MAC Parent Support Group Exploratory Meeting

The MAC Annual Meeting was another successful event, bringing together parents, service providers, and young adults with ASD. The response from those who attended the event was positive. Among the topics of interest was parental interest in a support group for those raising children on the Autism Spectrum.

MAC Committee members discussed steps that should be taken in order to form a responsive parent support group. To better understand the needs and concerns of parents, MAC will hold an exploratory meeting to gauge interest levels and topics of interest. The meeting will hopefully provide a better picture on how MAC can move forward and form a support group for parents in Marin County. Please find below a description of the exploratory meeting, scheduled for Thursday, May 15, 2014 at the Marin Office of Education.

MAC Parent Support Group Exploratory Meeting

The Marin Autism Collaborative invites you to join parents, grandparents, and guardians of children and young adults on the Autism Spectrum to share ideas on ways to support our community. Share your thoughts, topics of interest, and how we can better develop a parent support group.

If you are unable to attend the meeting on May 15, please feel free to email your topics of interest to Nancy La at

When: Thursday, May 15, 2014
Where: The Marin Office of Education, Foundation Room
1111 Las Gallinas Drive, San Rafael, CA 94913
Time: 9:30-11:00am
For Questions: Contact Nancy La at Lifehouse Agency

The Autism Partnership Upcoming Events and Services

The Autism Partnership is currently conducting a research study on advances in social skills development through a 16-week program. They are looking for children between the ages of 3-5 years old diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum with the ability to speak in full sentences to participate in the study. The groups will be held at the Autism Partnership in Seal Beach, CA. For more information, please visit the Autism Partnership’s Social Skills Group page.

The Autism Partnership also has some new services available. They are introducing new treatment programs to the Applied Behavioral Analysis services, with Specialized Treatments Programs now available to those who exhibit complex behavioral challenges. Other new services include the creation of a Sibling Connection Group, with goals of providing a comfortable environment for families. Please contact Autism Partnership for more information on these and other programs and services.

Marin Autism Collaborative Annual Meeting 2014

On Saturday March 8, the Marin Autism Collaborative held its annual meeting, where parents and service providers shared information and resources about transition planning for individuals with ASD.

Panel #1: Pathways to Transition Planning

Transitions are often difficult for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. Matthew Tarver-Wahlquist, the Director of Residential Services at the Cedars of Marin, moderated the panel, which discussed resources, preparations, and advice for teenagers transitioning away from high school. Beth DeWitt, County Manager at GGRC, Diane McNamara, Program Manager at Marin Special Education Local Plan Area, and Anne Goodrich, Secondary Program Specialist at Novato Unified School District, discussed services available for transition planning for individuals with ASD. A plan can help ease the difficulty of transitioning and provide a reasonable framework for reaching goals. Typically, your teen’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) should indicate whether or not the child is on a diploma track or a certificate path, as well as post-secondary goals. Parents Janet Miller and Janet Lawson (also the founder of Autistry) discussed their personal experience with transition planning for their ASD child. During transition years, parents and service providers stressed the importance of letting children explore interests and help them navigate choices as well as to encourage them to advocate for themselves.

Panel #2: Community Living Options: Live, Work, and Play

Moderated by Matthew Tarver-Wahlquist, the panel shared information on available services and resources in Marin County. Beth DeWitt, the County Manager of the GGRC, Linda Wohlrabe, the Executive Director of the Opportunity for Independence, and Nancy Dow Moody, the President & CEO of Lifehouse, talked about residential housing services, supportive living services, day programs, and recreation programs available to the ASD community.

LynnEl Powell and Janet Miller, who are both parents of children with ASD, shared their experiences on the availability of services for individuals with ASD. Parents also shared advice on accessing ASD services as adults. Some parents suggested that all school assessments and academic records be kept for proof when applying for ASD programs as adults.

