Coast to Coast

Happy November and Turkey Day Everyone! We understand that navigating the holidays as a special needs family can create extra stress.  Especially when it comes to travel, changed routines, unfamiliar surroundings and people. They key creating a smooth Thanksgiving is… preparation, preparation, preparation! You will need to visualize any upcoming challenges
and plan on how you will overcome them.

There are helpful tips and articles in this edition of Puzzled Parents
News that will help guide your special needs family through the holiday chaos. (Look
for more guidance in our next edition too) Remeber it is important that you find opportunities to relax this holiday season.  To achieve this goal we recommend two simple ways to de-stress daily.

1)      Devote one minute each day to breathe deeply and focus on what you are truly grateful
for this November.

2)      Create a list that recognizes the progress your special-needs family member has made
this year, big or small; add one thing to it each day.

Local Events and Programs

ReSpectrum Community (

  • Science Based Social Group (ages 6-10)
    Mondays at 4:30-5:30pm
  • Adult Aspergers Group (1st &3rd Wednesdays)
  • Coping Cat Group or Individual Sessions (8-18) Intake now for group starting in January
  • Play Group (ages 4-7) Tuesdays 3-430pm
  • 2nd Annual ReThink Family day on December 3,2011
  • Also Meeting in November- Lil’Explorers, Lil Athletes Basketball, Lil Athletes
    Soccer, Lil Prodigies)

Xcite Steps Winter Camp provides opportunities for children and teens who experience disabilities to make friends in a natural but coached environment. We use fun community events to facilitate interaction between the kids and teens and our small group environment and 3 to 1 ratio allows for the much needed personalized attention and individual social coaching. For more detailed information regarding a specific age group and/or any questions please contact Pam Machala at (858)703-7305 or

Autism Tree Project Foundation (

  • Simply Music Piano- Free introductory Session
    (November 9th) This is a free event! Due to space limitations,
    reservations are required! 1 free DVD per family. You will be able to register
    for classes on the night of the event. RSVP to Cathy at or 1.888.896.2066. For more information about our programs, please visit
  • Parent Mentor Program
  • Preschool Screenings
  • Girl Mentor program
  • Parent and Child Musical Playgroup
  • Kibbles DVD Parent Resource

NAMI San Diego (

  • Friends of the Lobby Program – November 16th
    at 10am
  • Outreach Meeting- November 7th at
  • Critical Issues in Older Adult Mental Health,  November 17th at 745am
  • For more information on these and other events read NAMI Newsletter XV at

Autism Society of San Diego (

    the Leap From Pre-school to Kindergarten.
    Each subsequent monthly meeting
    will examine a later stage of development. November 17th at 9:30am,
    Ballard Center in Old Town.

CHADD-Children and Adults with ADHD- “is the nation’s leading non-profit
organization serving individuals with AD/HD and their families. CHADD has over
16,000 members in 200 local chapters throughout the U.S. Chapters offer support
for individuals, parents, teachers, professionals, and others.”   For information on the local San Diego Chapter and what they offer the community go to CHADD San Diego.

Local News

Valeries List– Sign up for this newsletter for other interesting
articles, updates, and studies for the San Diego Special Needs Community.

Local Military

EFMP San Diego- sign up on facebook for more updates about these

Talk Time” support group every 3rd Wednesday of the month from 0900 to
1030 at the Gateway Housing Community Center, 2741 Mendonca Dr, San Diego
92110. Whether the exceptional family member is the adult or the child, Talk
Time provides a chance to get together, to share information, to find support
and to make new friends. This support group is open to all branches of the service
and as always, children are welcome.

Toy Tips. Ideas and Options for Children with Special Needs.” Tuesday, November 15th,
0930-1130. MCRD Family Readiness Classroom, Bldg 6E, 3602 Hochmuth Ave, San
Diego, 92140.

Save the date for our Annual EFMP Resource Fair Saturday, February 25th.
More information to come on this and other events.

