The Autism Blog

Seattle Children’s Alyssa Burnett Center Celebrates 1-Year Anniversary


Mikey at high school graduation.

This month marks the 1-year anniversary of Seattle Children’s Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center’s grand opening. The Burnett Center offers year-round classes for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental disabilities. In today’s blog, Tammy Mitchel, program manager for the Burnett Center shares some of her favorite memories from the past year. 

Nearly one year ago, as I was driving to the grand opening of the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center, my head swirled with thoughts, hopes, dreams and – admittedly – fears for this journey to open a center for adults with autism. Would it be possible to thoughtfully offer classes to adults with autism and serve a wide spectrum of ability levels? Could we teach adults who had never been in a kitchen how to cook for themselves? Would we be equipped to handle even the most challenging behaviors? And most importantly, could we create a community where all of this could happen under one roof?

I’m so happy to say one year later that yes, we could. And we did.

Read full post on On the Pulse

Autism 200 Class This Week- Promoting Oral Care

autism 200This month’s Autism 200 Series class, “A visit with the Dentist- Promoting Oral Care” will be held this Thursday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Wright Auditorium. 

Dental visits are often very challenging for children with autism. Unfamiliar faces, bright lights, funny smells, strange tastes, and a chair that moves make a dental appointment one of the most difficult. Dr. Travis Nelson, a pediatric dentist with the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s, will discuss common issues related to oral health in children with ASD, strategies to decrease the risk of cavities, and approaches to improve the dental visit experience.

Arrive early to enjoy coffee, tea and cookies with Autism Center staff and guild members (6 to 7 p.m.). Read full post »

Autism Awareness Month Stories- Sara’s Story

In honor of Autism Awareness Month we invited our readers to share their stories with us. We are sharing the stories throughout the month of April. Today’s story is from Sara Bathum.

The Letters

It’s the letters. Particularly a set of capital letters about six inches high, an eighth of an inch thick, and made of balsa wood. It just so happens they match exactly the font on a series of alphabet videos he loves to watch on YouTube – one quirky, upbeat, 90-second song for each letter. He painted his letters to match. A is blue. A is always blue. B is red. B is always red. C is yellow. C is always yellow. And so it goes all the way to Z.

Happiness for my son is getting all the way to Z.

To say he has a fondness for letters would be a tremendous understatement. Something akin to saying California is a little thirsty these days or I wish I was more helpful to my boy. I wish I knew and understood more. Read full post »

Autism Awareness Month Stories- Emma’s Story

In honor of Autism Awareness Month we invited our readers to share their stories with us. We are sharing the stories throughout the month of April. Today’s story is from Emma.

My son just turned five. When he was born he was a pretty typical baby, though some things were obviously slow to develop – walking, talking, even teeth coming in, all seemed to lag. The baby books, the sleep books, the parenting books that I so firmly believed in philosophically seemed to have little impact on this headstrong little guy. I wondered why parenting felt so hard, as I rocked my infant in my sling. Was it just extended postpartum depression? Was it that I truly wasn’t cut out for motherhood? Why did I feel so bitter? It was different, more difficult, and since I’m a pretty strong person I knew I wasn’t just wimping out. 

By the time he was two we started to talk more explicitly about his delays, and we were comfortable with him being different. I did some research and started to feel scared about autism. At the time Read full post »

Autism and Race

Based on Kanner’s observations of the children he worked with, autism was once thought to be a disorder that disproportionately affected families of higher socioeconomic status (Kanner, 1943). He noted that the parents of the children he described in his seminal work were highly educated, upper middle class, and of European-American descent. Subsequent studies failed to corroborate Kanner’s belief. The likely reason for Kanner’s finding was a result of bias caused by a greater access to diagnostic and treatment options for families with financial means.

In the 70 years since Kanner’s report we now know that autism clearly affects children from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds yet disparity continues to exist in services. Nowhere is this more Read full post »