Archive for 2014

Autism and Teaching Parents to Fish

“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. 

If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

Chinese proverb

We’ve all heard this saying before and know that it is used to stress the point that it is more valuable and longer-lasting to teach skills towards being independent rather than to provide short-term temporary support.

As parents, we know the wisdom of teaching our kids to do for themselves rather than doing for them. This applies to parents too. At Seattle Children’s Autism Center, we strive to empower parents by providing them with tools for parental self-efficacy, the confidence and competence to handle the challenges autism presents.

First I want to recognize that as a parent new to the diagnosis,

I didn’t want to fish.

I didn’t want to be given a fish.

I wanted nothing to do with fishing.  Read full post »

Autism and Parent Support Groups

ArthurWhen my son was first diagnosed with autism at age 22 months, one of the first things I desperately craved was to talk with other parents. I had so many questions.

What just happened? 

Where do I start? 

What early intervention program do you recommend? 

What therapies have your tried? 

Why isn’t this therapy covered by insurance? 

How do I get my kid in this school? 

Why is he flapping his hands in front of his face? 

What helped? 

What didn’t? 

He’s not talking. When did your child start talking? 

I’m sad, tired, scared and lost. Are you? 

Will I always feel this way?

And who better to ask than those parents who had already experienced it? I went to a few support groups. I asked my questions. I did not get answers. Read full post »

Cultural Considerations and Autism

By Lynn Vigo with Blanca Fields

In our last blog, we mentioned families who might “suffer in silence” for various reasons without getting help. Some reasons for this may be cultural in nature. In my role as a family therapist, I sometimes hear families say that in their culture, there is no word for autism, and that any kind of special need is considered a blemish on the family. Some tell me that it is customary to keep challenges within the family or cultural community, never discussing them outside of these boundaries. Some families don’t take the diagnosis seriously and seem to think that their child will outgrow the challenges that autism presents.

In our desire to better understand how providers can be more helpful to families, we asked Seattle Children’s Patient Navigators for their input and were able to interview Blanca Fields about her work with Latino families who have Read full post »

When God Gives You More Than You Can Handle

Most parents of kids with special needs have heard the saying that “God doesn’t give you any more than you can handle.” This typically is said as an affirmation of one’s strength and ability to handle the challenge at hand. In the early days of autism, when I was first told this, my immediate thought was that God didn’t know me very well.

Parents of kids with autism also get used to hearing “You’re so strong. I don’t know how you do it.” And while this is always said with the best intention, when heard over and over, it can reinforce to parents that they always have to be strong. They can never be weak or let down their guard. That is just not sustainable though.

I don’t know a single parent who would say that autism is a walk in the park. On the contrary, most would agree that it is the hardest thing they’ve ever done. Here at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, we see that families handle difficulties very individually for many different reasons. Read full post »

Walk for Seattle Children’s Benefits Autism Research and Uncompensated Care Fund

Cam and ZanCameron Coupe from Whidbey Island and Zan Roman from Bellingham, both 19 years old, are walking across America to raise money for Seattle Children’s. Depending on their route, the walk will be approximately 3,000 miles. Their goal is to raise $10K, which they are donating 100% of to Seattle Children’s. They will split proceeds 50/50 between Seattle Children’s uncompensated care fund and autism research. In 2013, Seattle Children’s provided $117 million dollars in uncompensated care to families in our region.

We spoke to Zan and Cam as they were just wrapping up their time in Minneapolis, MN, to find out why two college students would set out, on foot, across the country to raise money for a children’s hospital. Read full post »