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Cultivating a Healthy Environment for Our Children

Dr. Markus Boos and his son plant a tree during an event in March.

In unprecedented times like this, we often reflect on what we as humans can do to better our world. In terms of climate change, there are many ways we can make a difference, whether on a small or large scale, in order to create a sustainable and healthy environment for all.

Seattle Children’s is committed to fulfilling its mission of treating the whole child, and with this comes the responsibility of understanding the facts, sharing our knowledge, and developing ways to combat climate change and the drastic impact it has on our health.

Children are especially vulnerable to the health effects of climate change, and as an organization, we are striving to minimize our carbon footprint and improve the health and well-being of our patients, families, workforce and our local and global community.

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New Program Helps Families with Mental Health Crises

In recognition of Mental Health Month, On the Pulse will be sharing valuable resources and inspiring patient stories each week to guide individuals and families struggling with mental health issues and help destigmatize the topic of mental health in our society.

One late afternoon in April, Jessie Early noticed something was wrong her with 7-year-old son, Rohan.

He stopped eating, was withdrawing, and exhibiting suicidal thoughts.

Extremely concerned, Early rushed her son to Seattle Children’s Emergency Department (ED), as recommended by Rohan’s psychiatrist at the time.

Within just a few minutes in the waiting room, Rohan was sent directly to one of the patient rooms for evaluation.

What could have been a stressful and trauma inducing experience for Rohan, Early was pleasantly surprised with the attentiveness and support that the staff provided her son.

“There was always someone there to answer our questions,” Early said. “It made it so we were relaxed and informed. Staff would ask him questions in a respectful and polite way, even though some of questions were difficult for him answer. They were there for us every step of the way.”

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Alyssa Tears Down the Taboo of Having Mental Health Struggles

In recognition of Mental Health Month, On the Pulse will be sharing valuable resources and inspiring patient stories each week to guide individuals and families struggling with mental health issues and help destigmatize the topic of mental health in our society.

Alyssa Scott, 17, is a senior in high school. She’s an honor student, participates in her school’s Model United Nations program and is currently taking college-level classes.

By her positive demeanor and ambitious attitude, you would think she’s just like any regular teen.

But there’s more to Alyssa than meets the eye.

Like many individuals, Alyssa lives with mental health issues.

“Even though people might not see it, I struggle every day,” Alyssa said. “Some days are worse than others, but it’s always there.”

For Alyssa, there’s been many obstacles she’s faced in life that have molded her relationship with her mental health. Yet with her strong sense of will and determination, she’s come to a point in her life where she can keep her struggles at bay.

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Expert-Tested Tools to Manage Your Child’s Mental Health

In recognition of Mental Health Month, On the Pulse will be sharing valuable resources and inspiring patient stories each week to guide individuals and families struggling with mental health issues and help destigmatize the topic of mental health in our society.

Managing a child’s mental health can feel like an uphill battle with no end in sight. Often times, parents and caregivers feel lost when it comes to navigating through their child’s emotions when they are experiencing a mental health crisis or mitigating a situation before, during and after a crisis occurs.

Some of the best resources to help parents and caregivers better understand their child’s mental health are the same tools providers routinely use for any patient coming into Seattle Children’s with a mental health issue. Developed by pediatric mental health experts at Seattle Children’s and used in clinic for over a decade, the escalation cycle is one such tool that parents and caregivers can easily adapt to use at home.

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Navigating the Trials of Being a Teen during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Adria Cooper, 17, shares her experience dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Being a teenager isn’t easy by any means. With school, friends, and extracurricular activities, along with added the pressure of increased responsibilities and desire for more independence, teens are battling a load of complex emotions on a day-by-day basis.

Now, top off their struggles with a global pandemic that’s completely transformed their lives, and they’ve got a whole new set of challenges they must navigate ahead of them.

“Being away from school and friends feels very weird,” said Adria Cooper, 17, a junior in high school. “Sometimes I am happy to be on my own and not have to worry about what other people think. I can do what I want, but other days I feel very isolated and lonely.”

As a society as a whole, it’s not surprising that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about increased feelings of loss, grief, uncertainty and loneliness.

