

A Social Event for Parents of Children with Special Needs

Engage & Connect Program -- Next session starts November 29th!

Clinical Training: Apply for Spring 2019

Club Beacons in Carlsbad - November 16th


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 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!

  • Autism severity in children tracks with mothers' serotonin levels
  • Women whose children are severely autistic have lower serotonin levels than do those whose children have mild or moderate autism traits, a new study suggests.

    Serotonin is a signaling molecule in the nervous system. Nearly one in three people with autism has elevated levels of serotonin in his blood. But it is unclear how serotonin levels relate to an individual's autism traits.

    The new study is the first to link maternal serotonin to autism traits in people: It hints that developmental problems worsen as maternal serotonin declines.

    "Absolutely it's a surprising finding," says lead investigator Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. "You don't usually think about biomarkers in moms, although in autism, I think increasingly we should be thinking about that." Read on...

  • Is Your Family Prepared for a Disaster?
  • Last year various regions of California were affected by a multitude of fires, floods, earthquakes and storms. Is your family prepared if disaster strikes San Diego?

    While impossible to predict all eventualities, disaster preparedness experts agree that it's best to plan ahead. This is particularly crucial for families with special needs, who can be exceptionally vulnerable during such times and may need extra assistance changing locations, experience difficulty transitioning routines, or require urgent medical attention.

    "Being prepared, and getting kids involved in planning, helps reduce stress greatly," says pediatrician Dr. Kamei Tolba of Children's Primary Care Medical Group. Read on...

  • Revised test offers reliable way to track autism over time
  • A recalibrated version of a widely used test for autism may accurately reflect autistic children's development as they grow and become verbal, according to a new study1. The revised test identifies worsening autism traits in a subgroup of children who would not otherwise have been flagged for the condition.

    The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) is one of the standard tests for autism. A clinician administers the play-based assessment in a natural setting over about an hour. The test has different parts for young children of different ages and skill levels: Toddler Module for young, nonverbal toddlers, Module 1 for minimally verbal children over 30 months of age and Module 2 for children who speak phrases.

    But ADOS scores are not consistent across these modules because of, for example, the natural development of language. This mismatch may prevent doctors from accurately tracking children over time and cause them to miss opportunities for intervention, says So Hyun Kim, clinical psychologist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. Read on...

  • Autism is associated with zinc deficiency in early development-now a study links the two
  • The emergence of autism in children has not only been linked to genes encoding synaptic proteins-among others-but also environmental insults such as zinc deficiency. Although it is unclear whether zinc deficiency contributes to autism, scientists have now defined in detail a possible mechanistic link. Their research shows how zinc shapes the connections or 'synapses' between brain cells that form during early development, via a complex molecular machinery encoded by autism risk genes. Published in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, the findings do not directly support zinc supplementation for the prevention of autism-but extend our understanding of its underlying developmental abnormalities, towards an eventual treatment.

    Zinc and autism risk genes "Autism is associated with specific variants of genes involved in the formation, maturation and stabilization of synapses during early development," says study senior author Dr. Sally Kim of Stanford University School of Medicine.

    "Our findings link zinc levels in neurons-via interactions with the proteins encoded by these genes-to the development of autism." Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • 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 Pe├▒asquitos, 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

    Does your child or young adult have IHSS hours? I have an amazing person who is working with my 22 year old daughter and is looking to take on new clients. She's been great at teaching life skills, cooking, hygiene and can also help with things like organizing schoolwork, mentoring etc. She is also available for work private pay as well. Please spread the word if you know anyone who needs this type of service for teens/young adults ­čśŐContact me for details Debra Berl 619 672-8893

    My 16 year old son( with autism/intellectual disability/pica/anxiety/chronic constipation) has been having intermittent aggression since we relocated to Carlsbad 2 months ago came home from CAPS yesterday...can you recommend a person who we can hire to stay in our home for an extra layer of support in the early evening (5-8pm) during the "sundowner" time? This is the time that aggression may come from out of nowhere. I would need help getting him to his room without being assaulted, where he can be safe, getting him PRN medication, and allowing him to calm down there (without calling the PERT team or the police). Once we are certain that he is stabilized with the right dosage of medication, we will not need the same level of extra support. We can pay up to $20/hr. We are also in the process of getting IHSS for him, so in time we will have more resources available...

    Please reply directly to my email address:

    We hired an advocate this summer for our middle schooler, but feel that it is a lot of money for what we are getting. We just would like someone who would answer questions we can have once in a while, but in an immediate way because sometimes it's urgent...does anyone know of someone/somewhere we can get those kind of services? 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.

