Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. December 04, 2018

In This Issue

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Behaviors that Puzzle: Repetitive Motions and Obsessive Interests in Autism

What does autism look like in the brain?

Abuse and PTSD Among Youth With Autism

Schizophrenia prevalence may be threefold higher in people with autism

Tired. Sickened. Exhausted... Hopeful.

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

No Wait for RDI at Family Guidance

San Diego's Best Map of Christmas Lights

Positive Action Community Theatre (PACT) presents Children's Theatre Workshops!

Holiday Party Family Gym Night with Santa!

Cortica Care: Comprehensive Autism Treatment

4th Annual DPR Photo Shoot with Santa

Therapeutic Approach to Growth Offering Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) & More!

ATPF Teen Time: San Diego Miramar College Tour

Tierrasanta-based Belardo Lights Christmas / Holiday Lighting

Sensory Friendly Book Launch in Del Mar: Radical Inclusion

City of San Diego Park & Recreation Therapeutic Recreation Services Program


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  • Behaviors that Puzzle: Repetitive Motions and Obsessive Interests in Autism
  • Some of a child's first symptoms of autism may be among the most puzzling to parents: hand-flapping, rocking, lining up toys, or finding the whirling blades of a fan more interesting than the world around him.

    Doctors call these repetitive and restricted behaviors and interests (or RRBs, for short), and they are a core symptom of autism. Researchers say RRBs are "almost always present" in young children with autism - as early as 12 months of age - and they persist over time as the child grows.

    Guidelines for diagnosing autism place a greater emphasis on these behaviors than they did in the past. Since 2013, when American psychiatrists published a new diagnostic manual, doctors have been looking for at least two such behaviors when diagnosing a patient with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).3 Previously, someone could receive a diagnosis on the spectrum with fewer such behaviors. Read on...

  • What does autism look like in the brain?
  • People on the autism spectrum often dislike exposure to unexpected stimuli, but why is that? New research takes a look at what happens in the brain, and how that relates to a person's ability to tolerate exposure to various stimuli.

    "People with autism do not like unexpected stimuli, and it may be because brains are not as efficient at rapidly shifting between ideas or thoughts," notes Dr. Jeff Anderson, a professor in Radiology at the University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City.

    Recently, Dr. Anderson and colleagues decided to try and gain a better understanding as to why individuals with autism may experience some of their symptoms.

    To do so, they directed their attention to the complex circuitry of the human brain. "We wondered if we could see how local circuits in the brain react in patients with autism," explains the researcher. Read on...

  • Abuse and PTSD Among Youth With Autism
  • One in four youth with autism who had been admitted to a hospital for psychiatric care had a history of being abused, according to a recent study.

    Almost 100 of the 350 people studied had previously experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse, as reported by a parent or caregiver. Seven of those youth developed Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric condition that is caused by abuse and violence.

    The study involved children and teenagers in the Autism Inpatient Collection research project, or AIC. The project has enrolled youth ages 4 to 20 who have been admitted to one of six hospitals in the United States for specialized psychiatric care. Overall, these children and teenagers fall along "the severe end of the spectrum."2 Half speak few or no words, 40 percent have intellectual disability, and most have challenging behaviors, such as physical aggression or self-injury, according to AIC researchers.

    Child psychiatrist Matthew Siegel, a lead investigator in the AIC project, called the rate of abuse "sad." Unfortunately, the high rate is not surprising, he said. That's because earlier studies have found that children with disabilities were more likely to be abused or neglected than other children. Read on...

  • Schizophrenia prevalence may be threefold higher in people with autism

  • Autism and schizophrenia co-occur significantly more often than would be expected by chance, according to a new analysis of nearly 2 million people.

    Researchers have long suspected that autism and schizophrenia are related. The two conditions have overlapping traits, including sensory-processing problems and social difficulties, and they share gene-expression patterns in brain tissue. But studies of the prevalence of each condition among people diagnosed with the other have yielded inconsistent results.

    Collating data from 11 studies, the new analysis found that schizophrenia is 3.6 times as common in individuals with autism as in controls. Autism likewise occurs more often in people with schizophrenia than in the general population, although the data, taken from six studies, are too variable for a single number to emerge. Read on...

  • Tired. Sickened. Exhausted... Hopeful.
  • I'm tired. I'm tired of the fight.
    Fighting takes something out of you and in our autism community it feels like there is a lot of fighting. Fighting for an initial diagnosis, fighting to keep the diagnosis, fighting to get services, fighting to find services that actually work, fighting for humanistic interventions, fighting the judgment of others.

