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Storyteller Newsletter

hiringCurrently accepting applications for a BCBA-credentialed Case Supervisor

WWA is currently accepting applications for a Case Supervisor position. If you have an MA/MS in Psychology or a related field as well as BCBA certification, or nearing the completion of your BCBA coursework, contact us for more information about how you can join our team!

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From the WWA Blog...

helping with homeworkGiving Directions to Children

When we give a direction or instruction to a child, the child may or may not comply to the instruction. If the child does not complete the instruction, the general assumption is that the child is willfully and purposefully being disobedient.

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supporting siblingsSupport for Siblings of Children with Disabilities

Siblings of children with disabilities have a unique set of needs and challenges which require the appropriate attention. Providing additional support for the sibling of a child with a disability is important for many reasons. -

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California Condors HockeyThe CALIFORNIA CONDORS

The Special Needs CALIFORNIA CONDORS program in Panorama City at L.A. Kings Valley Ice Center teaches ice hockey to kids and young adults with Autism, Intellectual Disabilities, and other Developmental Disabilities. Boys - girls - young and old - are all welcome!

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teamwork stonesStaff Recognition

Here at WWA we are particularly proud of the expertise of our staff and the strong skill set they bring with them in working with each client. This month, we wanted to showcase the skills, knowledge, and extensive experience of Lorne Card who has been a valued member of WWA since 2002.

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Fun For the holidays!

Tips for Making the Holiday Festivities a Little More Managable

The holidays are a festive and joyous time of the year, but can also be very stressful for parents who are juggling putting up decorations, buying gifts, and planning holiday activities, in addition to all the other typical demands on their time and attention. Families who have a child on the autism spectrum may be impacted even more greatly. The crowds, visiting relatives, and sights and sounds of the holidays in general can be overwhelming for individuals with autism who experience sensory issues.

some ideas that may help to make the holidays a little less hectic

opening presentsPlan ahead and bring a variety of activities at hand for your child to engage in during outings. These can include sensory toys, iPad games, books, puzzles, or travel games. Use a calendar and mark it with planned activities. Review it daily with your child to ensure that they are well aware of changes to their routine. Whenever possible, provide your child with pictures of people or places you are going to be visiting. This additional form of providing information can help your child feel better prepared for the visit and subsequently less anxious during the outing.

Consider the need to modify some holiday traditions. For instance, if a child has an aversion to bright lights, the tree may be decorated with a garland instead. Children may particularly enjoy the task of creating a garland for the tree out of popcorn or berries. If your child has difficulty with change, it may be helpful to decorate the house gradually and incrementally. If your child has dietary restrictions, bring along snacks or special foods to holiday parties and consider feeding them before attending the party.

Help your child better understand the concept of giving and receiving gifts. Sit down with him or her to make and wrap gifts for immediate family and friends. It may also be beneficial to have the child practice unwrapping a gift and demonstrating the "expected" reaction regardless of what the gift is. You may have to shape and reward this behavior rather than relying on the contents of the box to elicit the response. If a gift requires assembly or batteries before it can be operated, remove it from the original packaging and have it ready for use as soon as your child opens it. This can help to reduce frustration with having to wait to use a toy after the gift has been opened.

While it may be challenging, it is best to provide children with autism as many opportunities as possible to engage in the holiday festivities. The repeated experiences can help to strengthen their coping skills and improve their ability to be included in more activities in the future. It may be necessary to engage the support of the host, or family and friends for such events. They may need more information about your child's needs. For instance, family members may need to be told that a child will have difficulty with receiving a hug due to their sensory issues. It may be beneficial to plan in advance for a quiet space that your child can go to in the midst of a get together, where they can engage in a preferred activity and re-group, before continuing to participate in the party.

In summary, engaging in some advanced planning, accessing the support of friends and family, and involving your child in holiday traditions to the extent of their capabilities, can help to make this time of year a festive and memorable one for the entire family.

Check out the following links for additional information:

Sugar Cookies!

Baking is a fun way to get the whole family involved in an activity during the holiday season! Here is a recipe for classic sugar cookies that will be fun to bake and decorate together with the kids.


