Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. November 19, 2019

In This Issue

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How a neuroscientist's infant son revolutionized our understanding of autism

Actor Keir Gilchrist on 'Atypical' Season 3, Autism and Mental Health

Suicide: The Conversation We Should Have With Our Kids

CEO traces autism's influence on career path he started as a high school dropout

A Celebrated Brit's Memoir Flings the Doors Wide Open on Life with Severe Autism

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker - Special Needs Resource Foundation Annual Fundraiser!!

Sensory-Friendly: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Groups for children, teens and young adults enrolling now!

Therapeutic Recreation Services - Winter Calendar 2019

RDI and MORE at Therapeutic Approach to Growth

CONNECTIONS Benefit Performance December 14th

Sensory Santa at Westfield North County

First Inclusive Day for the Frosty Farm!

5th Annual DPR Santa Photo Shoot

Life Guide Coaching

Autism Speaks: Sensory-Friendly Santa 2019


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!

  • How a neuroscientist's infant son revolutionized our understanding of autism
  • Henry Markram, the neuroscientist behind the billion-dollar Blue Brain Project to build a supercomputer model of the brain, has set the goal of decoding all disturbances of the mind within a generation. This quest is personal for him. The driving force behind his grand ambition has been his son Kai, who suffers from autism. Raising Kai made Henry Markram question all that he thought he knew about neuroscience, and then inspired his groundbreaking research that would upend the conventional wisdom about autism, leading to his now-famous theory of the Intense World Syndrome.

    When Kai was first diagnosed, his father consulted studies and experts. He knew as much about the human brain as almost anyone but still felt as helpless as any parent confronted with this condition in his child. What's more, the scientific consensus that autism was a deficit of empathy didn't mesh with Markram's experience of his son. He became convinced that the disorder, which has seen a 657 percent increase in diagnoses over the past decade, was fundamentally misunderstood. Bringing his world-class research to bear on the problem, he devised a radical new theory of the disorder: People like Kai don't feel too little; they feel too much. Their senses are too delicate for this world. Read on...

  • Actor Keir Gilchrist on 'Atypical' Season 3, Autism and Mental Health
  • You'll most likely recognize actor Keir Gilchrist as the lead in Netflix's original series "Atypical." Created by Robia Rashid, the series follows Sam Gardner, a student on the autism spectrum, as he navigates high school and now, in the show's third season, college. Though he plays an autistic character onscreen, Gilchrist is not on the spectrum.

    "Atypical" at first received mixed reviews from the autism community, in large part because Rashid cast a typical actor for the role of Sam and at first only featured one actually autistic actor, Anthony Jacques, in a small recurring role. Autistic viewers, like Mighty contributor Adriana White, found many aspects of "Atypical" relatable, but it was missing the insider lived experience of autism. Read on...

  • Suicide: The Conversation We Should Have With Our Kids
  • A conversation about depression or suicide is going to be difficult for parents, but you can have it without putting a young person at risk and it can be very helpful. Parents, family members and teachers could save a life of a child by identifying kids before they have a crisis or go years without treatment. I am not saying this conversation is going to be easy, but I do think it is essential.

    At the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital, we work closely with schools and members of our community to start these conversations. A few things to consider that could make a big difference for a young person: Read on...

  • CEO traces autism's influence on career path he started as a high school dropout
  • While most of his classmates were preparing for college, Dan Schneider took a less conventional route. At 16 years old, he left high school to become an entrepreneur.

    Now, at 38 years old, Schneider sits at the helm of SIB Fixed Cost Reduction, a company which he founded in 2008 amid the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. And despite the economic downturn, SIB, which helps companies reduce recurring expenses, thrived.

    Schneider went on to help develop SIB Lighting and SIB Legal Bill Review, which specialize in specific types of expense management, and sits on the board of AscendRX, a software application that analyzes hospital spending. He's also the co-founder of Movi Healthcare, a non-emergency medical transport platform. Read on...

  • A Celebrated Brit's Memoir Flings the Doors Wide Open on Life with Severe Autism
  • Dame Stephanie Shirley fled Nazi horror and pioneered a successful IT business, but her son's autism was her life's greatest challenge

    The cover of "Let It Go," a newly updated memoir by the UK's Dame Stephanie Shirley, pictures the author, regal and poised, in a 3/4 profile highlighting her intelligent expression and neat attire.