    I'm tired of the hate.
    Tired of the demeaning of children in the name of science. I'm tired of the endless counting and counting of negative behaviors. I'm tired of the simplistic notion that any person can be objective towards another human being. I'm tired of autistic children needing to prove to educators that they are worthy of a curriculum. Autistic children are being objectified, reduced to percentile points gleaned from standardized assessments. Autistic people are discriminated against in their educational setting, in employment, in the world. I'm tired of watching this happen to our fellow human beings. Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • 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 šŸ˜ŠContact me for details Debra Berl 619 672-8893

    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.

  • No Wait for RDI at Family Guidance
  • Relationship Development Intervention (RDIĀ®)

    Our primary approach for treatment of autism spectrum is a developmental program called Relationship Development Intervention (RDIĀ®). RDIĀ® 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 RDIĀ®?
    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 about RDIĀ®!!!

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

  • San Diego's Best Map of Christmas Lights
  • Grab a comfy sweater and a cup of hot cocoa and take the whole family to see San Diego's awesome holiday light displays! San Diego Family's famous Map of Christmas Lights is back with all the festive family fun. Our interactive map is organized by neighborhood with Google Map directions to help you find your favorite spots. A print version of the Map of Lights is also available in the December issue on stands now at Ralphs and Albertsons! Click here for all the info!!!

  • Positive Action Community Theatre (PACT) presents Children's Theatre Workshops!
  • Register now for PACT's children's theatre workshop series, offered for elementary aged children of all abilities on Saturday afternoons from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. This 8-week series begins January 26 and concludes March 23. Located at Dance North County in Encinitas, workshops will include improvisational theatre activities designed to improve confidence, cooperation, and creativity. It will be led by PACT Artistic Director Sandy Redmon, and by Jacob Redmon and Jovyn Anderson.

    Tuition is $100 for the 8-week series, with scholarships available. Contact Kathryn Campion at PACT for more information or to register: 760-815-8512,, PACT is a non-profit organization established in 2008. Its mission is to empower individuals with unique needs and create community through the performing arts. Join us!

  • Holiday Party Family Gym Night with Santa!
  • Hosted by Autism Society San Diego
    Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 4 PM - 6 PM
    Magdalena Ecke YMCA Gymnastics Center, 6100-B
    Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad, CA 92011

    Celebrate with your family and friends at the Annual Holiday Gym Night Party. This year will feature a pot luck and we ask each of you to bring a dessert or finger food to share.

    There will be a visit from Santa! This can be a great photo opportunity in a low-stress environment. Plus, there will be a small treat for each of the kids.

    Join other families impacted by Autism at a Family Fun Gymnastics Night in North County. The Magdalena Ecke YMCA will provide the gymnasium equipment. Together, we will provide the fun! Bring the entire family for an enjoyable, relaxing night of family recreation.

    *Please remember that there is NO childcare provided at this event. For safety reasons, attendees are expected to be with their children at all times. The YMCA staff will be enforcing this rule.

    Pizza will be provided for participants - we encourage participants to bring a side dish or dessert to share.

    $5 minimum donation per family. Thank you!

  • Cortica Care: Comprehensive Autism Treatment
  • Comprehensive autism treatment. Built on neuroscience. Delivered with compassion.

    The Cortica Care Model is the culmination of Dr. Suzanne Goh's research experience and clinical practice. This innovative approach combines optimal biomedical treatment with the most effective strategies for advancing cognition, communication, and behavior. Through the program, children achieve more meaningful social interaction, greater capacity for self-regulation, enhanced cognitive function, and improved overall health across all body systems. Over months and years, the treatment program evolves to match a child's new skills and abilities, making possible meaningful progress toward independent living, social relationships, occupation, and recreation.

    The Cortica Care Model:

    • Neurophysiology
    • Family and Home
    • Biochemistry
    • Cognition and Behavior
    • Sensorimotor Integration
    • Communication
    Together, we clarify the complex, celebrate extraordinary efforts, and witness moments of brilliance as our children grow new skills and abilities. Many of our services are covered by medical insurance plans. Contact us for all the info!!! Cortica Care
    7090 Miratech Drive
    San Diego, CA 92121

  • 4th Annual DPR Photo Shoot with Santa
  • Hosted by Autism Tree Project Foundation
    Thursday, December 6, 2018
    4:30 PM - 7:30 PM
    Event at DPR Construction
    5010 Shoreham Pl, San Diego, California 92122

    We are so thankful to DPR Construction for hosting this very special Santa Photo Shoot for our kids and families last year! It was such a success we are hosting again this year. There is limited space so RSVP NOW to confirm your photo time with Santa! Once signed up, please send an email to with your contact information for reminder emails/phone calls with details. RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY BY CLICKING HERE:

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

  • ATPF Teen Time: San Diego Miramar College Tour
  • Hosted by Autism Tree Project Foundation
    Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM
    San Diego Miramar College
    10440 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, California 92126

    We are so grateful to the San Diego Miramar College for coordinating a tour of their Fire Technology, Diesel Technology, and Automotive Technology programs for our ATPF Teens! Join us for a hands-on tour of these vocational program facilities, learn about current industry job opportunities, and finish the day with a pizza lunch!

