'I-28Sfuuy-WR10okMSia3VYeZTm2RHA2LZDel59TlF8' name='google-site-verification'/>www ghs.google.com 6dseurqgapmn gv-v6egtfduggmq3k.dv.googlehosted.com Autismwarriormama: June 2013

Living with Autism


June 21, 2013

Helpful Insight into California's System Serving Autistic Children, Teens and Adults

People with autism must be protected. Knowing the law helps you fight for their right to be "free from harm," a basic human right, which includes, the right to be free from "self-harm" rooted in autistic behavior.

Where the following laws apply: California

Who should be familiar with them? 

Parents, advocates, attorneys or anyone concerned about safeguarding the rights of children and adults with autism (or any developmental disability that qualifies them for California's Regional Center services), which they are entitled to by law. 

These laws are found under the Lanterman and related Welfare and Institution Codes.  

Which agencies are charged with the duty to provide supports and services to children, teens and adults with autism? 

Answer: California Regional Centers.

What are California Regional Centers? 

There are 21 regional centers scattered across California. 
All Regional Centers are incorporated as 
Internal Revenue Code section 501(c) (3) nonprofit organizations with a board of directors representing each RC’s service area. 

Each one operates from a contract with California Department of Developmental Services (aka DDS), located in Sacramento. 

Part of this contract includes, pursuant toWelfare and Institution Code,
4640.6. (a) "...approving regional center contracts, DDS shall 
ensure that regional center staffing patterns demonstrate that direct service 
coordination are the highest priority"

(b) "Contracts between DDS and Regional Centers shall require 
regional centers implement an emergency response system that ensures 
a regional center staff person will respond to a consumer, or individual 
acting on behalf of a consumer, within two hours of the time an emergency 
call is placed. This emergency response system shall be operational 24 hours 
per day, 365 days per year. "

This is probably one of the biggest complaints I hear from parents. "Nobody from my Regional Center calls me back." Or, "they call back weeks later and give me someone else to contact who doesn't know anything." 

How are Regional Center's funded? Is it only through DDS? 

No. Regional Centers receive over $3.9 billion in federal AND state funds. These funds and are supposed to serve Californians with 
developmental disabilities. 

Aren't Regional Centers advocates for person's with developmental disabilities? 

Not really. They take dozens of parents to court each year, fighting them against providing services. See: http://www.dgs.ca.gov/oah/DDSHearings/DDSDecisions.aspx

In essence, Regional centers are not what the public thinks they are, or what Regional Center advertises they do.

 Unless you have witnessed how a regional center can operate from the inside, you won't know. You will only read the regional center's blissful brochures, masked mission statements or idyllic internet advertisements, and you will think, gee, this sounds groovy.

 You will not see what happens when a child becomes a "consumer". 

You will not see internal emails passed back and forth between a brigade of bumbling bureaucrats. 

You will not see the pervasive and pernicious groupthink. The apathy. The arrogance. The benign neglect. 

Despite protection and advocacy for the disabled being a part of every Regional Center's Mission Statement:  Regional Centers do little advocating for the disabled. If they did, they wouldn't be taking families to court, using in house attorneys to fight parents over providing needed services. 


It may also surprise you that Regional Centers have no specialized units that are trained in case management for clients or 'consumers' with autism, especially severe autism. 

It may also surprise you that the federal funds they get, under the Home Community Based Service Waiver, etc... receive little federal oversight.

So what can a parent do? 
Keep fighting for your child's rights. At any age. Never give up. Even if you lose some battles or are ignored or confused by those working inside these Regional Centers, keep fighting. 

You are your child's voice. If you can, get an attorney. However, few attorneys understand this system, but they can learn. Keep fighting. 

Services and supports are there. You have a right to ask for them, based on the level of care your child needs. 

On that note: Please don't ask for more services than your child needs, 
Try to get services from generic  (i.e. insurance carrier or other agencies) before asking your regional center for services. 

My autistic son is severe (though he is incredibly smart and can walk up to 13 miles a day). He also has self-injurious behavior and seizures. In essence, he needs a lot of support and services. Not everyone needs the level of care he needs. 

