Archive for 2014

Autism and Our Greatest Inspiration From 2014

Cheers to 2014!

Participants from Cooking Level III

Participants from a Cooking Level III class at the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center

While the rest of the world buzzes with excitement today, making plans for the evening, reflecting on the days behind us and raising a glass to what the bright New Year may bring, today I have a different vision of what it is we should be ‘cheers-ing’ to. Naturally, we are all compelled by the freshness a new year brings; new horizons for being better, having a clearer focus, ridding bad habits and welcoming new opportunities. 

Last night, as I sat down to reflect on my year, the celebrations, hardships, people and things, that made it so rich and beautiful, my staff sent me a Ted Talk called, ‘How autism freed me to be myself’, featuring Read full post »

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.

Singing-Snowman

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 pgonzalez@arcofkingcounty.org 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 »