Archive for December 2012

Monthly Archive

Autism and Screen Time

42-15672052Guest Writer: Ben Wahl, MSW, is the program director of Aspiring Youth Program,

Do children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) spend more time on video games and computers than their peers? According to researcher Dr. Paul Shattuck, the answer is ‘yes’.

Dr. Shattuck, of Washington University in St. Louis, sampled 1,000 study participants who had ASD and found that 41% indicated a level of screen time that would qualify as ‘high user’. The results of the study are telling: “Given that only 18 percent of youths in the general population are considered to be high users of video games, it seems reasonable to infer based on the current results, that kids with ASDs are at significantly greater risk of high use of this media than are youths without ASDs” (Shattuck, 2012). Read full post »

Happy Unconventional Holidays to You and Yours

The Holidays.

Oh how they strike fear in the heart of many a parent of a child with autism. Lest you think I am suggesting “Bah Humbug” to it all, let me explain.

They are supposed to be about so many things –from religious and cultural significance to gathering of family and friends, sharing gifts and thanks for each other. Sounds simple enough.

Perhaps never is there a time though, when both expectations and disappointment are so high. As parents, we’re influenced by our own memories of childhood and by the barrage of messages from mass media about what we absolutely must have and do and be in order for that picture-perfect celebration. Read full post »

Writers Read on Family, Home and Autism

Please join us Saturday, December 15, for a very special event, “Wild Round the Dinner Table”, benefiting Seattle Children’s Autism Guild. Local writers, musicians and readers will share on family, home and autism. Please see the message below from the event organizer Marya Sea Kaminski,

“Hello friends. Almost thirty years ago, my youngest brother Adam Kaminski was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. From that time until his passing in 2002, my family embraced Adam’s struggles and delighted in his humor, kindness and courage. I continue to realize the profound impact he has had on my life and, this December, I am organizing an event to honor Adam and other families like ours, who have had the experience of living with autism. 

On December 15th, please join me and a collection of other writers for a free, autism-friendly reading, “Wild Round the Dinner Table: Writers Read on Family, Home and Autism,” at Cornish College of the Arts. Please feel free to contact me at 206-372-6221.

This free event will take place at 2 p.m. at Cornish College of the Arts, room 102. *Seating is very limited. Please RSVP to to reserve a seat.

Talking With Your Child About Life-Changing Events

As we read in the previous blog, children with autism spectrum disorder do not always respond to life-changing events in ways that we would expect. For example, it can be difficult for a child with ASD to understand the implications and expected emotional responses associated with large life events (such as chronic illness, divorce, new baby, death, loss of job, moves).

While it may be tempting to categorize these difficult topics as “adult only,” children are inevitably impacted by these events, and discussing them (at a level that is developmentally appropriate) is not only recommended, but crucial to the child’s ability to manage the stress they are feeling. Without ample opportunity for processing these events with the people they trust most, children will draw conclusions and make assumptions (e.g., “My parents’ divorce is all my fault.”) that may not only be erroneous, but can have emotional consequences. Read full post »

Real Life, “Parenthood” and Autism

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post update on this season of “Parenthood.” Now we’re 9 or 10 episodes in, so it’s long overdue. This is building on my post last winter not only focusing on Parenthood, but the broader question of Autism and the Media.

It’s been a really interesting season for the Autism Spectrum theme to shine through. For those who don’t follow the show, one of the many characters is Max Braverman, a 12 year old boy who has Asperger Syndrome. The season started out with Max’s older sister heading off to college at Cornell University (also apparently known as the “suicide school” because of the cold weather – as Max casually pointed out to his sister). It was a really interesting dynamic following recent a blog topic and Autism 200 series lecture about the sibling’s perspective. In Parenthood, Max’s sister tried to find ways to connect with him and convey how much she would miss him, but Max just doesn’t understand that the way that she feels it. She even buys him a weighted blanket as a going away present, but the meaning of such a gift is lost on Max.  Read full post »