Thanksgiving Holiday Advice and Tips
for Special Needs Families

Enjoying your Special Needs Child During
the Thanksgiving Holiday
– “Meal times and allowing the child to have down time can really be effected by the holiday. By the same token, parents need to have the opportunity to enjoy the
holiday as well. In order to do this, we as parents need to do a good job of
balancing the change in routine with fun time with family and friends. How do
we accomplish both successfully?…”

Special Needs and Special Occasions– “Family get-togethers are the worst. Too many people. Too much noise. Too much food. Too many opinions on the ways you’re raising your
children. Never mind the fact that kids with special needs often go crazy
during big family events — they’re often not exactly a shining hour for us as
parents, either…” (Read More)

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Menu

Distressing and Preparing for Thanksgiving from Autism Speaks
Here you will find many useful items to help your special-needs family member (Go to Autism Speaks)

Holiday Travel Tips for Special Needs Families– “A
holiday vacation is usually a highly anticipated activity for families. But for
families of children with special needs, even a simple trip can require a lot
more planning. Whether a child has a physical disability or a developmental
disorder such as autism, traveling can be a positive event when following these
holiday travel tips.” Read more at Suite101: Holiday Travel Tips for Kids with Special Needs: Best
Ways to Take a Holiday Trip with Disabled Children |

National Programs and Resources

A new website called ‘Medicaid Reference Desk’ offers a breakdown of the various Medicaid benefits offered to those with disabilities based on where they live. (Michelle Diament)
(Read More)

Positively Autism October 2011 Newsletter highlighting PRT. Blog
includes teaching materials and resources. (Learn More)

AWAARE Collaboration– Working to
prevent wandering incidents and deaths within the autism community (Learn More)

Check out ‘Special Apps, Special Kids’! This a page that focuses on gathering apps and other resources to help children with special needs. (Learn More)

TACAAutism and Safety: How to be prepared

Subscribe to SmartBrief on EdTech (Click Here)

  • Make sure to download their free Iphone App

National News

Postage Stamps to Feature Artists
with Autism- “
The United Nations will honor autism
awareness next year with a series of postage stamps designed by individuals
with the developmental disability…” (Michelle Diament) (Read More)

Congress Puts Children’s SSI Under the Microscope-“Congress is
turning its attention to soaring growth in the Social Security benefits program
for children with disabilities and that has advocates on edge…” (Shaun Heasley)
(

Slow Brain Growth Could Explain Autistic Behaviors– “Kids with autism often think and act
differently than their peers. Now researchers say they may know why.” (Shuan
Heasley) (Read More)


Education News

Restraint, Seclusion Overlook in Education Bill-“Despite efforts to address restraint and
seclusion of students with disabilities within an overhaul of the nation’s
primary education law, the issue was left out when the U.S. Senate moved
forward on a bill this week…” (Diament) (Read More)

Schools Offset Budget Cuts with Four day Weeks- “A minimum of 292 school districts
across the country — up from an estimated 120 just two years ago — have
switched to a four-day school week to help cut costs and manage budgets, a new
survey shows. Districts that adopt the practice often extend instruction during
the remaining four days to ensure that seat-time requirements are met. Some
say, however, the schedule is hard on working families, who must find child
care one day each week. The Washington Post

Plan to Relax Special Education Standards Worries Advocates- “Disability advocates are calling out a group of Republican senators for proposing changes to federal education law
that they say would lower expectations for students with disabilities…”
(Michelle Diament) (Read More)

Schools Turn to Online Options for Speech, Language Therapy-“More school
districts are looking to online options for providing speech and language
therapy to students, as the number of students needing those therapies also
grows. Some districts provide students with live, interactive computer sessions
with therapists, while other rural districts are taking advantage of online
options. One small study found online therapy to be promising, but some
therapists say complications such as keeping students engaged and integrating
the therapy throughout the school day also are evident. “Education Week (premium article access compliments of
(SmartBrief on EdTech)

Obama: Education reform aimed at raising standards– “Decrying the
state of American education, President Barack Obama
on Friday said states will get unprecedented freedom to waive basic elements of
the sweeping Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, calling it an admirable but
flawed effort that has hurt students instead of helping them.” (Kimberly
Hefling) (Read More at;_ylt=A2KLJmBnvnxOGhsAAAOs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNsMjIxamczBG1pdANUb3BTdG9yeSBGUARwa2cDODRmYWM3MzMtNjc5ZS0zZjViLWI5OWMtMDUwNGIxZmQxYjBhBHBvcwM5BHNlYwN0b3Bfc3RvcnkEdmVyAzkzZTYzZTVhLWU2MDYtMTFlMC1iY2NhLTFjYzFkZTAyMGY2YQ-;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

New Guide Offers Road map to IEP Process-“A new guide released Tuesday provides parents with a step-by-step look at how to obtain special education services from their school district.
The 26-page download from Autism Speaks offers a broad overview of the legal
rights of parents and students with disabilities and walks through the process
of forming an individualized education program or IEP…” (Michelle Diament)
(Read More)

Technology News

Check out SmartBreif on EdTech!

