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EVERY CHILD ISSUE

‘But she looks so normal’ 7 parents of kids with special needs share their stories

OCTOBER 2017

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inside OCTOBER 2017 EVERY CHILD ISSUE

PHOTO COURTESY KRISTIN JARVIS ADAMS

There Are No Other People’s Children FEATURE • PAGE 13

45 CUT THIS OUT

6  PLAY LIST

Parenting Children with Special Needs Tips from a parent who has been there

October Is a Great Month To . . .

46 SOMEONE YOU SHOULD KNOW

8  DEAR READER

Why This Is One of My Favorite Issues

10 CRIB NOTES

From Recent Research to GaGa Gear Expectant and new parents, this is for you

Autism Expert Wendy Stone, Ph.D.

Out + About

29

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learning

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29 L  OOK! UP IN THE AIR!

Kids of Soar in Local Circus Programs

COVER PHOTO BY EMILY P. LAWSIN

Growing Health Newsletter

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10

DOES ONLINE LEARNING WORK? GUIDE INSIDE

Learn how classrooms are going digital 21

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6 • October 2017 • parentmap.com

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parentmap.com • October 2017 • 7


note

ADOLESCENCE ISN’T EASY. HAVING SOMEONE TO TALK TO CAN HELP.

Why This Is One of My Favorite Issues

E

very year, I look forward to this issue. Don’t get me wrong — I love every ParentMap issue but there’s something extra special about our October edition. This month, our stories get new life during one of

our organization’s major events: the Every Child Resource Fair and lecture at the University of Washington (parentmap.com/everychild). For those who don’t know, Every Child is a one-two punch of parenting information. The first half of the event is a free fair that offers the best of the best in local resources for atypical learners. The second half features

IS IT ADD? OR SOMETHING ELSE?

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From cradle

our work at ParentMap. This issue is no exception when it

comes to sharing the best and brightest information. On p. 13, you’ll find a series of seven essays written by moms and dads of children with special needs. What’s their day-to-day like? What advice do they have for families? Hear it straight from them. On p. 35, enjoy a piece about navigating the education system when your child has special needs. This story comes from ParentMap managing editor, Jody Allard, who candidly and beautifully shares her experience as the mother of a daughter with autism. Seriously, don’t miss this story. We’re going to the circus in our beloved Out + About section (p. 29)

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(p. 10) and break out the scissors for this month’s Cut This Out (p. 45). So, get going! There’s so much to explore in this issue, online at parentmap.com and at our live events. And no matter how you enjoy ParentMap, remember: From cradle to college, we’re right here with you.

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ParentMap

October 2017, Vol. 15, No. 10 PUBLISHER/EDITOR Alayne Sulkin

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all about baby Find Your Village Being a new parent can be really ALLI ARNOLD

Notes

isolating, but baby, we’ve got your back. Sign up for our weekly eNews for the best in outings advice ’cause parenting is a trip!

h

parentmap.com/enews

From Recent Research to Gaga Gear

Sleep? It’s Possible

Q: My 2-month-old seems to nurse all night long. Help! A: During the first two months of life, babies may nurse every 15 to 60 minutes, particularly from around 8 p.m. to midnight. This feeding may feel constant, but it allows baby to take advantage of Mom’s nursing hormones that peak at night, boosting bonding during a time when you aren’t distracted by work or other children. It also transmits melatonin to the baby via breastmilk, which paves the way for more regular sleep patterns in the coming months. During these early months, sleeping close to baby can help minimize sleep disruption; the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends putting baby to sleep in a separate crib in the parents’ bedroom. Napping while baby naps during the day can help new moms feel rested enough to function. Take heart — this temporary phase will soon be a distant memory. Sleep on, Malia Jacobson Author of Sleep Tight, Every Night. Read her sleep column at parentmap.com/sleep.

Have You Heard?

W

e’re loving these modified toy cars from Oregon State University. They pack a one-two

punch: Kids with disabilities get to have fun and move around independently. other uses a pitching machine to throw foam balls. Both help kids develop physical and motor skills. Bonus: Research shows that the children who use them interact more with their peers. Can we get a ride?

10 • October 2017 • parentmap.com

OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

One design encourages the driver to stand; the


Get Out of the House If you have a baby with special needs, leaving the security of home might see more work than it’s worth. But give one of these special outings a try. On our list: Seattle Children’s Playgarden, sensory storytimes and Snohomish County’s first universally accessible park. Get out there: parentmap.com/special-outings

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SMILE FOR THE CAMERA Make a montage of your child’s early years? There’s an app for that. Add a photo, twoto three-second video and a selfie of your baby everyday to MyBabyMy and soon enough you’ve got a movie worth sharing. The calendar function is pretty handy, too. mybabymy.com

AN APP THAT TRACKS CONTRACTIONS Meet Bloomlife, a smartphone app that allows moms to track and record contractions (even those they may not feel!). Everything you never knew you wanted to know about uterine activity, from frequency and duration to patterns and trends: bloomlife.com parentmap.com • October 2017 • 11


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feature

There Are No Other People’s Children

O

7 Essays Written for Parents, by Parents ctober is a special month here at ParentMap. Every

By reading these essays, we hope you see some of yourself.

year, we publish what we call the Every Child issue

What struggles are they facing that you can relate to? Which joys

in tandem with one of our biggest events: the Every

have they known that you too understand? These stories remind

Child Resource Fair at the University of Washington (parentmap.

us that when it comes to parenting, there are no other people’s

com/everychild). Both the issue and the free resource fair celebrate

children. We’re all in this together.

>>

and support families with children of all abilities. This year, we decided to get the story straight from them. What follows is a collection of personal essays written by parents. Some have children with autism. Others with dyslexia and Down syndrome. One mom has ADHD, diagnosed at age 34. All of them are

EDITOR’S NOTE Join ParentMap on a year-long conversation to explore how families and schools can nurture empathy, mindfulness and kindness. parentmap.com/raisingkind

Raising

q KIND

dedicated to unconditionally loving and supporting their children. parentmap.com • October 2017 • 13


feature There Are No Other People’s Children continued from page 13

The Secret Language of Chickens How a family pet helped a boy communicate By Kristin Jarvis Adams

M

14 • October 2017 • parentmap.com

“Well, neither are you!’’ she argued, sticking out her tongue. I smiled through tears as I watched my children play in a most unusual way. It was remarkable that under such dire circumstances we had once again found a way to create our own version of normal. After that day, the iPad stayed close to Andrew’s bed. While he slept, we played recordings of the chickens chatting softly in the coop. When he was awake, he talked to Frightful, and Frightful kept listening to the sound of his voice. Hannah’s brilliant idea turned out to be the perfect medicine for two best friends, a boy and a chicken, who missed each other terribly. Three years later, at the age of 19, Andrew returned to high school after a life-saving bone marrow transplant cured his rare immune disorder. At graduation, he delivered a speech titled “Why I Think Chickens Have Autism.” He told a spellbound audience why chickens look at you with their beak instead of their eyes, and why they like to be near others, but not forced to play their games. He told them why chickens prefer to be quiet unless they have something important to say, and in sharing, he revealed the secrets of chicken whispering — secrets I tried to capture in my own tale about Andrew and Frightful in the book The Chicken Who Saved Us. By watching Andrew share his truth with Frightful, we learned how to speak his language. And because his sister had an extraordinary idea, we were able to peel away layers of anxiety and fear as we built a special family language of our own — even if that meant turning our arms into wings and chanting “Bockety-bock-bock!”

KRISTIN JARVIS ADAMS

y son has little use for human conversation. Andrew has autism and he prefers to communicate through halfsentences, videos, pictures and the fine art of chicken whispering — the language he uses while playing with his favorite feathered friends, our pet chickens. Although their conversations often leave me baffled, the day I overheard him tell his favorite chicken that his body was trying to kill him, the message was crystal clear. “The pain is twisty. Like this,” he said to Frightful, mashing his fists together in front of him, rotating one forward and one back. I was shocked, but the little hen regarded him with her kind, yellow lizard eyes, and I could tell she understood. Soon afterward, Andrew developed a mysterious group of symptoms that lasted for as long as 10 days every month. High fevers, ulcers and unexplained pain brought us to the emergency room at Seattle Children’s Hospital on a regular basis. The doctors couldn’t determine the cause, and my 8-year-old son couldn’t describe his pain in ways we could understand. For the next eight years, we desperately searched for a cure to the disease that was killing our son. My husband and I watched as Andrew became deathly silent, disappearing into the pain. While her brother languished in a hospital bed, our 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, hatched a plan to get him to speak. She wired an iPad to the side of the chicken coop where Frightful liked to dust herself and asked me to set an iPad in the bed next to Andrew. I waited, listening for the magical vroom of the line making a FaceTime connection. “Chick-a-DEE!!” Andrew said when he saw Frightful. The chicken stood up and clucked as Andrew caressed the screen with his finger.

“It’s scary in here, Frightful. But you understand. You know how I feel,” he said. I wondered why Andrew never talked to me like that. What was so special about Frightful that made her my son’s confidante? “Frightful has superpowers,” Andrew said, turning to look at me. “She makes me better.” Frightful paced back and forth across the screen, making a series of soft chirps and coos. Suddenly, Hannah’s face loomed into view, an impish grin curving at the edge of her mouth. “Bock-bock! Bockety-bock! I am the queen of the roost!” she sang as we watched her flap her arms and dance around the coop. The chickens scattered in noisy protest. “Stop that, you noob!” Andrew said, clapping a hand over his eyes. “You’re not a chicken!”

Kristin Jarvis Adams is the author of The Chicken Who Saved Us: The Remarkable Story of Andrew and Frightful, published by Behler Publications. Learn more at kristinjarvisadams.com.


