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Deerwood Family Services is a networking organization and does not belong to any one person or group. It belongs to the public. At Deerwood Family Services, we believe that the real experts are frequently those who have gained wisdom (knowledge + experience) from their own life experiences or from post-traumatic growth. We have created a safe on-line space here where people who have gained this type of wisdom help others by sharing their blog or their creative use of art expression. It is also a space where we can identify people who want to work together with others to develop new programs that are needed to address the needs of families everywhere. If you have a story to tell, a blog that you want to post, an article that you wrote, or something that you developed through the use of a creative art, please call us at 724 733-2701 and then submit it for review to admin@deerwoodfamilyservices.org. If it fits with the mission of this non-profit, and meets the criteria of being evidence-based or a constructive use of a creative art for coping with emotion, we will contact you and make arrangements to publish or show it here. 


2022 Update on Coping with the Coronavirus Pandemic Scare

How our lives in the U.S. have changed in just a few years! In early 2020, we heard about "communal social distancing" from public health leadership, from the government, and from the media. Some of us tried to voluntarily comply with the recommendations for it. Some ignored the request; some went into denial; and some believed that other ways of managing this threat of illness were better. What very few realized, however, was that the request for voluntary compliance with this new concept, "communal social distancing," was just the first step in a process that was going to be carried out on a voluntary or mandatory basis.

The decision had already been made that this would be our national response. At first, it looked like it was a bipartisan decision influenced by a sector of society that we don't normally think of as a sector that has so much authority over us. The public health sector has expertise authority. When Covid-19 hit, political leadership from both of our major political parties granted this type of authority to the public health sector.

We will never know for sure if it was the "right" decision or the "best" decision because it is extremely difficult to measure and prove something that was prevented. As a country, initially, we really did come together in early 2020 to "flatten the curve" and prevent Covid-19 related complications from overwhelming the health care system and causing it to breakdown. As Americans, we need to own this victory and feel proud of that early initial effort we all made back in March and early April of 2020.

But after that, things became political and partisan, something that we Americans are still struggling with now in 2022. Should we continue to feel proud about our way of handling crisis or is it time to process this pandemic issue by using our THREE R's Approach: Review-Rethink-Renew?

We don't want to use this space to add to the overwhelming amount of information that is still coming at us right now. People in the United States are tired of all the controversy that surrounded our long-term response to the newer versions of coronavirus that keep showing up. We even seem to tired to care very much about other pubic heath warnings, those related to different illnesses or toxic exposures. Our public health sector took a major hit with this pandemic. Because of the way the pandemic was used politically by both sides of the political spectrum, many people just don't want to hear any more of the "breaking news." In fact, for some, just watching the news or hearing one of those "breaking news" musical jingles is enough to trigger uncomfortable emotions.

We do, however, still want to hear from you. We know that people, families, organizations, and communities change during a crisis. We also know that some people have an amazing capacity for resilience, the ability to adapt and "bounce back." Our graduate student intern at Deerwood Family Services is in the process of conducting a needs assessment study to help us determine what new programs individuals, families, organizations and communities need to help with this process of emerging from the pandemic. We want all of us to emerge more resilient than any of us ever were before. We want you to help!  Throughout the first two years of the pandemic, we listened to so many people who called in asking for help. We tried our best to provide what little bit of crisis intervention we could, frequently doing so pro-bono with no insurance reimbursement or payment. We made referrals when there were community resources that were still functional enough to help. We apologize to those who may have called in and felt that we didn't help enough, but please remember that there was also no financial reimbursement for many of those hours spent on the phone, or on a telehealth platform.

As we emerge from this pandemic, we are now back to collecting co-payment fees and other payment for our services and are also seeking grant funding for those who can't afford the co-payments or who simply don't have behavioral health insurance. We are working to re-open the on-site offices so that we can use a hybrid model, providing a choice between in-person services or telehealth services.

During the pandemic, we know that some individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities coped well, while others reverted to using maladaptive or destructive defense mechanisms that were not helpful. We want to hear from you about both, the helpful and unhelpful responses as we review what happened to all of us during the public health crisis that began in 2020. Please contact us by phone or through the posted needs assessment survey to tell us what your pandemic experience was like and what you think is needed now as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. What do you think we need as we try to get back to that pre-crisis level of homeostasis (stability) or as we move to a higher level of functioning as a result of what we learned from the pandemic crisis.

This crisis, like other crises, will continue to stir up so many different emotional and behavioral responses in ourselves and in others. If you have something adaptive that you want to share with others, a blog or a story, an activity or a creative work of art/music/theatre, please call us so that we can learn more about it and possibly get permission to post it here. Deerwood Family Services belongs to the public, not to those who get it started it or who manage it...

Gender Disparities and Autism

Most individuals who have been diagnosed with autism are male. In fact, it is diagnosed at a rate of 3 to 4 times more often in males (Loomes et al, 2017). However, what appears to be a definitive ratio is much more complex than at first glance. Much of the research regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has centered on males (Giambattista et al, 2021). As such, all of the tools we use to diagnose and support autistic kids and adults are based on a male standard. Additionally, assessment of females is “restricted to areas where they are most similar to males.” (Giambattista et al, 2021). In the process, females with ASD often remain undiagnosed, unidentified, and unsupported, particularly those with symptoms that are not immediately obvious.

There are many reasons that females are underdiagnosed, one of which is gendered socialization. In order to understand this phenomenon, it is important to note that the criteria for an autism diagnosis include social skill and communication impairment. Girls are socialized to be less aggressive and more mindful of the emotions of their peers, and therefore, autistic girls tend to have more vibrant social lives than autistic boys overall. Even when autistic girls are more introspective or quiet, they are thought to simply be exhibiting characteristics of femininity rather than of ASD. They might also be experiencing problems with socializing or communicating, but perhaps not in ways that are apparent. There are subtle but important differences in the manifestations of autism between females and males that are not always caught by standard screening tools (Giambattista et al, 2021).

What does this mean for you as a parent?

If you have a female child who tends to be quieter, be mindful of how she discusses her social interactions. Keep in mind that the traditional screening tools for autism are designed for male children. Although your child may not be exhibiting characteristics of what you traditionally perceive as autism, it may be helpful to seek a professional opinion, particularly if she reports having some difficulties at school socially. Try to keep your own biases in check.


Giambattista, C., Ventura, P., Trerotoli, P., Margari, F., & Margari, L. (2021). Sex differences in Autism  Spectrum Disorder: Focus on high functioning children and adolescents. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12, 1-13.

Loomes, R., Hull, L., & Mandy, W.P.L. (2017). What is the male-to-female ratio in autism spectrum disorder? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 56(6), 466-474

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