    Now in her mid-80s, such a portrait of calm reflection would hardly have been possible decades earlier. Her only child, Giles, who had autism, had become "a wild and unmanageable toddler who screamed all the time and appeared not to understand (or even to wish to understand) anything that was said to him." His incessant bouncing destroyed beds, while his ripping shredded "books, newspapers, money, vital correspondence," into tiny strips.

    As an older child, his outbursts and violent tantrums helped push his agonized mother, for a time, over the brink of sanity. "We had bolts on all the windows and locks on all the cupboards (although most things we possessed were broken anyway). We lived in a perpetual state of high alert." Overwhelmed by stresses at work and a home, her mind darkened with a sense of the walls of rooms closing in on her, and a full-blown nervous breakdown loomed ahead. 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.

    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.

    Our son recently got diagnosed with Autism and we are currently trying to setup RESPITE services for him.

    We were approved for 8hrs of RESPITE per month. We selected "24HourHomeCare" as our RESPITE agency. The agency mentioned that they don't have care givers available at this point and we were asked if we knew anyone that can join 24HourHomeCare.

    Can you please help us find caregivers specialized in Autism and someone that can provide us RESPITE services.
    Thanks, Kalyani.

    I'm looking for recommendations of a psychologist or psychiatrist experienced in working with adults with autism. My 32 yr. old son has recently developed anxiety and signs of hypochondriasis. Has anyone had experience with someone they would recommend or not recommend? Any help is greatly appreciated. Sharon

    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.

  • Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker - Special Needs Resource Foundation Annual Fundraiser!!
  • Friday, December 20, 2019, 7pm
    UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas
    7510 Hazard Center Drive #100
    San Diego, CA 92108
    Tickets start at $40

    A very special event will be taking place December 20, 7pm at the UltraStar Cinemas Hazard Center in Mission Valley OPENING NIGHT weekend for the much anticipated Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker!

    The festivities begin at 5:30 pm; theater seating begins at 6:30 pm. Your ticket includes the pre-show fun! Create a TIE fighter galaxy canvas at our craft tables, take your family photo with a FULL FORCE of Star Wars characters, win Star Wars character sketch by DC Artist Alex Sinclair and so much more!

    Then sit back and enjoy the opening weekend viewing of the much-anticipated sequel, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

    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. The 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.

    Click here for all the info and to purchase your tickets!!!

    Click here to view the final trailer for the movie!!!

  • Sensory-Friendly: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park has a sensory-friendly performance of Dr. Seuss's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" & a $10 discount for returning guests! The show is Saturday, Dec.14th at 10:30am.

    For tickets, please call the Ticket Office at (619) 234-5623 and say "FRIENDLY" or use this link:

    PLUS, come early to enjoy AXIS-a FREE event on the Copley Plaza before the show! Our second consecutive year of this special free AXIS event will include a pre-show concert by "Banding Together" as well as singing, improv, and a sensory-friendly workshop by actor and teacher Samantha Ginn. These exciting opportunities make the sensory-friendly Grinch even more inclusive!

  • 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

  • Therapeutic Recreation Services - Winter Calendar 2019
  • Here is the TRS Newsletter for Winter of 2019.

    First day of registration is Saturday, November 16th at 10:00 a.m.

    You may register online or at our office at the War Memorial Building (3325 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92101). If you plan on paying at the office, please remember we no longer take cash as a payment.

    If you have any questions, please contact the office at (619) 525-8247.

  • 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

  • CONNECTIONS Benefit Performance December 14th
  • We're very excited to announce our upcoming annual fundraiser and benefit performance, which will be held on Saturday, December 14th at 2:00 p.m. at the National Comedy Theatre.

    The event will feature a pre-show reception, followed by a performance featuring the students from CONNECTIONS. Last year's event was absolutely amazing, and we are so proud to be able to present our students on stage again this year.

    Tickets are $45 and are available at Your tax-deductible ticket purchase will go to support our CONNECTIONS program, which is designed for kids and teens on the Autism Spectrum.

    We are also seeking in-kind or financial sponsorship for the event. If you are interested in donating an item for our silent auction or sponsoring any part of the event, please let us know at:

    We hope to see you on December 14th!