Dangling Without a Diagnosis Moving forward on an unclear path By Kimberley Bryan

M

y 7-year-old son Casey does physically unable to do gymnastics. I couldn’t By the time Casey turned 6, he had visited not have a learning disability. provide it. a speech therapist, received floor-model He is not, as far as we know, It was the first of many times we were asked occupational therapy (OT), been tested for autistic. He does not have ADHD or ADD. for Casey’s diagnosis. Everyone wants to know seizures, had a psychological assessment He may be gifted, have pathological demand — family, friends, teachers, administrators, for giftedness, had his cortisol levels tested, avoidance, be bipolar or have PANDAS specialists, camp counselors, cashiers, strangers visited a pediatric neurologist, received (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric — what does he have? OT from another therapy center and had Disorders Associated with Streptococcal We are trying to answer that question, been part of a program at the University of Infections). He has sensory issues, which but we don’t know. I’ve begun to bristle Washington (UW). may be sensory processing disorder. He when I’m asked; I don’t like the feeling that Meanwhile, we were going through the experiences anxiety. He struggles with our funny, complex and creative son is seen process for individualized education program social-emotional regulation and transitions. as nothing more than a diagnosis. People’s (IEP) testing. Every form asked if Casey had a He has low frustration tolerance, diagnosis. We still didn’t have one. obsessive compulsions, vocalizations Instead, we had letters from his and tics. He has a difficult time with preschool teachers, occupational uncertainty, perceived chaos and not therapists, psychologists, the UW being in control. Over the past five and us. In March, every private years, we’ve gained a lot of insight Our journey with Casey has, school we applied to turned us into our son. What we don’t have is a by necessity, morphed from one down. The very next month, Casey diagnosis. had his IEP assessment for Seattle of ‘fixing the problem’ to one of From the time Casey started Public Schools. It was denied. “A exhibiting episodes of rage at age 2, ‘understanding and accommodating.’ formal diagnosis,” the staff told us, we’ve been searching for answers. “would have helped him.” We’re used to operating under Last year, we enrolled Casey the assumption that there is an in public school without an IEP. identifiable problem, and a solution, We were anxious; we knew he’d yet our journey with Casey has, need assistance. But we’d learned a lot about decision on how to treat Casey seems to hang by necessity, morphed from one of “fixing there, waiting, until we provide an answer. what helped Casey, so we were hopeful. But the problem” to one of “understanding and Autism? Now I understand why he won’t hug by December, Casey was spending more time accommodating.” me. Asperger’s? I noticed that he was socially Casey’s struggles began with a bang. Our in the office than in the classroom. He was awkward. Sensory processing? My niece youngest and only boy, Casey amazed us with overwhelmed by anxiety. The first week of doesn’t like certain socks, too. his energy. We were also blindsided by his January, we withdrew him from public school. Such stereotyping based on diagnosis is violent explosions. By his second year at day Now, when I tell people that we homeobviously fraught, but this isn’t quite our care, his provider told us she didn’t know what school Casey, they often say, “Ah. What does situation. We don’t have a diagnosis for people to do for him. I stopped working full-time, and he have?” We don’t know. But we do know to stereotype; what we have are explanations. we pulled him out of day care. one thing Casey has: Us. We’re on this climb It’s like being asked what the mechanic fixed We tried different things, like gymnastics. together, left dangling without a diagnosis but on our car. Instead of saying “a cracked head Casey didn’t make it all the way into the not falling. gasket,” we say, “It started acting funny, then gym before having a meltdown that took Kimberley Bryan is a mom of three and white smoke blew out, and we had to pull more than six hours to end. When I asked stepmom to two. She recently entered the the facility for a refund, its staff said they over.” People look at us strangely and ask required a doctor’s note indicating Casey was amazing world of home schooling with her son. >> again, “OK, but what was the problem?”

parentmap.com • October 2017 • 15


feature

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16 • October 2017 • parentmap.com

There Are No Other People’s Children continued from page 15

Parenting in the Present Why special needs aren’t so special By William Kenower

I

have two sons. Max, my oldest, was on the debate team in high school, gave a speech at graduation, attended American University and now has a job at a film production company in Washington, D.C., where he lives with his girlfriend of three years. He was also unbelievably difficult to parent when he was young. As my wife puts it, he was like a CEO without a company to run. It took him until he was about 10 before he fully understood that my wife and I — not him — were in charge of the house. After that, I’m happy to report, it got much easier to parent him. My younger son, Sawyer, was the opposite. Most of the time, he just wanted to play by himself. In fact, that’s all he wanted to do — a habit so acute that it contributed to his autism diagnosis at age 7. After that, things got much less simple. There were different therapies, individualized education program (IEP) meetings and outbursts in stores and at family gatherings. It’s easy to assume that we parent Max and Sawyer differently. There are, of course, some differences. When they were younger, Max always needed us to do things for him, and there was always so much negotiation. Sawyer, meanwhile, just wanted be left alone; we spent a lot time figuring out how to get him to do something, anything, with us.

And as the resident chauffeur, I was always driving them somewhere: Max to Pokémon tournaments, debate competitions and movies with friends; Sawyer to occupational therapy, speech therapy or whatever new therapy we were trying that year. As for school, Max was doing all his homework in his room with the door closed by the time he was in middle school; we were not allowed to help him. For Sawyer, my wife and I have been the ones teaching him — day in, day out — for the past five years. But these differences are misleading. In reality, I’ve parented both my boys in precisely the same way: by asking myself, “What is the best thing I can do at this very moment?” That’s it, really. The fact that I come up with different answers for my different sons is not particularly important. “What is the best thing I can do at this very moment?” is a great question because it simplifies things. When you have a child with what’s typically categorized as “special needs,” it’s easy to become overwhelmed; their “special” needs seem to ask more of you as a parent. But the only question I can ever answer authoritatively is what I should do at this very moment. The rest is conjecture and noise. Parenting is often an attempt to predict the future, to sow seeds in the present that will grow into


Every Child Resource Fair Oct. 19 parentmap.com /everychild

future successes for your children. That they may fail to find love or make a living or thrive or be happy is unthinkable. You love them and want them to be as happy as a person can be. But their lives wait for them out there in the shadowy future — a future that can seem even dimmer when your child is on the autism spectrum. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that future at all.

A R T S 3 Special Outings for Families with Special Needs

What is the best thing I can do at this moment?

” +

There’s always the next moment, just as ready and useful and available as the last, and just as ready and useful and available as all our moments will be into the friendly future.

I know because I’ve tried. From time to time, I find myself squinting into Sawyer’s future, and I come away dizzy. But I never go wrong when I bring my attention back to the present, back to where I actually am and where he actually is and ask myself what the present moment wants from me. Sometimes, I don’t like the answer and I make a mess of things. No matter.

William Kenower is the author of Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence and a sought-after speaker and teacher. >>

A C T I V I T I E S Childhood Anxiety and

ADHD:

A Whole Family Approach

OCT 19

SEATTLE CHILDRENS PLAYGARDEN

From accessible, adventurous playgrounds to sensory-friendly museums, there are so many places to explore with your special kid around Puget Sound. We’ve got a few great recommendations to get you started: SEATTLE CHILDREN’S PLAYGARDEN IN SEATTLE All children deserve an opportunity to play, and making that possible for kids with disabilities and special needs is the mission of the Seattle Children’s PlayGarden. This fully-accessible public playground engages kids with Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, hearing or vision impairments and other disabilities in ways a typical playground does not. MINER'S CORNER PARK IN BOTHELL Miner's Corner, Snohomish County's first universally accessible park, opened in 2013. The park emphasizes a full sensory experience in natural surroundings, and plenty of adventure. It’s worth a visit!

See pg 47

Full Musical Productions Performing Arts Preschool

parentmap.com/ everychild 1017_every child_1-16.indd 1

Acting • Music • Dance • Camps

Ages 3-14 seattleslittlestperformers.com

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SAVANNAH'S PLACE IN BRADLEY LAKE PARK IN PUYALLUP This beloved, inclusive park is fully ramped with a padded play surface and offers music play, accessible swing seats, lots of ground-level play and shade structures. Take a nature break and stroll a walking trail, visit the lake or have a picnic. For even more outing ideas, visit parentmap.com/special-outings. — Lauren Braden

parentmap.com • October 2017 • 17


feature There Are No Other People’s Children continued from page 17

Undercover Expertise A mom on trusting her gut By Veronica Smith-Casem

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ne spring evening, I watched our I’ll admit I had strong beliefs about what son carefully deliberate before it means to be “smart.” Smart kids read and laboriously — yet confidently — write well. Smart kids manage time and writing the letter “b.” He was 9 years old, and projects well. Smart kids do well in school. this wasn’t a simple alphabet practice sheet. Agreeing that our son was smart, my This was a third-grade assignment, and that was husband and I simply couldn’t see why he just one letter in an entire was falling behind word, which was just one academically. word in an entire sentence! Unable to accept For years, homework that both realities had been a fight. Our could be possible, we son’s most frequent battle I am not a concluded our son cry was “I can’t do this! must be stubborn trained expert I’m stupid!” Homework and unmotivated. in every field, that should have taken 20 We had no idea that minutes took two hours. but I am an identification of “It has to be done,” my learning disabilities expert when husband would tell our may include a person’s it comes to son. “Besides,” I’d chime unexpectedly low in, “you’re smart. If you’d my child. academic achievement started working when you compared to his or began complaining, you’d her IQ. be done by now!” Not to mention, But that particular I thought we’d done evening — graced with everything “right” to authenticity instead of attitude — my son and promote language development. Talk to the I worked together without the usual hostility. baby throughout the day? Check. Library Seeing him put so much effort into thinking story time? Check. Music and movement about and forming a single letter — a skill activities? Check. In effect, I unintentionally I knew his peers had long ago mastered — treated those recommendations as forced me to acknowledge a persistent knot preventative measures against learning in my gut: Maybe reading and writing truly difficulties. were hard for him. Maybe something could At our son’s school, my husband and I explain these problems. casually shared our concerns, each time receiving reassurance that he was a great kid and reading would eventually “just About eight months later, a neuropsychologist click.” This took the edge off our worry, diagnosed our son with dyslexia, dysgraphia but didn’t fully relieve the unease in my and ADD. That journey is itself a story, but gut. In hindsight, we put more weight on this story is about how I let my presumptions, those reassurances than they may have books, school and the internet interfere with deserved. my instincts.

