Andrew’s Secret Spice Blend. My son’s superpower is his ability to become an expert on any subject he takes a special interest in. After performing his first cooking demonstration in the first grade, he dreamed of becoming a chef. Now 25 years old, Andrew—a young man with autism—works part-time as a prep chef in a commercial catering kitchen. During his free time he researches his favorite foods, hunting through cookbooks, magazines, cooking shows, and the internet for recipes. His current fascination with Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken has led him to collect all things having to do with their crispy, crunchy, flavorful crust.
Lisa L Wasikowski is an ASD self-advocate who lives in the Seattle area with her husband and daughter. We are grateful for her generosity in sharing her personal journey, insight, and reflections with Autism Blog readers.
Someone asked me to describe my ASD “coming out story”. Well, this is effectively it. I’ve told a handful of people, and currently wonder how to deal with regrets. When you’re the kind of person who lives as an open book, something like this won’t stay secret for very long, and since some people know, and people like to discuss, I’m sure it’s leaked beyond my pool. Now, it’s in the public eye of discernment. Take it for what it’s worth to you, and kindly move on. Read full post »
I think back to when the Seattle Children’s Autism Center was first launched in 2009, I still remember one of our first staff meetings where clinicians from backgrounds in psychology, psychiatry, neurology, developmental pediatrics, and speech therapy were all in attendance. All of us had been providing services for people with autism, but we had been doing the work in “silos.” We had dreamed of the day of working as a team, learning from each other, and coordinating care for people and families impacted by ASD. When that day was realized, it was an even better experience than we had imagined! The complexity of ASD makes this multidisciplinary approach to care essential, and Seattle Children’s Autism Center was built with this in mind. Since our beginning, we have welcomed over 4500 families through our doors, offering over 22,000 visits annually.
Another important feature in autism care is recognizing that support needed often falls into the “uncompensated” care category. This uncompensated care is one of the reasons why Seattle Children’s is the organization in the Pacific Northwest best suited to provide autism care, as this is at the heart of Seattle Children’s mission. Partnering with our community through philanthropy and outreach means that we are on this amazing journey together, providing care for all people regardless of their ability to pay. We simply would not be where we are today without the belief, commitment and support from our community, and for that, we are eternally grateful.
We are fortunate that ASD care seems to draw a special type of service provider and clinician. The teamwork, the willingness to go the extra mile, the positive attitudes, and the unselfish goal of providing service and care to those in need, all bring the staff at Seattle Children’s Autism Center closely together. We feel privileged with the gift of being invited into the lives of so many individuals and their families.
In 10 years, we have accomplished so much together, yet we have so much unfinished work still ahead. I have seen so much progress towards the goal of getting everyone with ASD the care they need, yet we clearly have not met many of our goals, including the most glaring challenge of access to diagnoses in a timely fashion. Initiatives underway to address the unmet needs excite me as much as when we first launched Seattle Children’s Autism Center. I feel the future is brighter than ever, and I am thrilled to be on this journey with my colleagues, the families, and our amazing Pacific Northwest community!
A special acknowledgment and heartfelt thanks to the following staff who have been with us at the Autism Center since the very beginning;
- Carola Meyer
- Anita Wright
- Jen Mannheim
- Amber Persons
- Katrina Davis
- Gary Stobbe
- Jan Bersin
- Felice Orlich
- Dora Hall
- Stephanie Pickering
- Lindsey Miller
- Mariam Araujo
- Sara Webb
- Raphe Bernier
- Deb Gumbardo
“Hakuna Matata- what a wonderful phrase. It means no worries….”.
For many families living with autism, something as simple as going to a movie, or out for dinner can present challenges, filling families full of worry about the what-ifs. Fears about tantrums, meltdowns, yelling or humming and the responses from those in the community can at times, make options for family activities feel limited.