If your autistic child is mild, be thankful. 

If your autistic child is able to independently play on an IPAD, communicate freely, dance, play soccer and has no need for 1:1 protective supervision, don't pretend they need these services.

And don't get me started on the parents who think their children are autistic, but have never been officially diagnosed with autism, and are pushing for the same services needed for a truly autistic child, teen or adult. Be sensible. 

Be fair. 

If you're child isn't truly autistic, there are other services and supports you can get. And if they don't exist. Write your congress[wo]man. Don't jump on the autism bandwagon just to get services. This is a slap in the face to those who are autistic and need help. 

If your child has autism, learn laws that can help you fight for your autistic child (at any age). 

Many helpful laws can be found under California's Welfare and Institutions Code. 

Cite them when advocating for your autistic child. Don't do it over the phone. Never ask for services over the phone. You will be led in circles more time than Moses went around the mountain. Put it in writing. Send your requests to your child's "service coordinator" by email or certified mail. 

Here's some good laws to analyze and cite: 

"Regional Centers shall consider ever possible way to assist families in maintaining their disabled child at home." They should not force you to place your autistic child, based on the severity of their needs. No parent should be forced to place their child in an institution or out of home placement because the Regional Center can't or won't secure proper services and supports so they can live at home. CA WIC Code 4685, subd. (c)

  "If the parent of any child receiving services and supports from a Regional Center (RC) believes the RC is not offering adequate assistance to enable the family to keep the child at home, the parent may initiate a request for fair hearing...a family shall not be required to start a placement process or commit to placing a child in order to receive requested services." CA WIC Code 4685 (4)

   "It is the intent of Legislature that Regional Centers provide or secure family support services that do the following: 

       1. Respect and support the decision making authority of the FAMILY.

       2. Be flexible and creative in meeting unique and individual needs of families as they evolve over time.

       3. Regional Centers shall give a very high priority to development and expansion of services and supports to assist families that are caring for their children AT HOME. CA. WIC Code 4685 b, 1-4 (c).  

  Regarding Federal Funding in Regional Centers on how that relates to RESPITE services:

When a state agency receives federal funding, similar to Regional Centers receiving federal funding for 1915 (c) waivers from Medicaid, the agency must adhere to federal law and requirements. 

The only discretion Medicaid has given to California is the number of of regional centers clients on the Waiver. 

Nowhere in the test of 1396 (c) (4) (b) does Medicaid give the state or Regional Centers the discretion to RESTRICT the amount of respite it provides to persons on the 1915 c waiver. If you aren't sure if your child is on the waiver, ask your service coordinator. She/he probably won't know, but you can start there. FYI: Regional Centers often get parents to sign that they want their children on the federal waiver without explaining to the parents what they are signing or how it can benefit their children. They usually pull this stunt at an annual meeting, rushing the parent to sign it. Don't  sign it, until you understand how it can benefit your child in getting more supports and services. 


"No person by reason of disability shall be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program which receives public funds."  CA WIC code 4502 

    What if your child doesn't get enough services? Or the services stop on holidays? 

There should be no Gaps in Services:

CA WIC CODE 4501: " The state of California accepts responsibility for persons with developmental disabilities and an obligation to them which it must discharge....The complexities of providing services and supports to persons with developmental disabilities require coordination of services of many state departments and community agencies to ensure that NO GAPS OCCUR in communication or PROVISION of services and supports...an array of services and supports should be established which is sufficiently COMPLETE to meet the NEEDS..regardless of age or degree of disability"

What if the Regional Center tells me I should place my child in a group home because there aren't enough respite agencies that can provide support? 

Your child has the Right to be in Least Restrictive Setting. Not a non-family, stranger's home. 

