A recent commentary entitled, “Rethinking autism spectrum disorder assessment for children during COVID-19 and beyond” was published in the journal Autism Research in September 2021. Drs. Wendy Stone and Lisa Ibanez are two of the co-authors of this opinion piece. The article described the challenges imposed on autism families and clinicians by the COVID-19 pandemic and by documented health disparities. The budding role of telehealth in autism assessments to mitigate these challenges is also discussed.
Spectrum News recently published a Q & A with two of the authors of the article, Drs. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum and Somer Bishop that you can read here: Q & A on Spectrum. Look for the shout-out to our very own Dr. Ibanez, who emphasizes that the COVID-19 pandemic offers a good starting point for hitting the “re-set” button for rethinking the goals of autism assessments and providing equitable access.
Published by Spectrum, the leading site for autism research news.
Many children with autism struggle to get a restful night’s sleep. Why is sleeplessness so prevalent in autistic children?
In their special report animation titled ‘Sleepless on the Spectrum’, Emma Bryce and Lottie Kingslake with Spectrum News break down the internal factors and environmental reasons why autistic people may struggle to fall asleep and to stay asleep, as well as share a few tips and tricks to help autistic loved ones get the rest they need.
Access this video and other featured reports at this link!
Published by Spectrum, the leading site for autism research news.
‘Different: A Great Thing to Be!’ introduces us to Macy, a kind and relatable girl who celebrates what makes her unique. Written by Heather Avis and narrated by Lily Moore, Macy’s story is available for free download as an audiobook through Audible’s Premium Plus trial.
Follow this link to read the story summary and learn more about the Audible trial.
This children’s book is New York Times Bestseller and physical books are available for purchase through most bookstores as well.
Today’s Flashback Friday revisits the “Understanding Autism: Reflection & Insights from Parents and Professionals” video created by our READi lab team, in collaboration with Seattle Children’s Autism Center and Gigantic Planet.
These videos were developed for caregivers of children newly diagnosed with autism. They comprise five ‘chapters’ that feature parents who describe their experiences and offer helpful tips and strategies. Topics cover a variety of areas, including the diagnostic process, how to care for and your family, getting help for your child, and more. The videos can be accessed on our website here, and free copies of the DVD are also available.
El DVD viene con subtítulos en español y tenemos copias gratis para distribuirle al público.
Meet Daina, a child clinical psychologist, and READi Lab’s newest postdoctoral researcher. She recently joined the team and has already contributed immensely to our new RISE study! Learn a bit about her and how she integrates theory with evidence-based practices below.
So, you’re a postdoctoral researcher. What exactly does that mean?
Being a postdoctoral researcher means that I have completed my doctoral degree and pre-doctoral internship in clinical psychology, but that I want more experience working with accomplished researchers and building up my own independent research before officially going on the job market and trying to become a professor!
What are the real-world applications of your research?
My research focuses on the development, adaptation, dissemination, and implementation of assessments and interventions for young children with autism. I am also interested in novel ways to assess change through intervention and utilizing family-centered assessment and treatment protocols. This work helps make evidence-based interventions and assessments available in real-world settings such as community clinics and schools and helps ensure services are in line with patient goals and priorities to improve their overall quality of life.
You’re also a budding child clinical psychologist. What is the best part of your clinical work?
I love being able to take what I learn in my clinical work and apply it to my research and vice versa. For example, on my internship, I was trained in a parent-training intervention to help manage behavioral problems in children with autism. Through talking to parents and clients, our clinic very quickly realized that the intervention would also be incredibly helpful to parents of adults with autism, so we developed a research project to adapt and test the intervention for a completely new population – adults. One day we hope to be able to formalize this intervention for adults and encourage providers across the country to utilize it!
There’s a rumor that you own a small… wizard? What’s that about?
I have a 10-month old French Bulldog/Wizard named Merlin! He is magical 🙂 (see picture).
Did you pick up any new hobbies during the COVID quarantine?
I was definitely a part of the sourdough breadmaking trend. I also started making my own kombucha!
Share with us two truths and a lie. (Scroll down to see Daina’s fib!)
I can do a backflip.
I won a competition to start my own business.
I started drinking coffee when I was 6.
(The lie is the second one. I was a finalist, but I didn’t win).
With summer 2021 rapidly coming to an end, a bucket list item for families may be the Chutes-and-Ladders style game at New West Fenwick Park in Kent, WA. This is a life-sized game, meaning that you and your family act as the game pieces, and the playground itself is the game board! This game is ADA-accessible.
Devon Hammer with Parent Map magazine recently shared the game’s instructions as well as other fun equipment and activities at the park! Interested in playing? Follow this link.
photo credit: Devon Hammer
New for Fall 2021, Autism Speaks recently published an updated ‘Guide to Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).’ This guide is free, interactive, and mobile-friendly. The information is current and offers a wide variety of content across six modules. Helpful videos cover the basics of IEPs, how to advocate for your child, and more! This guide can be downloaded on Autism Speaks’ website.