Digital Writing Resources for Students with Disabilities– “Joan Green, author
of The Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education, recommends
the digital Livescribe Pen and WordQ software for helping students with disabilities improve their writing skills. Debra Bauder, president of the Special Education Technology Special Interest
Group of the International Society of Technology and Education, suggests graphic-organizer software, Inspiration as well as the free Google Scribe. Education Week Teacher (premium article access compliments

Mobile app is Designed to Help Teachers with behavior management-“A new Web and
mobile app is aimed at helping teachers track and manage students’ behavior in
the classroom. The app, ClassDojo, allows teachers to note positive and
negative student behaviors on a scale of -1 to +1 and generate reports for
individual students or an entire class. The program is meant to be a tool for
educators and administrators, as well as students, who may respond well to the
immediate and public feedback the program offers…” (Read More)

Adapting to the Ipad, Called Education’s ‘Equalizer’– “The 18-year-old is a quadriplegic with multiple disabilities that make speech and muscle control extremely difficult. He interacts
through eye gaze or by tapping his head against a switch on a communication
device to spell out words…” (Alesha Boyd) (Read More)

Robot is Designed to Teach Social Skills to Children with Autism-“A robot that helps children with autism learn to take turns and initiate play with others is the focus of a
program at the Robotics Research Lab at the University of Southern California.
“Bandit,” a child-sized robot, has been designed to maintain the look
of a machine so as not to be too intimidating, and has a human-like face
designed to engender empathy among children with autism. “It was a balance
that we had to find,” Maja Mataric, co-director of the lab, said. Los Angeles Times…”

Mobile app Improves Social Skills of Students with Various Special Needs– “Pediatric
psychologist Mark Bowers and his wife Kelly have created and released Sosh, a
mobile-device application designed to improve the social skills of students
with social interaction disabilities. Although the application was initially
designed for youths with Asperger syndrome, Mark Bowers said that “some
treatments overlap for students with ADHD or social anxiety disorders, or
people who are just shy.” The application is compatible with iPhones and
iPads. The Topeka Capital-Journal (Kan.)” (SmartBreif)

Puzzled Parents News is associated with the San Diego Puzzled Parents Support Group and is created by Heather Kennedy. 


Comments on: "Puzzled Parents News- November 2011" (1)

  1. ATPF Office
    2845 Nimitz Blvd
    Suite C
    San Diego, Ca. 92106
    Bring your child to our new Playtime Class for a fun hour of interaction and play. Dr. Jennifer Oke will be leading this FREE group and teaching parents how to play, enjoy and have fun with their kids.
    This class is limited to 6 families-all siblings welcome!
    RSVP now for this fun new class!

    ATPF’s 4th Annual Winter Wonderland!
    Dec. 1, 2011 from 6:00-9:00 p.m.
    USD Campus
    Forums A & B
    5998 Alcala Park
    San Diego, CA 92110
    USD Toreros Football players will be coming to spend time with our ATPF kids, where we will be hosting our Annual ATPF Cookie Exchange, arts & crafts tables for the kids and holiday fun for all of our ATPF families at this FREE event.
    For information on how to enter your holiday treats in our annual cookie exchange and to RSVP for this event you must sign up with Lisa:

    Sat. Nov. 19th at 1:00 p.m.
    USD Home Game-Come out and cheer for your player!
    Each family can reserve FREE tickets for this game. Tickets are available to ATPF families signed up for our USD Mentor Program. (If you wish to bring extended family or friends tickets can be purchased at the gate at the rate of $12 for adults and $8 for kids.) You must reserve your tickets with Lisa prior to the home game by noon on the Thursday before the game. We will have an ATPF family section at this home game. So pack your hat and sunglasses, bring your family and come out to cheer on your player! Game will be at:
    Torero Stadium
    5998 Alcala Park
    San Diego, Ca. 92110
    Email or Call Lisa to reserve your tickets! OR call 619-222-4465

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