    "It is the intent of Legislation that persons with developmental disabilities have a right to treatment and habilitation services and supports in the LEAST RESTRICTIVE SETTING (typically the least restrictive setting is the natural home, living with parents or a group home, not a state mental hospital, group home or state institution)" CA WIC code 4502 (a)

 What if you have respite hours, but the Regional Center isn't helping you get the services through one of their vendored respite agencies? Ask your child's service coordinator to call every vendor possible to assist your child in getting the needed services listed in their IPP. The law is on your side. 

 "In order to achieve stated objectives in consumer's IPP (individual personal plan) the Regional Center shall....SECURE NEEDED SERVICES AND SUPPORTS."  It is intent of Legislature that services and supports assist individuals with developmental disabilities in achieving the greatest self-sufficiency...Regional Centers SHALL SECURE services and supports that meet the needs of the consumer, as identified in IPP . CA WIC Code 4648 (a) (1)

IPP=Individual Program Plan. This is similar to the Individual Education Plan (IEP) at public schools. 

   What if my child gets IHSS? 

Regional Centers often try to argue if a parent has IHSS they should hire IHSS workers if they want 'respite breaks'. 

However, IHSS care providers are not required or trained to deal with developmentally disabled clients (and almost none have experience dealing with severe autism or seizures) that require higher levels of care, therefore it creates a safety issue for many families to insert a general IHSS provider into the home for parents to 'get a break'. 

Likewise, IHSS recipients needing protective supervision cannot obtain enough IHSS funding for 24 hours every day of the month, leaving serious gaps in coverage. 

There is an average of 732 hours in one month. If you only get 273 hours of "protective supervision" then it is illogical to assume this 273 hrs a month is supposed to be 24/7 support. Helllloooo....(See Office of Administrative Hearing (OAH) case 2012050405). 

For parents of adults with autism (or other special needs) living in California: 

Unlike caregiving requirements expected of parents of children under 18 yrs old. the Lanterman Act says NOTHING about a family's responsibility to provide nursing care for an ADULT child living at home (OAH case 2011100366). 

More helpful laws to know:

CA. WIC CODE 4640.6. "In approving regional center contracts, the Dept. of Developmental Services (DDS) shall ensure that regional center staffing patterns demonstrate that direct service coordination are the highest priority." That means your child's service coordinator, his/her boss (the program manager) and the "case manager" assigned to your child's unit, should be working diligently to coordinate the services your child needs, not be ignoring your phone calls or running you around in circles. 

Regional Center gets their services from a list of "service providers." All of these providers are "vendored" by the individual Regional Center. Most of them are getting the established medi-cal reimbursement rates, which totally sucks and leaves many families with no respite on holidays, since this payment rate doesn't honor time and a half. In order to get respite on holidays, parents must ask the Regional Center to negotiate a higher rate of pay for the vendor. Good luck with that. Expect to go an Administrative Law court over that request, unless you're buddies with someone inside the Regional Center who will quietly keep this under wraps. 

The system of payment for Regional Center Vendors is in dire need of a raise: 

  CA WIC CODE 4648 (5)"In order to ensure maximum flexibility and AVAILABILITY of appropriate services and supports, the Department of Developmental Services SHALL establish and maintain an equitable system of payment to providers of services and supports identified as necessary to the implementation of a consumer's IPP (individual program plan). 

  Ca WIC CODE 4648  (e) When necessary to expand availability of needed services of good quality, a regional center may, 
   1. Solicit an individual or agency with a request for proposal or other means, to provide needed services or supports not presently available. 
    3.  Use creative and innovative service delivery models.....
    (g) Where there are GAPS in the system of services and supports, or where there are identified consumers for whom NO provider will or can provide services....the Department of Developmental Services may provide the services and supports directly. 

    Department of Developmental Services and the Regional Center are presumed to exercise their power in conformity with the requirements of the law. If either acts unfairly, the law presumes the fault lies with it, and not the statute empowering it. Constitutional guarantees against arbitrary and discriminatory action by the Department and/or the Regional Center, are read into the law. (See Butterworth v. Boyd (1938) 12 Cal.2d 140, 149.)

     "Services provided must be cost effective, and the Lanterman Act requires the regional centers to control costs so far as possible, and to otherwise conserve resources that must be shared by many consumers. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 4512, subdivision (b), 4640.7, subdivision (b), 4651, subdivision (a), 4659, and 4697.)"