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How to Support Individuals with Autism during the COVID-19 Pandemic

In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, On the Pulse is shedding light on the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on children, teens, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and how we can support them through these uncertain times.

As a society, we often rely on routines. With the COVID-19 pandemic uprooting our daily activities, we are being challenged to adapt to what we’re considering the “new normal.”

This is an especially challenging time for those with autism. Routines are critical for individuals on the spectrum, as they thrive on structure and consistency.

In recent data from March 2020 released by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism now affects 1 in 54 children. According to the CDC, ASD is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Individuals often repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many also have different ways of learning, paying attention or reacting to things. Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and typically last throughout a person’s life.

James Mancini, a speech and language pathologist with the Seattle Children’s Autism Center, and Tammy Mitchel, program director of the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center, share ways individuals with autism and their families can cope during this unique time.

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Marcus Joins Clinical Trial to Help Hearts Like His

Worry flooded Candice Andrews’ mind as doctors wheeled her newborn son away for open heart surgery.

“I knew about his heart condition since I was 7 months pregnant,” Andrews said. “However, it was still very scary knowing that someone was going to do surgery on my 7-day old baby.”

Andrews’ son, Marcus, was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare and serious birth defect that occurs when the left side of the heart is not fully developed.

Fortunately, Marcus recovered well after his first of what would be three surgeries needed to treat his heart condition.

“Doctors mentioned how exceptional his recoveries were,” Andrews said. “We were so grateful, given how unknown the entire situation was for us.”

Although his first few years of a life were a bit rocky, Marcus remained relatively healthy as he progressed through childhood.

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Unraveling Microaggressions

Microaggression may not be a term that most are familiar with.

Without knowing it, you may have been the recipient of a microaggression, or may have committed a microaggression.

That’s precisely why it’s important to understand what microaggressions are, so we can address and challenge our own biases, be aware that disparities exist, and assess the significant impact it has on our society.

On the Pulse sat down for a Q&A with Dr. Roberto Montenegro, a psychiatrist from Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine clinic, who studies microaggressions.

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Sam Doesn’t Let His Mental Health Struggles Define Him

When Sam Duenwald, 18, was in seventh grade, he got sick and had to miss a couple of weeks of school.

However, a couple of weeks of missed school turned into three, then four, then five.

“It became a vicious cycle,” Sam said. “I was getting really anxious about going back to school because I knew I had missed a ton of homework and that was causing my grades to drop, so I decided to avoid going to school altogether. This of course spiraled into missing even more homework, making my grades suffer further.”

Naturally, the situation caused tension between Sam and his parents.

“There was a lot of stress at home, and I was fighting with my parents all the time,” Sam said. “They knew I needed help.”

Sam’s anxiety became so severe that his parents took him to see a psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s midway through seventh grade. He was prescribed anxiety medication, which helped Sam finish up the school year.

“Over the summer, I kept telling myself, ‘I need to go back to school regularly; I’m going to be in eighth grade and everything is going to be great,’” Sam said.

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Global Clinical Trial Aims to Improve Therapies for Pediatric Acute Leukemia

Seattle Children’s will embark on a groundbreaking clinical trial that will potentially transform treatment methods for children with relapsed acute pediatric leukemia.

In collaboration with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), Dr. Todd Cooper, an oncologist and director of the Seattle Children’s High-Risk Leukemia Program, is part of a team leading the effort to launch a global precision medicine master clinical trial called the LLS Pediatric Acute Leukemia (PedAL) Initiative. The goal of the trial, which is part of The LLS Children’s Initiative: Cures and Care for Children, is to test multiple targeted therapies simultaneously at up to 200 clinical sites, including Seattle Children’s, worldwide.

Cooper, the Clinical Trial Lead, will oversee the master screening trial where children with newly diagnosed and relapsed acute leukemia can choose to have their clinical and biologic information included in an international database. This database will serve many purposes, including helping to determine an individual child’s eligibility for a number of targeted clinical trials. The data will also be used to uncover new targets for therapy and as a rich source for groundbreaking discoveries.

On the Pulse sat down with Cooper to discuss the specifics of the trial and how it will possibly revolutionize the types of cancer treatments available for children.

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