***

18 • October 2017 • parentmap.com

When my husband and I first wondered about the possibility of dyslexia, I dismissed it because our son didn’t show all the “symptoms” on various online checklists. He wasn’t a late talker and could recite the alphabet before preschool. He didn’t bump into things and could easily catch a ball. He had no trouble remembering the names of things and kept up when we talked to him. At this point, it was easy to explain away even the “symptoms” that did fit our son. Does he skip over or replace words while reading? Yes, but that’s because he’s going too fast. Can’t remember how to say a word he read on the previous page? Yes, but he’s just not paying attention. Mispronounces words? Sometimes, but his vocabulary is beyond his peers, so that’s probably all right. Spells common words phonetically (but incorrectly)? Yes, but since that shows he understands phonics, I don’t see why this is on the list. Of course, the checklists weren’t meant as diagnostic tools, but I think that’s how I viewed them.

*** It’s been more than four years since I finally listened to my gut that spring evening over homework. I’ve gotten better at noticing and naming the feelings and thoughts that underlie any new hunch. I’ve also realized that I’m not a trained expert in every field, but I am an expert when it comes to my child. At every opportunity, I tell parents as much: You know more than you think. A mom to two exceptional kiddos, Veronica Smith-Casem is an attorney who currently tilts her work-life balance toward supporting her son’s education, which combines home school and public school.


It’s Not a Catastrophe Learning to cope, one year at a time By Nancy Schatz Alton

T

he dentist said my daughter might need to be sedated for her first cavity fillings. “We can try using laughing gas, but your daughter gets nervous, right? We don’t do sedation, but you can find a dentist who does.” “Yes, she’s nervous, but she’ll be fine. I trust you,” I said. As I hung up the phone, I wondered if the dentist was right. My Annie was anxious. Perhaps fear would take over her body when the needle loomed over her. Was I making the right decision by refusing to research any more options before her first cavity procedure? The dentist wasn’t wrong to worry. I’ve been trying to figure out how to help my sensitive girl for a long time. Annie and I weathered the storm of repeating kindergarten, and we’ve done years of therapy and tutoring. While Annie has never undergone private testing that would, potentially, provide specific labels, there’s no ignoring that her learning struggles share similarities to dyslexia, dyscalculia and sensory processing issues. In the beginning, I struggled with seeing how different she was from most of her classmates. During her kindergarten holiday concert, Annie froze on stage for nearly the entire show. From the audience, I willed her to move. Around me, families smiled, intently using their phones

FILM SCREENINGS

See pg 34

parentmap.com/angst

and cameras to record the show. The light was startling. “What the hell?” I whispered to my husband. “Who are they recording this for?” After the show, Annie’s teacher said the evening must have been one crowded, overwhelming event too much for my girl to manage. This soothed me some, but my husband was upset. “What is wrong with her?” he asked. “Why can’t she just sing like everybody else?” “Nothing is wrong with her!” I replied. “Of course she was a mess! Who wouldn’t be with all of those cameras going off? I’m sick of seeing her as a problem.” My fury surprised me, as I’d long been asking the same questions that he had: Why couldn’t Annie be like everybody else? Why did I have to spend my mornings coaxing her to attend school and my afternoons calming her enough to go to tutoring? But, in that moment after the concert, I realized something: I was done. I would no longer make every hard minute a catastrophe. I would stop wishing that Annie’s learning differences would disappear. In that moment, I saw her for who she is and I decided to help, not resist, that person. That’s why, a few days before our recent trip to the dentist, I talked Annie through every detail. She cried. I answered all of her questions. I bought her

How she walks in this world — that's what matters.

” some music for my iPhone, which she could listen to during the filling procedure. “You’ve got this,” I told her right before the appointment, because I know my girl. And she did. She easily made it through her first cavity filling, no sedation needed. Learning disabilities and anxiety aren’t the problem. How she walks in this world — that's what matters. Nancy Schatz Alton writes poetry and essays, and works on her memoir about her daughter’s learning journey. Read more of her work at withinthewords.com.

>>

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Learning here IS fun and games Appointments available in Seattle/Wallingford, Bellevue, and West Seattle

206-547-2500 • carolray@aol.com • www.pediatricspeechtherapy.org 206-547-2500 • info@pediatricspeechtherapy.org • www.pediatricspeechtherapy.org parentmap.com • October 2017 • 19


feature There Are No Other People’s Children continued from page 19

My Daughter’s Superpower

A mother’s diagnosis helps inform her daughter’s By Pauline Campos

I

What I can try

used to ground my daughter for being autistic. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know this, or that she wasn’t diagnosed until she was 9. If I had known that anxiety and insomnia are common issues for children on the spectrum, I would never have punished her for being willful and refusing to sleep. I would never have accused her of not trying hard enough when she struggled with homework, because what looked like laziness was actually the result of something she couldn’t control. I would never have grounded her for public meltdowns; I would have comforted her when she was overstimulated. I wish I would have opened my eyes sooner and believed her when she told me she wasn’t doing any of it on purpose. I wish I could take it all back and not feel guilty for having made her feel “less than.” But I can’t. What I can do is try to do better from here on out. I’m grateful for my own experience of being diagnosed with severe ADHD as an adult. It’s what finally gave me the insight I needed to truly see my child, empathize with her and educate myself. If I hadn’t been diagnosed with ADHD, I don't think my daughter would have been diagnosed with high-functioning autism. I would have just nodded my head, setting

aside my suspicions when friends texted links to articles about similarities between the gifted and autistic. I would have said things like “You’re right” and “What was I thinking?” when people asked me why I would want to chance sticking a label on my child for life. “Something like that will always follow her,” they’d say when I discussed my thoughts about seeking an evaluation. Or: “Even if you’re right — and I’m not saying you are — but even if you are, why would you do that?” I’d then remind them that I had a label. I’d never made a secret of my own diagnosis. “Yeah,” they’d say, “but that’s different.” I never could see how. So, I kept pushing, voicing my concerns to my daughter’s pediatricians year after year until one finally listened. I wasn’t trying to make a big deal out of nothing or looking for a problem that wasn’t there, I told this doctor. I just knew something was wrong, and I know all too well how different my life would have been if I had been diagnosed with ADHD as a child rather than as a 34-year-old — how I would have understood sooner and struggled less. “I would rather push for her evaluation now than ignore my suspicions and have her call me when she’s 34 to tell me that she was just diagnosed with high-functioning autism,” I

to do is try to do better from here on out.

” told the doctor. “What could I say if she were to ask me why it took 34 years for answers?” The doctor nodded reassuringly. I breathed easier. She understood and agreed with my suspicions. It would be irresponsible not to have my daughter evaluated for autism, she said. I’ve always tried to show my daughter that I’m not ashamed of my diagnosis. If I hadn’t, I don’t think she would have left her evaluation for autism with a smile. I’ve always said that ADHD is my superpower; I wasn’t surprised when she said autism is hers. Pauline Campos is an artist, “Aspie mom” and author of Be Your Own F*cking Sunshine: An Inspirational Journal for People Who Like to Swear. She lives in Minnesota, but will always be from Detroit. Find her at Aspiring Mama (aspiringmama. com) and on Twitter (@Pauline_Campos).

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20 • October 2017 • parentmap.com

SINCE 1987


‘But She Looks So Normal! ’ Reflections from a mom of an Asian American child who has Down syndrome By Emily P. Lawsin

“D

EMILY P. LAWSIN

o you want to keep the baby? If to specialists and our area’s local Down syndrome you want to terminate, you are organization. We quickly learned how each running out of time to legally do state has different procedures but is required to that in this state,” said the doctor subbing for my implement federal laws designed to help children obstetrician. Genetic tests, he’d just explained, with disabilities. showed a 98 percent positive screening that the Despite these positive steps, I couldn’t sleep. baby in my belly would be born with Down I worried about work. I felt out of breath just syndrome. I was shocked at his question. walking to work. Eventually, my blood pressure My world, it seemed, was falling apart: We was so high, I had to be induced. were under a lot of stress at work and Spouse’s job When “KK,” as I’ll call her, was born, she had was in jeopardy. Shaken by this latest news about to stay in the hospital for nearly a week due to the baby, I curled up in a ball, rocking back and complications including jaundice and abnormal forth, crying and worrying about how the world platelet counts. After she was released, a Down would treat a Filipina Japanese American girl syndrome specialist heard a faint heart murmur. with Down syndrome. An echocardiogram showed a “ventricular septal Spouse and I, like many defect,” or a hole in KK’s Asian Americans, have heart. There was a chance, the experienced all sorts of cardiologist said, that the hole racism and microagressions would close, so we held off on growing up in Seattle and surgery. What does Los Angeles, and working in In addition to all of Michigan. We teach ethnic the doctors’ visits, we ‘normal’ studies, so we wanted to read were regularly seeing an mean to you? everything there was about occupational therapist to Asian Americans and Down teach KK how to suck and syndrome. drink more. Still, she sweated We found very little, and tired easily, and didn’t except for the annoying gain much weight (a sign that fact that in 1866, Dr. John the hole wasn’t closing). At 6 Langdon Down called people with the condition months, a second cardiologist confirmed what “mongoloids,” claiming that their facial features we’d hoped to avoid: KK needed heart surgery, resembled those of people from Mongolia, or sooner rather than later. Asians. The term stuck. It wasn’t until the 1960s The chief of cardiac surgery, who also that the World Health Organization accepted happened to be Asian American, guided us through what to expect. In a predominantly the name “Down syndrome” (after Dr. Down) as white city, it’s rare to find a pediatric surgeon standard terminology after a group of doctors and of color; I felt grateful to not have to deal with a delegation from Mongolia objected to the terms stereotypical questions like, “Do you need a of “mongol” and “mongoloids.” translator?” He and his medical team, along with After the initial shock of our daughter’s our family and friends, supported us through the diagnosis wore off, we learned a lot from our four-hour surgery and two months of recovery. friends, especially the authors and disability These days, KK is a thriving 3-year-old. She rights activists Janice Fialka, Richard Feldman eats. She drinks. She climbs the furniture and and Micah Fialka-Feldman. They introduced us

tries to run. With the scar on her chest hidden under clothing, you wouldn’t know that she had heart surgery unless someone told you. Still, that doesn’t keep strangers from sharing their opinions. There’s plenty of “Oh, can I touch her hair?” or “Can I take a picture of her because she looks just like a China doll?!” “Uh, NO!” we tell these random people, quickly walking away, not wanting to engage in another lesson on microaggressions. But the hardest comments? Those come from people we’ve just met, and sometimes loved ones, who say, “You know, when I look at her, she looks so NORMAL! You can’t even tell that she had heart surgery. You can’t even tell that she has Down syndrome!” Sometimes when I’m exhausted, I just nod and smile, convincing myself that they don’t mean it maliciously. Other times, I seize the teachable moment and say, “REALLY? What does ‘normal’ mean to you?” Emily P. Lawsin is a performance poet from Seattle, lecturer at the University of Michigan and vice president of the Filipino American National Historical Society. n parentmap.com • October 2017 • 21


october

BRIGITTE WERNER/PIXABAY

AMY ELIZABETH QUINN/PIXABAY

ANDREW MARTIN/PIXABAY

PICKS BrickCon, Oct. 7–8

‘Childhood Anxiety and ADHD’ lecture and learning differences resource fair, Oct. 19

