Author: Jana Wardell

How to Dance in Ohio

howtodance01[1]A few nights ago I had the chance to attend the Seattle premier of the documentary film How to Dance in Ohio. What a treat! The film, set in Columbus, Ohio, follows three young women with autism as they prepare for an upcoming spring formal. The formal is a planned opportunity for the girls and other group members to practice everything they have learned throughout a 12-week social skills therapy group. The film takes us through some celebrated rites of passage many young people encounter as well as a look at what transitioning to adulthood looks like for these young women. I was invited to meet the director, Alexandra Shiva and producer, Bari Pearlman, to find out more about the making of this lovely film that is sure to leave you feeling close to the characters as they navigate their fears and worries of the unknown bag that is ‘growing up’.

When asked why make a documentary about autism, what impressed me most, was the filmmakers’ ability to see that this was a film about one slice of autism. The documentary very clearly marks that the social skills group the film follows is made up of individuals with high functioning autism. The clients in Read full post »

Introducing a Pet to Your Home and Your Child with Autism

We had a chance to sit down with one of our providers here at Seattle Children’s Autism Center to find out what to consider when contemplating introducing a new pet to your home and to your child with autism. Felice Orlich, mother, PhD and proud owner of a border collie pup named Max, let us into her home to find out just what we need to know to help a pet be successful in it’s new family.

Theautismblog: So how did you choose Max?

Dr. Orlich: Well, first we found a breeder that socialized the puppy in the house, which helps the puppy become accustomed to noise, handling by kids and everyday household activities. We also visited the breeder several times before bringing the dog home, that way the kids could get used to Max and Max could get used to them. The breeder actually helped pick Max out for us after getting to know Jonah and Ellie. Read full post »


With an entire blog dedicated to autism, we realize many of our families have children that aren’t on the spectrum. For this reason, we recently sat down with Cathy Harrison, Seattle Children’s Child Life Specialist and asked her about Sibshops. Sibshops, developed right here at Seattle Children’s over 25 years ago by Don Meyer, are for siblings of children with ongoing special health care or developmental concerns.

Sibshops are workshops where the typically developing sibling can go for support, some basic education around their sibling’s health concerns and recreational time with peers facing similar situations. The workshops are held one Saturday a month, every other month. They are led by a variety of people; child life specialists, play room coordinators, social workers, teachers, nurses, and even adult siblings. The siblings are separated by age in a group for 6-9 year olds and 10-13 year olds. Read full post »

They Grow Up So Fast…

By the time your child reaches the age of 14 years, it’s a good idea to begin thinking about planning for adulthood. While this may seem early, there are many things that need to be decided, discussed and initiated before your child turns 18. Transition goals should be included in the IEP. Planning for adulthood is not a linear process and can be quite complex. Read full post »