Category Archives: Events

Solar Eclipse! Tips for watching and preparing your child for the eclipse

Solar Eclipse! Tips for watching and preparing your child for the eclipse

By Kira Hamer and Emily Fox

On August 21st, 2017 we will have an amazing opportunity to see an almost complete solar eclipse. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While we aren’t directly in the path of the eclipse (you have to go to Oregon for that), we will experience almost total darkness at 10:30am when the moon passes in front of the sun! Many of us might find this experience and the science behind it incredibly exciting, but for some individuals, this event could be confusing, a little frightening, and disrupting to our routines. In this blog post, our team offers some suggestions for how to prepare yourself and your child for the eclipse, as well as some fun activities to do in the Seattle area while it is happening!

Here is a social story to help prepare your child for the Solar Eclipse: I am going to see a solar eclipse

Here is what the eclipse will look like in Seattle:

Facts about the solar eclipse:

How to Protect Your Eyes during the Eclipse

First and foremost: looking directly at the sun without special eye protection can cause serious damage, so always protect your family’s eyes with solar glasses if you want to directly observe the eclipse. According to, there are four companies that meet NASA standards for solar glasses. These are Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17. Your local library may also offer free eclipse glasses! It is important to note that sunglasses are not a replacement for special viewing glasses. If you are unable to find special glasses, another way to view the eclipse safely is to build a pinhole camera. A pinhole camera projects sunlight through a small hole in a box onto the other side of the box, so that you aren’t looking directly at the sun. You can find instructions for building a pinhole camera here.

How to Prepare Your Child for the Eclipse

Like any new experience or change for a child, it can be helpful to practice what you might do the day of the eclipse or to talk about what might happen. Here are some tips to help you and your child prepare:

  • Introduce your child to the solar eclipse using a social story. You can find an example attached. It may be helpful to read the social story several times a few days in advance of the eclipse.
  • Use a stopwatch or a timer to help your child know how much time is left in the eclipse. In most locations, the total eclipse will likely last 2-3 minutes.
  • If you are using solar glasses, help your child practice wearing these glasses so that they can get used to how they feel on their face.
  • Make sure you and your child are wearing sunscreen if you will be outside!
  • If you are worried that being outside during the eclipse will be frightening for your child, watch the eclipse in a different way! NASA will be live-streaming the event, and your child may be more comfortable watching the eclipse inside at home.
  • During the eclipse, the temperature will drop significantly and rapidly. If your family will be outside, plan on bringing an extra coat or a blanket.
  • The sudden darkness during the day will likely create increased traffic. It may be helpful to either plan on staying home for the duration of the eclipse or to get to your viewing spot early. If your child has to attend camp or a school program on the day of the eclipse, you may need to warn them that the drive could be longer or you might have to drive on a different route.
  • Make the experience fun! Color pictures of the sun and the moon, get a book from the library about space and the planets, or take photos of your family on the day of the eclipse. Help your child understand that this is a special and exciting day in science.

Fun Eclipse Activities

The eclipse is a great opportunity to help your kids become real scientists! NASA is asking people in the viewing area to report on what they see and experience. The GLOBE (Global Learning Observations to Benefit the Environment) Observer Eclipse App can be downloaded on your phone, and guides you through how to make observations. NASA is hoping to have a million eclipse viewers contribute their findings!

SCN2A Family Meeting

Two weeks ago a team from the Bernier Lab had the pleasure of flying to Wilmington, Delaware to help facilitate testing for some amazing kiddos affected by disruptive mutations to the gene SCN2A. Our team included our TIGER study coordinator, Morgan Kelly, Post-doc and EEG specialist, Dr. Caitlin Hudac, and our clinical post-doc, Dr. Jessica Peterson!  Dr. Raphe Bernier, the principal investigator of the TIGER study, also came out to the SCN2A family meeting to give a presentation on “Dynamic Behavioral & Neural Patterns Among Children with de novo SCN2A Variants”.

Thank you to the families who participated in the TIGER study during this weekend, we are very grateful to all of you and for those who helped organize and attend the event for make this research possible! Participation involved completion of assessments and collection of EEG.

Some highlights from the conference include seeing scientists and families engaged across both days with presentations made by family members and scientists interspersed, and attending the family meeting dinner, where we were able to meet with other researchers and hear stories from families affected by this genetic event. It was a truly wonderful experience to meet some of the families who are invested in seeing SCN2A research advance, thank you for welcoming us and we look forward to future collaborative work!

