The Autism Blog

Saturdays with Arthur

Arthur, my 15-year-old son, has autism and getting out the house for community outings can be a complex, demanding, stressful and unpredictable journey for both of us.  

Last year, on a gray December Saturday, Arthur and I were flopping around the house in our pajamas. The day wore on and we were feeling restless and confined. Arthur started to pace and gallop. 

A clumsy giraffe in my small kitchen. His way of saying, “not one more minute under this roof.”    

I remember this day because months before this, we had some very rough moments in public. The kind of day when we both return home traumatized. Tantrums in parking lots, meltdowns in bowling alley, aggression in Safeway, bolting in the museum, the sound of breaking glass in the gift shop, nibbling others’ French fries in the food court and sniffing strangers in the elevator. Keeping him safe, apologizing to others when necessary, and helping Arthur to understand the rules of social navigation was overwhelming. I started to wonder if we’d never leave the house—even if it meant terminal cabin fever.   Read full post »

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down syndrome

Most people have heard of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Down syndrome (DS) but many do not know that a child can have both. Today we discuss this dual diagnosis in an interview with providers and parents of children with both ASD and DS. 

Lynn: What do we know about the genetics of ASD and DS? Are kids with DS any more at risk for ASD than others? How common is the dual diagnosis? 

Raphael Bernier, PhD: You know, Lynn, I think what gets tricky when we talk about the genetics of ASD and DS is that the DS diagnosis is made (or can be confirmed) by genetic testing which reveals the presence of the third chromosome 21. In contrast, the ASD diagnosis is made strictly on behavioral observation. There are currently no genetic tests for ASD. 

However, we’ve made massive gains in our understanding of the genetics of ASD in just the past 10 years so this does provide some insight into the relationship between ASD and DS. For example, a couple of genes that keep popping up as ASD risk genes are located on chromosome 21 in the DS critical region suggesting a genetic connection between ASD and Read full post »

Gratitude in the Midst of Hardship

wordsofthankfulnessOne exercise that I learned in mindfulness training is to jot down the things I’m grateful for.  The point is to be aware that while difficulties are present in our lives, there are people and things that make the load a little lighter. This is not always an easy thing to do when I’m not feeling particularly thankful for sleep deprivation or challenging behavior. I do find it helpful though to consciously do this from time to time. 

At this time of year, we at Seattle Children’s Autism Center would like to call to mind the reason we are here – YOU.  While we wish we knew each other under different circumstances, we are keenly aware of how much better we are because of you and all who live with autism. 

I asked our staff what they are thankful for when it comes to the families we serve and this is what they said . . .

I am thankful that I am allowed to witness all the incredible strength and perseverance I see in our families. It inspires me to do more.  Jennifer Mannheim, ARNP 

I am so, so thankful for the opportunity to share in moments of growth with families. It is a privilege and a constant source of inspiration!  Jo Ristow, SLP  Read full post »

Upcoming Events and Activities for Individuals with Special Needs

As you plan your calendar for the next couple of months, please take a look at some of these great, local and free activities and events for families and individuals with special needs.


The Arc of King County’s Latino Family Winter Party

Celebrate the New Year with games, music, food, friends and fun! All are welcome. This is a potluck event and you are encouraged to bring a dish to share. There is no cost to attend.

Saturday, December 6, 2014 from 10 am to 1 pm

Angle Lake Family Resource Center
4040 S 188th St.
SeaTac, WA 98188

Please contact Patricia Gonzalez at or call 206-829-7027 for more information.

Sensitive Santa

The Outlet Collection will make its Santa area sensory friendly with lower lighting and quieter surroundings. Each family who attends will receive a free Santa photo and enjoy festive giveaways to commemorate the magical holiday Read full post »

This Month’s Autism 200 Series- We Have a Voice

A Panel of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Join Seattle Children’s Autism Center’s Medical Director, Dr. Charles Cowan and a panel of individuals with autism spectrum disorder to hear about their perspective as they address such questions as:

What do you want the world to know about you, your autism, your challenges and your strengths?

Representing the wide spectrum…come listen to a panel of teens and adults with autism.

This month’s Autism 200 Series lecture is Thursday, November 20, 2014, at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Wright Auditorium from 7 to 8:30 p.m.. These classes are designed for parents, teachers and caregivers. The topics associated with the majority of classes are applicable to all age ranges and for a wide variety of children diagnosed with autism.


(Timmy is a non verbal teen who will be using his communication device to share his insights. Carter will be represented by his parents and our other three panelists really look forward to sharing their stories with you!)


Timmy, age 15

I go to school at Lakes High School in Lakewood, WA.

Autism is a malfunction in the neurons of your brain. Autism is not a behavioral problem or psychiatric disorder. It can cause those problems but the cause  of autism is not yet known.

Read full post »