This shouldn't mean that services will be so poorly reimbursed to vendors that the service itself becomes inefficient and ends up costing a person's life.

Behind the scenes, buried in the broken dreams and active nightmares of many parents, their child was placed in a group home without identified and properly funded services and supports. And ended up severely injured or dead. 

Again, being cost effective shouldn't mean costing someone's life or allowing them to suffer with inadequate supports and services. Sometimes you have to pay a higher rate to get BETTER and more reliable services. 

                                        ***On IPPs: 

The IPP is often a joke. It's not written by the parents. It's written by the service coordinator, program manager and then approved by the case manager. Mind you, everything that goes into the IPP is done strategically by the Regional Center team, behind your back. If you are a new parent to this system, you will be in for a rude awakening. These people are not your friends or your child's advocates. Everything they write into the IPP, they KNOW they have to provide, so they do everything they can to avoid locking themselves into providing it, unless it's something simple, as in 4 hours of respite a month. 

Never sign an IPP until you have fully read it. And it's a true reflection of what is going on in your child's life. And what you told them your child needed. Don't waste time calling your service coordinator to discuss it. The service coordinator is NEVER the DECISION MAKER. The service coordinator you talk to talks to at least 3 other people before she/he gets back to you with a "decision." 

To expedite a decision, get every supervisor's email and put your child's needs and your requests, in writing. They'll still ignore it, but at least you have evidence you made the requests and you can bring these emails to Administrative Law court. 

What if my child is placed in a residential care facility or group home? 

Who is responsible for monitoring their health and safety? 

Ca. WIC CODE 4742 (a): The regional center shall guide and counsel facility staff regarding the care and services and supports required by each consumer served by the regional center...monitor the care and services and supports. (There's little guidance or counsel provided. Regional Centers all have in house attorneys constantly working to protect the staff. These Regional Centers are politically driven by people, well-schooled in the art of covering their asses. A lot of what the Regional Center staff tells a group home is for their protection, to limit their liability. Your child's health and safety is often the last thing top executives running these Regional Centers are worried about, if they ever think about it at all. 

So every Regional Center has vendors, aka, "service providers"? And these vendors provide services through contracts with individual regional centers? Yes. 

For example, San Diego Regional Center (SDRC) has a list of "service providers" aka, independent LVNs and RNs. 

They also have a list of Home Health Agencies that send LVNs and RNs. However, parents in San Diego County often report that, despite the Regional Center giving their child nursing respite hours, they're not getting nursing services because the agencies on the "vendor" or "service provider list" are chronically short staffed, nurses are "no shows," and when they do show, they have little if any experience working with developmentally disabled. 

Thus, simply having a vendor/service provider LIST with names and LVN/RN titles on it, is not sufficient evidence the Regional Center is actually providing needed services. 

Another problem with these inflated vendor lists is seen when nurses are sent to help a person with special needs, yet the nurse is physically unfit, can't lift or bend. Others have medical issues of their own. Occasionally, a parent will call a nurse off the list provided by the Regional Center to discover the vendor is no longer vendors, which is odd, since they are still on the list, as if providing services. And this list is sent to DDS in Sacramento to reflect how the Regional Center is doing. Interesting. 

This is not consistent with law and appears, quite frankly, to be a con job: 

"The Legislature finds that the mere existence or delivery of services and supports is, in itself, insufficient evidence of program effectiveness...it is intent of legislature that agencies serving persons with disabilities shall produce evidence that their services have resulted in consumer and family empowerment and in more independent, productive and normal lives..." Ca. WIC CODE 4501

One must ask, who is monitoring whether or not families are actually getting services and supports off "existing" vendor lists. How efficient are these services? Are the vendored agencies short staffed? Are they refusing to send respite workers on holidays? If so, how is this affecting families need for respite? What is the solution? Higher pay on holidays? Better recruitment and retention?  Is anyone at DDS asking these questions? 