Follow the link to learn more about the SCN2A family conference:

INSAR Summer Institute Schedule 2017

The International Society for Autism Research is hosting a free series of six weekly seminars related to culture and diversity in autism research. These seminars are from July 13 to August 24. Check out the INSAR website for more detailed information!

Registration is free and available worldwide to those interested in autism research.

This year’s focus will be related to culture and diversity in autism research.

13 JulyDr. Aubyn Stahmer (University of California, Davis MIND Institute) opens with a seminar on access to services and services across diverse communities.

27 JulyDr. Elizabeth Pellicano (University College London) is leading a seminar about ethical considerations, specifically ethics of autism research and the relation of ethics to research participation.

3 AugustDr. Roy Richard Grinker (George Washington University) will provide an anthropological view of ASD.

10 August Dr. Sue Fletcher-Watson (The University of Edinburgh) takes us through what we need to know and what we do not yet know about bilingualism in ASD.

17 August Dr. Jennifer Singh (Georgia Institute of Technology) will provide an overview about the structural inequalities in the diagnosis and services for ASD.

24 August Dr. Nidhi Singhal (National Centre for Autism India) concludes the series with a presentation on topics related to autism research in India, particularly epidemiological aspects and the development of screening and diagnostic tools. Â

Psychiatry Annual Meeting

This June the Psychiatry Department held it’s Annual Psychiatry Department Meeting, where faculty and staff from across the department gather to learn about the last years and upcoming year’s department profiles (e.g. faculty demographics, funding overviews) the roles and updates from the department administration team (e.g. Research, Grants Management, Human Resources).  This year the department meeting was followed by the first-ever Staff Appreciation Event, where staff were invited to lunch and to participate in different activities designed to reach across labs and centers within the department.

Bernier Lab Highlights of this year’s meeting include:

  • Recognition of Dr. Raphe Bernier’s promotion to Professor! Congratulations Raphe!
  • Raphe Bernier’s video clip where he describes the Autism Blogcasts!
  • Micah Pepper’s video clip from managing staff who are part of the Psychiatry Operations Council!

We want to send a special thank you to the Psychiatry Department’s administration team for putting together a great event this year! Some of our staff even got to meet the UW’s most famous celebrity, Dubs!

Voices of Autism, April 22 at SPU

This Saturday, April 22, The Voices of Autism will be hosted by the Seattle Pacific University’s School of Psychology, Family, and Community (SPFC) and the SPFC Advisory Board!

This event features a community resource fair, lectures from leading experts in the field of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and will highlight two panel discussions, the first featuring young adults with ASD, the second featuring families of individuals with autism, sharing their experiences, challenges and perspectives of living with ASD.

Seattle Children’s Autism Center will have a booth from 12:00-1:30pm at the Resource Fair, so please stop by and say Hi!

April 22, 2017, Seattle Pacific University – Upper Gwinn Commons

Day at a Glance

10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m. “Mindful Self-Care for Parents & Caregivers of Children with Autism”
Lynn Vigo, LICSW
11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Panel Discussion
Families of Individuals with Autism
12:00 p.m.–1:30 p.m. Resource Fair & Lunch Break
1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m. “Autism into Adulthood: Striving for Success”
Gary Stobbe, MD

Seattle Children’s Theatre’s Sensory-Friendly Performances

Seattle Children’s Theatre now offers great Sensory-friendly performances!  On May 7, 2017 at 11:00m they have a Sensory-Friendly/Relaxed performance of Fire Station 7! Follow the link for more information and see information below taken from their website!

What is a Sensory-Friendly Performance?

Each Relaxed or Sensory-Friendly Performance incorporates special modifications to accommodate audiences with sensory needs:

  • Increased lighting in the seating area and house throughout the performance.
  • Lower sound levels.
  • Lowered seating capacities to allow for more space and movement between patrons.
  • Additional trained staff on hand to provide patrons with assistance when needed.
  • Opportunities to visit the theatre prior to the show. Tours can be scheduled with Sarahann Rickner at
  • Prompt sheets for family members to prepare before their show.
  • Use of tablets, smart phones, and other electronic devices can be used with headphones during the performance.
  • Options to bring in and use special seating devices as needed.
  • Fidget toys welcome.
  • Refunds for tickets and cancellations made the day of show are options if necessary.