Cedar River Salmon Journey, weekends Oct. 7–29

PIPER HANSON

Pumpkin patch guide: parentmap.com/pumpkins

SUNDAY

MONDAY

TUESDAY

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Sausage Fest. Carnival rides, crafts, kids’ activities and a family entertainment stage with a Bavarian theme. Friday–Sunday, Sept. 29–Oct.1. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Everett. everettsausagefest.com Fire Day. The Seattle Fire Department helps tots learn fire safety, try on firefighter gear and more. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. FREE; does not include full museum admission. Museum of History & Industry, Seattle. mohai.org

Let’s Play: Rapunzel. Little ones are invited to enjoy an excitement-filled show for young attention spans. Oct. 2 and 5–7, 10 a.m. $5. Ages 0–5 with caregiver. Olympia Family Theater. olyft.org Low Sensory Play Time. Special play time features a limited number of participants and a calm environment. Sundays, 9 a.m.– 1 p.m., Mondays, Thursdays, noon– 2 p.m. $20; preregister. Ages 0–10 with adult. Roo’s World of Discovery, Kirkland. roosworldofdiscovery.com ONGOING EVENT

Angst: Breaking the Stigma Around Anxiety. ParentMap presents a new documentary from IndieFlix, an exploration of anxiety in youth and tools for addressing it. 7 p.m. $15–$18. Ages 12 and up with families. Kirkland Performance Center. Additional screenings in Tacoma (Oct. 12), Shoreline (Oct. 25) and Seattle (Nov. 8). parentmap.com/angst

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Seattle Children’s Festival. “Celebrating Our Big Neighborhood” is the theme of this multi-cultural family-fest showcasing an array of music, dance and activities, presented by Northwest Folklife. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Suggested donation $10/person or $20/family. Seattle Center. nwfolklife.org Salmon Days Festival. Honor our region’s flagship fish with a parade, food and arts, and a super-cool Field of Fun for kids. Saturday–Sunday, October 7–8. FREE. Issaquah. salmondays.org

Carleton Farm. Visit the pumpkin patch to pick your pumpkin and try out the corn maze; additional activities on weekends. Daily through Oct. 31. Check website for prices; pumpkins for purchase. Lake Stevens. carletonfarm.com Discovery Backpacks. Grab a themed backpack filled with tools to experience nature in a whole new way. Daily, 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. FREE. Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center, Bellevue. parks.bellevuewa.gov

Detective Cookie’s Urban Chess Club. Drop in to learn and practice chess skills; new members always welcome. Tuesdays, 3–5 p.m. FREE. Ages 7 and up. Seattle Public Library, Rainier Beach Branch. spl.org ONGOING EVENT Classical Tuesdays in Old Town. Pacific Musicworks Underground performs as a part of Tacoma Arts Month. 7 p.m. FREE. Slavonian Hall, Tacoma. classicaltuesdays.blogspot.com

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Cedar River Salmon Journey. Witness spawning salmon work their way upstream in four locations. Saturday–Sunday, October 7–29, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. FREE. Renton Library, Cedar River Park, Cavanaugh Pond and Landsburg Park and Dam. seattleaquarium. org/salmon-journey Cast Off! Free Public Sail. Sign up in person for a boat ride on Lake Union; rides last 45–60 minutes. Sundays, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. FREE. All ages. Center for Wooden Boats, Seattle. cwb.org ONGOING EVENT

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Spy salmon returning to spawn in Issaquah Creek from the bridge or viewing windows at the hatchery, then head inside to learn more about salmon. Daily through mid-November. Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. issaquahfish.org Art Activity. Try a guided afternoon art activity. Daily, 3–4 p.m. Included with payas-you-will admission. Ages 8 and under with adult. Children’s Museum of Tacoma. playtacoma.org

Play to Learn. Kids and caregivers gather for community play and circle time around a weekly theme. Tuesdays, 10 a.m.; additional weekly times and locations. FREE. Ages 6 and under with adult. Puyallup Public Library. playtacoma.org Craven Farm Corn Maze. Find the secret rooms in the 15-acre, Alice-in-Pumpkinland-themed maze or check out the newly expanded Kid Maze. Daily through Oct. 31. $6–$8; ages 2 and under free. Craven Farm, Snohomish. cravenfarm.com

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Halloween Storytelling Train. Dress in your costume, sip some cider and hop aboard for a vintage train ride. Saturday– Sunday, Oct. 21–22, 28–29. $10–$20; under age 2 free. Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie. trainmuseum.org Apple Festival. Celebrate our state’s finest fruit with farm activities and fresh apples and pears to take home. Saturday–Sunday, through Oct. 29. Free entry; items for purchase. Lattin’s Country Cider Mill & Farm, Olympia. lattinscider.com

Lil’ Diggers Playtime. Favorite giant sandbox with digging in the sand for kids and wi-fi for grown-ups. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 9:30–11 a.m. or 11:30 a.m.– 1 p.m. $8. Ages 5 and under with caregiver. Sandbox Sports, Seattle. sandboxsports.net ONGOING EVENT Salmon SEEson. Hike a half-mile trail to view salmon spawning in Bear Creek; then visit Keep it Simple Farm. Daily through late October. FREE. KIS Farm, Redmond. govlink.org/watersheds/8

Carpinito Brothers Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze. Select the perfect pumpkin then head across the street for farm fun with goats, hay maze, corn bin and more. Free entry; pumpkins and activities for purchase. Daily through Oct. 31. Kent. carpinito.com Memory: Fragrant Flashbacks. Explore the scientific connection of smell and memory and create your own scents. Included with admission. Pacific Science Center, Seattle. pacificsciencecenter.org

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Día de Muertos. Celebrate the art, spirituality and traditions of Mexican culture while remembering the lives of departed loved ones. Saturday–Sunday, Oct. 28–29. FREE. Seattle Center. seattlecenter.com/festal The Tortoise and the Hare. A twist on this classic tale comes to life with music and pizazz. 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. performances. $15. Ages 3 and up with families. Renton Carco Theatre. storybooktheater.org

Maker Monday. Experiment with 3D modeling and try out the 3D printer. Mondays, 1–5 p.m. $5; printing material extra; preregister. Makers under 15 must be with adult. Future of Flight Aviation Center, Mukilteo. futureofflight.org ONGOING EVENT Halloween Spooktacular. Wear your costume for spooky, kooky science experiments, creepy cake walk and more. 5–8 p.m. $11–$15; preregister. KidsQuest Children’s Museum, Bellevue. kidsquestmuseum.org

Boo Bash at the Beach. Trick-or-treating, activities, music and more at this community Halloween event put on by the Rainier Beach Community Center. 4–7 p.m. All goblins welcome. Rainier Beach Safeway parking lot. Seattle. seattle.gov Halloween Hurrah. Tot-sized fun includes “boo-tanical” activities, games and treats. 4–7 p.m. $3 suggested donation. Ages 0–5 with families. W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, Tacoma. seymourconservatory.org

Seattle Children’s Festival, Oct. 8

22 • October 2017 • parentmap.com


WEDNESDAY

A Seattle Children’s Publication | Fall 2017

Depression in Children and Teens Depression among kids is more common than ever before. As parents and caregivers, we must be able to recognize the signs, take action and seek treatment if needed. Depression can affect children as young as preschool age, but it’s most typical during adolescence (roughly ages 11 to 17). One study found that between 2005 and 2014, the number of adolescents who had major depressive episodes increased by nearly a third. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an annual screening for depression for all children, starting at age 11. How is depression different from regular emotional ups and downs? It’s normal for kids to sometimes feel sad or less motivated to do the things they usually enjoy. But when these feelings aren’t just temporary—and when they

interfere with a child’s ability to do well in school, socialize with friends and take part in family activities—these are signs of depression. Anxiety is often part of a depressed mood, and is marked by feeling fearful, threatened or panicky with no clear cause.

40th Annual Festival of Trees Sunday, Nov. 19, 1 to 4 p.m. Fairmont Olympic Hotel 411 University Street, Seattle

Kick off the holiday season at this downtown display of designer Christmas trees. Each tree is dedicated to a Seattle Children’s Hospital patient. Guests enjoy live music, a holiday boutique and pictures with Santa.

to learn more:

For more information and to view and bid on the trees, please visit www.seattlefestivaloftrees.com.

Kids who are depressed will rarely start a conversation about how they are feeling. They may instead act withdrawn or irritable. If you suspect your child is depressed, talk openly with them and brainstorm ways to reduce their stress. Sticking to healthy habits can ease feelings of depression. Work with your child to ensure they get some daily exercise and enough quality sleep, and not too much screen time. A healthy diet is crucial, which also means avoiding caffeine and too much sugar. Stay tuned in to your child’s mood, and keep the conversation going. Keep in mind that these tactics may not be enough. You’ll need to take further action if you notice your child ‘dropping out’ of their life: not enjoying time with friends, quitting a team or doing poorly in school. In this case, talk with your pediatrician or primary care provider and ask for a referral for a mental health evaluation. If your child ever threatens self-harm, take them to the emergency department for an evaluation. Depression has nothing to do with a child’s strength or character. And it’s not a reflection of our parenting. It is a common condition that may require professional treatment. To learn more about how depression is diagnosed and treated at Seattle Children’s, visit the link provided below. to learn more:

Visit www.seattlechildrens.org/medicalconditions/brain-nervous-system-mentalconditions/depression.


