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6 Years!

Dear Families, Colleagues and Friends,

Welcome to the 6th Anniversary celebration of ICAN Center for Autism

I write this statement with honor and gratitude. It is truly an honor that we have the opportunity to provide care and develop relationships with the children and families that attend our clinic.

I was in my office yesterday and had the opportunity to talk with two of the kids that have been here since the early days of ICAN. First, it was astounding to see how big they have grown and second it was amazing to see the progress they have made.

Being able to walk around the clinic and see the kids that have been a part of our history and see kids that are a part of our future is a testament to the team that has supported great accomplishments. The team can be comprised of the parents/caregivers, the support system of those parents/caregivers, the providers and the administrative team that all must work together to open the doors for the kids. There is a great deal of compassion, sacrifice, commitment, setbacks, and successes along each child’s journey. I am always awe struck by the level of passion, compassion and commitment to help our little warriors progress through their treatment.

Lakeside started as a single provider that has always believed in providing high quality care as a part of a multidisciplinary team. Today we have a team of29 providers committed to working as a part of the team delivering effective services. As we look ahead to 2015 we are focused on continuing our efforts to provide hope and a future by working to improve the quality of care you receive and developing new and improved programs and services to meet your needs.

I leave you with my profound gratitude for your support of ICAN. We are here because you have the trust in us to be a part of your team. We are here with you; we are here for you to support and guide along the journey to the best possible future.

Warmest Regards,


Owner/President ICAN Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment

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The Benefits of Health Savings Accounts

Health Savings Account Use and Benefits:
With new insurance plans that are coming into play with higher deductibles and higher co-insurance amounts we wanted to share information regarding ways to plan for the costs and ways that you can benefit from Health Savings Account (HSA) programs. Many HSA accounts allow you to begin contributing at any time. We recommend that you start saving for the future and experience the benefits of your HSA today. Get in touch with your HR representative to find out if your company offers this benefit.
The tax benefits of HSAs are quite substantial. Eligible individuals can make tax-deductible (as an adjustment to AGI) contributions to HSA accounts. Funds in the account may be invested (somewhat like an IRA), so there is opportunity for growth. The earnings inside the HSA are free from federal income tax, and funds withdrawn to pay eligible health care costs are tax free.
An HSA is a tax-exempt trust or custodial account established exclusively for paying qualified medical expenses of the participant who, for the months for which contributions are made to an HSA, is covered under a high-deductible health plan. Consequently, an HSA is not insurance; it is an account that must be opened with a bank, brokerage firm, or other provider (i.e., insurance company). It is therefore different from a flexible spending account in that it involves an outside provider serving as a custodian or trustee.
The 2014 inflation-adjusted deduction for individual self-only coverage under a high-deductible plan is limited to $3,300, while the comparable amount for family coverage is $6,550. This is an increase of 1.5% and 1.6%, respectively, from 2013. For 2014, a high-deductible health plan is defined as a health plan with an annual deductible that is not less than $1,250 for self-only coverage and $2,500 for family coverage, and the annual out-of-pocket expenses (including deductibles and copayments, but not premiums) must not exceed $6,350 for self-only coverage or $12,700 for family coverage. (1)
1. Source: RLP TAX and ACCOUNTING:

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Unthinkable Videos!

[et_pb_section][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text]All of us have experienced a time in which they did something which could be construed as “socially awkward” – I average about 150 of these moments in one day.  There is a fun curriculum called Superflex®: A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum which teaches children (and adults!) about factors and behaviors which can interfere with positive social interactions, and thereby reduce social awkwardness.  Basically, there is a superhero named Superflex, who exemplifies flexible, adaptive, and positive thinking in a social context.  Then there are a gang of villains, called the “Unthinkables,” who represent reasons for breakdowns in social interactions.  For example, one villain is “Rock Brain,” who makes people become rigid and inflexible regarding their ideas, and another villain is Glassman, who makes people have huge emotional reactions to tiny problems.  Here is a picture of Superflex and the “bad guys”:


Recently, as a means to help children identify moments when the “Unthinkables” are threatening to derail a social interaction, I have begun taking videos of myself and kids play-acting different Unthinkables on video.  Here is a child pretending to have “Body Snatcher” inside of his brain, which results in him not being able to physically stay with an interaction:

  Here is a video of me as “One-Sided Sid,” in which I want to just talk about something I am interested in, and am not interested in what others have to say: The child and I have been able to use these videos to learn about factors and behaviors which break down social interactions, and we have also shared these videos with peers, who have appreciated the humorous as well as socially-educational content.  As we increase our ability to identify the Unthinkables, we can then become more adept at adopting strategies and flexible ways of thinking to “defeat” them, and increase the quality of our social interactions, and our ability to form relationships with others. You can check out the Superflex® materials and curriculum at: Posted by: Andy, Speech-Language Pathologist[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
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Quick Tip – Eye Contact


