Author: Emily Rastall, PhD

Intentional Behavior and Autism

“He did it deliberately consciously purposefully willfully.”

Most parents have heard their child’s behavior described as being deliberate and may themselves wonder whether behavior is done “on purpose” or not. Often it is a disruptive behavior, such as hitting or throwing. We asked Seattle Children’s psychologist, Emily Rastall for her thoughts on the topic of intentional behavior and what tips she has to offer to parents and others seeking to better understand our kids. Here’s what she had to say:

Lynn: Why do you think there is a tendency to describe behavior as being deliberately disobedient or willfully disruptive? Read full post »

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder

OCD and ASD: How are they different?

We often get questions from parents about their child’s behaviors that have an “OCD” feel to them. They wonder if this is true Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or part of their child’s autism diagnosis. For answers to these questions, we went to two of our psychologists here at the SC Autism Center. Here’s what they had to say:

What is OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by a) persistent and distressing thoughts and b) behaviors used to “cope with” those thoughts. A person with OCD often feels “compelled” to perform compulsive behaviors and believes that performing these behaviors will “keep bad things from happening.” OCD is more common Read full post »

When Parents Disagree about Their Child’s Treatment

Finding and participating in treatment for a child with autism spectrum disorder can be challenging under the best circumstances. At the outset of treatment or even in the course of it, barriers to progress may become evident. One of the most difficult barriers to overcome is a situation in which a child’s parents disagree with the choice or course of treatment. As a result, much of the interaction with the provider may be dominated by resolving conflict and managing the adults in the session, rather than focusing on the child’s needs and well-being. Thus, the child’s treatment needs may be overshadowed, and progress is slowed or halted altogether.  Read full post »

Prioritizing Treatment When Your Child Enters School

school busIf you are a parent of a young child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may be juggling multiple services and interventions during the week (such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, social activities, applied behavioral analysis (ABA). You may be wondering how to gauge your child’s progress in these interventions. You may also be wondering how you will pare down these interventions once your child enters school. For instance, how much intervention is TOO much intervention? And how do I know which interventions are really making a difference and warrant continuing once my child enters school? Read full post »

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 »