  • sugar cookiesCookies:
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 11 1/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 10 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Icing:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • To prepare cookies, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and egg whites. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Divide dough in half. Shape each dough half into a ball; wrap each dough half in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour.
  • Unwrap 1 dough ball. Press dough into a 4-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap. Cover with additional plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, to a 1/4-inch thickness. Repeat procedure with remaining dough ball. Chill dough 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Remove one dough portion from refrigerator. Remove top sheet of plastic wrap; turn dough over. Remove remaining plastic wrap. Using a 2 1/2-inch cutter, cut dough into 18 cookies. Place cookies 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pans 5 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks. Repeat procedure with remaining dough half.
  • To prepare icing, combine powdered sugar and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Working with 1 cookie at a time, spread about 1 teaspoon icing evenly over cookie. Let stand on a wire rack until set. Note: For icing that's suited for piping, decrease the milk to two tablespoons.

Contributed by Danielle Kornfeld

Click here for a great gluten-free cookie recipe.
And here's another favorite gluten free, dairy free recipe.

Peanut Brittle!

As a new parent, each holiday that approaches brings a new meaning of joy as I am able to create my own family's traditions as well as carry on my childhood family traditions. Growing up as a child, Christmas meant a time of delectable sights, sounds and smells that filled my house. Every year, my dad would spend the two days leading up to Christmas, baking his delicious desserts. One of my favorite sweets that my dad would make was his infamous peanut brittle. It was a recipe that was passed on from his grandmother to his mother who passed it on to him. Since then, my dad has passed this recipe on to me which I would like to share with all of you.

You will need:

  • penut brittleCandy Thermometer
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of Karo corn syrup
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 bag of raw Spanish peanuts
  • Butter a flat sheet baking pan.
  • Combine sugar, Karo corn syrup and water in a small cooking pot. Bring ingredients to a hard cracked stage on the candy thermometer.
  • Add peanuts, butter, vanilla and baking soda to sugar, corn syrup and water mixture. Stir ingredients.
  • Pour mixture on buttered pan.
  • Spread out mixture with a spatula so it is spread into a thin layer.
  • Let mixture cool on pan for 2 hours.
  • Once cooled, drop hardened mixture on a hard surface and serve.

Contributed by Amanda Hsu

Top 10 Favorite Holiday Festivities

  1. holiday decorationsA Walt Disney Christmas: Celebrate Christmas with the Disney crew! The holiday season transforms the entire Disneyland Resort in Anaheim into a winter wonderland from November 12, 2013- January 6, 2014. Thousands of lights glisten, fireworks and parades burst to the sounds of the season, and Disney characters display their most festive apparel. Spend the holiday season at the Merriest Place on Earth!
  2. Grinchmas at Universal Studios: While Santa takes over most shopping malls and theme parks, it's the Grinch who takes over Universal Studio, Hollywood. Check out the Grinch and all of his Who-ville friends this holiday season. The 13 Days of Grinchmas rings in a Who-liday season that the entire family can enjoy. Please visit the website for park dates and times.
  3. Knott's Merry Farm: For more Holiday cheer visit Knott's Berry Farm as it converts into Knott's MERRY Farm and celebrates the spirit of the holidays with entertainment, craft fairs, spectacular decorations, parades, and a 65 foot Christmas tree! For more information on when it opens please visit their website.
  4. Downtown on Ice: Pershing Square is LA's largest outdoor ice skating rink. From mid-November to the beginning of January discover the coolest and most inexpensive way to add a little winter chill to the season. Even the Grinch can't help but enjoy skating under the stars in the heart of Los Angeles. For more information and a detailed schedule go to www.laparks.org.
  5. The Grove Christmas Lights: Complete with Santa and his reindeer streaking across the sky, the Grove in Hollywood is a spot to see some beautiful holiday lights and hear traditional holiday tunes. This place is sure to elicit some excitement from your little ones. While you're there you can shop for those on your Christmas list and try to catch Santa in his gingerbread themed workshop.
  6. Candy Cane Lane: Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza there is something magical about all the twinkling lights during the holidays. Candy Cane Lane is the official place to visit if you want to see winter lights and decorations. It is centered around the intersection of Oxnard and Lubao in Woodland Hills. Pack the family into the car and enjoy the show!
  7. CHILL at the Queen Mary: Experience Southern California's only frozen holiday adventure! From November 22, 2013- January 5, 2014 visit the Queen Mary in Long Beach where you can enter a fantastically frozen world of wonder. The tickets include all day access to the ship, live entertainment, holiday activities, the Ice Kingdom and its slides, Ice Tubing or Ice Skating. Don't miss out on this CHILLing event!
  8. Holly Trolley Tour: You can't really experience the magic of the holidays without the 2 weeks of winter wonderment that Downtown Burbank offers. During the 12 Days of Holiday Cheer, 18 events are offered that are sure to get you in a festive mood. From a communal tree lighting ceremony to spectacular décor, from strolling carolers to a Holly Trolley sing-along tours to the Holiday Toy Express, Downtown Burbank will shimmer and sparkle with seasonal joy.
  9. Marina Del Ray Boat Parade: On Saturday Dec. 14, 2013 Marina Del Ray offers a firework show and boat parade to kick off the holiday festivities. There's no better way to witness the magic of the holidays other than on the water!
  10. Underwood Family Farm: Spend Christmas at the farm. Beginning November 29, 2013- December 20, 2013 fresh cut trees, wreaths and mistletoe will be for sale at the Underwood Family Farm in Moorpark. Don't miss your chance to visit with Santa Claus or go on a Tractor/Wagon Ride. Santa will only be visiting from the North Pole on 2 weekends: November 30th & December 1st , 7th & 8th from 11am-4pm. Make sure you're on the Nice list this year!