In this age of tablets, Xbox Ones, and PS4s, it can be nice to get some real face time (and not Facetime on your iPhone!).  Often adults stress the importance of eye contact with children, but they might not explain to the child why looking at someone is important in an interaction.  So try this: the next time a child asks you a “yes” or “no” question (i.e., “Can I play Angry Birds?”), do not respond with verbal language.  Instead, wait until they take the time to look at you, then either shake or nod your head.  If the child is having difficulty looking at you, make a noise to show that you are pondering their request, such as “hmmm,” which would be a cue to alert the other person to you and your response.   That way, you have given the other person reason and opportunity to establish a line of non-verbal communication with you, and you can make their attention to you motivating by nodding your head to indicate, “yes – we can have another teenage mutant ninja turtle battle” – or whatever else your child might be requesting.

Posted by: Andy, Speech-Language Pathologist

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FUNctional Activities!

Will Smith enjoying Emily’s favorite era of video gaming in one of the “most 90’s” pictures ever taken.

It’s no secret that kids today are constantly exposed to new television shows, video games, and other various media.  It seems as though each week one of my kids is talking about a new video game or app on the iPad that is “the bomb”.  Ok, so maybe my kids don’t say that exactly, but I’m a bit unsure of the “cool” lingo these days.  As someone who grew up in the age of Sega and Nintendo (the original) and who is convinced that Zelda is most amazing game ever invented, I am constantly hearing about the newest video game or iPad app that has grabbed the attention of the kids I work with.

So when one of my kids came in to therapy last week talking nonstop about the newest version of a Super Mario game (I’ve lost track at which one or how many there are these days) and all the different worlds and levels you can play I thought, “How can I turn his love and fixation with this game into a FUNctional therapy activity?” We started with a piece of paper and a pencil. We sat down and discussed six different worlds that are involved in the Super Mario game, looked around the room at the materials we had to use (therapy balls, monkey bars, and balloons to name a few), and then decided we were going to design our own obstacle course based on the worlds involved in the game. He sat down and created a map of each obstacle course.  While drawing each course, he was asked to explain what happened in each obstacle and how to make it through each course.   Once the map was drawn and the courses developed, it was time to invite a friend to play.

Children with autism are often visual learners who may benefit from teaching strategies involving visual supports, repetitions, and sensory input to actively engage in learning activities.  Social activities and interactions with peers can also be difficult at times.  In this activity, the child I was working with was able to initiate an interaction with a peer, explain the activity he designed in a way that was easily understood, and followed through with the activity while maintaining topic and a positive social interaction with the friend he asked to play.  Throughout the activity, the Super Mario topic was left out completely in the discussion and the activity took on its own unique structure! He was able to use his love of the video game and the concept to build and develop his own idea.

In that one motivating and FUNctional activity we targeted several skills that are essential for children, and anyone for that matter, to have a positive and fun social experience!

These kinds of fun and motivating activities allow children to be creative and be the leaders in their own growth and development! Maybe your child has a love of Minecraft. Challenge them to use their imagination to find different items and materials around the house to build their own fortress or structure to protect from enemies. Or maybe your child loves the Toca Boca tea party app on the iPad. Use this idea to encourage your child to invite friends to sit down and have a real tea party! Go beyond the technology and video game systems to create your own fun activities based on these games kids today love so much.  All of these activities promote social growth, language development, and all within a FUNctional activity and environment.

Posted by: Emily, Speech-Language Therapist

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Lakeside Expanding!

We are thrilled to let you all know that ICAN is in the process of expanding its operations in the Issaquah area! We will be adding an additional 4500 square feet that will increase our capacity to provide our services to children and families affected by autism. Attached you will find pictures of the space that is being prepared for the opening in August of this year. In addition to the space that we are adding, ICAN will be working on improving its internal systems with the integration of an electronic medical records system. Not only will this improve the communication and efficiency within our daily operations for our team, but it will create streamlined communication with the families of ICAN. The system will include a patient portal to communicate with your child’s team and many more features we will be sharing in the near future. As we go through this process, we are working vigorously to ensure any transitions or changes happen as seamlessly as possible. We want to thank the families of ICAN for the opportunity to provide care and support!

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Summer ACTIVE-ities – Part One!

All the spring weather we’ve been having the last two weeks has made me VERY anxious for summer to get here. (This California girl is choosing to ignore the fact that it was “snowing heavily” in North Bend only yesterday…and the fact that summer doesn’t come to this area until July 5th…)


Pretty spring weather (and the promise of eventual summer) brings with it the opportunity to get outside and take advantage of the beautiful outdoor activities available to us in the Pacific Northwest.  One of my favorite activities for taking advantage of the precious sunshine is biking.

As a PT, I love biking for a lot of reasons.

Biking promotes:

– upright posture.

– bilateral coordination (two legs working together in that reciprocal pedaling motion).

– coordination of upper and lower extremities (pedaling AND steering).

– lower extremity strength (pedaling up those steep driveways and hills).