More inside information into some Regional Centers:

Nursing assessments: I can't speak for all Regional Centers, but San Diego Regional Center is notorious for neglecting to do real nursing assessments. 

This is how it goes: Whenever they need to cover their butts before an annual meeting, SDRC will have an RN from "clinical services" unit randomly CALL a family and ask a few questions about current medications, seizure activity, etc...and then write it into a long assessment as if this were an ACTUAL in person nursing assessment. 

By law, this drive by phone call and gathering of minimal info is not a real nursing assessment. 


Q. I still don't understand the HCBS waiver you said my child might be on. So, this waiver provides a Regional Center with federal funding? Yes. And because the Regional Center gets this federal funding they have to follow certain requirements? Um, that's the idea, but it's mess. Anyway......here's what it's supposed to be:

The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has delegated the following responsibilities to the RCs to ensure that the HCBS waiver requirements are met: 

1. Ensuring that HCBS waiver participants (regional center consumers) meet the level-of-care criteria. 

2. Developing and implementing a written "Plan of Care"  *Plan of Care here is not a nursing plan of care, it's the regional center IPP. An IPP isn't a MEDICAL or BEHAVIORAL plan to care for the consumer, so this language is very odd. An IPP is mostly a summary or services or descriptive narrative.

3. Ensuring adequate safeguards exist for service providers. 

4. Ensuring eligible consumers are given a choice between receiving care in 
an institutional setting or in a home and community-based setting. 

5. Ensuring HCBS waiver participants are notified of their appeal rights (parents are seldom "notified" on appeal rights)

6. Ensuring a system for monitoring provider standards, IPPs, and quality of care and service. 

7. Providing HCBS waiver services in accordance with the service definitions  and provider qualifications. Whatever the that means. So vague and impotent. 

8. Ensuring HCBS waiver services have prior RC authorization and are paid for in the manner specified by the DDS. This is probably their top priority, because it involves money. 

9. Educating parents about the benefits of “institutional deeming” and helping them complete the application and renewal processes. Not one parent I've ever talked to has been "educated" on the benefits of institutional deeming. 

What's even stranger, is that when a Regional Center places a disabled "consumer" on this federal waiver, they don't even have provide everything that the federal waiver can provide to a consumer because each Regional Center has their own "Purchase of Service Standards," aka , you might hear the Regional Center staff refer to this as the "POS," which ironically, is the acronym I may think of when pondering the mismanaged mess that happens inside Regional Centers. 

                                               *The Home Community Care Based Service (HCBS) waiver is the largest single source of federal revenue for California’s developmental services system, with over $1.7 billion anticipated from this fund source. 

So what this ultimately means is that the federal government typically reimburses the state of California 50 cents for every California Regional Center dollar expended for "waiver billable services." For example, if your child gets $30,000 bucks worth of respite care a year, the Regional Center will be reimbursed about $15,000 dollars for this service. 

Where would I find a good attorney to help me get services, or more Regional Center services for my child? 

You could start with the Office of Client's Right's Advocacy Division (OCRA) in your region. However, be warned that OCRA is funded through a contract with California's Department of Developmental Services. In their contract, there is a stipulation that if the lose a case, they can't appeal it. You may think there is a conflict of interest here, and you should question this, but in past experiences, I've found OCRA attorneys honest and helpful. Is their political agendas involved? Of course. But overall, these attorneys seem to really care. 


When my autistic child turns 18, do I still have to provide the same care I would be expected to, as if they weren't considered "an adult?" Answer: No. After they turn 18, you should qualify for MORE respite hours, if they truly need it. If your child is UNDER 18, the Regional Center has a right to expect you to provide more care, since this is typical of any parent of a minor child. However, you can ARGUE this. For example, if your under 18 child is severe and needs a lot of support, and you are exhausted, and not getting adequate sleep or your family is breaking apart, you can ARGUE your child needs more respite hours to continue living at home and allowing your family ample respite time to carry on. Don't let a Regional Center con you into thinking that you, your husband, your children, you're grandma, you're auntie, or your crazy uncle is going to be a "natural support." If your "natural supports" aren't adequate to support your need for respite, they shouldn't be listed in your child's IPP as a support. 