Contributed by Sara Mastro, M.A.

Holiday Gifts Kids Can Make

There's no better gift from a kid than a homemade one. Here is an easy, crafty gift idea that you can help your kids to make!

Christmas Finger Puppets

Finger PuppetsAfter your kids make these holiday-inspired finger puppets, it may be hard to part with them!

What you'll need: Assorted colors of felt (red, black, white, brown, and beige), scissors, dime-size coin wrappers, quick-setting gel glue (such as Beacon's 3-in-1), 1" round natural wooden beads, fine-tipped marker; additional embellishments such as pipe cleaners, small buttons, and mini pom-poms

Make it: Cut a rectangle of felt large enough to cover the rounded coin wrapper; glue in place. Glue the wooden bead on top of the felt-covered coin wrapper; let dry completely before handling. Draw eyes using a fine-tipped marker.

For Santa, cut a shorter rectangle of red felt and wrap around the cylinder, gluing only the top edge of the felt down to resemble a jacket. Glue a small black button at the top and a strip of black felt underneath. Cut a half circle out of red felt and form into a cone-shaped hat; glue at the seam. Add a mini pom-pom to the top. Glue a thin strip of white felt to the bottom, and then glue the hat on top of wooden bead. Make a mustache and beard out of white felt and glue in place.

For Elf, make jacket according to directions above and finish by rounding the edges. Create a hat, belt, and collar from matching felt and secure to puppet with glue.

For Rudolph, cut an oval from beige felt and glue to front of cylinder. Cut a small oval, glue to the face, and add a mini pom-pom for a nose. Cut out two ear shapes from beige felt and glue in place on bead. Bend a brown chenille stem into antlers and glue between ears.

For Snowman twig arms: For the snowman arms, wrap a chenille stem around the back of the snowman and glue it to the body for extra support. To make top hat, cut a felt circle that's appropriate for the size of the puppet's head. Cut a narrow strip from felt and form into a circle; glue the overlapping ends together. Apply a little glue to the bottom of the circle of felt and glue it onto the larger circle. Cut a small circle of felt and glue on the top of the hat. Apply glue to the middle of the felt brim and adhere it to the top of the snowman's head.

Thank You!

Thank you to the following individuals for their contributions to the WWA Newsletter:

  • Kait Barryrodriguez, M.S., BCBA
  • Hilya Delband, Psy.D., BCBA-D
  • Jamie E. DeWitt, MS
  • Amanda Hsu, M.S., MFTI, BCBA
  • Danielle Kornfeld, PHR
  • Sara Mastro, M.A.
  • John-Paul Prakash MA., BCBA, MFTI

Working With Autism
16530 Ventura Blvd, Suite 510
Encino, CA 91436

tel: 818.501.4240

discussing SB946 discussing SB946

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