Breast-fed Babies and Vitamin D Breast-feeding is strongly recommended for babies. Breast milk provides excellent nutrition plus other health benefits. But even breast-fed babies need a vitamin D supplement to ensure strong, healthy bones. A lack of this essential vitamin can cause health problems, including rickets. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that, beginning in the first few days of life, all breast-fed babies receive 400 IU (international units) of vitamin D

daily. Vitamin D for infants comes in a liquid-drop form, and is available without a prescription. Nursing moms themselves should also get at least 400 IU of vitamin D every day. Ask your baby’s doctor if you have any questions about vitamins and supplements. to learn more:

Visit www.seattlechildrens.org/safety-wellness/ newsletters/goodgrowing/Winter2016/#d.

Returning to Schoolwork After a Concussion If your child or teen has been diagnosed with a concussion, a healthcare provider should manage how soon they return to both playing and learning. A concussion may affect the ability to learn at school. Research shows it can be safe to resume learning fairly quickly—as long as the child follows some specific steps while under the care of someone who is specially trained to manage concussions. The steps start with reading, texting and screen time in small amounts, while remaining symptom-free. (If any activity makes your child feel worse, stop and rest until the symptoms get better.) The steps

continue with doing schoolwork at home, returning to school part-time, and then returning full-time. Adjustments may be needed at school such as being given more time on homework and tests, and taking more frequent breaks. For this reason, everyone involved—you, your child, their healthcare provider and their teachers—must communicate so that everyone understands and supports the plan for getting back to full participation in school. to learn more:

Visit www.seattlechildrens.org/concussion.

Weight bias is a tricky and dangerous form of discrimination. It’s so common, we may not even realize we are doing it. Weight bias (also known as weight stigma) happens when a person’s own negative beliefs and attitudes about body weight cause them to stereotype, pre-judge and reject others simply because they are overweight or obese. Imagine what overweight kids experience every day. They face weight bias from strangers, peers, teachers, the media—and often even their own family members and doctors. Being the target of weight bias harms a child’s well-being on all fronts: psychological, social, physical and academic. Among children, weight bias often triggers bullying in the form of teasing and excluding. It’s no surprise that

UCONN RUDD CENTER FOR FOOD POLICY & OBESITY

Together, We Can End Weight Bias

some kids who are overweight learn to dislike school and socializing. Putting an end to weight bias requires keen self-awareness and strong intentions. The first step (as with any bias) is to take an honest look at our own deep-seated beliefs and attitudes,

and how they ‘bubble up’ in what we say and do. Starting within our own families, we can begin by not making negative comments about any person’s body size or weight, including ourselves. We can also stop using words like ‘fat’ when we talk. We can teach our kids that we’re all the same inside, and we all deserve to be accepted and respected. We can make our homes a safe and welcoming place for people of all shapes and sizes. Then we can work to educate and influence our friends, our child’s school and our communities to put an end to weight bias. to learn more:

Visit http://www.ruddrootsparents.org/ weight-bias-and-bullying.


Kid Bits

Three Types of Forward-Facing Car Seats

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Tips for Safe Walking to School

When your child reaches the upper weight or height limit for their rear-facing car seat (around 2 years old or older), the next step is a forwardfacing seat. All forward-facing car seats feature a built-in harness system and a top tether to limit your child’s forward motion during a crash. A convertible seat simply changes from rear-facing to forward-facing. A combination seat transitions from a forward-facing seat to a booster seat—which raises the child high enough to use the car’s regular seat belt. An all-in-one seat changes from rear-facing to forward-facing, and finally to a booster seat when a child is big enough for one. Always read the instructions that come with your car seat as well as your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that’s created when fuel burns incompletely. It is invisible and has no odor. CO poisoning can cause people and pets to become suddenly ill and even die. Common causes of CO poisoning at home are heating equipment, cooking equipment, generators, and cars left running in attached garages. Install a CO alarm outside each sleeping area on each level of your home. Follow the maker’s instructions for placement and maintenance. Never use generators or grills (gas or charcoal) indoors; use them outside in a well-ventilated area away from windows, doors and vents. Finally, have your furnace inspected by a heating professional every year.

Walking to school is a great way to be active and avoid putting more cars on our busy roads. Teach your child to be a safe pedestrian by modeling smart safety habits. Narrate your actions aloud, so your child understands the reasons behind the habits. Put away phones and other distracting devices, and remove your earbuds. Cross only at crosswalks and corners, and always stop, look and listen. Help your child understand that many drivers are speeding or distracted—so wait until a car is fully stopped and then make sure the driver is watching before crossing. Remember that kids under age 10 should always cross with an adult, because they are not yet able to judge how fast traffic is approaching.

to learn more:

to learn more:

to learn more:

Visit www.safercar.gov/parents/CarSeats/

Visit www.cdc.gov/co/default.htm.

Visit www.safekids.org/tip/pedestrian-

Car-Seat-Safety.htm.

Quick Tip Everyone 6 months of age and

safety-tips. Regional Clinic Locations

Online Resources

• • • •

Visit www.seattlechildrens.org for the following: • Child Health Advice • my Good Growing email newsletter • Doctor Finder • Seattle Mama Doc, Teenology 101, Autism and On The Pulse blogs • Medical condition information • Safety & wellness information • Ways to help Seattle Children’s • Research Institute information

Bellevue Everett Federal Way Mill Creek

• Olympia • Tri-Cities • Wenatchee

Primary Care Clinic

older should get a flu vaccine

• Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic

every season. Schedule your

Main Hospital Numbers

family’s shots today.

206-987-2000 866-987-2000 (Toll-free)

www.facebook.com/seattlechildrens www.instagram.com/seattlechildrens

www.twitter.com/seattlechildren www.youtube.com/seattlechildrens

Heather Cooper is the Editor of Good Growing, which is produced four times a year by the Marketing Communications Department of Seattle Children’s. You can find Good Growing in the January, April, July and October issues of ParentMap and on our website www.seattlechildrens.org. For permission to reprint articles for noncommercial purposes or to receive Good Growing in an alternate format, call 206-987-5323. The inclusion of any resource or website does not imply endorsement. Your child’s needs are unique. Before you act or rely upon information, please talk with your child’s healthcare provider. © 2017 Seattle Children’s, Seattle, Washington.


Classes and Events To register or view more information, please visit www.seattlechildrens.org/classes. A phone number is provided for those without Internet access. No one will be denied admission if unable to pay the full amount. If you need an interpreter, please let staff know when you register. These classes are popular and often fill up several months in advance, so register early. PARENTING CLASSES Autism 101 WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 26, 7 to 8:30 p.m. FEE: Free WHERE: Seattle Children’s main campus, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle CALL: 206-987-8080 For parents and caregivers of children recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder who wish to better understand this disorder. The class is also available through Children’s video and teleconferencing outreach program in various locations throughout Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

Autism 200 Series Autism 209: Early Intervention in Autism: An Overview of the Seattle Children’s Autism Center Model WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 19, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Heartsaver First Aid, CPR and AED WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 2, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. FEE: $60 WHERE: Seattle Children’s main campus 4800 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle CALL: 206-987-2304 For parents and caregivers. Topics include how to treat bleeding, sprains, broken bones, shock and other first-aid emergencies. Also includes infant, child and adult CPR and AED use.

PRETEEN AND TEEN CLASSES 4 Better Babysitters locations WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 4, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. WHERE: Pavilion for Women & Children, 900 Pacific Ave., Everett WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 19, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. WHERE: Overlake Medical Center, 1035 116th Ave. NE, Bellevue

Autism 210: Autism From a Sibling’s Perspective: A Panel Discussion WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 16, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. WHERE: Seattle Children’s South Clinic, 34920 Enchanted Pkwy. S., Federal Way

FEE: Free WHERE: Seattle Children’s main campus, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle CALL: 206-987-8080

WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 3, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. WHERE: Seattle Children’s admin. building, 6901 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle

For parents and caregivers of children with autism who wish to better understand this disorder. These classes are also available through Children’s video and teleconferencing outreach program in various locations throughout Washington. Past lectures are available online.

View more dates online FEE: $45 per person CALL: 206-987-9878 for all locations For youth, ages 11 to 14. Topics for responsible babysitting include basic child development, infant care and safety, handling emergencies, age-appropriate toys, business hints and parent expectations.

Babysafe

CPR and First Aid for Babysitters

WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 29, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. FEE: $67 per family WHERE: Seattle Children’s admin. building, 6901 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle CALL: 206-789-2306

WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 18, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. View more dates online FEE: $60 per person WHERE: Seattle Children’s main campus, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle CALL: 206-987-2304

For new and expectant parents and infant caregivers. Topics include infant development, baby safety, injury prevention and treatment. Infant CPR is demonstrated and practiced.

Infant Car Seat Class for Parents WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 4, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. FEE: $45 per family WHERE: Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic 2101 East Yesler Way, Seattle CALL: 206-987-9878 For new and expectant parents and infant caregivers. Come learn from child passenger safety experts how to properly restrain your baby’s car seat, how to select the safest car seat, and how to safely secure your baby in the car seat.

For youth, ages 11 to 15. Topics include pediatric CPR, treatment for choking, and first-aid skills. Students receive a 2-year American Heart Association completion card.

For Boys: The Joys and Challenges of Growing Up

4 locations

WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 22, 1:30 to 6 p.m. WHERE: Federal Way Community Center, 876 S 333rd St., Federal Way WHEN: Fridays, Oct. 27 & Nov. 3, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. WHERE: Seattle Children’s main campus, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle WHEN: Wednesdays, Nov. 8 & 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. WHERE: Overlake Medical Center, 1035 116th Ave. NE, Bellevue

For Girls: A Heart-to-Heart Talk on Growing Up

4 locations

WHEN: Mondays, Oct. 30 & Nov. 6, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. WHERE: Overlake Medical Center, 1035 116th Ave. NE, Bellevue WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 12, 1 to 5:30 p.m. WHERE: Everett Community College, Wilderness Auditorium (Bldg. 8), Henry M. Jackson Conference Center, Everett WHEN: Tuesdays, Dec. 5 & Dec. 12, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. WHERE: Seattle Children’s main campus, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle View more dates and locations online FEE: $80 per parent/child pair; $60 per extra son or daughter CALL: 206-789-2306 These classes use an informal and engaging format to present and discuss the issues most on the minds of pre-teens ages 10 to 12 as they begin adolescence; conversations about body changes, sex, and other growing up stuff. Content outlines and short videos available at www.greatconversations.com.

