Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic at Othello Celebrates One Year Anniversary

It has been a monumental year since the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) Othello location opened its doors to patient families in March 2022 near the Othello Link light rail station in southeast Seattle’s Rainier Valley.

Since then, the clinic has provided quality care with dignity to more than 40,000 patients in the community through its innovative, integrated approach where services including pediatric medical care, behavioral health, dental services, nutrition, sports medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, x-ray and imaging and much more, all available under the same roof at the same appointment, if needed.

Many community-oriented events and key milestones have taken place in the year since the clinic opened. On the Pulse shares a look back and what’s to come.

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Seattle Children’s Sickle Cell Disease Program Expands and Seeks to Diversify Care for Patients

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of blood conditions that affect hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells in the body. In the United States, most people with SCD are of African or Hispanic heritage. However, the disease can affect anyone, especially people of southern European, Middle Eastern or Asian Indian heritage.

Seattle Children’s and Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) team have been treating patients with SCD for more than two decades. In that time, many lessons have been learned and as a result a new integrated Center of Excellence has been created for the care of patients with SCD at the hospital campus and at OBCC Othello, led by the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and OBCC. As part of this Center of Excellence, a roadmap of program enhancements are in place to make progress towards improving and growing the Seattle Children’s Sickle Cell Disease Program to better serve patients with SCD and their families.

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Sewing a Seamless Transition for Chester’s Autism Care

When Chester Dudley was 3 years old, his mother, Stella Ogiale, enrolled him into a child care center located near their home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

After a few months, Ogiale received a startling message from the center telling her that there might be something wrong with Chester.

“They told me I needed to get him checked,” Ogiale said. “When I heard that, I became so emotional and upset that I stopped taking him there.”

She thought her son’s hyperactive behavior was like any other child’s, but to give her peace of mind, she decided to have him evaluated.

“Chester underwent testing and I was told he had a mild intellectual disability, but nothing else,” Ogiale said.

Two years later, the family moved to Seattle. Ogiale noticed Chester’s behavior was worsening and decided it was best he be evaluated again.

“He was 5 years old and at the age where he would be starting school, so I was worried,” she said. “That’s when I decided to take him to Seattle Children’s for help.”

Navigating a new landscape

Chester was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and began receiving treatment at Seattle Children’s Autism Center.

“I think at first I was in denial that he had autism,” Ogiale said. “I felt guilty and didn’t want to believe it.”

Chester had a limited ability to communicate and exhibited aggressive behavior.

“He would throw things, and hit and push people,” Ogiale said. “You could tell that he did it out of fear.”

Over the next several years, Ogiale did her best to normalize Chester’s life as best as possible by continuing his schooling and enrolling him into special needs programs.

“I worked with the school district to provide him with support,” Ogiale said. “There were many people, such as teachers and therapists, that helped him function in his daily life.”

However, when Chester reached his late teens, Ogiale had growing concern about the resources that would be available for her son once he completed school and entered adulthood.

Through the Autism Center, Chester began seeing Dr. Gary Stobbe, program director of adult autism transitional services, who helped to Ogiale navigate Chester’s care when he turned 19.

“When I met with Chester for the first time, his mother and I discussed the strategies she was using to manage Chester’s behavior,” Stobbe said. “We realized that the strategies that worked for him when he was younger did not work for him as an adult.”

With Stobbe’s help, Ogiale began to have a better understanding of Chester’s desires in life, even though he couldn’t communicate them in a conventional way.

“Although he’s minimally verbal and presents prominent autism behaviors, I could tell that Chester wanted was to be treated like an adult, just like anyone else his age,” said Stobbe.

During that first encounter with Stobbe, Ogiale was caught in disbelief when she saw Chester do something that he hadn’t done before.

“While Dr. Stobbe was asking Chester some questions,” Ogiale said, “Chester laughed.”

This was a pleasant surprise to Ogiale, as she thought Chester’s ability to communicate was extremely limited.

