All Articles in the Category ‘General’

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Employment

employment-signHighlights from Beautiful Minds Wasted, The Economist

Thanks to my colleague, Jennifer Mannheim, ARNP , for passing along a recent article on autism and employment (The Economist, April 16, 2016 Beautiful Minds Wasted). As more and more children with autism become young adults, it offers a look at what happens after educational services end.

This article provides a global glimpse at the state of employment for those on the spectrum and is chock-full of sobering statistics:

  • In 1970, 1 in 14, 000 children in the US were diagnosed with an ASD.
  • In 2016, 1 in 68 children in the US were diagnosed with an ASD.
  • In France, 90% of children with an ASD attend primary school but only 1% makes it to high school.
  • In the US, less than 50% of students with an ASD graduate from high school.
  • In the UK, 60% of teachers said they were unprepared to teach children with an ASD.
  • In the UK, 12% of adults with HFA are employed and 2% of adults with “more challenging forms of ASD”.
  • Globally, per the UN, 80% of adults on the spectrum are unemployed.
  • In the US, 19% of adults with an ASD in their early 20s live independently away from their parents.
  • 1 in 4 adults with an ASD report feeling isolated (have not seen friends or received a social invitation in the past year).

The article identified some of the employment challenges for those on the spectrum, including difficulty with the social aspects of the interview process, the often over stimulating work environment and adapting to changes in schedules and routines. On the other hand, strengths of some on the spectrum include intense focus and an eye for detail, enjoyment of repetitive tasks, dependability in following rules and routines.

Also mentioned were employers throughout the world who have made efforts to assist employees with an ASD to be successful including Specialisterne, A Danish firm that offers training and help finding jobs, Kaien in Japan, AQA in Israel, Passwerk in Belgium, and Walgreens in the US.

The Economist cites lifetime cost of unemployment associated with an ASD (lifelong care, lack of output by such individuals and un/under employment by families who care for those who do not work) is cited as between 1.4-2.4 million dollars.

Depressing? Yes. Surprising? No. The world is still not capably or comprehensively providing services and supports for children with an ASD and their families. It is only beginning to see the massive wave of children now coming of age into adulthood. Our kids are not ready for the real world and the real world is not ready for them.


Spirit of Participation: Arthur’s Story

Thanks to our own Katrina Davis for sharing her story of hope, inspired by autism research.  

Watch Arthur’s video here: Arthur’s Story



The Autism Blogcast with Jim and Raphe – January Edition

News Flash: The January edition of The Autism Blogcast, featuring autism experts Raphael Bernier, PhD and James Mancini, MS, CCC-SLP.


In an effort to keep you up to date on the latest news in research and community happenings, we welcome two of our favorite providers best known as Jim and Raphe, the autism news guys.

These two have too much energy to be contained in written format so our plan is to capture them in 2-5 minute videos that we’ll post the first week of each month. We welcome your questions and comments. Tell us what you think of our dynamic duo!

In this edition of the Blogcast, our reporters discuss a recent drug trial and its effectiveness, as well as a year end update regarding ABA and mental health services.


Announcing the Autism 200 Series Schedule for 2017

We are pleased to announce a brand new line up of the Autism 200 Series lectures for 2017.

Autism 200 is a series of 90-minute classes for parents and caregivers of children with autism as well as teachers and community providers who wish to better understand autism spectrum disorder. Faculty from Seattle Children’s, the University of Washington and community providers teach the classes. Each class includes time for questions.


Classes are held on most third Thursdays of the month at Seattle Children’s Hospital from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Wright Auditorium. Parking in visitor lots. Lectures are available through Seattle Children’s video and teleconferencing outreach program and can be viewed at various locations throughout the region. View Seattle Children’s video teleconferencing site information (PDF).

Lectures are also recorded and can be viewed on our website following the lecture. For a list of teleconferencing sites or to view past lectures, please visit our website.


Class details:

Autism 201: The State of Autism in 2017 with Jim & Raphe

January 19, 2017; Instructors: Raphael Bernier, Ph.D. & Jim Mancini MS, CCC-SLP

Considerable advances have occurred in both science and on the community, state and national levels in 2016. Seattle Children’s Autism Center’s Dr. Raphael Bernier, clinical director and Jim Mancini, coordinator of training, education and outreach, will review the most newsworthy and influential scientific and community advances in the world of autism spectrum disorder from the past year.  We will also discuss what we can expect in the changing educational and political landscape of 2017.   

Autism 202: Autism Genetics: What Parents Should Know

February 16, 2017; Instructors: Heather Mefford MD & Jennifer Gerdts Ph.D.

Over the past decade, there have been major advances in our understanding of autism genetics, and genetic testing is often offered to patients and families. The tests (and sometimes the results) can be overwhelming and confusing. We will review what is known about autism genetics and what kinds of genetic tests are available to families. In addition, we will discuss the pros and cons of genetic testing and what types of results you might expect to receive. Finally, we will highlight research opportunities and exciting advances in genetic testing that are expected to become available in the near future.

Autism 203: Making Friends on the Playground: Social Skills Support in School

March 16, 2017; Instructor: Jill Locke Ph.D.

Ever wonder what your child does at recess? Or with whom he/she plays? Social impairment is one of the most challenging core deficits affecting children with autism. Dr. Jill Locke will discuss how social impairments manifest in schools, their implications with peers, and the steps educators can take to facilitate positive peer engagement. Both caregivers and educators are encouraged to attend this lecture!

Autism 204: Parent Training to Address Problem Behaviors of Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder

April 20, 2017; Instructor: Karen Bearss Ph.D.

