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‘It’s a Beautiful Part of You’: Abby Inspires Others with Celiac Disease

Abby Spaulding, 15, was only 2 years old when she was diagnosed with celiac disease.

As a baby, she had a very sensitive stomach and would throw up frequently.

Abby’s mother brought her to the doctor concerned it was something more than just a simple upset stomach. Her intuition was right. Abby was diagnosed with celiac disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage in the small intestine. People with celiac disease respond differently to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

“It didn’t really come as a big shock to my mom,” Abby said. “My uncle had celiac disease, so we knew it ran in the family.”

Back in San Diego, where Abby spent her early childhood, she would go to support groups with her mother to help navigate a new lifestyle that required Abby to eat gluten-free foods only.

“Since I was so young when I was diagnosed, it was a very confusing situation for me,” Abby said. “When we’d go to the store and my mom wouldn’t allow me to pick certain foods, I didn’t understand what was going on. Joining the support groups really helped me better understand what celiac disease was and how I could cope with it.” Read full post »

NFL Player Myles Gaskin Spotlights Youth Mental Health Through ‘My Cause My Cleats’

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Miami Dolphins

During the month of December, NFL players sport a different look on their feet with custom designed cleats aimed to represent a cause that they feel most passionate about.

It was only natural for Myles Gaskin, former University of Washington (UW) Huskies football player, now running back with the Miami Dolphins, to choose a cause that hits close to home in more ways than one.

“Growing up in Seattle, I always knew about Seattle Children’s, so when I was playing for UW, teammates and I decided to visit the hospital a few different times to meet some the kids,” said Gaskin. “The whole experience really opened my eyes to see how much you can impact someone by just giving them your time.”

With Seattle Children’s in mind for his cause, Gaskin wanted to zero in on another issue that deeply spoke to him.

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A Mother’s Ambitious Goal to Raise $1 Million for Cancer Research

Christine O’Connell knows the walls of Seattle Children’s all too well.

In 2017, the O’Connell’s 3-year-old daughter Jane was diagnosed with stage IV Wilms, a pediatric kidney cancer. The cancer had spread to both of her lungs, lymph nodes and a vertebra in her spine. The months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries that changed their lives forever are still vivid memories.

“Radiation and chemotherapy was our only hope to save Jane’s life, but it is so damaging to young, developing bodies. She will suffer the effects of treatment for the rest of her life,” O’Connell said.

Then she learned that Seattle Children’s was pioneering a better way.

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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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