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Celebrating 10 Years at the Autism Center – A Trip Down Memory Lane

As we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Seattle Children’s Autism Center being open, Dr. Gary Stobbe shares his reflection on the evolution of our programs and his hope for the future:

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

The Lion King Sensory-Friendly Performance

“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. 

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Autism 210 – Finding Common Ground: A Panel Discussion

This month’s Autism 200 series class is Autism 210 – Finding Common Ground: A panel discussion between Autistic and Parent Advocates.

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Practice Trick or Treating at the Autism Center

Trick or Treat at the Autism Center!

Seattle Children’s Autism Center holds an annual Trick or Treat practice party in the welcoming halls of the Autism Center. A (very) autism-friendly event for the entire family. Bring friends! All welcome at this relaxed fun-filled event designed for your family. 

Come enjoy door-to-door trick or treating, costumes, treats, games, prizes, and our memorable sensory room.  Dr. Travis Nelson from  The Center for Pediatric Dentistry will be on hand with toothbrushes and non sugar goodie bags.  Saturday October 27th from 10 am – noon.  Seattle Children’s Autism Center  4909 25th Ave NE, Seattle 98105.  Plenty of parking in front.  Lots of volunteers to play with your goblins.  Come feel at home in the hallways of the Autism Center. 

8 tips for a safe and enjoyable Halloween for your child with autism:

  1. Let your child practice wearing their costume at home. This gives you time to make any last minute modifications and time for your child to get used to it.
  2. Write a social story describing what your child will do on Halloween.  
  3. Create a visual schedule. This might include a map of where you will go.
  4. Practice trick or treating in a familiar environment. Visit friends and family, if possible, even neighbors.
  5. Keep trick or treating short and comfortable. Consider letting siblings (that might want to go longer) go trick or treating with a friend.
  6. Use role play to practice receiving and giving treats.
  7. If your child has difficulty with change, you may want to decorate your home gradually.
  8. Remember, Halloween looks different for every child on the spectrum and you know your child best. Use your intuition and if you only make it to three houses, that’s okay!

Hope to see you there!

Here are a couple links to helpful Halloween information:

Halloween Social Story Preparing_Children_for_Trick_or_treating

Halloween Social Story

Autism 209: Let’s Talk About AAC and Autism Spectrum Disorder

This month’s Autism 200 Series class is Autism 209: Let’s Talk About AAC and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Our instructors are Megan Pattee, MS, CCC-SLP and Jo Ristow, MS, CCC-SLP

Many children with ASD face challenges communicating. Luckily, communication is more than the words we speak. The goal Read full post »