Kyle at age 3, and Kyle today

Kyle’s Treehouse, originally a resource about autism, has evolved into a community, where hundreds of thousands of visitors learn from each other every year. So, join in the conversation and welcome to Kyle’s Treehouse.

1 in 45 Children with Autism

1in45According to a new government estimate, about 1 in 45 children in the U.S. has autism. The estimate, which comes from researchers at the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), is based on data collected during a yearly survey, from interviews of parents about their children, and is the first report of the prevalence of autism in the U.S. to include data from years 2011 to 2014.

While this looks like a substantial increase from the CDC’s last estimate, which was 1 in 68 children and just announced over the summer, the previous estimate was determined from a different survey that gathers information from children’s medical records and it was based on data collected during 2010.

The reason for this increase may not necessarily be that there are more children with autism than there have been in previous years—meaning, there’s likely no factors such as environmental conditions, etc. that can be causing the increase. Instead, the rate increases could be attributed to growing awareness of autism and more children being more appropriately diagnosed on the spectrum versus other conditions. The way in which data was collected and the questions that were asked of parents have also been restructured a bit, which may have also impacted the data collected. (read more about that here).

And while the 1 in 68 rate will still be treated as the best estimate, the newly reported number can be an indicator that the 1 in 68 is an underestimate.

Lynsey, Community Manager

Chef Chase

This is a budding chef named Chase Bailey. He’s a 13-year old based in California and host of his own cooking show on YouTube. Chase was diagnosed with autism at 2-years-old and his mom, Mary, was given some tough warnings at that time about Chase’s future – he may never get a job, learn to socialize or lead an independent life.  One of the things Chase struggled with early on was eating—like many on the spectrum, the various textures, smells and tastes were overwhelming for him. He stuck with a basic diet of pizza, chicken, french fries, cookies and chips.

That all changed, though, when he started watching cooking shows with his grandfather. He, as explained here, got hooked on watching people enjoy the food they were eating and then asked to start trying some of the food he was seeing on TV. Among his early requests – fried alligator and frog legs.

This discovery of food led to the creation of “Chase ‘N Yur Face” on YouTube, where you can watch Chase cook up all sorts of culinary treats (and get visits from other chefs!)

It’s a great story and good reminder of the importance of finding inspiration and something you connect with – no matter what it may be, and no matter how big or small it is – because it was brings out the best in us.

Check out

Lynsey, Community Manager

Keeping Up with Santino’s Dragons

We wanted to share a little update on one of our favorite featured kids from this past year. Back in May, we talked about Santino Stagliano, who was diagnosed with autism more than five years ago. With his parents’ encouragement, Santino was able to direct his love of drawing and dragons to create beautiful t-shirts that he is selling and donating half of the proceeds to the Center for Autism. Best of all, this process had given Santino a boost of self-esteem and a way to connect with people.

Now, fast-forward only a few months and Santino’s Dragons is expanding, doing amazing things. Santino, who is 10 years old, recently visited William Penn Charter school to share his story, his t-shirts and autism awareness with other kids his age. As his dad explains, Santino wasn’t even able to speak to anyone six months ago. And now, he’s talking in front of large groups of kids and fielding questions from students.  For example, while at Penn Charter, he was asked:

How do you make dragons? “It’s what you feel inside, and you just do it,” Santino said.

What special things can you do? “I can climb trees, I can swim fast, and one time I went on this ride that teenagers usually go on, and I wasn’t scared at all.”

Who inspires you? “I get inspired by this person,” he said, pointing to his mom.

Santino also started a program called “Find Your Dragon,” which is designed to help children with autism express themselves and make friends. And if that wasn’t enough, he also chooses one child every month and does something special for them.

What an amazing kid – he is truly an inspiration. I have a feeling this will be one of many updates we’ll be doing about all of the tremendous and impactful work he is doing.

Check out more on Santino’s Dragons Facebook page.

Lynsey, Community Manager



Meet Julia, A New Character on Sesame Street

elmo-julia-1024Sesame Street is introducing someone new to the neighborhood, and she’s the show’s first character with autism.  Meet Julia, who has joined the cast as part of Sesame Workshop’s new initiative, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children.

As noted on its site, the initiative looks to offer ways families can overcome common challenges and foster “an affirming narrative around autism for all families and kids.”

In discussing Julia, Sherrie Westin, executive VP of global impacts and philanthropy told People, “we want parents and children to understand that autism isn’t an uncomfortable topic.” She went on to say, “If you’re five years old, and see another kid not making eye contact with you, you may think that child doesn’t want to play with you. But that’s not the case. We want to create greater awareness and empathy.”

Julia is a digital character and will be included in the initiative’s storybooks, videos and free app, all of which explain autism from the perspective of a child with autism.

Check out more on Julia and visit their website to learn more.