    To RSVP or for more information, contact or call 619-222-4465.

  • Tierrasanta-based Belardo Lights Christmas / Holiday Lighting
  • This year marks the 13th year that the Tierrasanta-based Belardo Lights Christmas / Holiday Lighting display will be providing lifetime memories for visitors in San Diego. It started in 2005 when Randy Schimka was trying to find activities to connect with his young son Brandon, who has autism and was prone to tantrums during outings with the family. But all that changed when Randy took him to see some local Christmas Light displays. Brandon loved it, and asked to visit more than once, which was unheard of.

    Delighted with his son's newfound interest, Randy and Brandon started working on a Holiday lighting display of their own at their home in Tierrasanta at 5306 Belardo Drive. It started off small, but over the years the display has grown to well over 100,000 lights, with mostly home-built decorations, and the whole display is computer controlled, and synchronized to music.

    Randy designs the display decorations, and many of them are built by Brandon and Grandpa Joe Schimka in his woodshop / metal shop, and then Randy and Brandon do the electrical work to bring the decorations to life. They have even built full-size animated Snowman and Snow woman characters that move and talk. Randy's girlfriend Melynie is enthusiastic about the display as well, and she dresses up as Mrs. Claus on the weekends before Christmas at the display.

    For the last few years, the Schimka family has been raising funds at the display to help benefit the non-profit Stein Education Center in Mission Valley. Stein helps families and kids with Autism and other disabilities. Belardo Lights is planning to fund their entire set of Winter Camp activities this year, as well as outfit their campus with much needed therapeutic toys, games, and activities for the kids. 100% of the Belardo Lights proceeds raised goes to Stein, and they use all of the funds provided for their activities and kids.

    The Display has a website (, and a Facebook Group (Belardo Lights), and the Schimkas post photos, guestbook entries, and other heart-warming information about the display and what it means to their family as well as the community.

    Randy, Melynie, and Brandon welcome all San Diego residents and their families to come out and visit the display this year, but particularly those with a family member affected by Autism. As a special treat, Mrs. Claus will be dressed up and visiting the display on weekends leading up to Christmas. She'll be handing out candy canes and special Belardo Lights bracelets for the kids!

    Belardo Lights is located in San Diego at 5306 Belardo Drive and will be operational this year through December 27th from 6 to 10pm nightly.

  • Sensory Friendly Book Launch in Del Mar: Radical Inclusion
  • Thursday, December 6th
    2:30 to 4:30pm
    Flower Child
    2690 Via de la Valle
    Del Mar, Ca 92104

    Impassioned to create a full life for her adult son with autism, Andrea Moriarty created a podcast to showcase his exuberance and scoured the country to find programs that support people like him. Entertaining and insightful, her second book, Radical Inclusion, is a resource for activists, educators, community leaders, and parents-anyone who knows someone with a disability or yearns to belong. Radical Inclusion will:

    Ā· + Convince you that inclusion is easier than you think

    Ā· + Invite you to say "yes" to unlikely conversations

    Ā· + Show you the beauty of social integration

    You're invited to a sensory-friendly launch party where you can get a signed copy of the book, hear live music by Jungle Poppins, and meet the author. If you can't attend it's on Amazon.

    "Full of joy and possibility. I love it." --Chantal Sicile-Kira, author of A Full Life with Autism

    "A good news manual showing how inclusion benefits all people. I hope everyone reads it."--Heather Avis, author of The Lucky Few

    "Moriarty writes with authority, compassion, and practicality. This book is a game changer!"-Mark Foreman, author of Never Say No

  • City of San Diego Park & Recreation Therapeutic Recreation Services Program
  • The City of San Diego Park & Recreation Therapeutic Recreation Services program provides sports, recreation, leisure and outreach services to people with physical, mental and emotional disabilities.

    Services include therapeutic recreation programs and adaptive sports opportunities. These address the special needs of individuals with disabilities who have difficulty accessing and participating in recreation opportunities offered to the general public.

    Under the direction of Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists, activities and services are designed to maintain or improve the physical, cognitive and social functioning of those who have limitations. The target population is children and adults, ages 3 and up, with any type of disability.

    For additional questions about Therapeutic Recreation Services, please call 619-525-8247.

    Click here to view their 2018-2019 newsletter and calendar of events!!!

  • 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.