EVENTS Free Car Seat Check WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 21, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. WHERE: Seattle Children’s main campus, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle CALL: 206-987-5999 Come learn how to safely secure your child in the car. Child passenger safety experts will check your child in a car seat, booster seat or the seat belt and answer any questions you may have. First come, first served. No appointments needed.

Teenology 101 for Parents: Surviving the Teen Years WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 28, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. FEE: Free WHERE: Federal Way Community Center, 876 S. 333rd St., Federal Way REGISTER: www.teenology101forum.org Join the Seattle Children’s Adolescent Medicine Team at this forum to learn and engage around adolescent health topics, including general wellness, healthy habits, social media use, mental health and drug use prevention. Pre-registration is required. Seats are limited.


WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

SATURDAY

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Toddler Time. Open-early play gym lets the little ones burn off energy with bikes, slides and toys. Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.– noon. $2. Ages 3 and under with caregiver. Issaquah Community Center. ci.issaquah.wa.us ONGOING EVENT Bob’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch. Kiddie maze, more challenging maze and pumpkin patch. Daily through Oct. 31. Free entry, activities and pumpkins for purchase. Bob’s Corn and Pumpkin Farm, Snohomish. bobscorn.com

Lewis Creek Story Time. Enjoy a reading of a beloved Dr. Seuss classic, learn about environmental stewardship and create a craft. Sessions at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. FREE; preregister. Ages 3–6 with adult. Bellevue. parksreg.bellevuewa.gov Candlelight Tour at Fort Nisqually. If your fam can’t imagine a day without devices, try this tour. Friday–Saturday, Oct. 6–7. $10–$15; ages 3 and under free; preregister. Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, Tacoma. fortnisqually.org

Family Nature Class. Explore the natural world with learning stations and a trail walk. Thursday–Saturday, 9:30–11:30 a.m. $18 per adult/child pair; preregister. Ages 2–5 with adult. Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle. depts.washington.edu/uwbg ONGOING EVENT Free First Thursday. Pick a participating local museum to visit FREE, including Seattle Art Museum, the Burke Museum, the Museum of Flight (evening), Wing Luke Museum and MOHAI. freemuseumday.org

11 Tacoma Resident Free Day. City of Tacoma dwellers enjoy free admission to the zoo and aquarium today. Oct. 11 and 29. FREE for Tacoma residents with proper I.D. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma. pdza.org Conservatory Story Hour. Sit among the lovely flowers for stories and a hands-on project. 11 a.m. Suggested donation $3. Ages 3–8 with caregiver. W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, Tacoma. seymourconservatory.org

Kelsey Creek Farm Fair. Annual fall farm fun, with barnyard animals, crafts, hay rides, pumpkins and more. 11 a.m.–4 p.m. FREE; fee for some activities. Kelsey Creek Farm Park, Bellevue. bellevuewa.gov BrickCon 2017. Gather with other Lego fans to marvel at creations from around the world and build your own in the building zone. Saturday–Sunday, October 7–8. $8–$12; ages 4 and under free. Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. brickcon.org

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Toddler Gym. Seattle’s neighborhood community centers have eliminated fees from most drop-in programs, including toddler play times. Monday–Saturday, various times. FREE. Ages 5 and under with caregiver. Seattle. seattle.gov/parks ONGOING EVENT Seattle Sings Choral Festival. A who’s who of Northwest choral groups of all kinds performs in the splendor of Seattle First Baptist Church. Thursday–Saturday, Oct. 12–14. FREE. Seattle. seattlesings.org

Hansel and Gretel and Scaredy Squirrel. Enjoy this wacky rendition of a fairy tale classic. 12:15 p.m. FREE. Ages 2½–10 with adult. Northgate Community Center, Seattle. seattle.gov Critter Club. Kids’ program features stories, hands-on exploration and an animal surprise. Oct. 12–13, 26–27; 11 a.m. $13–$15; preregister. Ages 3–5 with caregiver. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma. pdza.org

Lakewood Truck and Tractor Day. Giant slingshot, giant trucks, hard hats, hayrides, pumpkins and food! What more could you want? Noon–3 p.m. FREE. Fort Steilacoom Park, Lakewood. cityoflakewood.us Carnation Farms Harvest Festival. Take a hay ride, pick a pumpkin, go gaga in the petting zoo and more. Friday–Saturday, Oct. 14–15, 21–22. FREE; pumpkins and food for purchase. Carnation. carnationfarms.org

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Toddler Tales & Trails. Kids and caregivers enjoy story time and a short hike that’s perfect for tots. Wednesday and Saturday, 10–11 a.m. $2. Ages 2–5 with caregiver. Seward Park Audubon Center, Seattle. sewardpark.audubon.org ONGOING EVENT Storybook Corner. Cozy up for story time and nurture a love of books in the little ones. Wednesdays, 10:30–11 a.m. FREE. Ages 1–5 with adult. Island Books, Mercer Island. mercerislandbooks.com ONGOING EVENT

Childhood Anxiety and ADHD: A Whole Family Approach. Join ParentMap for a resource fair on supporting children with learning differences, followed by Chris McCurry, Ph.D., speaking on anxiety and ADHD in children and problem-solving strategies for families. Resource fair, 5–7 p.m., FREE. Lecture, 7–9 p.m. $25–$30. University of Washington Husky Union Building, Seattle. parentmap.com

Hamlin Halloween Haunt. Don your costume and come for spooky stories around the campfire, plus a hay ride and games. 6–8:30 p.m. FREE. Hamlin Park, Shoreline. shorelinewa.gov Hoot ‘n’ Howl. Take an evening tram tour to see what the park’s animals are up to at night; kids invited to wear costumes for trick-or-treating. Friday–Saturday, Oct. 20–21, 6–10 p.m. $12–$16; ages 2 and under free. Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Eatonville. nwtrek.org

Diwali: Lights of India. Celebrate the arts and culture of India with dance performances and instruction, puppetry, food, face painting and more. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. FREE. Seattle Center. seattlecenter.com/festal Black Cat Fun Run. Wear your costume or cover yourself in glow sticks for the 2½-mile family dash, 5-mile fun run or the kids’ dash for ages 10 and under. 7 p.m. $10–$30. All ages. Point Defiance Park, Tacoma. metroparkstacoma.org

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Top Ten Toys Story Time. As if you need another reason to visit this Shangri-La of toy stores, bring the tots for weekly story time. Wednesdays, 11 a.m. FREE. Top Ten Toys, Seattle. toptentoys.com ONGOING EVENT Foster’s Produce Farm and Corn Maze. Explore the Charlotte’s Web-themed corn maze and pick a pumpkin; extra activities on weekends. Daily through Oct. 31. $6 maze; ages 3 and under free; pumpkins for purchase. Arlington. fosterscornmaze.com

Tugboat Story Time. Get your sea legs on and board a tugboat for stories of the sea. Second and fourth Thursdays of the month, 11 a.m. FREE. Ages 1–8 with caregiver. Center for Wooden Boats, Seattle. cwb.org ONGOING EVENT Glow in the Dark Party. Wear your costume and grab your glow stick for music, activities, snacks and more. 6–7:30 p.m. FREE. All ages. Delridge Community Center, Seattle. seattle.gov

The Haunted Theatre: Backstage Tour and Eerie Dances. Come in costume for Tacoma City Ballet’s spooky but kid-friendly tour and ballet performance. Friday–Sunday, Oct. 20–29. $10. All ages. The Merlino Art Center, Tacoma. tacomacityballet.com Fall Festival. Halloween-themed games, crafts, face painting, snacks and fun for all ages. 5:30–7:30 p.m. FREE. Highpoint Community Center, Seattle. seattle.gov

Hilloween. This family Halloween celebration features a carnival, a costume parade led by a marching band and trick-ortreating along Broadway. Noon–6 p.m. FREE. Seattle Central College, Seattle. caphilloween.com The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Marvel at Tom Sawyer’s antics in this high-spirited musical adaptation for all ages. Saturday– Sunday, Oct. 28–Nov. 5. $12–$15. Tacoma Musical Playhouse Family Theater. tmp.org

Kelsey Creek Farm Fair, Oct. 7

MA_RIKA/PIXABAY

ANDY GIRAUD/PIXABAY

Día de Muertos, Seattle Center, Oct. 28–29

‘Angst: Breaking the Stigma Around Anxiety’ film screenings, Oct. 3, 12 and 25

Loads more family fun activities at parentmap.com/ calendar

parentmap.com • October 2017 • 27


The

Dr. Seuss’

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SEPT 29- OCT 22, 2017

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28 • October 2017 • parentmap.com

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early 2018!

amazon or parentmap.com/ parentmap-books

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Available

9/18/17 7:54 PM


out + about

Look! Up in the Air!

