Friday, May 2, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen...Sharky!

Welcome to Still Life With Shark, a blog chronicling the ongoing joys, challenges, and Quixotic struggles with bureaucracy that are inherent in raising a child with Autism.

My son Sharky was born in July of 2002 in Olympia, WA. He and his mothers moved to Seattle in 2005, and I spent the next 10 months driving back and forth to Seattle to have him with me every weekend. Finally, in late spring of 2006 I'd had enough of that, and moved to Seattle as well.

Around that time our concerns over what seemed to be delays in his speech and other areas were peaking, and we decided to have him evaluated by the Seattle School district's special education department. We missed their cutoff time for that school year, and had to wait until summer was over to finally be seen.

In October of 2006 Sharky was evaluated by Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and was found to qualify for special education services due to significant delays in communication, social skills, social awareness, and motor skills. There was also suspected Autism due to stereotypical behaviors, such as hand flapping.

A few weeks later he was evaluated by a team of therapists and clinicians at Children's Hospital in Seattle, and was diagnosed with Autism.

And that's when the real fun begins! The ensuing 18 months have been a frenzy and commotion of struggles with government, insurance companies, and most of all the SPS. The good old SPS.

It's also been a time of meeting amazing advocates, teachers, therapists, and other children with disabilities and their families. It's included brushes with news media, professional photographers, and most of all, it's been a time to witness Sharky flourish into a person none of us would have imagined 18 months ago.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting summaries of our past adventures, letters to and from various bureaucrats, and pleasant recollections in order to bring us all up to date. From that point on, I will be using this blog as a blow by blow account of what is yet to come. Trust me, there will never be any shortage of material. Sharky will keep on producing the miraculous and the bureaucrats will keep on producing the horrific, and both will be here for the world to witness.


atcsim said...

I am glad you are putting all of this information in one place. I think it will be helpful to you as well as others who are dealing with Autism to realize that they are not alone. Great Picture of Sharky. Isabel

DJ said...

Sharky's and your "reunion" was sooooo beautiful! It brought tears to my eyes. Keep us all posted...

Jeff Gitchel said...

Well, it's a bit hard to type with my eyes so wet. "August 1, 2005" was a wonderful letter, and I'm glad to see your blog.

I'll have to take a break before I read anymore ;-)


Anonymous said...

God speed I am in your boat too. Come visit us all with ASD kids. see you there.

Miss Paige said...

Hi! My name is Paige. I saw the story of your beautiful family in the Seattle PI today. My son, Ryan, is autistic. We always knew there was "something about him". He was diagnosed officially at age 7. He is now 10. He is high funtioning, Asperger's Syndrome. I hope that you all find the resources & support you need. I started a group on yahoo ( with the sole purpose being to find families support in all aspects of their lives with Autism.
I am also so touched when I hear other parents tell their stories, how close we all are to one another & how much just knowing that someone else knows how you're feeling. I know I am a stranger, but if there is anything myself & mine can do for you & yours, I hope you wouldn't hesitate.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I found your blog via the article in the Seattle PI. I have two kids with ASD and found so much of our own experience echoed in your story, thank you for sharing it.
I wanted to pass along this link that someone gave me ages ago, it's a call for stories from diverse parents of children with special needs:
All my best to you and Sharky,

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharky and parents...

I just wanted to pass along a website that may interest you. Northshore Special Families, an organization for families just like you. Hope it helps!

maranderson said...

Hi Sharky and parents,

There is an organization in Bothell that may interest you if none exist in Seattle. It is Northshore Special Families. Check it out and see if it would be helpful to you. Blessings!

maranderson said...

Hi again,

Also, there is an Autism 101 class at Children's Hospital on May 22 from 7 - 8:30 pm, just in case you're interested. Here is the registration sight:

Anonymous said...

My son was born just five months before yours and is finishing his kindergarten year in the Seattle schools with a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome. It's been a journey that I never would have imagined, and he's doing better than we ever thought. The Seattle schools have issues, but in our case they have done so much to support and encourage our son. I wish you as much luck as we have had in negotiating IEPs, school choice and the playground.

irma said...

I haven't read your blog but I read a reprint of the article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. I am horrified that the school district hasn't done more. I don't know who is the lead agency in WA for Early Childhood Special Education, but I so wish you lived in MN. ECSE services for children who are eligible, are mandated by law from birth on. There are such wonderful public school programs for children with autism in this state (as well as others but this state is the one I know about). Additional services such as OT and speech as well are provided at no cost to families. The article said that Sharkey's mother has thought about moving to ensure the services he needs. If that is to occur, I would hope that the metropolitan Twin Cities area is one you might consider.