  • Sensory Santa at Westfield North County
  • Saturday Dec 7 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
    Sunday Dec 8 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

    Families of individuals with special needs are invited to share in the time-honored tradition of visiting with Santa in a compassionate, sensory-friendly event created just for them in partnership with San Diego Children's Discovery Museum, Totally Thomas and Autism Society of San Diego. Families are encouraged to bring a camera and take lots of pictures!

    During this private event families will enjoy a quiet visit with Santa prior to regular business hours, supported by no overhead mall radio or audible music from nearby stores, no long lines, and low shopper traffic. In order to create a special experience for each family, event tickets are limited and each family must register in advance for a specific 15 min time slot. Each time slot is available to register for on a first come, first served basis. Click here for all the info and to register!!!

  • First Inclusive Day for the Frosty Farm!
  • The Autism Society San Diego is proud to have assisted the Helen Woodward Animal Center on their development of the first inclusive day for the Frosty Farm!

    There's no holiday stress here, Frosty Farm will have your whole family in good cheer! This festive event in San Diego combines hands-on animal interactions with family-friendly activities, which makes it the perfect place to create new memories.

    In addition to the activities that you can do at our own pace, you will also embark on an excursion that is led by a member of our cheerful crew; this includes encounters with a variety of animals, a holiday craft that is yours to keep (or gift!), and a personal meet and greet with Santa (during which you can snap your own photo & kids will receive a gift).

    December 1st is an inclusive day. This is open to the public, but please note that there may be accommodations present to support participants with special needs and our staff are committed to providing a judgment-free environment for guests and their families. Please contact us at (858) 756-4117 x 318 or with any questions.


  • 5th Annual DPR Santa Photo Shoot
  • Thursday, December 12, 2019 at 4 PM - 7:30 PM
    DPR Construction
    5010 Shoreham Pl, San Diego, California 92122

    DPR Construction is partnering with Autism Tree Project Foundation to provide the only Santa Portrait Night in San Diego designed for children with autism, and provided at no cost to families. This event is limited to 14 families. Each photo session shoot is 15 minutes. SIGN UP TODAY to get your family portrait with Santa!

    To reserve your 15 minute session, contact or call the office at (619) 222-4465!

  • Life Guide Coaching
  • I have been an OT since 1985 with a focus on mental health and pediatrics. I am also a life coach, which I use when I guide parents on a variety of issues. My approach is holistic and relationship-based. I work with families to find ways to facilitate growth, not only for the child, but for the entire family. My focus often includes the following:

    • Understand what's working and what's not
    • Identify general goals for the child AND the family
    • Understand important brain operating principles, including approaching vs. avoiding, regulation, and sensory processing
    • Review factors that can minimize meltdowns and create engagement
    • Learn how to use a relationship-based approach to decrease stress and strengthen the bond between family members
    • Become comfortable to use everyday interactions to teach the child about emotions, self regulation, problem solving, and social skills
    • Facilitate the development of motor and self help skills (selecting activities, presenting the information, providing enough but not too much support, etc)
    • Create the foundation for short and long term sustainable goals/directions for every family member
    I am passionate about my work and about making a difference! If you feel that my approach would be a good fit, I would love to work with your family! Contact me for more info at (619) 347-9810 or

    Christian Vinceneux, OTR/L
    Therapist - Consultant - Life Coach

  • Autism Speaks: Sensory-Friendly Santa 2019
  • Can you believe that the holidays are right around the corner? Over 740 compassionate shopping destinations across the country (including 6 in San Diego County!) are hosting our autism-friendly Santa Experiences with the team at MyHolidayMoments. Find one near you and reserve your spot today! Hurry! Space is Limited!!!

    • Otay Ranch Town Center
    • Fashion Valley - Two Days
    • Chula Vista Center
    • Carlsbad Premium Outlets
    • The Shoppes at Carlsbad
    • Parkway Plaza
    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

  • Autism Through the Lifespan

  • Please RSVP for Spanish Translation support

    For further information, please contact:
    Carolyn Carterette, M.A. (619) 725-8080 email:
    Grace Fantaroni, Ed.D. (619) 563-2839 email

  • 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.