Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. November 22, 2019

In This Issue

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Autism-linked gene variants increase odds of attention deficit

Emergency rooms see surge of teenagers seeking psychiatric care

Majority of anti-vaxx ads on Facebook are funded by just two organizations

Pathological Demand Avoidance for Autism (PDA)

Neurodiversity Firm Ultranauts Employs 75% of Staff from the Autistic Spectrum

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!

Help Your Child Develop Stronger Social & Communication Skills

RDI and MORE at Therapeutic Approach to Growth

CONNECTIONS Benefit Performance December 14th

"Unlocking the Mystery of the Special Needs Trust"

Cygnet Theatre's Sensory-Friendly Performance of "A Christmas Carol."

Parent Training: Communication Workshop: Learn Effective Ways to Communicate with the School to Gather Information and Document Your Concerns!

Life Guide Coaching

The Joy Connection Winter Wonderland


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  • Autism-linked gene variants increase odds of attention deficit
  • A collection of rare genetic variants associated with autism and schizophrenia also increase a person's odds of having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to the largest study to explore this link1.

    Researchers identified eight copy number variants (CNVs) - duplications or deletions of long stretches of DNA - that are more common in people with ADHD than in those without the condition. These same CNVs are also implicated in autism and schizophrenia.

    The study, led by researchers at deCODE genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland, lends support to the idea that autism, schizophrenia and ADHD have similar biological underpinnings. Read on...

  • Emergency rooms see surge of teenagers seeking psychiatric care
  • Less than a decade ago, the emergency department at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, California, would see maybe one or two young people per day, says Benjamin Maxwell, the hospital's interim director of child and adolescent psychiatry.khn-logo1-100 Now it's not unusual for the emergency room to see 10 adolescents and young adults in a day, and sometimes even 20, Maxwell says. "What a lot of times is happening now is kids aren't getting the care they need, until it gets to the point where it is dangerous," he says. ERs throughout California are reporting a sharp increase in adolescents and young adults seeking care for a mental health crisis. In 2018, California ERs treated 84,584 individuals ages 13 to 21 who had a primary diagnosis involving mental health. That is up from 59,705 in 2012, a 42 percent increase, according to data provided by the California of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Read on...

  • Majority of anti-vaxx ads on Facebook are funded by just two organizations
  • The majority of Facebook ads spreading misinformation about vaccines are funded by two organizations run by well-known anti-vaccination activists, a new study in the journal Vaccine has found.

    The World Mercury Project chaired by Robert F Kennedy Jr, and Stop Mandatory Vaccinations, a project of campaigner Larry Cook, bought 54% of the anti-vaccine ads shown on the platform during the study period.

    "Absolutely we were surprised," said David Broniatowski, a professor of engineering at George Washington University, one of the authors of the report. "These two individuals were generating the majority of the content." Read on...

  • Pathological Demand Avoidance for Autism (PDA)
  • What is Pathological Demand Avoidance?
    Pathological Demand Avoidance is a behavior profile seen in people with autism. A person with this trait refuses to follow demands that can be considered part of daily life such as going to school, eating dinner, or going to bed. This uncooperativeness is said to be based on anxiety and the need for control.

    The late developmental psychologist Elizabeth Newson first coined the term Pathological Demand Avoidance in the 1980s when she described resistant behavior seen in children with autism.

    In her work with children on the spectrum at the University of Nottingham's Child Development Research Unit, Dr. Newson had to put children with PDA symptoms on a separate category from those with classic autism symptoms. Although she mostly worked with non-verbal children on the spectrum, other verbal children were brought in who showed signs of PDA. Read on...

  • Neurodiversity Firm Ultranauts Employs 75% of Staff from the Autistic Spectrum
  • Rajesh Anandan, 46, is a brilliant guy who wants to prove that neurodiversity and autism could be a competitive advantage in business. He founded, together with his MIT roommate Art Shectman, Ultranauts - a New York-based quality engineering start-up that employs 75% of its staff from the autistic spectrum.

    Ultranauts, formerly Ultra Testing, is now one of a growing number of firms that hire autistic talents. But while initiatives at organizations like Microsoft and accounting firm EY are limited and focused on supporting the office's neurodiverse staff, Ultranauts has transformed its entire business around neurodiversity, shifting policies to aggressively recruit people on the autism spectrum, and developing new corporate strategies to effectively manage neurodiverse teams. 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

    I would love to find a theatre, dance or improv teacher to volunteer teach at my son's school in Poway. They're 18 -22 years old. Can you help? 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.

  • 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

  • Help Your Child Develop Stronger Social & Communication Skills
  • This program is designed for parents of children with social communication delays and/or difficulties (including autism spectrum disorder). You will learn and practice research-supported strategies to improve social communication development in your child, through play and everyday routines.

    TERI Crimson Center for Speech & Language
    9606 Tierra Grande, Suite 107
    San Diego, CA 92126
    January 14 - March 24, 2020
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

    TO REGISTER: Please contact Jessica Rush, M.S., CCC-SLP at or call Office: 858-695-9415 or Cell: 760-712-8432.

  • 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!

  • "Unlocking the Mystery of the Special Needs Trust"
  • The webinar will be held on Tuesday December 10th at 12:00 noon and will repeat Thursday December 12th at 7:00 pm.

    Join us by registering at

    Click here for information about the speaker, Mary Waltari, Esq.

  • Cygnet Theatre's Sensory-Friendly Performance of "A Christmas Carol."
  • Experience this family-friendly musical that has become a local holiday favorite! The sensory-friendly performance is especially designed for children and adults with sensory processing disorders, autism and other developmental or cognitive disabilities. Wednesday, Dec. 11, 10:30 am. $10; group reservations only. For details and reservations, click here.

  • Parent Training: Communication Workshop: Learn Effective Ways to Communicate with the School to Gather Information and Document Your Concerns!
  • Saturday, December 7th
    9:00 AM to 12:30 PM
    Schwartz & Storey
    Old Town, San Diego
    2247 San Diego Ave. #237
    San Diego, CA 92110

    Effective communication is important to a successful special education experience!
    Communicating with the schools staff and administration can feel tricky. Many parents only communicate when tensions are running high. In this workshop we will discuss how you can address your concerns in a positive way while getting the information you need to actively participate in the special education process and document your concerns. We'll discuss why communication is so important and how to articulate your concerns with clarity while creating a record of what is happening at school.

    RSVP Required! Email: or call 858-430-8166.

  • 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

  • The Joy Connection Winter Wonderland
  • The Joy Connection

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.