Kids of all abilities soar in local circus programs By Lauren Braden

E

arlier this year when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus gave its final performance after a century as the “Greatest Show on Earth,” generations of traveling circus fans mourned as the flying trapeze came to rest a final time. But the reimagination of circus arts was already well underway. In cities across America, the trapeze still flies high from the rafters, but instead of seeing it under The circus a big top, you’ll find it in doesn’t care. converted warehouses and gymnasiums. Jugglers Here, all toss pins and spin plates, kids have an tightrope walkers practice their balance and unicyclists opportunity. pedal their new talent. Today’s circus is more than quirky entertainment; it’s about inner and outer strength born through cooperation and community. In the new circus, children aren’t spectators — they’re in the ring and on the ropes. For many, learning their first backflip on the mats or attempting their first catch on the trapeze means facing additional obstacles. Some are working through trauma or dealing with homelessness; others live with partial paralysis or are on the autism spectrum. The circus doesn’t care. Here, all kids have an opportunity to build resilience and trust in a noncompetitive environment. They can embrace and accept their differences rather than hide them. >>

SCHOOL OF ACROBATICS AND NEW CIRCUS ARTS (SANCA)

SANCA’s Every Body’s Circus

parentmap.com • October 2017 • 29


out + about Look! Up in the Air continued from page 29 cushioned mats, trampolines, tumble tracks and circus props. There are balance beams, Cyr wheels, rolling globes and unicycles. Flying and static trapezes, fabrics, curtains, ropes and aerial hoops hang from the rafters. A side room for tots is equally spacious and ensconced in an orange-and-white-striped circus tent. The best part? Hearing the laughter and seeing the smiles of climbing, flying, tumbling children. About 900 kids come here every week to practice circus arts. Accessibility for everyone is a guiding principle at SANCA. Scholarships go to about one-fifth of students, and the organization says it’s never turned anyone away for lack of funds. SANCA also runs the Every Body’s Circus (EBC) program. EBC currently serves 50 kids with special needs ranging from blindness to autism, ADHD to hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body from a stroke). Most of the students receive one-on-one instruction customized to their needs, interests and goals. >>

Emerald City Trapeze

Three More to Explore: Aerials and Acrobatics for Kids with Special Needs iFly All Abilities Night

Emerald City Trapeze

We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym

What does it feel like to defy gravity? Kids of all abilities can experience the thrill of free fall in an indoor skydiving wind tunnel during the next iFly All Abilities Night (Thursday, Oct. 26, beginning at 5 p.m.). At $40 per person for all participants, the night includes pizza, snacks and drinks as well as a preflight training session and flight gear (suit, helmet, goggles). Trained instructors assist each flyer with extra accommodation as needed. For more information or to register, search for the event at eventbrite.com or contact iFly sales director James Beauchamp (206456-8601 or jbeau champ@iFLYworld.com). 349 Tukwila Pkwy., Tukwila; 206-244-4359; iflyworld.com/ iFly Seattle seattle

Located within a vintage SoDo warehouse, Emerald City Trapeze features dark wood, scarlet walls, velvet furniture and whimsical art. A full-size trapeze setup dominates the main space, and smaller rooms house trampolines, aerialists’ silks and hoops, and a performance stage. Local pros train here as do beginners of all ages. A two-hour introductory trapeze class (6 and older; $68) covers safety, lingo and body positions, followed by a climb up the ladder for a knee hang and your first swing. Emerald City’s LIFT (Listening, Integrity, Focus, Trust) program brings that magic of the circus for a free or reduced cost to those who might not otherwise get the chance, from at-risk homeless youth to kids with disabilities. 2702 Sixth Ave. S, Seattle; 206-906-9442; emeraldcitytrapeze.com

Kids on the spectrum can rock, swing, climb, glide and fly their way to sensory satisfaction at a cool new space on the Eastside: We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym. This brightly colored safe haven is full of the types of sensory-friendly equipment you’ll find at an occupational therapy (OT) gym. Now, your child can enjoy them at his or her own pace (and at a fraction of the cost of an OT session). There’s a bouncy trampoline, climbing wall, zipline, lots of different swings and several wiggle tubes. A crafts center helps kids hone their fine motor skills, and a quiet room gives your kiddo a place to take a break. Open play is $12 per child (financial assistance available); siblings welcome. Call ahead on weekends to make sure the gym isn’t booked for a special event. 1910 132nd Ave. NE, No. 7, Bellevue; 425-2235585; werockthespectrumeastsideseattle.com

30 • October 2017 • parentmap.com

LAUREN BRADEN

“The circus is a highly encouraging environment. There’s never any winning or losing, and it can do wonders for your selfesteem,” says Jenny Mae Miller of West Seattle. For three years, Miller has practiced trapeze and aerial acrobatics alongside her daughter Marlene at Emerald City Trapeze. In that time, she’s seen Marlene’s physical strength and confidence soar. I can relate. My 9-year-old son, Isaac, is on the autism spectrum; he faces challenges with social skills, resilience, anxiety and muscle tone. Several months ago, I began to explore how circus arts may help him focus on a new skill and build a healthy foundation for physical activity and mindfulness. That’s when we learned about the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA; sancaseattle.org). A nonprofit dedicated to improving the mental and physical health of children of all ages through acrobatics and circus arts, SANCA is based in a palatial indoor circus space in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. The warehouse includes two brightly lit gymnasiums full of


More Places Where to to

Join the Circus Portland Juggling Festival is the largest regional juggling festival in the U.S., held every October October on on the the campus campus of of Reed College in Reed College in Portland, Portland, Oregon. Oregon. Beginners, Beginners, hobbyists hobbyists and pros of all ages participate and pros of all ages participate in workshops on stilt walking, in workshops on stilt walking, ball tricks, baton twirling and ball tricks, baton twirling and more. portlandjugglers.org more. portlandjugglers.org

The Circus Project The Circus Project in Portland works with in Portland works with

homeless and at-risk youth, homeless and at-risk youth, tapping into the healing power tapping into the healing power of the circus to teach critical life of the circus to teach critical skills, core strength, balance,life skills, coresocial strength, balance, trust and cooperation. trust and social cooperation. thecircusproject.org thecircusproject.org

The American Youth The American Youthis Circus Organization Circus Organization a nonprofit that promotesis

the participation of youth in a nonprofit that promotes circus arts. It reaches morein the participation of youth than 10,000 and young circus arts. Itkids reaches more adults acrosskids theand country. than 10,000 young americanyouthcircus.org adults across the country. americanyouthcircus.org

parentmap.com â&#x20AC;˘ October 2017 â&#x20AC;˘ 31


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Best Pumpkin Patches and Corn Mazes Around

Costumed children 12 & under are FREE americascarmuseum.org

America’s Car Museum is an entity of America’s Automotive Trust.

Every year when the leaves start to turn we find ourselves wanting to make a farm pilgrimage with the kids to visit a pumpkin patch and mark the harvest. Farmers all over the region oblige our collective need by carving intricate mazes into their cornfields and offering hay rides out to the pumpkin fields. Pumpkin patch experiences vary widely. Purists can pick their gourds at a farm that offers little more than hot cider as a side activity, while families looking for a more carnival atmosphere can visit farms and pumpkin patches tricked out like amusement parks — the offerings get a little wilder each year. Here are our top picks for pumpkin patches and fall farm fun in Snohomish and King County. Pick your favorite at parentmap.com/pumpkins.

COME AND PLAY in Snohomish Valley - Pumpkin Capital of the Northwest!

FAMOUS Pumpkin Patches themed corn mazes After dark attractions

Farm to farm a season of fun We’ve got seven! why pick just one? CLICK HERE to find them all! FestivalofPumpkins.org

32 • October 2017 • parentmap.com

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Childhood Anxiety and

Look! Up in the Air

ADHD:

continued from page 30

A Whole Family Approach

Family Adventure Farm at the Big Red Barn “Enjoy more family time! ”

Corn Maze & Giant Pumpkin Patch • Hay Rides Giant Jumping Pillow • Pumpkin Cannon Apple Cannon • Sport Ball Arcade • Barrel Train Duck Races • Corn Crib • Human Foosball Human Hamster Races • Tire Swings

See pg 47

OCT 19 parentmap.com/ everychild

7_every child_1-8v.indd 1

Lots of family activities with proceeds benefitting The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Washington and Alaska

8705 Marsh Road, Snohomish, WA 98296 www.StockerFarms.com

Pumpkin Patch & Farm Stand

9/18/17 1017_stocker_farms_1-8v.indd 11:06 AM 1

OXTOBER Pumpkin Festival WWW.OXBOW.ORG CARNATION, WA | 425-788-1134

out + about

9/19/17

Thurs-Sun,10AM-5PM starting Oct 5th

Oxtober Festival

Weekends only sta 10AM-5PM starting Oct 7 HAY RIDES LIVE MUSIC FOOD TRUCKS KIDS’ FARM TOURS ARTS & CRAFTS and more!

“We don’t assume anything about anyone,” says Alex Clifthorne, therapeutic circus arts manager for SANCA. “We meet kids where their

Circus is such a sensory experience. It can feel really positive for these kids.

needs and goals are and teach them the skills they want to learn.” In her six years with SANCA, Clifthorne has seen children who are 11:10 AM wheelchair-bound use the trampoline and hold onto the trapeze. She’s

known visually impaired children who fly on the trapeze and walk a tight wire. One child with spina bifida gained enough strength in his arms and abdominal muscles to do handstands and cartwheels. In many ways, circus arts seem almost tailor-made for kids like my son, who is a pervasive sensory seeker. Balancing on the tightwire or a rolling globe stimulates the sensory system, improving balance, core strength and control. The noncompetitive environment encourages self-paced learning and helps kids gently let go of fear of failure. “Circus is such a sensory experience,” Clifthorne says. “It can feel really positive for these kids.” n Lauren Braden is a Pacific Northwest writer who focuses on recreation and local travel. Find more of her writing at nwtripfinder.com.

Learn More About SANCA

SCHOOL OF ACROBATICS AND NEW CIRCUS ARTS (SANCA)

To learn more about SANCA’s Every Body Circus program, call 206-652-4433. Ask for an intake form and to schedule a free one-hour consultation. During that meeting, SANCA staff will learn what the child’s interests and goals are and whether he or she would prefer one-onone guidance or to join a class. Every Body’s Circus costs $50 per hour; scholarships are available.

parentmap.com • October 2017 • 33


Bring your tween/ teen!*

FILM SCREENINGS

Join ParentMap and IndieFlix for exclusive screenings of “Angst: Breaking the Stigma Around Anxiety,” a new documentary exploring the cause and effect of anxiety in our kids. 7 p.m. screenings will have post-film Q&A.

OCT 3

Kirkland Performance Center, Kirkland

OCT 12

Blue Mouse Theatre, Tacoma

*Recommended for kids 12 and up.

