The Autism Blog

Oh the Places You Will Not Go

(with a child with autism)

Burke-Gilman TrailOn my way to work I sometimes walk a short stretch of the Burke-Gilman trail, an expansive 27-mile path for pedestrians and cyclists in Seattle. As I merge onto the trail, I make a concerted effort to become aware of my surroundings. I walk on the side of the track, my arms tucked in at my side. Cyclists reach top speed and I’m on alert for that familiar warning “On your left” which means don’t move to your left or you will become a human bike rack.

I think about my son with autism almost every time I walk this trail. This is one of many places my son cannot go. Arthur is 15 and has autism. Arthur is not always aware of the world around him and that split second instruction to watch your left side would be lost on him. He would inevitably stray and wander along the path, Read full post »

Sleep and Autism – This Month’s Autism 200 Class

autism 200This month’s Autism 200 Series lecture is Thursday, September 18, 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.

“Autism 209: Sleep and Autism – The Bumpy Road to the Land of Nod ” will be led by David Camenisch, MD, MPH and Mendy Minjarez, PhD. Difficulties with sleep are commonly present in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Seattle Children’s Dr. David Camenisch, a child psychiatrist, and Dr. Mendy Minjarez, a behavioral psychologist, will discuss common issues related to sleep in children with ASD. Strategies will be presented to help parents facilitate better sleep habits, including medical and behavioral treatments. Read full post »

Autism and Teaching Parents to Fish

“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. 

If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

Chinese proverb

We’ve all heard this saying before and know that it is used to stress the point that it is more valuable and longer-lasting to teach skills towards being independent rather than to provide short-term temporary support.

As parents, we know the wisdom of teaching our kids to do for themselves rather than doing for them. This applies to parents too. At Seattle Children’s Autism Center, we strive to empower parents by providing them with tools for parental self-efficacy, the confidence and competence to handle the challenges autism presents.

First I want to recognize that as a parent new to the diagnosis,

I didn’t want to fish.

I didn’t want to be given a fish.

I wanted nothing to do with fishing.  Read full post »

Autism and Parent Support Groups

ArthurWhen my son was first diagnosed with autism at age 22 months, one of the first things I desperately craved was to talk with other parents. I had so many questions.

What just happened? 

Where do I start? 

What early intervention program do you recommend? 

What therapies have your tried? 

Why isn’t this therapy covered by insurance? 

How do I get my kid in this school? 

Why is he flapping his hands in front of his face? 

What helped? 

What didn’t? 

He’s not talking. When did your child start talking? 

I’m sad, tired, scared and lost. Are you? 

Will I always feel this way?

And who better to ask than those parents who had already experienced it? I went to a few support groups. I asked my questions. I did not get answers. Read full post »

Cultural Considerations and Autism

By Lynn Vigo with Blanca Fields

In our last blog, we mentioned families who might “suffer in silence” for various reasons without getting help. Some reasons for this may be cultural in nature. In my role as a family therapist, I sometimes hear families say that in their culture, there is no word for autism, and that any kind of special need is considered a blemish on the family. Some tell me that it is customary to keep challenges within the family or cultural community, never discussing them outside of these boundaries. Some families don’t take the diagnosis seriously and seem to think that their child will outgrow the challenges that autism presents.

In our desire to better understand how providers can be more helpful to families, we asked Seattle Children’s Patient Navigators for their input and were able to interview Blanca Fields about her work with Latino families who have Read full post »