The Autism Blog

Free Autism 101 Class this Thursday January 25

Please join us this Thursday, January 25, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Seattle Children’s Hospital for our free quarterly lecture, Autism 101. Autism 101 is intended for parents and families of children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this free lecture, participants will learn about:

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Mindful Monday – Connecting in the Real World

We’re all so busy that it’s easy to move through our day without really noticing those around us.

We walk down the street, phones in hand, spending more and more time in a virtual world. We rush from one appointment to the next, barely acknowledging each other. It’s easy to come across as aloof or even a bit grumpy as we hide out and hang out behind our screens.

Here’s a quick and easy mindfulness practice to help us feel more connected in the real world:

Set an intention today to connect with someone in person. No phones or computers allowed! As you walk down the hall, stop and say hello to someone. As you walk down the street, smile at a stranger. As you approach a door, hold it open for the person behind you.

That’s it. Give it a try and you might find that your day seems just a bit better. And who doesn’t need that?

Gene McConnachie – One of Our Heroes

Gene McConnachie, PhD Retires from DDA

If you are a parent whose child was diagnosed in the 1990’s, you know that there was not much in the way of supports and services for our families back then. Little was understood about ASD and treating challenging behaviors, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) was not widely endorsed much less covered by insurance and it was almost impossible to find skilled providers to serve us. Lucky for us that at that time, Gene McConnachie had recently completed his graduate work under Dr. Ted Carr, a pioneer in the field of Positive Behavior Support (PBS).

Gene began his work in Seattle with the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) in 1993 as a clinical psychologist at two of our state’s Residential Habilitation Centers (RHC), Rainer and Fircrest. In 1996, he moved into Field Services, providing direct service to clients and families in their homes and for the past two decades, Gene has been a significant figure supporting DDA case managers, consulting with parents about behavior supports and how to navigate the DDA system, building local resources and partnerships to enhance supports to prevent clients from needing psychiatric or DDA institutional placements, teaching Positive Behavior Support to our community partners, and providing quality assurance for these services and supports.

In Gene’s twenty years at DDA, waiver services expanded to include the Children’s Intensive In-Home Behavioral Support (CIIBS) and Individual and Family Support (IFS) waivers and for fifteen years Gene’s Behavioral Support Team (BeST) program is still going strong. He trained upwards of 1000 residential support and other staff on PBS implementation within the context of DDA policies.

Gene has also played a major role in our region through his board participation in the annual Washington State Co-occurring Disorders Conference, ensuring that DDA clients and stakeholders received relevant training at a conference that would otherwise have been more exclusively focused on co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. In addition, Gene served on the Seattle Public Schools Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council and collaborated closely with the King County Developmental Disabilities Division. Nationally, Gene has served on the leadership team of the Home and Community PBS Network and on the Board of Directors of the Association for Positive Behavior Supports.  

Today, as many of our kids diagnosed in the 1990’s are transitioning into adulthood, Gene is retiring from DDA. I asked him if he had one wish for families served by DDA, what it would be and he said this:

“That DDA services are preventive instead of reactive so that we could assist families to navigate the many challenges to having a healthy family life from birth on, and prevent the trauma, turmoil, and much of the burn-out our parents experience raising a child with IDD.  We provide mostly reactive services after much client and family anguish, stress and trauma have already worn families down.”

To Gene McConnachie, our friend, colleague, advocate, and ally, we owe you a world of gratitude and wish you all the best! Till we meet again . . .

While retiring from DDA, Dr. McConnachie is semi-retiring from work! He will continue to serve families living with ASD and ID in his private practice. You can find more here:

http://www.samaritannps.com/sccnps/gene-mcconnachie-phd-nadd-cc

The Autism Blogcast – New Years Eve Edition

News Flash: The November 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.

It’s time for the top ten countdown with the highlights of 2017 and Jim and Raphe invite you to hear more information about these topics when you watch Jim and Raphe live at the January 19th Autism 200   –   State of Autism Presentation.

 

Happy New Year from The Autism Blog- Make It an Intentional New Year

With the holidays behind us and each day bringing a bit more light, now is a good time to contemplate intentions for the New Year. This is different from the tradition of making resolutions, which tend to be firm, fixed goals we set, promising to do or not do something, often the same ones each year. An intention, on the other hand, is your purpose, where you choose to direct your attention. Your intention shapes the nature of your action.

Here is an example. Let’s say I have a tendency to have critical thoughts and feelings toward myself and others. My resolution might be “Every day, I will say at least one positive thing to myself and others.” My intention though would be more like this: “As I go through my day, may I be sensitive, kind, and compassionate to myself and others.”  The resolution is an expectation while the intention allows for possibilities. It is fluid and flexible, recognizing that we are human and need to roll with the waves that life inevitably brings.

Wishing you all things good in 2018,

The Autism Blog Team