Our READi Lab team could not be prouder of Alaina, a UW undergrad who graduated with a degree in Psychology in June 2021. She joined our lab in 2019, and since then she has helped prepare ImPACT and Pathways study visits, coded behavioral assessments, and provided sibling care for the families who visit our lab. We know she’s going to accomplish incredible things, starting with her new role as a Behavior Tech at A.P.P.L.E. Consulting.
Alaina always came into the lab with a positive attitude and a smile on her face that never failed to lift our spirits. Her willingness to learn new things helped the READi Lab tremendously, especially when we were working from home, and we will miss her dearly! We wish you the best in your new adventures, Alaina!
Our READi lab research team is working hard to move autism research forward while ensuring the safety of our participants and staff. So, the play-based assessments for our latest projects are going virtual! We are looking for families who would be willing to provide feedback on our new research assessments and have a toddler (16 to 40 months old) for whom there are concerns about social communication and/or autism.
Our new assessments comprise several play-based activities designed to observe specific behaviors, such as playing with toys and getting your attention. The assessments will be conducted by you, in your own home. We will drop off toys and study equipment at your home, and coach you through the activities using Zoom. The full set of activities usually takes around 1½ hours but does not have to be completed all at once. We can pay you $150 to compensate you for your time.
If you are interested in helping us, please click this link to fill out a short form with your contact information. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our team at (206) 221-3595 or email@example.com
Meet Hannah, one of READi Lab’s diligent graduate students! Learn more about her and her motivations to help autistic children and their families below.
- What motivated you to study with the READi lab?
I delved into the autism world in my undergraduate years at UCLA and never looked back! I’m really passionate about helping children and families directly while also creating larger change on the system and societal level. When applying to child psychology graduate schools, I knew that I wanted ASD research that went beyond the lab setting and I think the research that READi lab conducts does an incredible job at thinking about not only the larger healthcare/service system but also the individual families within real world contexts.
- What are the implications of your current work?
My master’s thesis is on parenting stress and its possible impact on parent intervention fidelity within parent implemented interventions. Parents already wear so many different hats in their various roles for their children and I’m hoping that I can do more work on this to better understand how to best support parents in their role as treatment provider. My other work focuses on closing the gap between parent concerns and autism evaluation & treatment through mapping out different family’s journeys within the pipeline. I hope that through this research we can continue to find ways to get children and parents the support they need.
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
That’s the million dollar question in grad school! Every day it changes, but I know that I always want to work with children and families and strive to make their lives even just the tiniest bit less stressful!
- Do you identify as an early bird, a night owl, or a perpetually exhausted pigeon?
I’m definitely a perpetually exhausted pigeon, but my dogs have forced me to become an early bird! Nothing like a 6 am wake up call from the cutest little faces.
- Do you have any pets?
Yes! Two adorable and super hyper mini aussies named Buzz Lightyear and Flynn Rider. They are the best and most exhausting thing that’s ever happened to me.
- Please share two truths and a lie about yourself. (Scroll down to discover Hannah’s fib!)
- I’m a vegetarian who hates tomatoes.
- I’ve independently flown a plane.
- I studied abroad in Australia for a few months.
I did not study abroad in Australia!
UW Readi Lab graduate student Trent DesChamps recently attained two new milestones! In June he passed the oral defense of his dissertation, “Outcomes among caregivers of toddlers with ASD concerns following implementation of Screen-Refer-Treat, a novel service delivery model for early ASD detection and intervention.” And on July 1 he began his year-long predoctoral internship through the UC San Diego/VA Psychology Internship Training Program, where he will be working at Rady Children’s Hospital. Our lab wishes you the best and expects to receive photos of your new water sports activities!
Perfect for summer, Sesame Street developed “Playground Pals, with Julia” a free, interactive, and online game as a part of their ‘See Amazing in All Children’ initiative. The goal of the game is to help as many new friends as possible, all while having a lot of fun. Search for lost toys in the sandbox, teach a monster how to swing, and more!
You can access this game, and other games, videos, storybooks, and more at https://autism.sesamestreet.org/.
As Washington state approaches its tentative date for fully reopening on June 30th, many people have strong, conflicting feelings about returning to normal daily living. Dr. Andrea Bonior with Psychology Today offers six simple tips to help with this transition – regardless of your age or developmental status!
From communicating clear expectations to prioritizing self-care, there are several approaches that may help to minimize such complex, contrasting feelings. Read the tips here!
A new READi lab study was published in the journal of Academic Pediatrics! Together with Dr. Kyle Steinman of Seattle Children’s Hospital, we addressed some of the prominent barriers that hinder the screening process and early detection of autism risk in primary care settings. Those barriers were both logistical (e.g., time constraints) and knowledge-based (e.g., screening tool usage) in nature.