OCT 25 TWO SCREENINGS

King’s Schools, Shoreline

$15 pre-sale, $18 door

TICKETS + INFO: parentmap.com/angst

NOV 8

Seattle Children’s, Seattle

Premiere screening on 6/6

SOLD OUT!


education

4 Ways to Navigate Your Child’s Special Education Overwhelmed? Here’s what this mom learned from fighting for her daughter with autism By Jody Allard

E

very week, I get another email from a stranger. These strangers are friends of friends, parents of kids with special needs. In each case, they’re desperate for advice on navigating the special education system. A few years ago, I was in their shoes. My daughter, Charlotte, was diagnosed with autism when she was 5. Because she was a December baby, she was still in preschool. Kindergarten was looming, and I was overwhelmed by her diagnosis and confused about our options. My initial response was to turn to experts for advice. I asked her preschool teacher what sources of support Charlotte would need to enter a general education environment in kindergarten; her recommendations didn’t seem sufficient. Next, I went to her autism specialist only to be told that support for kids like Charlotte are often hard to come by. I appreciated the specialist’s honesty, but it didn’t help me figure out the best placement for my daughter. Then I scoured the internet for resources. I learned a lot about the laws that govern special education, but it was hard to find information about local programs and services. Ultimately, I found the information I needed thanks to a Seattle-based Facebook group for autism moms — a higher-tech version of the emails that often land in my inbox. My daughter is 9 now and entering fourth grade. I’m confident that she’s attending the best program for her in Seattle, but I’m left with one very uncomfortable takeaway: My daughter is where she is because I have the tools to research our options and I fight for appropriate placement. That privilege isn’t available to everyone, and the quality of a child’s education shouldn’t be left to chance. That’s why I’ve compiled these tips from veteran parents and an expert in special education. This information can help parents identify their child’s needs and work with the school district to meet them — or know their options when their child’s needs aren’t being met.

1 S  eparate the challenges

difficult, not understanding directions, challenges making friends and more,” says When your child is struggling Tuchman. “Then there are in school, it’s easy to become Practical more policy-based challenges overwhelmed. While it’s tempting challenges can that students don’t face to look to the school to solve the directly, but parents and school problem, conversations always go often be dealt with officials might — things like better when you go into them with testing expectations, difficulty in the classroom, a good sense of what’s happening getting needed services such and what needs to be done. whereas policy as speech therapy, counseling One way to tackle this is and occupational therapy or by separating challenges into challenges whether students are educated categories and learning who is may involve with their nondisabled peers responsible for solving each type or not.” of problem. Sivan Tuchman, Ph.D., administrators or While both types of a faculty member at the Center on challenges impact students, Reinventing Public Education at the even federal laws. Tuchman emphasizes that the University of Washington, Bothell, solutions are very different. emphasizes that kids with special Practical challenges, for needs face two very different types example, can often be dealt with of challenges: practical and policy. in the classroom, whereas policy challenges may “When it comes to practical challenges, we’re talking about bullying, materials that are too involve administrators or even federal laws. >>

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education 4 Ways to Navigate Your Child’s Special Education

continued from page 35

2 K  now your child’s rights — and what that looks like in your district

The primary law that protects students with disabilities ages 3–22 is the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA).

The main element of IDEA for parents is the individual education program (IEP), which is a contract between the school district and family stating that the student will be provided with the services necessary to meet the student’s goals laid out in the IEP. There are many rules and regulations in IDEA pertaining to what it means to provide a free and appropriate education (FAPE), how to identify students for special education,

how different disabilities are defined and the rights of parents who choose to place their students in private schools. In principle, what constitutes a FAPE should be the same no matter where you live or where your child attends school. In practice, it varies by district and even by school. While the Supreme Court ruled in March that special education students have the right to “appropriately ambitious” academic progress in a FAPE, it’s still a definition that’s difficult to standardize. Likewise, one of the primary tenets of IDEA — that special education students have the right to be educated in the least restrictive environment — is problematic in its application.

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Some schools, like my daughter’s, offer a push-in program (in Seattle Public Schools, it’s called Access), in which students receive special education services alongside their general education peers. Other schools in Seattle offer a hybrid of special education and general education for children who need more support; that program is called Focus. These are only two of a variety of service models for special education, and navigating these options can be overwhelming. Little information about these service models is made available to the public, their names are changed frequently, and each district has their own service model and names for special education programs. >>

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education 4 Ways to Navigate Your Child’s Special Education continued from page 37 Ultimately, special education placement decisions are made by the school district — not the parents. But knowing your child’s rights and what’s available in your district is critical for ensuring that your child is placed into the most appropriate model available. Local groups for special needs parents are the best way to arm yourself with this critical information. “A Washington state education ombudsman . . . said that the system is set up to be adversarial,” says Marianne Bryan, a Seattle mother of three kids on the autism spectrum. “Accept this and work with the knowledge you will need to be a strong advocate to get your child’s needs somewhat met.”

3 S  chools and service models aren’t your only options

When my daughter began attending applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy every afternoon, we quickly ran into trouble with her principal about her attendance. He even threatened to report her as truant! Once I involved the school district, the special education representative I met with told me a surprising fact: Kids in Washington don’t have to attend school full-time until age 8. Even after age 8, parents can file their children as partial home-schoolers to create a school-day schedule that works for their family. For my daughter, full days at school have never been successful. The amount of stress and anxiety school creates leads to meltdowns or shutting down entirely. While lengthening her school day

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is a goal, it’s not at the top of my list. I’m more concerned that she’s happy and accessing the autism therapies she needs to continue to grow. While attending school part-time isn’t the best option for all kids, it’s important that parents understand they have the right to decide how and when their kids attend school.

4 Be prepared for a fight

In a perfect world, special education staff would be our support network as our kids navigate the school system. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. Even teachers and staff with the best intentions are constrained by budget cuts and overburdened caseloads that leave our kids in the lurch. Tonya Haws is preparing to send her 5-year-old son to kindergarten this fall. She was dismayed >>

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education 4 Ways to Navigate Your Child’s Special Education continued from page 39 to learn her son wouldn’t be able to attend her neighborhood school, and will instead be bused to another location. “We were really upset about that,” she says. “We were only given the option to send him to [the other school] and told we cannot keep him in preschool another year even though he just turned 5 in July so will be the youngest. Something about losing special education money for the district?” While schools often cite financial constraints as a reason for failing to provide necessary services, Tuchman notes that’ not an acceptable excuse: “The school or district can never tell you that a service can’t be provided due to financial constraints.” But knowing our kids’ rights isn’t always enough to get them the services they need.

When problems arise, the best place to start is with the school. Parents can call an IEP meeting and gather their child’ team at any time; you don’t need to wait for an annual review. If that meeting isn’t enough to solve the problem, you can request that a district special education representative for your region attend the next IEP meeting. In the past, I’ve had to go to yet another level, requesting that the primary special education liaison for our district attend. All of these contacts can be found on each district’s website. You can also involve the Washington State Office of the Family and Children’s Ombuds (ofco.wa.gov).

“If you are ever concerned with your student’s special education services, talk to your student’s special educator,” says Tuchman. “Don’t wait until

you’re frustrated or angry that something is not going the way you hoped because, by then, you might be less happy with any solution available.” The final resort available to parents is filing a lawsuit or due-process claim against the state. It can be a lengthy process that won’t address kids’ needs in the meantime, but it’s an option parents shouldn’t be afraid to use. But before parents take that step, Tuchman recommends they bring an advocate on board. “At times, inviting an advocate can make IEP meetings feel more adversarial, but an advocate’s presence can sometimes encourage school officials to defer to the parent more often than usual,” she says. n Jody Allard is ParentMap’s managing editor.

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By Nancy Schatz Alton • Photograph by Will Austin Autism expert Wendy Stone, Ph.D., never thought she’d end up on Sesame Street. She’s one of the experts behind the creation of Julia, the iconic show’s newest character and its first with autism.

“I’ve gotten more attention for Julia than anything I’ve done,” says Stone, professor of psychology and director of the READi (Research in Early Autism Detection and Intervention) Lab (uwreadilab.com) at the University of Washington. In 2008, Sesame Street’s parent company, Sesame Workshop, asked Stone and colleague Evon Lee to share everything they knew about autism. Thus began a partnership that has created a vast array of educational outreach materials for teachers, parents and families of children with autism (autism.sesamestreet.org). There are also videos for kids as well as daily routine cards, online storybooks and videos for parents. But it was the April debut of Julia that brought worldwide attention to the woman who works in a tiny corner office overlooking the Lake Washington Ship Canal. What were the trickiest parts of creating a Muppet with autism?

There’s a saying in the autism world: “If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.” When [Sesame Workshop] first asked our opinion, I didn’t think creating a Muppet with autism was a great idea. We didn’t want to create this reified image that defines autism. But if anybody can do it well, it’s Sesame Street! What’s your favorite educational material that you’ve created with Sesame Workshop?

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My research is on early identification for autism, with the goal of trying to figure out how to recognize and treat autism at 2 years or younger. We know that autism-specialized early intervention can be very effective in improving children’s social interactions, communication, behavior and play skills. We want them to be in a regular kindergarten classroom by the time they’re 5. What led to your career in autism research?

Ever since I was a young child, I liked working with kids. While I was a research assistant in grad school for clinical psychology, I worked with kids with special needs. From there, it was 46 • October 2017 • parentmap.com

serendipity: I chose my clinical internship based on my adviser’s recommendation, but there I learned everything I know about autism. When I moved to an academic position in Miami, I was pegged as the go-to person for autism since there were very few specialists at that time. My commitment to that role was solidified when I finally bought a subscription to the Journal of Autism. At that point, I knew that autism would probably be my life work. What do you love about your work?

The world can be quite challenging for a child with autism who doesn’t understand language or social cues, who prefers predictability and routine, and who may be hypersensitive to certain sensory experiences. But once we try to understand what that experience could be like, we can start to develop strategies to help. It’s fascinating to find what makes the child tick. It’s especially gratifying to help parents with young children learn how to work and play with their child. What’s the most fascinating aspect of autism research right now?

How much it has changed! Autism first became a diagnostic category in 1980, and it was paired with childhood schizophrenia. Then, the prevalence of autism was 3 or 4 per 10,000 children; now, it’s 1 in 68. Now we tell parents that their young child has characteristics of autism, but with early intervention, they may see significant improvements, so we’ll see what happens over time. It seems like we’re at the beginning of a different conceptualization of autism. n Learn more about participating in studies at the READi Lab at uwreadilab.com/participate-in-a-study. Freelance writer and editor Nancy Schatz Alton also teaches writing to children.


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