Panel #3: Young Adults Share their Stories

This panel, which was moderated by Janet Lawson, the founder of Autistry Studios, starred members of Autistry Studios; Marin Xiques April Evans, Ross Jacobs, Steven Waite, and Josh Foley. These inspirational young adults with ASD shared their personal experiences and challenges on transitioning from high school to adulthood. Many of the panelists said that they do not disclose their ASD unless they feel comfortable. During transition years, the panelists also noted that parents sometimes need to step back and let kids make decisions.


The MAC Annual Meeting 2014 covered transition planning and how to navigate life and access to services as adults with ASD. Please find below the resources that were provided at the meeting from various organizations in Marin County. The list of publications and local/national agencies was made possible by Stephanie Smith of the Parent Matrix Network.

Transition Planning Resources:

Example and Case Study of Transition Plans, SELPA

Parent Involvement Activities for Transition

Standards Based IEP Development

Matrix Parent and Resource Center Special Education Transition Plan

Cypress Vocational and Therapeutic Services Program Flyer

CA Department of Rehabilitation, Employment and Independence for Californians with Disabilities

Golden Gate Regional Center, Employment First Initiative Policy

List of Publications and Agencies (made by Stephanie Smith of the Matrix Parent Network), also available below.


Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit, comprehensive national autism organization

Creating a Path to Employment: Tips for Parents with Children with Disabilities, Office of Disability Employment Policy, US Dept of Labor

Essential Skills to Getting a Job: What Young People Need to Know, Office of Disability Employment Policy, US Dept of Labor

Going to College: A Resource for Teens with Disabilities, Going to College-national resource for teens

Guideposts for Success, national collaborative on Workforce and disability

Planning for Transition: It’s Never too Soon, PACER National Champions for Children with Disabilities

Transition Planning: The Basics (IEP), California Transition Alliance

Transition to Adult Living: An Information and Resource Guide, CalStat Project of California, Dept. of Education, Special Education

Local and National Agencies:

ASCEND (San Francisco), Education, Networking, Development and Support

Autism After 16 (national), online resources

Autistry Studios (San Rafael), Prevocational workshops, counseling

California Department of Rehabilitation (Novato), employment, independent living

Casa Allegra (San Rafael), living, employment, education

Cedars of Marin (Ross), comprehensive national autism organization

College Internship Program (Berkeley), college and career support, Asperger’s

College Living Experience- CLE (Monterey), support during college

College of Marin Disability Student Services (Marin County), support services during college

Cornerstone Community Homes (Novato), residential services

Cypress Vocational and Therapeutic Services, transitional programs, vocational

Family Works (San Rafael), independent living skills

Golden Gate Regional Center, services and funding for qualified individuals with special needs

Integrated Community Services (San Rafael), employment, housing, recreation, information

Life Works (Sonoma County), transition support, Asperger’s

Lifehouse (San Rafael), residential and support services for adults, supported living. Teen and adult recreation

Marin Ventures (San Rafael), Day Programs

Matrix Parent Network and Resource Center (Novato), parent training, resource and information for parents of children with special needs from birth to 26

Moving Forward Towards Independence (Napa), residential, supported living, vocational

National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (national), online resources

National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (national), online resources

Opportunity for Independence (San Rafael), vocational, behavioral, recreational, supported living, day program, education

Regional Occupation Program (San Rafael), Marin County Office of Education

School to Career Partnership (Marin County), Marin County Office of Education

Sweetwater Spectrum (Sonoma County), housing

Think College! (national), college options for people with intellectual disabilities

TransCen, Inc, (San Francisco), Improving employment outcomes

Transition Coalition (national), online resources

WineBev (Napa), day programs and employment

Webinar Series on Autism

The Eden II Diagnostic and Outreach Center has a series of webinar programs for Spring 2014. These webinar programs contain a range of topics related to autism, such as Speech and Language, Applied Behavior Analysis, and communications for individuals with ASD. All webinars feature experts in the field, and is formatted to allow the audience to interact with the presenter. If interested, please visit the Eden II Diagnostic and Outreach Center to register.