“That opened the gate for me to better recognize the way Chester communicates,” Ogiale said. “Within a matter of minutes, Dr. Stobbe got Chester to feel comfortable and start talking to him.”

New doors to opportunity

As Stobbe continued to work with Chester into his adulthood, seamlessly transferring his care from the Autism Center to the University of Washington Adult Autism Clinic, he saw positive changes in Chester’s behavior.

“Chester began adopting more age-appropriate behaviors,” Stobbe said. “He seemed happier and more confident.”

By the time Chester was about 22 years old, all his siblings had moved away from home, leaving him without the company he was used to having around. Ogiale sensed Chester was lonely and that he needed a place where he could meet new people and have friends.

“There has been a lack in educational, recreational and vocational opportunities once people with ASD and other developmental disabilities turn 21 and age out of school,” Stobbe said. “Often parents or caregivers will feel lost, as the need for these services are still incredibly important.”

Then, Ogiale learned about a new program through Seattle Children’s that provided individuals 18 years and older with developmental disabilities, including autism, classes and activities designed to offer meaningful opportunities for adults to build on strengths, increase confidence and promote independence.

“Someone from Dr. Stobbe’s team presented this to us and asked if we’d be interested,” Ogiale said. “I immediately said, ‘Absolutely!’

The Seattle Children’s Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center, which opened its doors in July 2014, was founded by Charles and Barbara Burnett, parents of Alyssa, a young woman living with autism spectrum disorder.

They had been working to address the disparity in opportunities for adults like Alyssa, founding the Tessera Center for Lifelong Learning in 2004. A decade later, the Burnetts and Tessera donated $7 million, including Tessera’s space in Bothell, Wash. to launch the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center, which offers a variety of 12-week classes, ranging from art to yoga to independent living skills, taught by community members who are experts in the class topics with guidance from Seattle Children’s behavior specialists.

“It was the perfect place for Chester,” Ogiale said. “He was able to get involved in many different activities such as dance and music. Chester has always loved music and for him to be able to participate gives him so much joy and happiness.”

Not only did Chester get to engage in the arts, he also learned other life skills such as cooking and swimming.

“He can now confidently heat up his own food in the microwave,” Ogiale said. “This was a big deal because there was a time when he couldn’t do that. The ability to operate the microwave came from the skills he learned in the cooking class.”

Ogiale says swimming has by far been his favorite activity.

“We live near a lake and before I was never comfortable taking him on a boat ride because he couldn’t swim,” she said. “Now, through the program, he has learned how to swim and does it two days a week. I can tell that it makes him relaxed and feel a sense of worth.”

Building a happy community

With the continuous care Chester receives from Stobbe and the ongoing activities he participates in at the Alyssa Burnett Center, Ogiale couldn’t be more thankful to see her son thrive as an adult.

“He’s now 28 years old and I can say that he’s much happier,” Ogiale said. “I think he feels fulfilled and has a new appreciation for life. It has given him something to look forward to.”

It’s a rewarding feeling for Stobbe when he sees positives changes in patients like Chester.

“It’s extremely gratifying to see Chester continuing to be happy, due in large part to the opportunities that the Alyssa Burnett Center has provided him with,” he said. “It can be heartbreaking to see people who can be helped but don’t have access to the services they need. That’s why places like the Alyssa Burnett Center, that give individuals like Chester a supportive community, are incredibly important.”

Ogiale knows the future isn’t clear for Chester but remains hopeful.

“Previously with the Autism Center, and now at the Alyssa Burnett Center, Seattle Children’s has provided us with a holistic approach to Chester’s care,” Ogiale said. “They have expanded Chester’s scope on life and given him a sense of purpose. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”


How to Address Sexual Abuse With Children and Teens

black pavement with #MeToo written in white chalk and two feet wearing black sneakers with white rubber toes and white lacesWith stories of sexual abuse perpetrated by public figures continuing to be in the spotlight, as well as the rise of the #MeToo movement, there is a growing need for parents and caregivers to educate children and teens about the difficult topic of sexual abuse.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), every 92 seconds a person in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. Every 9 minutes, that victim is a child.

