It’s that time of year- summer in Seattle! Living in the Northwest, we are surrounded by natural beauty, and everywhere you look, there’s water! The Puget Sound, lakes, rivers, and pools are accessible year round, and are particularly fun during the summer months when the weather is nice.
Being near, on, and in the water is a popular summer activity. One of my family’s favorite things to do over summer weekends is to head to the beach. The minute hit the sand, my 7 year-old is stripping off his shoes and socks and my 18 month old is struggling to do the same. I scramble to slather sunblock on their wriggling bodies, often wondering why I didn’t attempt this feat before we left the house. The boys and I run to the edge where the beach meets the surf and throw rocks in the water. Feeling the sand between our toes and the water on our skin can be a wonderful sensory experience, and one that many children enjoy and often seek out, including children with autism. However, having children near the Read full post »
As we turn toward the long summer months, many parents of children with autism are busy filling out summer program forms. If you are like me, you pause when you get to this section:
Does your child have any behavioral concerns?
Why do I pause at this question…?
First of all, I usually marvel at how little space is provided to answer such a complex question. My son’s Behavior Intervention Plan is nine pages long!
Second, the answer for my son is YES, he does have behavioral concerns. I’ll admit to being afraid to list his specific challenging behaviors for fear of being excluded from the camp. I’m tempted to simply write “some” with a little smiley face and leave it at that—-but this would be unfair to everyone— Read full post »
“Where is my white computer? Did it go to the Goodwill?”
On Easter Sunday this year I came home at 8:30 p.m. to find my home had been burglarized.
My son who is 14 entered the house first, followed by my 16-year-old daughter. She immediately turned around and ran out of the house while Arthur stood frozen in the middle of the living room.
If you’ve ever been a victim of this disturbing crime, you know the initial feelings of shock, anger, fear, helplessness, and disgust.
Arthur has autism and coming home to this kind of chaos was nothing short of devastating for him. Read full post »
To be clear: there is currently no cure for autism. Companies that make false or misleading claims that their products or services cure autism have now been issued a warning by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop—or else face possible legal action.
Current treatments approved by the FDA for autism aim to alleviate or manage certain symptoms of the disorder, but not the entire disorder.
According to the FDA, “The bottom line is this—if it’s an unproven or little known treatment, talk to your health care professional before buying or using these products.”
To find out more about the companies and products issued the warning, read the official statement issued by the FDA.
To find out more about medication and autism please see our blog “Common Questions about Medication and Autism”. And if you are considering a new therapy for your child please see our blog “Choosing a Biomedical Therapy and Autism”.
This is the second of a 2-part series for families dealing with pica or elopement. In this post, we’ll cover the following information on elopement:
- Presentation and prevalence
- What makes elopement so challenging to treat
- Common, evidence-based treatments to consider
- Tips for parents to begin a treatment plan
Presentation and prevalence
Elopement occurs when a child runs or wanders from a safe, supervised environment. A 2012 study found (via parent survey) that 49% of the study children with autism eloped after the age of 4 and of these, 53% were away from supervision long enough to be considered missing. In contrast, parents reported that 13% of the study’s unaffected siblings had eloped after the age of 4. Statistical analyses showed that the children with autism who were more severely impacted by autism (lower intellectual and communication abilities) were more likely to elope than those who were more mildly affected by autism.
What makes elopement so challenging to treat?
Like pica, there is less research on elopement than other problem behaviors exhibited by those with autism. Often, elopement is lumped into a category of “challenging behavior” and not studied independently. Read full post »
Children with autism display a variety of unique behaviors. Some behaviors charm us. One upstanding character I met last week proudly reported that he’d memorized all of the U.S. presidents plus special facts about each one. Then he proceeded to tell me 3 facts about 3 presidents. Other behaviors are not so charming and can be disruptive and dangerous. Two particularly daunting behaviors families affected by autism contend with are pica and elopement. Pica refers to the ingestion of non-food items. Elopement occurs when a child runs or wanders away from safe, supervised environments. Why do these behaviors occur and why are they so difficult to treat?
This is the first of a 2-part series for families tackling these difficult behaviors. Starting with pica, we’ll cover the Read full post »
1) Is there a particular medication or medications to treat autism (to address the core deficits of autism)?
No, currently there is no medication that treats the core deficits or characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), (such as speech delays, poor social skills, repetitive behaviors). Medication is aimed at reducing associated symptoms (such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, anxiety, depression, irritability, tantrums, aggression, self-injury) that interfere with functioning.
2) How is the decision made to try medication?
The decision to try medication should be made carefully and involve thorough discussion and assessment. The first step is to identify the target symptoms and determine their impact on daily functioning. If the symptom/behavior is new, it is important to first rule out a medical cause for the behavior (such as illness, headache, constipation, reflux, Read full post »
Whether you are travelling near or far this holiday season, here are some helpful tips to make travelling with your child with autism successful from Seattle Children’s Autism Center behavioral specialist, Ron Thomson.
Gather information and organize documentation:
• Emergency fact sheet: This is a document that is carried in a secure spot, often with other travel documents. A typical format is an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper (perfect for slipping into a clear sheet protector) that contains essential information. Common information to be included is name, contact information, diagnosis, pertinent health Read full post »
There are a number of scenarios that my brain automatically refuses to consider and if I was the superstitious type, I’d believe that I’m about to jinx things by now naming some of them. Of course, they all have to do with my child with severe autism and the scariest ones have to do with situations that arise out of nowhere, with little time to respond, such as an earthquake or other natural disaster.
Life has a way of giving us reminders, both big and small about the wisdom of planning ahead for such things. Hurricane Katrina’s effect on my family in New Orleans was a big one. With their house under eight feet of water, they found themselves displaced for months and while it was hard on everyone, it was particularly so for my nephew with special needs. Read full post »
My son has autism. His name is Arthur and he is 13 years old.
I have found over the years that my life shrinks and expands in direct proportion to what kind of day my child is having. And nothing causes my world to contract more drastically than a disastrous outing to the grocery store with Arthur. The vibrant colors and overwhelming choice in the mustard section alone can be overwhelming for me. Imagine how the cereal aisle must be for Arthur.
When Arthur is in sensory overload, confused or frustrated, he becomes dysregulated. This can translate into a screaming, pinching himself or others, bolting toward exits, or knocking over displays. How do other shoppers tell the difference between a child with a disability behaving in a way that is consistent with his or her diagnosis or an out-of-control bratty kid with lazy parents? They can’t and I experience the disapproving glares and the “tsk-tsk” to prove it.
I’ve abandoned shopping baskets filled with groceries, lurched after propelled carts, apologized for watermelons that served as bowling balls and quietly placed half-eaten candy bars on the conveyor belt. Read full post »