Forty-six primary care providers (PCPs) from 10 pediatric clinics throughout Washington State participated in our study which assessed their self-efficacy with aspects of the screening process and screening tool usage before and after a 2-hour training workshop on a web-based version on the M-CHAT-R/F (webM-CHAT-R/F). The webM-CHAT-R/F, which was developed using REDCap, is open-source, available in English and Spanish, and automates both the scoring process and presentation of prescribed follow-up questions. Additionally, the training workshop also covered the broader screening process and context, including how PCPs could approach discussing concerns/results with families and making referrals for additional services. Each of the clinics was provided tablets to facilitate the implementation of the webM-CHAT-R/F with families during their 18-month well-child visits.
From pre- to post-training, there were significant increases in PCPs’ self-reported self-efficacy, routine usage of the M-CHAT-R/F, and usage of the prescribed follow-up questions. Overall, 8 of the 10 practices were using the webM-CHAT-R/F routinely and screened over 650 patients at 18-month well-child visits in the 6 months following the training workshop.
These results suggest promising avenues for scalability and dissemination by combining a brief educational training on the screening process with access to an open-source, automated screener.
Interested in learning more? Access the full paper at this link!
Say “Hi” to Alice, a special education student whose career ambitions and skills in parent and provider coaching during Early Intervention services brought her to the READi Lab team. She aids in our research studies by bringing a unique viewpoint because of her previous training – this challenges us as psychology researchers to think in new ways!
- What do you study at UW?
I am pursuing a Ph.D. in special education, with an emphasis in early childhood education and applied behavior analysis. I like to think of myself as a “developmental behaviorist” because I think that captures the combination pretty well!
- How is it that you’ve joined the lab and what motivated you to do so?
It was important to me to take advantage of as many resources and opportunities as possible during my time in school. I also wanted to connect with other disciplines doing autism research to round out my training. I was interested in the READi Lab’s work since my work prior to grad school was with young children with or at risk for autism and their families, and my research interests include timely autism identification and intervention. So, it felt like there was a lot of overlap! I figured it couldn’t hurt to reach out and see if there was an opportunity to get involved. I was lucky that Wendy and Lisa responded and have since invited me to contribute to various projects.
- You worked previously as an early intervention provider. Too cool! What was the best part of your position?
I loved working with caregivers and daycare providers! The work I did prior to EI was focused on providing direct intervention to children with autism, which I also love. But coaching and collaborating with caregivers and daycare providers was probably my favorite part of being in EI – followed very closely by being around infants and toddlers most of the day because of course, that’s a highlight!
- What is the status of your relationship with spreadsheets?
We’re on speaking terms 🙂
- Have you picked up any new hobbies during the COVID-19 quarantine?
My husband bikes a lot and I finally started joining him on bike rides as a way to spend more time outside. To illustrate what type of a biker I am, I should share that I recently biked up a hill for the first time – historically, I would get off bikes to walk them uphill… gears were a new concept for me.
- Two truths and a lie! (Scroll down to see Alice’s fib!)
I have climbed to the top of Mt. Rainier.
I became stranded in Italy for a week due to an Icelandic volcano eruption.
I have been in 3 operas.
** I have not climbed to the top of Mt. Rainier.
I should also probably clarify that the opera roles were non-singing parts… I was an extra!
From June 8th – 9th, our READi lab team will be moving into our new home in Kincaid Hall, just a 5-minute walk from the Drumheller Fountain and the Rainer Vista on the main UW campus. Please excuse any delayed responses during this time frame – a member of our team will follow up with your phone call or email as soon as possible!
We’re all decked out with a new playroom, located in Suite 120 – 146 on the first floor. While we have a new mailing address (see below), our phone number and email will remain the same.
We will not be returning to in-person data collection immediately, but we’re eagerly waiting to share our new space with you!
University of Washington
Department of Psychology
Seattle, WA 98195
Caregivers may be hesitant to talk with their young children about race, and understandably so. Racial identity and racial justice are complex and sensitive topics. Yet, these conversations are critical because they:
- Help young children develop a strong sense of individuality and group identity
- May help young children understand racially oriented situations they’re exposed to, in-person and on the news
Sesame Street in Communities created “Coming Together: The ABCs of Racial Literacy” to help teach challenging ideas and to spark a healthy conversation about race. Find age-appropriate activities, videos, and lots of other related resources by clicking on the link!
Between rainy season and quarantine, many families are itching to enjoy the best of what the PNW has to offer – soaking up some sunshine, splashing in the Sound, and taking in mountain views. Linnea Westerlind with Parent Map magazine shared playgrounds located throughout Seattle that have some of the most scenic views within the city’s boundaries. Ready for an adventure in a new park near you? Check out the slideshow here!