“Before the age of 18, one in every four girls and one in every six boys will be sexually abused,” said Dr. Lynda Lee Carlisle, a psychiatrist and trauma specialist from Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine clinic. “While it can happen to any child, those most vulnerable are intellectually disabled or identify as LGBTQ+.”

Sexual abuse is rarely committed by a stranger. It is often by someone who the child knows and trusts. While some may think sexual abuse only involves physical contact, it can also be done without contact in the form of inappropriate photos or videos, exposure or other behavior.

“We commonly see children abused by a family member,” said Dr. Carole Jenny, child abuse fellowship director of Seattle Children’s Protection Program (SCAN). “It is also more likely to occur in blended families, with the abuser being a step-parent or a parent’s boyfriend or girlfriend.”

However, adults are not the only perpetrators of abuse towards children. Some children are also prone to committing sexual abuse towards other children, often with those that are younger than them.

“A child who abuses another child typically does it due to a poor understanding of boundaries, lack of parental supervision, and/or drug and alcohol use,” said Carlisle. “Surprisingly these can be children who have not experienced any sort of sexual abuse themselves. Sometimes it can stem from severe behavioral issues where they seek dominance or power over another child, as well as exposure to domestic violence.”

The effects of sexual abuse

The psychological effects of sexual abuse can be extremely damaging on a child and can lead to lifelong psychological problems including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and substance abuse.

Many people often question why sexual abuse victims wait to report the abuse they experienced many years later.

“Studies show that 70% of people who were sexually abused as children don’t report it until they are adults,” said Jenny. “This is often due to the stigma attached to sexual abuse, in which a person may feel embarrassed or guilty that it happened to them.”

This is why Jenny and Carlisle advise parents to start talking to their children as early as possible about sexual abuse.

Tips to help empower your child to speak up about sexual abuse

“While it can be a difficult topic to open up about, it is crucial that children understand the boundaries and what appropriate behavior is,” said Jenny. “Around the age of 3 years old is when I suggest parents begin educating their children, as this is the time when they develop language skills.”

The following are recommendations Jenny and Carlisle have for parents on how they can address the topic of sexual abuse with their children and teens.

  • Teach your child the anatomically correct terms, not ‘nicknames,’ for their body parts.“A child needs to learn that they can be open when talking about their body parts and not feel embarrassed or ashamed,” said Jenny. “When children feel uncomfortable talking about certain body parts, they are less likely to tell you if someone is touching them inappropriately.”
  • Have your child understand that some of their body parts should be kept private.A child will learn that only certain people, like their own parents or medical professionals, are allowed to see or touch these parts in an appropriate way. “To help a child recognize where these parts are located, you can use the terms, ‘bathing suit area’ or ‘underwear area,’” said Carlisle.
  • Help your child practice healthy boundaries.“Teach them they have the option to say ‘no’ if they feel uncomfortable with the way someone touches them,” said Jenny. Carlisle adds, “They should also understand the boundaries of others, and that it is not okay to touch them in an inappropriate way.”
  • Be supportive and listen.“If your child feels that they were touched inappropriately or witnessed something that made them uncomfortable, discuss it with them and ask questions,” said Jenny. “Do not dismiss their concerns. It is important you allow your child to speak up and share their experience with you so you can provide them with the help they need.”

“With the stigma that continues to surround the topic of sexual abuse, it is critical that parents have conversations with their children about it often to empower them to talk to you in a situation where they feel like they were sexually harmed,” said Carlisle. “The most important thing they should know is if it happens to them, it is not their fault and their only responsibility is to report it and seek help.”

If your child needs treatment for sexual abuse or sexual aggression, please contact the King County Sexual Assault Center at 888-998-6423 or Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress at 206-744-1600.