– cardiovascular fitness (getting hearts pumping and blood flowing).

The great thing about biking is that it develops the important things listed above, and it’s FUN!!! This means that it is inherently motivating! Kids know that biking is a blast and that is all that they need to know!  Biking with family and friends also provides a great opportunity for social interaction.

With this in mind, I’d like to invite you all to a biking event at ICAN Center for Autism this Friday… Outdoors for All is coming!!


Outdoors for All is an organization that provides adaptive equipment and assistance to allow all people to access outdoor activities, and they are bringing an actual TRUCKLOAD of adaptive bicycles to the clinic.  Stop by the clinic from 5-7pm THIS FRIDAY MAY 3RD for some fun biking activities! Your LCA physical therapists will be on hand to answer any questions, and provide tips and strategies to maximize your child’s success on wheels!

Hope you can join us!!

Posted by: Amanda, Physical Therapist

Autism Spectrum Disorders - News and Research Company News Occupational Therapy

Sensory Stories!

You’ve probably heard of Social StoriesTM, an intervention to teach social skills developed by Carol Gray. Social Stories are effective at teaching kids what to expect during new or unpredictable situations. They also help kids learn what behaviors are acceptable choices in different situations. Sensory Stories are very similar to Social Stories with the focus of what to do in a challenging sensory situation.  Occupational therapists Deborah Marr and Victoria Nackley describe how to use Sensory Stories in their article “Using Social Stories & Sensory Stories in Autism Intervention” (2010) and they describe how to create an individualized Sensory Story in the article “Writing Your Own Sensory Story” (2007). An effective Sensory Story helps children learn how to self-regulate using sensory strategies.

There are many Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) that include challenging sensory components. Many of these ADLs such as bathing, eating, school routines, going to a restaurant, and sleeping are difficult for many kids. There are some pre-made Sensory Stories available from the website This website requires a subscription fee and the stories can be customized for individuals based on their challenges and sensory strategies that work for them.


Sensory Stories can also be created with the help of your ICAN occupational therapist (OT)! Since your OT knows your child’s sensory system, they can work with you to develop a Sensory Story, while keeping in mind the sensory strategies that work for your child. They will also use language, images, and self-implemented strategies that are appropriate for your child. Other considerations include how you or other adults in your child’s life can make small changes to the environment to help make sure the strategies are effective. They will also consider what strategies are considered socially appropriate for your child’s age as well as the environment.  Sensory Stories are meant to be read repeatedly to prepare your child for the experience before it occurs. This helps generalize what your child has been working on in OT to carry over to other environments.


Since Sensory Stories are customizable, they can be presented to your child in a variety of formats that will engage their interest. Your child might help create line drawings for a book. Peer models or siblings might help demonstrate the strategies using short video modeling clips. An e-book with photos can be created for viewing on an iPad, computer, or be printed to take to school.


If you are concerned about a particular ADL that seems to be impacted by sensory challenges, talk to your OT about creating a Sensory Story!

Posted by: Kavita, Occupational Therapist

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Dyspraxia. Have you heard of it? Can you guess what it means? Even if you think you have no idea what it is, you’ve undoubtedly seen it in kids and adults and didn’t know what to call it! Check out this brief overview from the National Center for Learning Disabilities that explains what dyspraxia is and how it affects individuals.

Have you noticed these characteristics in kids or adults that you know? Just as some kids have trouble with learning math or reading skills, kids with dyspraxia have trouble learning motor skills. Think about how often and in how many places kids need to move… everywhere! Playgrounds, home, school, sports teams, community places like museums, stores, parks! If kids are having trouble moving their bodies in all these places, can you imagine what that might feel like? If kids want to play a ball game with other kids, how long will they want to stick with it if they just can’t get their body to catch a ball? If they can’t climb up to reach a slide at the playground, would it simply look to someone else like they don’t want to play? All of those scenarios sound pretty frustrating to me!

This week, our preschool staff was able to get a small glimpse of what that feels like. Thankfully, they were up for the challenge to try to experience something that so many kids experience everyday. Each staff member had one of their eyes covered with an eye patch (to simulate difficulty with visual tracking and teaming of eyes together), their dominant hand tied behind their back (to simulate difficulty coordinating the Left and Right sides of the body, also called bilateral coordination), and their legs tied together (to simulate balance and body control difficulties). They were then given tasks to attempt to do that we ask kids to do on a daily basis. While it was silly to see the attempts, it was also an eye-opening experience to see how frustrating seemingly simple tasks can be with dyspraxia! All of a sudden, asking a kid to sit “criss-cross applesauce” doesn’t seem like such an easy request!

Sara tries to build a Lego structure to match the one that already was made:

Sara building Legos


Here’s Tina trying the balance beam and jumping with two feet:

Kavita attempts to put a shirt on:

kavita putting on a shirt

Jaimi learned how difficult it is to catch and throw a ball:


Posted by: Carrie, Physical Therapist