As many as 50% of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit behavioral problems such as tantrums, noncompliance, and aggression. These behaviors interfere with the performance of daily living skills and may also amplify caregiver stress. The challenges parents face in raising a child with ASD has sparked interest in the use of parent training in this population, as it empowers parents to be the agent of change for their child. This presentation will review the prevalence and impact of disruptive behaviors in ASD and how parent training is a promising line of treatment for these challenging behaviors and provide specific tips and strategies to dealing with disruptive behaviors.

Autism 205: Autism and Police: Staying Safe Together

May 18, 2017; Facilitator: Robin Tatsuda, MSW

With mounting tension across the country, creating a safe community requires collaboration.  For individuals with autism spectrum disorder, learning to interact with police and first responders is critical. On the other hand, it is just as essential for police to understand autism and be prepared to respond effectively and safely to situations that arise involving individuals on the spectrum. The autism community must work together with law enforcement and the general public to ensure we are all safe together.  This panel presentation of law enforcement officials, individuals with autism, families, and community members will discuss local efforts within police departments as well as strategies for individuals and families to promote safety for everyone involved.  

Autism 206: Transition to Adulthood: Finding a Job

July 20, 2017; Instructors: Richard Wilson MPA & Maureen Roberts M.Ed., C.R.C.

Transition from school to the adult world and successfully finding a job can be complicated and confusing.  Navigating resources can be a formidable and overwhelming challenge for most students and their families.  Being prepared requires early planning, appropriate expectations, and opportunities. Understanding what resources are available and how to obtain them is critical for decision making and taking action.  This session seeks to help participants better understand support systems, resources, and how to access vital services.  It will also cover the importance of starting early, breaking down steps that lead to employment, and the importance of advocacy and collaboration.

Autism 207: Transition to Adulthood: Keeping a Job

August 17, 2017; Instructors: Gina Solberg CESP & Abbey Lawrence M.Ed., BCBA

Landing a new job can be very exciting!  It’s a new world of possibilities.  It can also be where the real work begins.  We will discuss strategies and ideas to have a success on-boarding experience and the keys to making the job into a career.  Good tenure and successful employment often depends on soft skills, support networks, visual supports/ancillary aides, clear expectations, effective lines of communication and more.  

Autism 208: Screening for ASD: A Preventative Intervention Approach

September 21, 2017; Instructor: Lisa Ibanez Ph.D.

The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been rising steadily, with rates now estimated to be as high as 1 in 68 children. Although parents often become concerned about their child by 17-19 months of age, children do not typically receive an ASD diagnosis until they are 4 years old. It is now well documented that early participation in ASD-specialized intervention can lead to significant improvements in skills and behavior for toddlers with ASD. However, despite the availability of publicly funded early intervention (EI) services, delayed detection of ASD risk and long waits for a formal ASD diagnosis can prevent children from receiving appropriately specialized intervention during the critical birth-to-three years. In addition, parents concerned about ASD experience high levels of uncertainty and stress during this waiting period. This provider-focused lecture will discuss how a preventive intervention approach may improve outcomes for both children and parents by increasing rates of ASD screening, promoting earlier referral to EI programs, initiating early ASD-specialized intervention, and reducing the time between ASD concerns and diagnosis.

 Autism 209: Early Intervention in Autism: An Overview of the Seattle Children’s Autism Center Model

October 19, 2017; Instructor: Mendy Minjarez Ph.D.

 Early intervention has been shown to improve outcomes for children with autism. Interventions based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) have strong empirical support for improving a range of skills, including communication, social, play and adaptive skills. Other interventions, such as speech therapy and parent training, are also considered important in the treatment of young children with autism. This presentation will provide an overview of the current early intervention research and also describe the multi-disciplinary program at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, which includes ABA therapy, speech therapy, and parent training/support. The model being used at Seattle Children’s is also being replicated state-wide and efforts to expand ABA therapy services in WA State will be discussed.

 Autism 210: Autism from a Sibling’s Perspective: A Panel Discussion

November 16, 2017; Facilitator: Tammy Mitchel, Sister and Program Manager, Alyssa Burnett Center

What about the siblings?  Join us for an insightful evening featuring the unique perspectives of brothers and sisters of individuals living with autism.  In this dynamic and candid panel, siblings will share their personal stories and insights, and provide a platform for parents, siblings and other community members to ask questions about their journey of growing up with a sibling on the autism spectrum. 

Sharing their thoughts and experiences around both the positive, and the challenging aspects siblings experience, this panel will provide honest feedback and touching stories around hope and unconditional love.   Facilitated by Tammy Mitchel, sister to 22 year old Mikey, and hosting a dynamic panel of siblings, this Autism 200 will be one to remember.



The Gift of Autism

starI just spent the evening watching the “Marauding Swordfish” theatrical production. This production highlighted different groups of teens with special needs, specifically in navigating the social world.  The night was spent doing comedy improvisation.  The unveiled honesty was so refreshing in a world where Photoshop makes women look perfect and the media feeds us what we want to hear. 

This was a night for them to shine. It was their night to be themselves-quirky, funny, and totally honest.  I laughed and laughed at their quick wit and ability to speak what was on their mind without worrying what others thought. 

 As parents, we could not forget the long road behind us that brought us to this night.  There was the boy who wouldn’t be alive without modern medicine, the endless years of speech therapy, and the constant advocating to allow our kids to be a part of society in their own way.  To us, we knew that this night was nothing less than a miracle and savored each moment. 

For me it was a reminder of the need in all of us to be part of the human race. As we strive to be more and more of what we think we need to be, may we never lose sight of ourselves-the part of us that is truly ‘us’.  Autism has reminded me to live honestly and authentically, to value the uniqueness of each individual, and to daily celebrate the miracles in our lives. 

Thank you “Marauding Swordfish”! You were the best show in town.