Join Us for the Marin Autism Collaborative Annual Meeting, March 8, 2014


Marin Autism Collaborative 2014 Annual Meeting
“Where Do We Go From Here?
Transitioning to Adolescence, Young Adulthood & Beyond”

Saturday, March 8, 2014
9:00 am to Noon (Registration & Refreshments at 8:30 am)
Marin County Office of Education (111 Las Gallinas Ave., San Rafael)

Transitions are often difficult for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.
Join us for this morning of panel discussions to learn about what possibilities exist for those with ASD as well as the preparatory activities and resources that can help reduce the stress of transitions. Topics will include: transition planning, vocational training, employment, education, community living options and more! Expert panelists will include educators, parents, regional center staff and service providers. View the flyer here.

Moderated Q & A with Three Panels of Experts & Young Adults with ASD

  • Pathways to Transition Planning
  • Community Living Options: Live, Work & Play
  • In Our Own Words: Young Adults Share Their Stories

This meeting is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, although donations are accepted.
Pre-registration is encouraged, by email or calling (415) 526-5320.

UC Berkeley PhD Student Seeking Respondents for a Workplace Scenario Questionnaire

Jerred Jolin is a second year student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University. His research interests lay at the intersection of high functioning autism, vocational development and measurement/assessment. Currently, he is working on a project that uses comics as a format to assess transition-age (16-22) student ability to deconstruct (identify key information within) and make judgments about workplace interactions characteristic of employment settings heavy in customer service demands.

If you have a child within the above age range and would like to help this student out with this project, simply click on the link below and get started.

Take the survey by clicking here!

All responses are saved automatically. Please note that it is not necessary to click the “edit form” button at the top right of the screen. Also, if you have a hard time reading the comics and you have an Apple computer, hold down the command (or apple) key on your keyboard and press the key with the “+” sign on it to zoom in–if you do not have an apple computer, hold down the button with the windows logo on it (or try the control key) and press the key with the “+” sign on it to do the same thing. If you have any questions please feel free to email the student at

One more thing: Providing help in the form of clarification, reading the comics aloud, and/or typing your child’s responses is ok. For these purposes, it is important only that the informational content within each response comes from your child.

Jerred hopes to get 100 completed by April 1, 2014

Plan Proposed to Cover Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

A Senate subcommittee last week proposed a $50 million solution to temporarily address the lack of coverage of a type of autism treatment under Medi-Cal – a gap in care that recently affected hundreds of Healthy Families children when the state moved them to Medi-Cal managed care plans. The new proposal would appropriate $50 million to make sure Medi-Cal children with autism are able to receive applied behavioral analysis treatment – known as ABA therapy – through the end of 2013. The assumption is that ABA therapy will be available as an essential health benefit under the Affordable Care Act starting in 2014.

“Clearly this item is to bridge a gap of service,” said Sen. Bill Monning (D-Monterey), chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, at a hearing last week.

Medi-Cal covers autism services through contracted regional centers around the state, but the eligibility criteria to receive ABA therapy is much more stringent than under the Healthy Families plan. An estimated 75% of children who were eligible under Healthy Families would not qualify for the same services under Medi-Cal. The percentage who do qualify may be even lower than 25%, according to Melissa Cortez-Roth, legislative advocate for Autism Speaks.”Not everyone who qualifies for Healthy Families who will be losing coverage qualifies for coverage at a regional center,” Cortez-Roth said. “Only a fraction of those children qualify for the regional centers.”

Toby Douglas, director of the Department of Health Care Services that has orchestrated the Healthy Families transition, said the Senate subcommittee’s plan might be difficult to implement.”We do just want to raise a couple concerns,” Douglas said. “First of all, we are concerned about the fiscal estimate. Given that this needs to be built into the plans, this would have to be built into the plans’ rates. …We are concerned it may underestimate the cost for our plans.” The second concern, Douglas said, is timing. “Any change to our plans requires contractual changes, as well as building in the rates,” Douglas said. “And we need to get approval from our federal partners, including amendments to our 1115 waiver to add this benefit, which will take several months.” Douglas said July 1 was not “a realistic implementation date.”

