The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is on the rise, but researchers are still searching for explanations as to why. A new study out today in JAMA Pediatrics , linking the use of antidepressants during pregnancy to an increased risk of autism in children, is just another brick in a path toward understanding risk factors associated with autism in general, said Dr. Bryan King, program director of Seattle Children’s Autism Center and Professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington, but it’s not the answer.
When I was 16, I spent 10 days at Seattle Children’s in the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit (now called the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit, or PBMU).
I fought it. I hated it. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Looking back three years later, I can tell you that those were the most important 10 days of my life. If not for my time at Seattle Children’s, I’d probably be in jail now, or dead.
Everyone on the unit met my resistance with compassion – and somehow, they got through to me. Even though I fought being in their care, they cared for me. They cared about me.
I left Seattle Children’s with medications that helped me and coping skills I still use today. Read full post »
Dr. Raphael Bernier, clinical director of the Autism Center and investigator in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute has continued his quest to identify genetic mutations that are linked to autism. In a new paper published in Nature Genetics, Bernier and his collaborators at the University of Washington discovered evidence that some children with autism were more likely to have inherited gene mutations most often occurring from mothers to sons.
On the Pulse sat down with Bernier to learn more about these exciting findings. Read full post »
A significant body of validated research over the last 15 years has found no link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism spectrum disorders, yet the false myth that this vaccine may cause or intensify the disorder continues to circulate among some families of children with autism. As a result, some parents delay or forgo the life-saving MMR vaccine for their children.
A new study, led by The Lewin Group and titled “Autism Occurrence by MMR Vaccine Status Among U.S. Children With Older Siblings With and Without Autism,” has been published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). This study further refuted the concern that children who are at higher risk of developing autism could be negatively impacted by the MMR vaccine. The study included approximately 95,000 children with older siblings and found that receipt of the MMR vaccine was not associated with an increased risk of autism, regardless of whether older siblings had autism.
Dr. Bryan King, director of Seattle Children’s Autism Center and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and an investigator in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, has written an editorial published in the same JAMA issue addressing this research and the controversies that surround it. On the Pulse sat down with King to learn more about these important issues. Read full post »
My Little Brother, My Greatest Inspiration: Celebrating the 1-Year Anniversary of Seattle Children’s Alyssa Burnett Center
April marks the 1-year anniversary of the grand opening of Seattle Children’s Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center. The Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center hosts year-round classes for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental disabilities. And though it’s only been a year, the Alyssa Burnett Center has already seen great success. Tammy Mitchel, program manager, recounts below her hopes and fears from day one and shares some of her favorite milestones from the past year.
Nearly one year ago, as I was driving to the grand opening of the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center, my head swirled with thoughts, hopes, dreams and – admittedly – fears for this journey to open a center for adults with autism. Would it be possible to thoughtfully offer classes to adults with autism and serve a wide spectrum of ability levels? Could we teach adults who had never been in a kitchen how to cook for themselves? Would we be equipped to handle even the most challenging behaviors? And most importantly, could we create a community where all of this could happen under one roof?
I’m so happy to say one year later that yes, we could. And we did. Read full post »
Seattle Children’s Program to Evaluate and Enhance Attention, Regulation and Learning (PEARL) clinic aims to treat children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and associated problems using the newest and most effective treatments available. To determine which of those treatments is most appropriate for each patient, Dr. Mark Stein, director of the PEARL Clinic and investigator in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, is leading several ongoing research studies that are currently enrolling patients. Read full post »
A Seattle Children’s researcher is chasing an elusive goal: finding a way to know when adolescents and young adults who contemplate suicide might actually try to harm themselves.
“Suicide risk rises and falls but it’s really hard to tell when it’s rising, even when you’re regularly seeing a patient,” said Dr. Molly Adrian, a psychologist at Seattle Children’s and investigator in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development.
Now, Adrian is pursuing an innovative solution – a computerized system that would search adolescents’ social media posts for signs of crisis and alert a medical specialist or family member when someone needs immediate help. Read full post »
As social media, texting and internet use have become a part of daily life, researchers have observed the strong presence of cyberbullying and have begun to show concern about its effects. And while many may presume that bullying is mostly a problem in in the gradeschool years, a new study shows that college students are engaging in these behaviors as well.
The study led by Dr. Ellen Selkie, adolescent medicine doctor at Seattle Children’s Hospital and researcher in the Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development, published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, found that more than 1 in 4 females have experienced cyberbullying in college, thus increasing their risk for depression three-fold. Furthermore, the study found that those who acted as the bullies were more likely to report problematic alcohol abuse and also depression. Read full post »
Last month, TIME reported on the death of a 32-year-old Taiwanese man who suffered heart failure after an apparent three-day video game binge. Over the past several years similar stories have come to light, and as the scientific research into the effects of video games on the brain continues to increase, many parents may be wondering just how concerned they should be about video game addiction.
Though the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) does not definitively classify compulsive gaming as a disorder, according to Dr. Cora Breuner, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, this doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t worry.
Children with autism often experience communication challenges. It’s crucial for patients to receive treatment interventions during early development to prevent long-term deficits, but it’s often difficult for them to access the specialists they need.
As a clinical psychologist in Seattle Children’s Autism Center, Dr. Mendy Minjarez knows how high the demand is for therapists who can address core autism features, such as language deficits.
“Even if patients are lucky enough to see a behavior intervention specialist, their treatment is limited to the appointment time,” Minjarez said. “For years, parents would say to me ‘I wish I could practice with my child at home.’”
Minjarez made that wish a reality in 2007 by developing a new way to offer Pivotal Response Training (PRT), which focuses on teaching parents to improve their child’s language skills by using common motivations in daily life. PRT had previously been taught during individual therapy sessions with a clinician, the parent and the child, but Minjarez’s model aims to serve many more families by teaching parents in a group setting.
Now, Minjarez has collaborated with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford researchers to publish a study testing the group model of PRT. She discovered most parents effectively used the training and their children showed significantly more language progress than those who did not attend the group training. Read full post »