Autism

Visible Voices Vote

My Better Half shared this article with me on November 6, 2018 (Election Day), and I want to pass it along to others while trying to touch on some of the issues and resources in this article.

I really appreciate the idea and process of supporting all persons with making informed choices and to do so in a way that respects their autonomy as humans and their rights as citizens.

The idea of a social story and anticipatory guidance feels so smart and kind for most adults who are voting for the first time. I think many young adults could benefit from this resource and, as such, I consider it a gift from this mother to have created it for her son and share it.

As I read and re-read the resources in this article, I delved deeper into the Bazelon Center site.

It’s eye-opening and mind-blowing how variable and fraught with ambiguity the law seems to be on the matter of whether individuals with disabilities and mental health concerns can vote. It reminds me, in many ways, of the bar we set before people wishing to become a US citizen.

More specifically, my work often involves talking with families about the topic of guardianship for their children as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. This article gave me cause for pause and added to my understanding about how guardianship determinations could impact a person’s ability to vote later in life or in another state if they so choose to move.

In closing, I would like to encourage folks to share this Know Your Rights resource on voting.

Autism Evaluation Process

April is National Autism Awareness Month, so I wanted to post about topics that relate to the autism aspects of my professional training and practice. One piece that is often not discussed is what actually goes into an autism diagnostic evaluation - for patient and practitioner alike.

I take the process of conducting an autism diagnostic evaluation very seriously. I try to give as much of myself as I can intellectually and emotionally in order to provide patients and families with guidance. My goal is to offer an evaluation that is compassionate, informative, and useful.

These are the measures I routinely use as part of an autism diagnostic evaluation:

  • Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule - Second Edition (ADOS-2) - clinician-administered
  • Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) - caregiver report
  • Social Responsiveness Scale - Second Edition (SRS-2) - caregiver & self-report
  • Detailed Developmental History - caregiver report
  • Chart Review - pediatric medical records and educational services & assessment history

As outlined above, the diagnostic evaluation is not just me and the patient taking a prescribed set of tests. It is often what I learn in the life narrative that gives me the confidence to proceed with a clear diagnosis and treatment plan. In order to get this information and an accurate health history, I need to talk to caregivers and review pediatric records. This is true for my adult patients seeking a diagnosis as well. While it may seem like a long time ago, childhood behaviors as reported by caregivers give me a fuller picture of the patient's life. 

Beyond the ADOS, I provide anxiety, ADHD, and mood screening Instruments when applicable. An evaluation is so much more than a "Yes" or "No" stamp for a single diagnosis, as it represents a person and a plan to improve their lives based on the challenges they have had and face today.

The inspiration for my wanting to be Ever Better at conducting autism diagnostic evaluations comes from the families I've met along the way. Those who've talked with me about what went well and what they wished could've been different on the day they learned the diagnosis.

I've also found new inspiration and room for growth in working with adults who are seeking a diagnosis later in life. The feelings and dynamics of obtaining a first diagnosis as an adult are something I am learning to navigate with my clients, and I am honored to learn with them.

I am starting to get into a rhythm with scheduling diagnostic evaluations, and I hope to keep receiving referrals for individuals across the lifespan who wonder if they're on the spectrum. In private practice, I am afforded more flexibility in scheduling and administering tests. What this has meant is that patients can get an appointment more quickly and often during "outside of typical office hours" so they can get the answers and help they are seeking more smoothly. 

This April, I'm providing autism diagnostic evaluations on Saturday mornings. So far, I have enjoyed serving new patients in a timely manner - it is very fulfilling for me to get a call from a new referral and be able to serve them within a week or two of their inquiry. Providing answers and helping families better understand their loved ones is one of the most satisfying parts of my work, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve patients and families in this way.

World Autism Day 2017

I really enjoy Christmas lights, so much so that I'm one-step removed from Walt Griswold.

While placing candle lights in the window back in November, I decided that I wanted to keep them up through April so that my family and I could Light it up Blue for World Autism Day.

I went to this website to buy candle lights, and I picked up standard bulbs at Home Depot.

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April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, making this the 10th year of recognition on this day. Initially envisioned to bring greater awareness, the focus now broadens to include acceptance, advocacy, and greater autonomy for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.

My goal this month is talk more with my kids about people with autism and their families. They each know I work with people with autism, but I want to deepen their understanding in a way that matches their developmental level. I think these shows might be a good start for them.

I'm going to light up my house blue for all of April, and I hope that people who see the lights on at night reflect and respond inclusively for individuals with autism and their families.

Fall Speaking Engagements

Lately I have switched gears from blogging to preparing for speaking engagements in the Rochester community.  Below is my full schedule of speaking engagements this fall, with details on how you can attend.  As each draws closer, I hope to send out a teaser on this blog about the topic and content of my speech.  Then, when all settles, I should have some great material to turn into blog posts for my loyal readers through the long Rochester winter.

If you have questions about any of these engagements, you can reach me directly at bryanharrisonphd@gmail.com.  I hope to see friendly and familiar faces in the crowd this fall!

The Children's School at URMC - Teacher In-Service

Monday, October 10, 9 A.M. - 10 A.M., Closed to the public.
http://www.cclc.com/our-centers/rochester/ny/301671/

Greater Rochester Mother's of Twins

Thursday, October 13, 7 P.M. - 9 P.M., Open to Members. Free.
http://www.grmotc.com/

Upstate Special Needs Planning - Disability awareness Week

Monday, October 24, 6 P.M. - 7:30 P.M., 
Open to the public. Reservations requested at 585-899-1253. Free.
http://www.upstatesnp.com/homepage/

Camp Puzzle Peace Family Empowerment Series

Tuesday, October  25, 6 P.M. - 7:30 P.M., 
Open to the public. Reservations required at 585-371-5018.
$25 fee for a 3 series engagement, paid to Camp Puzzle Peace.
http://www.familyautismcenter.com/programs/parent-programs

AutismUp Speaker Series - Confidence & Self-Advocacy

Monday, November 7, 7 P.M. - 9 P.M.  Open to Members. Free.
http://autismup.org/program-calendar/

I'm on the news!

Each day during the "Week of Miracles," 13 WHAM News profiles a 2016 Golisano Children's Hospital Miracle Kid. Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to talk with Norma Holland about my work with Fauna and her son Daniel. Their story aired on Wednesday, September 14: 

You can read more about the story here. I also previously wrote about my time with Fauna and Daniel in the BIFF clinic at URMC in my blog and on the website. The work Fauna and I did together is quite literally why I do what I do for a living. I would not be who I am if it were not for the amazing opportunities I have to work with families like them everyday.