The state’s Department of Finance raised similar concerns. “As this proposal is unfunded, we have some concerns about the impacts it will have on the general fund reserve,” said Scott Ogus, representing the finance department. “We’re concerned about the capacity of the reserve to absorb this significant augmentation of expenditures.” According to Dan Chick, director of government affairs at Health Net, the Medi-Cal managed care plans may not have enough providers in-network to handle the proposal. “Whether we even have enough ABA providers in our network, I will go and check on that, but it is a bit concerning to know, if we don’t have this type of network established, we would have to do so in such a very short period of time,” Chick said. The trailer bill language passed subcommittee on a bipartisan 3-0 vote.

Thank you to Louis Vismara, M.D., Policy Consultant to California Senator Darrell Steinberg, for sharing this information.

Article: Benefits of Online Education Can Be Life-Changing for Autistic Students

“With autism on the rise, many schools struggle to meet the needs of autistic students. Often, autistic adults do not take the next step to go on to college or meaningful employment, even though they may be incredibly gifted. Letting students fall behind should not be an option.

If traditional classrooms struggle to effectively educate autistic students, what can online education offer autistic learners? Tech tools and virtual learning environments present an opportunity to better serve autistic students with flexibility and resources that are well suited to guide them in learning. The more educators learn about working with autistic students, the better equipped teachers and students will be for success.”

Read more from the article “Autism and Online Learning: A Guide for Teachers” recently featured on the Education Database Online Blog.

Stand Up, Speak Out on April 17, 2013!

A Statewide Autism and Disability Rights Advocacy Day and Rally

Join advocates from around California as they meet with elected officials to advocate for the over 15 proposed bills for the 2012-2013 legislative session impacting the autism, special needs and disabilities communities.

Bill topics include: extension of SB 946, diversity and equality of services through regional centers and consumer safety, among others.

Check out the flyer here and share with your friends and fellow advocates.

Wednesday, April 17, 2103
8:30 am to 4:00 pm
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA

For more info contact Juan Carlos Garcia at:
(213) 389-7100

Workshop in Marin: How to Talk So Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder Will Listen

Do you find yourself perplexed or depleted by the daily demands of raising, treating, or teaching a child with an autism spectrum disorder or Asperger’s?

Is your child challenged by everyday routines like getting dressed in the morning or going to bed at night; coping with transitions, such as starting or ending a therapy session; or staying calm when hearing a bell ring in the school yard?

Join other parents and professionals working or living with children on the autism spectrum. Learn concrete strategies that support back-and-forth communication; engage children’s cooperation; help children express their feelings; provide alternatives to punishment; build self-esteem; and enhance relationships.

This practical, experiential, and lively workshop is based on the best-selling books by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, including How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, and on the Floor Time approach of Dr. Stanley Greenspan. From previous participants: “So helpful!” “I learned a lot!” We are fortunate to be able to take advantage of the expertise of Israeli autism expert Dr. Ilene Lee and nationally recognized parenting expert Julie King in their limited Bay Area appearance together.

This workshop is offered as a series or a one-day intensive. Wondering which to take? The four-week format is the best way to learn the skills one topic at a time, try them out with your children, students or clients, and return with follow-up questions. But if your schedule doesn’t allow this kind of commitment, the one-day intensive will cover most of the information and exercises in a single session.

Parents Place in San Rafael
600 Fifth Avenue
San Rafael, CA

4-week series:
Mar 15 2013 to Apr 5 2013, 9:30AM to 11:30AM
REGISTER EARLY to save $20! $199 per person/$299 per couple by Mar. 8; $219 per person/$319 per couple after Mar. 8. Fee includes one workbook ($10).
Register online!

One-day intensive:
Mar 24, 2013, 10:00AM to 4:30PM
REGISTER EARLY to save $20! $199 per person/$299 per couple by Mar.15; $219 per person/$319 per couple after Mar.15. Fee includes one workbook ($10).
Register online!