Archive for 2014

Ten ‘Mistakes’ This Parent of a Kid with Autism Has Made Over the Years

Beginning with her diagnosis almost sixteen years ago, we’ve put forth a Herculean effort to help her to do and be her best. We’re human though and autism is hard so we’ve made mistakes. I also know we’re in good company because I see many parents doing what we did, all with the most noble of causes – to help our child.

We’re older and wiser (although not proportionally by any means!) now and can reflect on things we know now that we wished we’d known then. With that in mind, here are ten things we’d do differently that are offered not as criticism but as food for thought.

1. We choose a therapy or intervention with the goal that it will make autism go away.

While this is perfectly understandable and we probably all start off with this aim, having this global goal can make it difficult to accurately appraise the gradual progress that our kids tend to make. It can also lead to big disappointment when the optimal results aren’t achieved. Instead, focus goals on specific aspects of your child’s autism, the things that are most challenging. For example, more specific goals might be improving receptive vocabulary in speech therapy or reducing tantrums in behavioral therapy, improving social skills in social skills group. Here’s a tip for thinking about Read full post »

What This Parent of a Child with Autism Wants You To Know

Kat and ArthurParents of kids with autism love to talk about their kids. Just ask us! Each of us has our own story to tell and this is mine. Ask another parent and you’re sure to get a different perspective.

When I tell people my child has autism, I often wonder what they envision. Do they conjure up an image of a child “locked up in his own mind” looking blankly out at the world?

Or perhaps they imagine a “little professor” who has can list in a very business-like tone and in alphabetical order, the 400,000 species of beetles known to man. 

You should know that my child is not like Rain Man or Einstein.

Some children with autism may have savant abilities or have remarkable splinter skills but most do not have a special superpower. On the same note, not all children with autism have an intellectual disability. And having intellectual disability does not mean a child is not smart.  Read full post »

Study Shows PRT Taught to Parents in Group Setting Benefits Kids with Autism

Dr. Mendy Minjarez

Researcher and clinical psychologist at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, Dr. Mendy Minjarez, along with researchers at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, show in a recent study that parents, in a group setting, can learn Pivotal Response Training (PRT) to effectively increase motivation and language skills for their child with autism. Typically, PRT has been taught to parents in individual therapy sessions, but this research demonstrates that it can be just as effective when taught in a group setting.

In a previous blog, Minjarez describes PRT as a naturalistic behavioral intervention. She explains, “PRT utilizes the principles of ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), such as reinforcement, but also incorporates developmental principles, such as following the child’s lead in intervention. Rather than applying ABA principles in a highly structured way, as in discrete trial training, in PRT parents are taught to embed ABA teaching principles into interactions with their child to enhance learning.”

To read more about the study and PRT, please see Seattle Children’s blog On the Pulse.

Autism and Broccoli

broccoliYes, you read the title of this blog correctly. My colleague Katrina forwarded me an article with this headline: Broccoli Extract May Reduce Autism Symptoms. Being the discerning parent/provider that I am, I thought it was just another wacky autism-treatment idea so I didn’t run out to buy a boatload of broccoli, but I did go to one of my most trusted sources for all things autism to get his read on things. Here’s what the good doctor Raphe Bernier had to say.

Lynn: Tell us Dr. Bernier, what is your first impression of this study?

Dr. Bernier: Well, many of the intervention studies in autism have methodological flaws that make drawing conclusions difficult. This makes sense, conducting studies is costly and difficult. I’m not excusing, just explaining. However, this study addresses many of those methodological flaws: there is random assignment to a treatment or control group, there is a placebo condition, there are outcome ratings that are judged by raters who are naïve to Read full post »

Autism 101 Class This Thursday

Autism 101This Thursday will be the last Autism 101 class of the year. Autism 101 is a free 90-minute lecture, offered quarterly and designed to provide information and support to parents and families of children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Lecturers provide up-to-date and evidence-based information regarding the core deficits of ASD, the variability and presentation of behaviors associated with autism, prevalence and etiology, treatments available and resources for families. A portion of each lecture is dedicated to answering questions from parents and families.

Lectures are open to the general public. There is no need to register in advance to attend. Autism 101 will be held 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Seattle Children’s Hospital’s main campus in room RC.3.905 near the River entrance. Parking at Seattle Children’s main campus is free in Lot 1 for those who attend the lecture in person.

Lectures are now available through Seattle Children’s video and teleconferencing outreach program and can be viewed at various locations throughout Washington and Alaska. View Seattle Children’s video teleconferencing site information (PDF).

If you have any questions please call Seattle Children’s Autism Center at 206-987-8080.