The Autism Blog

Ask Dr. Emily

Dr. Emily Rastall

Dr. Emily Rastall

Welcome to Ask Dr. Emily, a new monthly feature on The Autism Blog! We often receive questions that we want to share with all our readers. To help with this, Dr. Emily Rastall, a clinical psychologist at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, will share insights here, on the last Friday of each month, in a question and answer format. We welcome you to send us your questions and Dr. Rastall will do her best to answer them each month. Send your questions to

Q: Is it common for children with autism to get pleasure out of watching things fall? I have a few red flags with my 2 year old, and one thing I am not sure about (mainly because it hasn’t be mentioned in any articles) is my child will spend forever picking up stones, bark, sand… dropping it just above eye level and watching it fall. Any suggestions??
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Understanding Autism DVD- Available Online

Understanding Autism DVD photoToday we share a new resource that has just been made available online!

Understanding Autism: Reflections and Insights from Parents and Professionals is a DVD created for families following an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis in their child. It is intended to provide support via parent stories from other families with children on the autism spectrum as well as useful information from experts in the field. The content is approximately one-hour long and is available freely online in the “Videos” section of the Seattle Children’s Autism Center resource page.

The Understanding Autism DVD was created by the University of Washington READi Lab and ASAP! Program.

We hope this resource is helpful and that you share it with others. Thanks!

Mindful Monday- A Self-Compassion Exercise

Today we continue with learning what mindful self-compassion is and isn’t and try a simple exercise.

About Self-Compassion (from a Mindful Self-Compassion workshop with Kristin Neff, PhD)

Self-compassion is not:

  • Self pity (“Woe is me; no one knows the pain I do”)
  • Self esteem (Tied to what we do/achieve rather than who we are)
  • Self indulgence (Short –term pleasure or escape)

Self-compassion is:

  • Self-kindness (Treating self with care and acceptance)
  • Common humanity (“We all struggle. I am not alone.”)
  • Mindfulness (Allows us to be – without suppressing or exaggerating)

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Financial Planning – This Month’s Autism 200 Class

autism 200This month’s Autism 200 Series class, “Transition to Adulthood – Financial Planning”, will be held Thursday, July 16, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Wright Auditorium. July’s Autism 200 Series class is the second in a summer-long series of classes tailored specifically around transition to adulthood topics.

As children with ASD move into adolescence and on to adulthood, families face many challenges when the structure of school is not available. The realization that many of these young adults may not be able to support themselves, make decisions, have a spouse or live a completely independent life because of their social challenges makes financial planning imperative for families. Special needs parent and financial service professional Linda Hunter Suzman, ChSNC, will define the issues and provide an overview of and strategies for life care planning, SSI, general financial and trust plans as well as the new ABLE Act of 2014, passed in December, which allows families to begin 529 plans for disabled family members. Read full post »

Why Do Kids With Autism Do That? Part 2

legosTo date, our most popular blog is Why Do Kids with Autism Do That? Not surprising I suppose, as we are always trying to figure out why our kids do what they do. We gathered more puzzling questions for our panel of providers and invite those of you who offered your own insight and perspective last time to join in. This time we asked Brandi Chew, PhD, Jo Ristow, MS, CCC-SLP, and Soo Kim, MD to share their thoughts and this is what they had to say . . .

Why do some kids with autism . . .

Learn unevenly – seem to take one step forward and then one back

Jo: The answer to this question could fill a book! In my practice, I see a lot of this unevenness when kids have difficulty translating (or generalizing) learned skills to different people, environments and items/activities. For instance, I’ve seen kids learn that they can touch a photo on the iPad to activate voice output and request a Skittle, but then not be able apply that learning to touching different photos Read full post »