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Family Clinic for Autism and ADD/ADHD

Posted by on Jan. 3, 2010 at 1:41 PM
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This was a sad and amazing story.  They also treat families with ADD/ADHD!


The Fund For The Needy

Clinic takes family approach to dealing with disorders

Without a strong foundation at home, an autistic person's chances at success greatly diminish, so the UW CARE Clinic offers services to parents and family members dealing with neurodevelopmental personalities, as well as support for those of all ages with autism, ADHD and other disabilities.

By Sonia Krishnan

Seattle Times staff reporter

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"Mom, they like me," Garrett Moore said after his mother found a peer group for autistic teens at the UW CARE Clinic.

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DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

"Mom, they like me," Garrett Moore said after his mother found a peer group for autistic teens at the UW CARE Clinic.

Debbie Krenzler has struggled with the best way, as a single parent, to raise her autistic son, Garrett Moore.

Enlarge this photo

DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Debbie Krenzler has struggled with the best way, as a single parent, to raise her autistic son, Garrett Moore.

Fund For The Needy dollars at work

What money sent to

UW CARE can do:

$20: Give an autistic teenager social and relationship-building skills through peer-group counseling.

$50: Provide teachers tools for effective and positive behavioral interventions, allowing student success in the classroom.

$100: Develop an evaluation and plan for young adults and their parents as the time comes to transition to independent living.

About UW CARE Clinic

The CARE Clinic provides diagnostic, treatment and support services for Northwest families affected by neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, learning disabilities and ADHD. The center gives evaluation and therapy and treatment throughout a patient's life. Group therapy, marriage counseling and other services are available to help family members. The center also is a training ground for doctoral students pursuing careers in clinical psychology.

Debbie Krenzler does not expect people to understand.

When her son, Garrett Moore, starts screaming in public and she has to hold him down with her arms and legs crossed over him like a wrestler, even though he's 17 and nearly 6 feet tall, and she's 54 and 6 inches shorter, no, she does not expect much in the way of sympathy.

Because to understand autism, you have to live with it. And most people don't. So she endures the stares and the "what-a-bad-mother" whispers. She just wishes they knew about the good moments. Like the time last year, when Moore joined a peer group for autistic children in Seattle.

The handful of teenagers learned various skills: How to make a phone call, deal with bullies, and calm down in stressful situations.

"Mom, they like me," Moore said. It was the first time he felt accepted by other kids.

And it was first time Krenzler felt like they had finally found the right place for help.

Family involvement

The University of Washington CARE Clinic on 15th Avenue Northeast provides diagnostic, treatment and support services for those affected by neurodevelopmental disorders. This includes autism, mental retardation and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The clinic is one of 13 nonprofits helped by The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy, which has provided $12 million to local charities since 1979.

The program was once called ASTAR - Autism Spectrum Treatment and Research. When that closed last year, its psychology and behavioral departments opened in September as the UW CARE Clinic.

The philosophy is this: Without a strong foundation at home, an autistic person's chances at success greatly diminish. That's why the center offers couples counseling, parent coaching, individual therapy, and in-home support, said administrator Mari Stobbe.

"Our approach is very much the whole family," she said. "We know that autism affects everyone ... and everyone very differently."

There is no age limit - Stobbe said the clinic treats people from "3 to 103" - and it keeps fees low to make treatment accessible.

Tara Lewis' 12-year-old son, Elliott, starting showing signs of autism when he was around 2. He walked late, withdrew into himself, and started losing whatever language facility he'd had.

Then there were the outbursts.

"He'd throw these amazing fits," said Lewis, a mother of three.

"My husband and I would both have to hold him down just to put his pajamas on."

Elliott's disorder, diagnosed as a type of mid-functioning autism, strained every relationship in the family, from his older and younger sisters to Lewis and her husband, who strove to maintain their marriage amid the chaos.

The Bothell couple sought help at the center nearly seven years ago. They wanted Elliott to meet other autistic children, and they'd heard how good the therapists were.

But to her surprise, Lewis said, the whole family ended up benefiting. Whenever she's having a bad day and desperately needs to talk to someone, "my therapist there will pull me aside and give me five minutes of her time, even if she's booked."

Lewis relies on a drastically reduced sliding-scale rate - $5 an hour instead $100 - because she couldn't afford the care otherwise.

"The people here have become like family," she said.

Single parent's needs

Krenzler's marriage did not survive her son's autism.

It crumbled in 1995, when Moore was 3, and she was left with raising him as a single mom.

When she wasn't working 10-hour days as a mammographer at Virginia Mason Medical Center, she was immersed in the library of books on autism tucked inside her white armoire.

But nothing she read prepared her for what it would feel like, as a parent, when Moore would start one of his fits, punching and biting her until she bled.

There used to be so much shame and embarrassment and frustration. Now, at the CARE Clinic, she has a compassionate therapist, someone who really "gets" what autism does to a family, she said.

And Moore has finally found a place with other kids like him.

Krenzler can't help but see the potential when she looks at her son. He loves to dance - his homage to Elvis sits on the living-room shelf of their Bothell home - and he's getting so much better at communicating, she said.

Despite Moore's autism and developmental delays - he reads at about a first- to second-grade level - Krenzler finds herself dealing with universal parenting battles. And right now, it's the teenage years.

Just the other day, Moore insisted he walk the mile and a half from their house to Walmart by himself. (Krenzler drove to the store and waited until he showed up.) And he's really into girls now. He recently asked a girl if he could kiss her. (She politely declined, but offered to dance with him instead.)

Krenzler knows her son is trying. And so is she.

Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or skrishnan@seattletimes.com

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by on Jan. 3, 2010 at 1:41 PM
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