I love this picture of me and Chad on a dinner cruise in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Laura Crooks, director of Rehabilitation Medicine, shares how losing her son, Chad, sent Laura and her husband on a mission to eliminate the stigma around mental illness.
My son had mental illness.
It seems so strange to write those words. Instead, I want to write that he was creative and loving and gentle. I want people to know him as a big brother and a son who lived in a large and loving family. I want him to be famous for his dream of inventing bold new means of space travel. But today, the part of Chad’s life I am compelled to share is that he had mental illness.
Chad was diagnosed with schizophrenia in April 2015. One evening, not long after telling his father and me that he had been hearing voices, he became suicidal.
I remember that night like it was yesterday. I remember taking him in the car, his dad holding him in a blanket at 21 years old, just so he wouldn’t jump out of the car as we made the trip up Interstate 5 to the University of Washington Emergency Department.
I remember coaching Chad on what to say once we got there: to tell them he wouldn’t make it through the night if they let him go. I remember how hard it was as a mom to tell my son to say these things. But I also know the truth about limited resources for mental health, and that this was the only way for him to truly get help and to keep him safe.
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A group of seventh-grade girls formed the Island Friends Junior Guild.
In March 2015, a group of seventh-grade girls from Mercer Island came up with the idea of starting a guild to support Seattle Children’s, the Island Friends Junior Guild. They banded together and picked a cause they rarely hear their peers talk about, but believe could use a little more support: mental health.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, members of the Island Friends Junior Guild are sharing their story to help inspire others to end the stigma around mental health and raise awareness for Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU).
“The PBMU doesn’t get much attention,” said Tara Manhas, an Island Friends Junior Guild member. “Mental health isn’t really seen as a positive thing. There’s a negative stigma around it. We want to change that.”
Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the nation. In total, there are 450 different guilds that raise money for the hospital, and out of all 450 guilds, one exclusively supports the PBMU. Read full post »
Bedolla (left), 18, has been seeing therapist Julia Petersen from time to time since she was 8 years old.
Yajaira Bedolla was 11 months old when her parents learned she was deaf.
Living in Uruapan, Mexico, Bedolla’s parents searched their town for resources to help with the unknowns of raising a deaf child. The limited resources they found focused on teaching deaf children just to speak, rather than also learn sign language.
They expanded their search and, in doing so, briefly moved to California and back to Mexico before landing in Seattle when Bedolla was 8. Here, they found Seattle Children’s and Petersen, a mental health therapist who provides outpatient therapy and support for deaf patients and their families. Read full post »
The holidays can be a particularly blue time of the year for people, including children and teenagers. The darker days of winter can bring about a gloomy mood and the hype of the holidays can set unrealistic expectations for children. There are many reasons children may feel sad or anxious around the holidays, including added stress around having to be with one or the other parent (not both), in cases of divorced families, or coping with the loss of a loved one who recently passed away.
To help kids cope with sadness around the holidays, Dr. Elizabeth McCauley, associate director of Seattle Children’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, offers some advice on how to keep those blues at bay. Read full post »
Dr. Megan Moreno found that teens posting about self-harm, which includes behavior such as intentional cuts or burns on the wrists, arms, legs or belly, were able to outmaneuver Instagram warning labels.
Teens on social media post about their comings and goings—pictures, videos, music and news. But according to a new study from Seattle Children’s Research Institute, some teens are using stealthy hashtags and secret languages on Instagram, a popular picture-sharing app, to create online self-harm communities and trends that encourage dangerous behavior. By doing so, they circumvent Instagram safeguards for self-harm and other dangerous material.
The new research illustrates what content is present on Instagram and details how parents or concerned adults can decipher the meaning of unclear terms they see on their teens’ profiles.
Dr. Megan Moreno, an adolescent medicine physician who studies social media and adolescent health at the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, found that teens posting about self-harm, which includes behavior such as intentional cuts or burns on the wrists, arms, legs or belly, were able to outmaneuver Instagram warning labels. Despite the social media app’s attempts to discourage the posts by providing warnings and blocking certain hashtags, adolescent users continued the conversations by developing new hashtags.
“We found that only one third of self-harm hashtags on Instagram generated warning labels,” Moreno said. “Adolescents’ use of unusual terms, such as ‘blithe’ and odd spellings such as ‘self-harmmm,’ allowed them to subvert detection and warning labels.” Read full post »
Dr. Bryan King
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.
King sat down with On the Pulse to answer questions about the study. Read full post »
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
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 »
Dr. Bryan King worries that each time the media includes the MMR vaccine and autism in the same sentence, even if reporting the lack of association, the false idea of a linkage between the two is perpetuated.
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 »
Mikey at high school graduation
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 »