General

All Articles in the Category ‘General’

Happy Thanksgiving from The Autism Blog

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, we here at Seattle Children’s Autism Center thank you for your support of our blog and our work with families living with autism.

Holidays bring both stress and joy so take a couple deep breaths and mindfully keep it as simple as possible so there is less stress and more joy.

 

Wyatt Wears Jeans

Wyatt wore jeans today.

He came home from Kindergarten last night and informed me that he had to wear jeans in order to be able to ride a horse on his field trip.

Fortunately, I keep a pair of jeans around in his size.  They are usually from a garage sale or Value Village and for the remote possibility that he might actually want to wear them.  I never imagined it would ever happen!  So, when he announced this I headed up to the attic and retrieved the jeans.  We put them on this morning and off to school he went looking very handsome and ‘normal’. 

I laughed with delight when the aide helped him out of the car.

Wyatt replied, “Don’t laugh at me.”

I said that I was laughing because I was happy. I actually cried all the way home.  That is one of the privileges of having a child with special needs…you never take for granted the little things…like wearing jeans.

Fast-forward 8 years…

Wyatt wore jeans today. He told me that he wanted to look nice for his 8th grade promotion.  So, up to the attic I went and retrieved another pair of jeans.  He complained about the button, but went off to school looking very handsome and ‘normal’. 

He informed me that I was allowed to show up for promotion, but he insisted that I didn’t ‘make a big deal’ and let me know the he preferred I didn’t come up and talk to him too much afterwards.

I smiled and told him how proud I was of him for making it through 8th grade.  I actually cried through the whole ceremony.  We had both worked so hard to get to this point. That is one of the privileges of having a child with special needs…you never take for granted the little things…like wearing jeans.

So, while other parents were celebrating their children’s promotions and snapping photos, I’m standing in the background celebrating jeans. For in wearing jeans, Wyatt reminded me of the need in all of us to be loved and accepted for who we are.  The need in all of us to be a part of the common community that we call the ‘human race’.  To me that is nothing less than a miracle.

 

Practice Trick or Treating at the Autism Center

Trick or Treat at the Autism Center!

Seattle Children’s Autism Center holds an annual Trick or Treat practice party in the welcoming halls of the Autism Center. A (very) autism-friendly event for the entire family. Bring friends! All welcome at this relaxed fun-filled event designed for your family. 

 

Come enjoy door-to-door trick or treating, costumes, treats, games, prizes, and our memorable sensory room.  Dr. Travis Nelson from  The Center for Pediatric Dentistry will be on hand with toothbrushes and non sugar goodie bags.  Saturday Oct 21st from 10 am – noon.  Seattle Children’s Autism Center  4909 25th Ave NE, Seattle 98105.  Plenty of parking in front.  Lots of volunteers to play with your goblins.  Come feel at home in the hallways of the Autism Center. 

8 tips for a safe and enjoyable Halloween for your child with autism:

  1. Let your child practice wearing their costume at home. This gives you time to make any last minute modifications and time for your child to get used to it.
  2. Write a social story describing what your child will do on Halloween.  
  3. Create a visual schedule. This might include a map of where you will go.
  4. Practice trick or treating in a familiar environment. Visit friends and family, if possible, even neighbors.
  5. Keep trick or treating short and comfortable. Consider letting siblings (that might want to go longer) go trick or treating with a friend.
  6. Use role play to practice receiving and giving treats.
  7. If your child has difficulty with change, you may want to decorate your home gradually.
  8. Remember, Halloween looks different for every child on the spectrum and you know your child best. Use your intuition and if you only make it to three houses, that’s okay!

Hope to see you there! 

The Autism Blogcast – October Edition

News Flash: The September 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.

In this edition they discuss research on fevers lessening behavioral problems in children with autism, promoting inclusion for people with disabilities and events that promote inclusion.

Watch our first installment in a new series from our team of reporters sent into the field! Lindsey Miller, ARNP starts off this special series asking the question “What does inclusion mean to you?”.

 

 

 

Ask Dr. Emily – Facial Behavior and Daydreaming

Welcome to the September edition of Ask Dr. Emily!

We often receive questions that we want to share with all our readers. To help with this, Dr. Emily Rastall, a clinical psychologist at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, will share insights in a question and answer format.

We welcome you to send us your questions and Dr. Rastall will do her best to answer them each month. Send your questions to theautismblog@seattlechildrens.org.

Q: My son is 7 years old, and he has autism spectrum disorder. When he watches television, he makes faces with his eyes closed and lips out. Is that part of autism?

 A: One of the diagnostic criterion for autism spectrum disorder is described as this facial behavior that you describe sounds to me like it fits the description of a “stereotyped or repetitive motor movement,” one of the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder. These behaviors can be present when one is excited, relaxed, and/or upset.   

Q: I am an individual with autism. I want to touch on daydreaming. When I was in school, my biggest hurdle was “zoning out.” If I didn’t understand a topic, I would “check out” until the instruction ended. This sounds awful, but my family sometimes has to snap at me to bring me back to reality. I “pass” as typical, but every day is an exhaustive process of trying to stay focused and “in touch” with what’s happening around me. Is this something that happens with autism spectrum disorder?

A: Thank you for writing in and for sharing your experiences. Executive functioning (like paying attention, planning, thinking ahead, switching attention or tasks) is often affected (to varying degrees, of course) for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. This can make it challenging to maintain attention, multi-task, and stay present, especially in overwhelming, chaotic environments. It can be even more challenging to stay focused on topics or people that we don’t find especially interesting or appealing.

 Q: My son is 12 and has high functioning autism. He has also been diagnosed with anxiety, skin picking, ADHD, and we recently discovered he has two genetic duplications as well. He has had some real challenges at school: Social challenges (cannot read social cues from others, oversteps boundaries with peers, had trouble fitting in), behavioral challenges (aggression towards peers, incontinence), and emotional challenges (verbal outbursts, threats of harm to self and property). He was expelled from public school last year; he now attends an alternative school, but things have not gotten better. What should we do?

 A: First, let me empathize with how hard this must be for you, your son, and your family. His profile appears complex with his recent genetic findings, mental health symptoms, behavioral issues and potentially a number of medical and mental health providers involved. Might his primary care provider be “the quarterback” of his care/education team, with a coordinated comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan? This would hopefully shed some light on the function of his behavioral challenges and inform treatment next steps.