  • Opening Night Tickets! JK Rowling's The Crimes of Grindelwald
  • Attend the Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego's movie fundraiser Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald on Nov. 16 and have a chance to win fabulous prizes! Tickets at

    Prize list includes:

    • A Fantastic Beasts Holiday Tree - Ornaments for the tree have been donated by local artists of all abilities
    • Harry Potter 20 Years of Magic Artwork Signed byJim Kay, Brian Selznick, Mary Grand Pre and Kazu Kibuishi
    • Tickets to Disneyland California
    • A Dream Dinner Gift Basket
    • 90-Day Car Wash Memberships from Soapy Joe's Car Wash
    • The Marauder's Map Guide to Hogwarts & World of Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit
    • Hogwarts Wall Banners & Mirror of Erised
    • and more!
    November 16, 7pm
    UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas
    7510 Hazard Center Drive #100
    San Diego, CA 92108

    Proceeds from this event will benefit the Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego. The mission of SNRFSD is to help parents and advocates in the special needs community to overcome challenges of the family's journey by bringing together people, information and resources in the resource guide called Flourishing Families. Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego is a nonprofit 501(c)(3). All donations are 100% tax exempt for federal income tax purposes. Tax ID #46-4543603

  • Support & Information for Adults: Public Benefits Information
  • Tuesday, November 13, 2018
    6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
    Autism Society of San Diego
    4699 Murphy Canyon Road (United Way Building)
    San Diego, CA 92123

    This presentation will cover the basics of the various complex systems utilized by individuals with disabilities including SSI, SSA, 250% working Disabled, CalABLE, and several helpful resources. We will also discuss entitlements and services available to adults who are recipients of regional center services.

    Melissa Hough has worked in the disability field in various capacities since 1995. She began working for Creative Support Alternatives in 2004, serving as Associate Director since 2014. She is passionate about utilizing person-centered planning tools to develop truly individualized services consistent with Creative Support Alternatives' beliefs and mission.

    Melissa received both her Bachelors degree in Vocational Education, Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University. Melissa serves on the Cal-TASH Board, is a founding member of the local San Diego Micro-Business Coalition, and maintains membership in the California Supported Living Network, San Diego Supported Living Vendor group, Cal-TASH, and APSE. She also teaches DSPS Continuing Education classes through a local community college.

    There will be an opportunity for networking and questions and answers.
    Light refreshments will be served.
    We hope you will join us!

  • No Wait for RDI at Family Guidance
  • Relationship Development Intervention (RDI┬«)

    Our primary approach for treatment of autism spectrum is a developmental program called Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®). RDI® is a unique treatment approach that empowers parents to guide their child to succeed in our dynamic world. Children who learn to actively engage with the support of their parents in safe but challenging learning opportunities develop a strong motivation to explore and expand their world, as well as develop competence and trust in themselves and their guides.

    Why RDI®?
    Foundations of the adult mind are developed in the first years of life through the "Guiding Relationship". From the middle of the first year of life, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, in every culture on earth, children interact with parents and other important adults in deceptively simple encounters, with a very serious underlying agenda; constructing the architecture of the child's mind and brain. Click here for all the info!!!

    The Family Guidance and Therapy Center
    Locations in Point Loma and Mira Mesa

  • NFAR Mom's Group - Wed. Nov. 14
  • 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
    **NEW LOCATION**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.

    November Topic: Tips to Help Your Child Stay Safe, (bring your questions)

    Over the past 30 years, GET SAFE has positively impacted the lives of more than 200,000 people of all ages and abilities by providing the violence prevention education and self-defense training that is critical to protecting the well-being of its students and to building safer, more inclusive communities.

    Come learn more about ways to help empower and keep your loved one safe.

    Guest Speaker: Stuart Haskin, Founder and Executive Director - Get Safe

    Stuart works closely with law enforcement officers, military personnel, children, survivors of sexual assault, victims of domestic violence, and persons with disabilities. Stuart interacts with his students on the emotional, cognitive and physical levels combined with his trademark humor to create an empowering, life-changing shift in personal awareness and safety.

    To learn more about Get Safe.

    To RSVP and for directions.

  • Cara Lucier & Associates
  • At Cara Lucier & Associates we believe in the ability of every person to reach their potential. We believe that education is the key to opportunity. We advocate for the rights of individuals and their families:

    • IEP team meetings
    • Mediation
    • Due Process Hearings and Appeals
    • 504 Meetings and Appeals
    • Regional Center Meetings and Appeals
    • IHSS Appeals
    • Civil Rights Litigation
    For a free 60-minute initial consultation, please contact us at (760)505-2498.

    Law Offices of Cara Lucier
    Civil Rights and Education Law
    701 Palomar Airport Road, Suite #300
    Carlsbad, CA 92011
    Phone: (760) 717-3451

  • Announcing Building Bridges: Science & Community Forum on Nov. 30th!
  • Friday, November 30, 2018
    5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
    Storm Hall Lecture Hall 12 and West Patio
    Storm Hall
    5550 Campanile Dr
    San Diego, CA 92182

    We are proud to announce the inaugural Building Bridges: Science & Community Forum event on November 30th at 5:00 pm, which will mark the official opening of the SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders!

    This event is an opportunity to hear SDSU autism scientists talk about their cutting edge research, and share their findings with the community they serve. It is also an opportunity for the members of this diverse community to mix, mingle, and network.