Lynsey, Community Manager

Puzzles Bakery and Café

There are so many efforts underway for autism awareness and it’s amazing to see how much those efforts have opened doors for– and many people’s eyes to – the autism community. However, one area that doesn’t often get as much attention, but truly needs to, is the support of adults with autism. There are a lot of people that still think autism is a ‘childhood disorder’ that people tend to ‘grow out of.’ But as we know, there is a large, and growing, amount of underserved adults with autism – many who had services and support throughout their entire life until adulthood, when those services were no longer accessible.

So, what can be done? One big step in the right direction is how some companies are creating jobs for those touched by autism and/or providing training to develop the skills people need for employment. One small cupcake shop making a big impact is Puzzles Bakery and Café based in Schenectady, NY. Half of the staff at this café has autism. The owner, Sara Mae Hickey, who has a sister on the spectrum, saw a need in the community for employment opportunities for young adults with autism and said, “A lot of us are exposed in our everyday lives, but it’s really great to put a face on that and to know that the person bringing you lunch may or many not have special needs and that’s just normal.”

The café offers pet therapy and other programs for those it can’t employ. Since Puzzles opened, they have received 600 applications, but the café can only employ 25.  (check out more in this article).  That just goes to show that a tremendous need exists, and places like Puzzles, while a start, can’t do it alone. It’s our hope that others follow in their footsteps so that we can continue to support all people touched by autism throughout their life.

Lynsey, Community Manager 

A Sibling’s Perspective

Katie Hayes

Katie Hayes

I came across this piece by Katie Hayes in which she eloquently describes how having an autistic sibling has made her a better person. It seems we often hear from parents of autistic children, with siblings being a more rare commenter. Katie provides insight on how her life was impacted by her brother, who has autism, and while there are always challenges to overcome, she shares how having a brother with autism has also enriched her life.

Katie writes, “My brother caused me to become a tougher and more compassionate individual than I would have otherwise, but I am still passive-aggressive, impatient and slightly selfish. I’m not the one who deserves your kindness; he does. Growing up, he constantly put me in uncomfortable situations, caused me to put his needs above my own and loved me more than anyone else.”

Read more of Katie’s “5 Ways My Autistic Brother Taught Me To Be A Better Person

Lynsey, Community Manager


Broadway Advocate

Kelvin Moon Loh (

Kelvin Moon Loh (

When I first came across Broadway actor Kelvin Moon Loh’s recent Facebook post that started off – “I am angry and sad. Just got off stage from today’s matinee and yes, something happened. Someone brought their autistic child to the theater…” I was upset. Reading that first bit of the post, my heart just sank. I thought it was going to be a rant about how that child shouldn’t have been at the theater, likely calling out the family for being inconsiderate or something along those lines. Unfortunately, as we all well know, many of those types of posts exist. However, after reading on, I was pleased to see that the post was quite the opposite.

During a matinee performance of “The King and I” in NYC, Loh says that during an intense scene, a young boy with autism began making some loud noises, which drew some glares and unpleasant comments from other audience members. And, thankfully, Loh wasn’t going to take it. Following the performance, Loh posted a heartfelt request for empathy and understanding for the boy and his mother. In his post he wrote, “When did we as theater people, performers and audience members become so concerned with our own experiences that we lose compassion for others?”

Loh, who was a schoolteacher before Broadway, told that he felt he had to say something and to ask for people to try to understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. He said “parents of autistic children sit there with such fear and terror that this episode could occur. I was watching a mother’s nightmare happen, and I just wanted to have her know that what she’s doing is right in trying to expose her child to the theater, and there are advocates supporting her.”

And while Loh may not have heard from that mom in the theater, his message has reached others – whether it gives families touched by autism encouragement to try new experiences, or if it gives people a bit more understanding so that they may think twice the next time before passing harsh judgment.

We are glad there are advocates like Loh out there stepping up because we could all benefit from his message of compassion.

Lynsey, Community Manager 

A Friend’s Wish List

wish list noteIf you were asked to make a list of qualities of a true friend, what would they be? For seven-year-old Molly-Raine Adams from Ireland, her list is short, simple and something I think we can all relate to. Molly-Raine, who has autism, was asked to make this list as part of a homework assignment, which, according to her mom, Karen, she did all by herself. Her note reads:


A Friend

Someone who . . .

anbrstans (understands) me

nos I have atesm (knows I have autism)

smiles all the time

cees me comgin wen im sad (sees me coming when I’m sad)

Karen says she thinks her daughter really just wants other children to understand why she struggles with certain things and how she processes her surroundings, saying, “Mol struggles with everyday things that people take for granted. She may start screaming or lashing out at me in a shop due to sensory overload when her brain is struggling to process all the sights, sounds and smells. Because she has adult like speech people don’t realize she has special needs and assume she is just being naughty.”

We could learn a lot from Miss Molly-Raine – and, in fact, that’s exactly what she’s hoping for. When Karen asked her daughter if she would mind sharing her list online, Molly-Raine said she thought “it was a good idea because someone might read it and tell their child about autism.”

Lynsey, Community Manager