Do NOT let a Regional Center ADD THIS NATURAL SUPPORT language into your child's IPP, unless you agree with it. Some Regional Centers insert the names of your other children into the IPP to take the responsiblity of securing needed services and supports from their vendors. In short, they'd rather use you and your family for FREE. 

"There are a number of references in the Lanterman act to natural supports, 
which include family. Section 4512, subdivision (e), for example, provides a definition of 
natural supports. Section 4646.5, subdivision (a)(4), provides that an individual program 
plan (IPP) shall include a schedule of services and supports to be provided or obtained and 
shall identify who is responsible for providing or obtaining them.

 An IPP may provide that 
natural supports, which include family members, are responsible for providing or obtaining 
them. However, there is no provision requiring family members to provide services and 
supports to a child with developmental disabilities. Remember that so you don't get suckered into them relying on your already stressed out family, especially if your child is over 18. 

  There simply is no requirement that a parent support his or her adult child. (most families do support their adult autistic kids, but regional centers can't use that as an excuse to DENY much needed services or supports.)

  Case law also supports this: "The regional center acknowledges that claimant’s father and stepmother are not obligated to maintain claimant in their home or provide care for him."
Source: OAH No. 2011100366

What if the services provided by vendors is terrible? 

Ca Wic Code 4648 (16) (d) (1) (2) 
"In  order to increase the quality of community services and PROTECT consumers, the regional center shall....
"Identify services and supports that are ineffective or of poor quality and provide or secure consultation, training, or technical assistance services for any agency or individual provider to assist that agency or individual provider in upgrading the quality of services and supports...." Good luck with that one. Mostly, the Regional Center will just convince you to find another agency. They don't put much effort into improving ineffective or poor quality vendor providers. 

What if an agency or provider is trying to get vendored by the Regional Center, but the Regional Center keeps "losing their paperwork," or "stalling." Can Regional Center's authorize an "emergency vendorization" to provide your child with needed services in place? Yes. Dozens of potential vendors complain about the tedious and often overwhelmingly confusing application process inside Regional Centers. 

 What is emergency vendorization?
A. Emergency vendorization allows a regional center to approve vendorization of an applicant prior to completion of the vendorization process if the regional center determines that the health or safety of a consumer is in
jeopardy and no current vendor is available to provide the needed service.


Who is responsible under law to Monitor care, services and supports of San Diego Regional Center Consumers, when they are placed in residential care facilities? 

A. San Diego Regional Center 
June, 2015. Let's not forget recent death of James Curtis Harris, son of Sally Winters. Sally Winters was a tireless advocate for her son. She fought long and hard to protect him. Sadly, a few years ago, after losing a Fair Hearing with San Diego Regional Center, Sally's son, Curtis, was placed in a residential care facility/group home vendored by the San Diego Regional Center. Inside this group home, which of course Regional Center should've been overseeing, Curtis got injured. That injury led to hospital stay, which led to complications, which led to his death. 

 Nobody has been charged with the neglect (which caused a broken leg which led to a hospitilization which led to his death) of J. C. H. 

Probably because there are so many incompetent people working in the system supposedly protecting and advocating for disabled, they don't know how to ask the right questions.

We're talking people who don't know what or who to ask. Or why. Yet, they're assigned to "investigate" abuse of disabled. Scary. 

No wonder abuse, neglect and deaths of disabled in residential care facilities is a pervasive problem. Video surveillance should be MANDATORY IN ALL RESIDENTIAL HOMES FOR developmentally disabled, vulnerable adults, who are clients of California's 21 Regional Centers. If 7-11 video tapes people buying candy bars, we can surely support video taping inside state and federally funded group homes serving vulnerable children, teens and adults. 