    Anyone who is part of the autism community (families, service providers, scientists, clinicians, educators, policy makers, allies) is welcome to attend. We hope you all can join us for this FREE and educational event! RSVP Here.

  • November Free Webinar: Measurable IEP Goals and Data Collection
  • The webinar will air on November 27th at 12:00 noon and will repeat on November 29th at 7:00 pm.

    Join us by registering at

  • My Special Needs Connection November Newsletter

  • Click here to view their November newsletter for all the upcoming events and info!!!

  • Hops for Heroes
  • Hosted by Autism Society San Diego
    Tuesday Evenings: 11/13 & 11/20 & 11/27
    Stumblefoot Brewing Company
    1784 La Costa Meadows Drive, Suite 103
    San Marcos, California

    Join us at Stumblefoot Brewery for Hops for Heroes, every Tuesday night from 6-8 PM! This special night for autism parents features $5 pints, and a fun and relaxing atmosphere to talk to other families to share information and support. Stumblefoot Brewing is kid friendly, so you are welcome to bring the whole family! We hope to see you there!

  • The Legal Aid Foundation of San Diego
  • The Legal Aid Foundation of San Diego is now providing free legal representation with every aspect of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) process for providing free legal representation children who have a qualifying medical condition and meet financial eligibility requirements. They also provide free legal services with every aspect of the In-home Supportive Services process for adults and children who have a qualifying medical condition and meet financial eligibility requirements.

    Click here for all the info!!!

  • A Social Event for Parents of Children with Special Needs
  • "My Time For Dinner" was created to give Parents a special time for themselves to enjoy an evening out to dinner.

    Little Italy Bar and Grill (Approx. $15 per person)
    In Scripps Ranch
    Monday, November 12, 2018
    7:00 PM

    Please R.S.V.P. with your host Bene' Raphael no later than Nov.9th at or for any questions please call (760) 845-4551

  • Engage & Connect Program -- Next session starts November 29th!
  • Families of young children with autism, ages 2 - 8, and their siblings are invited to join us for our next session of the "Engage & Connect".

    The program is designed to bring parents, siblings, and children with ASD together, learn strategies from our professional team, and most of all - have fun!

    Play activities have been designed to encourage communication and social skills development.

    The Engage & Connect Program is held once a week for 4-weeks at Kid Ventures indoor recreational play center in 4S Ranch on Thursdays from 5:15 - 6:30 pm starting November 29th.

    To learn more or to register, please contact NFAR at 858-679-8800. Spots fill quickly-sign up for the next session today!

  • Clinical Training: Apply for Spring 2019
  • Want to learn hands-on from Michelle Garcia Winner and other world-renowned members of our clinical team? Apply for Social Thinking's three-day intensive Clinical Training Program to get ground-floor, top-notch training in the Social Thinking Methodology. Observe and discuss a live assessment using the Social Thinking Informal Dynamic Assessment, observe live Social Thinking group and individual treatment sessions with clients of different ages, and discuss treatment strategies for the different levels of the social mind. We're sold out for 2018, apply to secure your seat for spring 2019 before it's gone!
    Click here for all the info and to apply!!!

  • Club Beacons in Carlsbad - November 16th
  • Beacons, Inc.
    6150 Yarrow Street, Suite E
    Carlsbad, CA 92011

  • 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

  • "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? Spanish Speakers Welcome!!!
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    Can a Safe 'Fever' Help AUTISM Symptoms?

    Una 'Fiebre' Para Disminuir los Sintomas de AUTISMO? 

    Pilot Study Enrollment

    This pilot study will enroll 12 families with ASD children ages 2-17 years old in a controlled study, in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas. We are testing a dry heat therapy from an FDA-cleared medical device with simulates the effect of a low-grade fever by non-invasively infusing heat into the circulatory system. The Fielding Graduate University IRB approved study is entitiled: "The Fever Effect: Do kids with autism do better when they use a device to warm their blood? Effects of six-week AVACEN Treatment Method on Autism Spectrum Disorder".

    If you are interested in participating in this pilot study please contact Frances Poteet at and provide your phone number, email address, zip code and best time to reach you so that we can contact you. If you are not selected as part of this pilot study, you may be offered an opportunity to participate in a larger study of the device at a later date.

    Participants who complete the entire study will receive a $200 Amazon gift card. Enrolling now! Limited openings available!

    We can offer services in English and Spanish (all the way from the Orientation throughout the course of the study.)

  • Participate in Research: Caregiver/Family Member Survey
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    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

  • The Brain Development Imaging Labs at San Diego State University are looking for individuals with diagnosed or suspected autism to participate in a brain imaging study. Participants would receive around $150 plus free cognitive testing and an MRI scan. Child participants would receive a free assessment summary and image of their brain as a bonus! We are looking to recruit from all ages, but we especially need adults, ages 40-65 years, to participate. If you know someone who might be a good fit for our study, please share this information with them. Thank you.

    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.