Archive for 2013

Oscar Always Wants to Play With Our Neighbors

Oscar and Rosie“Oscar always wants to play with our neighbors, but they aren’t very nice to him. It’s sad because when I was a kid I played with our neighbors all the time and he doesn’t have that,” says Rosie Delcid, a senior at Highline High School.

Eight year old Oscar is Rosie’s younger brother who she describes as hyper and funny. “I love him so, so much.”

Rosie is one of four children and lives with her mom, dad, one of her older sisters and her brother Oscar. Oscar has autism. Oscar is the reason Rosie has organized an event at the Burien Library called Autism Connections. Read full post »

Diagnosis and Identity

teenagerGuest Writer: Ben Wahl, MSW, is the program director of Aspiring Youth Program

Nowadays it is quite common to hear the CDC statistic that 1 in 88 children (and 1 in 54 boys) in the US have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. There is much debate about whether there is actually an increase in occurrence or whether we have just gotten better at detection. There is similarly loud debate about the new criteria for ASD in the DSM 5. For the young people I work with, though, the debate is beside the point. What they experience is what matters; and that experience is often isolation, confusion, frustration, anxiety, and depression. Read full post »

Autism and Dealing with Change

The adjustment to the start of a new year is a reminder that change is constantly occurring. Change, especially unexpected change, can be extremely stressful for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children with ASD often prefer to have a sense of structure and to know what to expect during the day and what activity they will be doing and when. Consistency and predictability help children feel reassured that they know what will happen next. When change occurs, children with ASD may respond in a variety of ways, including exhibiting withdrawal, repetitive behaviors, tantrums, or even aggression. It is important to remember that these behaviors are typically the result of extreme anxiety and/or inability to communicate their emotions/desires. Below are some tips for managing change and transitions in your child’s life. Read full post »

Autism, Sexual Health, Relationships, and So Much More

textingThis past summer, after being asked for years by both parents and colleagues for resources and materials related to sexuality and autism, I decided to offer a skills group covering everything from hygiene to flirting to understanding different types of relationships. Drawing from a number of resources, including the King County FLASH curriculum for special education students as well as resources written directly for youth with ASD, and probing my colleagues, especially those who have children and teens with autism, I developed a 10 week curriculum and embarked on a true adventure in teaching and learning. Read full post »

Autism and Bullying

BulliedThe Problem

Like so many other aspects of growing up, bullying is a “typical” challenge this has unique dimensions for children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and their caregivers. Due to a number of high-profile cases in the news and the expansion of bullying into the realm of social media, bullying is getting a lot of media attention and as a result, is now appropriately recognized as a public health issue.

An explosion of research on bullying has identified far-reaching impacts not only on victims and perpetrators, but bystanders as well.  Bullying is no longer considered socially normative or tolerable, as it once was. The consequences are too dire and far reaching. Victims experience the direct effects of fear, embarrassment, and vulnerability that can impact social and emotional development and impede learning. Furthermore, children with limited communication skills are at risk of expressing the associated distress in potentially harmful ways including self-injury, escape behaviors (running away from individual or situations) and aggression directed at caregivers. Children who observe bullying and parents who feel helpless to protect their children can experience an erosion of their sense of safety. Read full post »