WHO is supposed to investigate group homes for disabled adult clients? ANSWER: IF the adult client with developmental disabilities is residing in a Level 1-4 home, it will ilnclude:


CCLD Regional Office7575 METROPOLITAN DR. #109

The regional center or its designated representative shall (a) guide and counsel facility staff regarding the care and services and supports required by each consumer served by the regional center;  and (b) monitor the care and services and supports provided the individual to ensure that care and services and supports are provided in accordance with the individual program plan. - See more at: http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/welfare-and-institutions-code/wic-sect-4742 (CALIF. Welfare and Institution Code--4742)

When it comes to protecting the disabled population, CCL division, by no fault of their own, is not a group of schooled and trained investigators. They really aren't. 

People from CCL basically have zero idea what the hell is going on when it comes to investigating reported abuse of disabled because they don't directly work with disabled. They're mostly concerned about the temperature of water in the bathtub. Or whether they can check a box to say there was enough food in the frig. Ridiculous. 

The gals and guys at CCL may do a 25 minute  "review of group home self-reported records"; go back to their offices, write a "State of California" "Health and Human Service Agency" "facility evaluation report" and disappear into another desk. They didn't ask or investigate a damn thing. 

No expertise investigating serious matters concerning the care of vulnerable clients. No clue the kind of tricks, con jobs, etc.. that goes on inside these places. 

But it's not just San Diego County (or whatever county works with the local Regional Center) Community Care Licensing's responsibility to supervise a group home/residential care for developmentally disabled. 

MAIN responsibility is on the specific Regional Center because each Regional Center vendors every group home for developmentally disabled adults within their specific County.  (See Ca. Welfare and Institutions Code 4740-4741). That also means they may get federal funds to help pay for the group home placement. 

There are several types of out of home placements. 

LEVEL 1-4 group homes, Deflection homes included, are vendored by a Regional Centers and LICENSED by California Department of Social Services (CDSS). CDSS has a sub-unit called the Community Care Licensing Division. This division handles the Level 1-4 group and Deflection homes on the Regional Center VENDOR or "service provider" lists.  

Intermediate Care Facilities, aka ICF-DDHs or ICF-DDN, are vendored by a Regional Center, but LICENSED by California Department of Public Health (CDPH). 

June 5, 2013

Autism and Eating Chocolate: Self-Medication?

Award Winning Non-Fiction Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory Autism and Chocolate: What’s the Connection?

My autistic son Jamey has rarely liked eating chocolate. However, recently, he’s been obsessed with chocolate pudding, chocolate candy and chocolate almond milk. So, naturally, I have to ask myself, why? Why chocolate?
Research shows chocolate elevates serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Chocolate can also lower blood pressure, which may help calm the overactive nervous system in the autistic person.

Dark chocolate has especially interesting properties, in that it’s a powerful antioxidant and serves to thwart formation of free radicals. As most autism parents are aware, increasing antioxidants is a proven health benefit for autistic children. Is my son trying to self-medicate? Increase feel good neurotransmitters in his brain by seeking out chocolate? When an autistic person can't communicate, a sudden change in food preferences could be a sign of self-medicating. Research from Swinburne University of Technology found polyphenols in dark chocolate increase calmness and enhance mood. Dr. Oz suggests dark chocolate speeds up bowels. Some autistic people suffer from chronic constipation rooted in chronic anxiety. Hence, chocolate would be a win win in this situation. 

Interestingly, dark chocolate has cardiovascular benefits, derived from catechin and gallic acid. Gallic acid, as an antioxidant, protects human cells from oxidative damage. With autism research showing oxidative damage exacerbates aberrant behaviors in autism, why not offer the child some chocolate? Word of caution: if your autistic child is on a diet that restricts oxalates due to a risk of forming kidney stones check with your child’s doctor before offering chocolate.

Gluten free chocolate is the best choice, given gastric issues facing autistic population.  

Good places to find gluten free chocolate for your autistic child:

1.      Trader Joes
2.    Sprouts Farmer’s Market
3.    Whole Foods Market
4.    Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Candy Bar from Glutino
5.     Gourmet Gluten Free Chocolate: http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/category/Vosges-Gluten-Free-Chocolate-Gifts

Kim Oakley