Archive for 2012

The Impact of Autism on Families

Final Blog in Our Series on Autism and Family Life

Years ago, a catfight broke out on a local listserv for families of children with autism. The new guard (parents new to a diagnosis) was having it out with the old guard (parents of older kids) over treatments. Criticism flew in all directions and it was getting downright ugly. Back then I was more a listserv-lurker than a writer, but my concern about this divisiveness propelled me to post a reminder that we were more alike than we were different and that we all wanted the same thing for our kids. I pointed out that autism is hard and we need all the support we can get so let’s be kind to each other.  It was a long post and I had regrets as soon as I hit the send button. It was well-received though, and many said that they planned to use it as a primer for family and friends to help understand life with autism.

Years later, soon after I started with Seattle Children’s, I was asked to co-present with a psychologist colleague to a group of psychology/psychiatry residents on autism. She was to cover evaluating and diagnosing autism and mine was to be a parent’s perspective on autism. How on earth, I wondered, do I begin to capture life with autism? What I wanted was for the group to come spend 24 hours with my family, but that wasn’t going to happen so I decided on the next best thing. I asked friends to videotape my family from the time we got up in the morning until the time we went to bed at night . . .  and the time we got up in the middle of the night! We began taping in the summer and finished up just after Christmas. With a dedicated crew and cast, “A Day in the Life with Autism” was made, 24 minutes representing 24 hours of life with autism. Read full post »

Siblings and Autism

Part 6 in our series on Autism and Family Life

Parental love may be unconditional but sibling love? That’s not how I remember it when I was growing up with a sister and two brothers where we lived with a quid pro quo arrangement better known today as “What have you done for me lately?”. I’ll do your chores today if you don’t tell mom that I lost her favorite . . . Wait a minute. I’m pretty sure my mother subscribes to this blog so back to the topic at hand –siblings.

I recently read an article in the Washington Post written by the sibling of someone with autism. The author begins with one of her “bad stories” of life with her brother with autism and when asked to recall a good one, couldn’t come up with anything. Read full post »

Autism from a Sibling’s Perspective

Please join us for our last Autism 200 Series Class of 2012

Just a reminder that the next Autism 200 Series class will be Thursday, November 15, 2012 at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Wright Auditorium from 7-8:30 pm. 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.

This month’s class Autism 211: Sibling Panel- Autism from a Sibling’s Perspective” will be led by Seattle Children’s Katrina Davis and will include a panel of siblings that all have a brother or sister on the spectrum. Below is a preview of what to expect at this month’s class. Read full post »

Autism and Step-parenting

Part 5 in our series on Autism and Family Life

If you are a stepparent, you know how challenging it can be to assume that role in a child’s life. Even if you and your spouse dated for a long while, marrying and combining households isn’t always as warm and fuzzy as Mike and Carol of The Brady Bunch made it look.

The “packaged deal” brings so much to the marriage including a child or children, an ex-spouse or two, in-laws, and all that kitchenware.

If you’ve not had children yourself and are becoming a parent for the first time, there’s a steep learning curve as you find your way on the parenting path.

Take all of this – and add autism – and you have quite an adjustment for all concerned.

Parents of kids with autism are often heard to say that “I have no choice” when praised by others for the tough job they have.

What about parents who DO have a choice?

  Read full post »

Autism and Voting

At age 18, unless guardianship has been established, all US citizens obtain the legal right to vote. Some 18 year olds pay no attention to elections, while others may have more interest in the process. This is true whether a teen has autism or not. How does a parent know if their teen is ready to vote? As a parent you have supported your child through their first 18 years. Ideally you have provided them the right amount of support to be as successful and independent as possible. Over the years you have learned your son or daughter’s strengths and challenges and will have a pretty good idea if your teen is ready to vote. Some of the questions to consider are, does your son/daughter show any interest in the election process, do they ask questions regarding the candidates or ballot measures? If yes, then you can sit down with your teen once the voter’s pamphlet arrives. You will know how much time your teen will spend reading over the information and how much time you should allot for discussion prior to the election. Obtaining a mail in ballot allows the voter to take their time while casting their vote. Read full post »