Author: Katrina Davis, BA Family Services Advisor

Separating Autism from the Person with Autism?

Kat and Arthur 2015I crave information about autism. I am parent of a child with autism and I work closely with individuals and families living with this complex disorder. 

I read a lot. I listen to parents. I seek to understand those who are diagnosed. My cup is not full. I am still learning. 

There are so many different opinions, viewpoints, experiences, and perspectives that I must often remind myself that perception is reality. No two people with autism look alike. Nor do their experiences. So if I want to continue to learn and evolve, I need to keep an open mind so I can absorb the many facets of how autism affects us all. 

When I read this blog by Carrie Cariello, titled I Know What Causes Autism, I smiled. This is a Read full post »

Saturdays with Arthur

Arthur, my 15-year-old son, has autism and getting out the house for community outings can be a complex, demanding, stressful and unpredictable journey for both of us.  

Last year, on a gray December Saturday, Arthur and I were flopping around the house in our pajamas. The day wore on and we were feeling restless and confined. Arthur started to pace and gallop. 

A clumsy giraffe in my small kitchen. His way of saying, “not one more minute under this roof.”    

I remember this day because months before this, we had some very rough moments in public. The kind of day when we both return home traumatized. Tantrums in parking lots, meltdowns in bowling alley, aggression in Safeway, bolting in the museum, the sound of breaking glass in the gift shop, nibbling others’ French fries in the food court and sniffing strangers in the elevator. Keeping him safe, apologizing to others when necessary, and helping Arthur to understand the rules of social navigation was overwhelming. I started to wonder if we’d never leave the house—even if it meant terminal cabin fever.   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 »

Oh the Places You Will Not Go

(with a child with autism)

Burke-Gilman TrailOn my way to work I sometimes walk a short stretch of the Burke-Gilman trail, an expansive 27-mile path for pedestrians and cyclists in Seattle. As I merge onto the trail, I make a concerted effort to become aware of my surroundings. I walk on the side of the track, my arms tucked in at my side. Cyclists reach top speed and I’m on alert for that familiar warning “On your left” which means don’t move to your left or you will become a human bike rack.

I think about my son with autism almost every time I walk this trail. This is one of many places my son cannot go. Arthur is 15 and has autism. Arthur is not always aware of the world around him and that split second instruction to watch your left side would be lost on him. He would inevitably stray and wander along the path, 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 »