Category Archives: Seth Says…

Words of wisdom or complete nonsense from Seth Fowler…

House of Cards – Autism Style

Stacking cards is a new opportunity for William to pass the time

Stacking cards is a new opportunity for William to pass the time

“Seth Says…”

Don’t worry…I’m not going to blog about Francis and Claire Underwood and tie that into the autism world…although that would be quite a blog huh?  Maybe we should get the show “House of Cards” to write a Bill that actually has some teeth to autism funding–wouldn’t that be an interesting plot!

But I digress

So this past weekend was the Fourth of July.  In the past, weekends have been very difficult for our family because it’s hot in Texas and we tend to run out of things to do–and when William runs out of things to do his behavior goes down the drain in a hurry.  I can’t speak for Melanie but I know I was a bit nervous about this extended weekend and how we were going to pass the time–and how we were going to keep William as occupied and happy as possible.

It just so happened that on July 3rd I had a little poker night at the casa…I stink at Texas Hold ‘Em but love playing…and so I had a few new stacks of playing cards lying around the house on the 4th of July.

After breakfast Melanie started playing with them and trying to build a house of cards with the playing cards while Margaret and I played a card game that she was making up on the fly (she always seems to be the winner of those games…hmmm)

William was stemming with  his brush and spoons and I could tell he was getting bored.

Then all of a sudden he took an interest in what Melanie was doing.  He wanted no part of the game Margaret and I were playing, but he became fascinated with Melanie stacking the cards and building a structure.

She offered William a stack of cards and PRESTO…he was hooked.  I don’t think he’s going to become a professional card stacker…but it was really cool to see him sitting there trying to stack the cards.  He’d get pretty frustrated when they would fall but we encouraged him to be gentle to the cards and keep trying.

He probably played with those cards for 30 minutes.  That might not sound like a lot but as a parent you know that’s a huge victory–the kid really doesn’t like to play with much.  He isn’t really into Legos or TV or games…he lines up cars, jumps on his mini-trampoline and taps on his favorite brush and spoons.

I don’t know if card stacking is going to be a new fixation for William but it was really cool to see him working at getting the cards just right and the excitement on his face when he would get one or two levels stacked.

So if you’re looking for something for your child to do…go spend $1.99 and buy a pack of cards and have fun!

To read more blogs from Melanie, Seth and TheFowler4Group, check out their Website (www.lookatmyeyes.com) and while you’re there, buy a copy of their book, “Look At My Eyes”.  Or find them on YouTube.  To contact TheFowler4 Group email: info@thefowler4group.com

 

The Cost of Autism

How many coins is $2.4 Million?

How many coins is $2.4 Million?

“Seth Says…”

Recently my wife, Melanie was interviewed for a piece on the overall costs of having a child with autism, and the expected lifetime costs.  It’s a very informative piece and you should read it

“Lifetime Suport for a Person with Autism Can Cost Millions”

So I need to start saving up to $2.4 Million to take care of my son over the course of his lifetime?  Uhhh…I wonder how I start.The article brings up some great points–IT’S EXPENSIVE TO HAVE A CHILD ON THE SPECTRUM–sorry for pointing out the obvious.

Also it brings up some good points about loss of parental income.  I hadn’t really thought of that because our plan was for Melanie to stay home with our children until they got to elementary school age, but I can see how that could drastically impact so many families.

FINALLY…the article brings up a point that I’ve been S-C-R-E-A-M-I-N-G about for a while (don’t believe me just see my other blogs) which is the pandemic that is looming in our city, county, state, country, world!

If it’s true that 1 in 68 children born today will have some sort of pervasive developmental disorder…and we are going to come out of pocket $2.4 MMMMMillion per child over the course of their lives…that’s a lot of money!We have to have opportunities and outlets for these 1 in 68 children…and we have to start NOW!

To read more blogs from Melanie, Seth and TheFowler4Group, check out their Website (www.lookatmyeyes.com) and while you’re there, buy a copy of their book, “Look At My Eyes”.  Or find them on To contact TheFowler4 Group email: info@thefowler4group.com

 

Allergic to Autism

images

How easy do you think it is to tell an 8-year-old boy that he CAN’T play outside?

I’ll give you 5 seconds to come up with your answer…………

If you said “not very easy” then…ding, ding, ding…you are correct

Now what if that 8-year-old boy who can’t play outside has autism…

Would it be easier or harder to tell him that he can’t play outside?

You shouldn’t even need 5 seconds for this one—too easy

Thus is our situation currently.

Our 8-year-old child with autism can’t go outside and play. He has allergies. If you live in Texas then you know what allergies are and what a pain they can be to just about everyone. William is allergic to grass, trees (especially Pecan Trees) and just about everything else that makes you sneeze, have runny nose, itchy eyes and all the other fun symptoms that come with allergies.

William loves three things. He loves to stim (he taps on items to soothe himself—right now it’s a plastic measuring spoon set and an old hairbrush). He loves to play on the iPad. He loves the monkey bars.

If Monkey Bars were a class that you could take in school…William would most certainly get an “A”.

He is so strong, his hands are all torn up by going from bar-to-bar-to-bar on our monkey bar set in the back yard. He loves it and never gets bored with it. He can play on the monkey bars for hours and hours.

April and May are the MOST MISERABLE months for allergies in North Texas. The trees are blooming, it’s dusty, it’s windy and it’s awful.

This past weekend we were all outside and a few hours later…William comes in with red, puffy eyes, sneezing, coughing…you get the picture.

Now before you decide to send replies about medication and remedies and shots and all that—don’t bother. We’ve tried those things. Some things help, others don’t.

He doesn’t understand why he can’t go outside—only that he can’t go outside. So he paces the house and stims and his behavior suffers during weekends when there really isn’t much for him to do if he can’t go outside and play on the monkey bars.

Anyone else have this problem? The meds we give him can also make him tired, grumpy, not hungry—and those aren’t good.

So we just deal with it. Ugh. Allergies SUCK. Allergies and Autism SUCK EVEN MORE!

To read more blogs from Melanie, Seth and TheFowler4Group, check out their Website (www.lookatmyeyes.com) and while you’re there, buy a copy of their book, “Look At My Eyes”.  Or find them on YouTube.  To contact TheFowler4 Group email: info@thefowler4group.com

Autism Prevalence Rates Increase…you’ve got to be kidding

IMG_2297A[1] (2)According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of autism in children has recently INCREASED to 1 in 68 children…a 30% increase since the last report in 2008.

1 in 68 is children..not boys.  If the report was for boys only, I can only imagine what the number would be.

This is so disheartening as a parent with a child with autism.  Early Intervention is so important to us and a significant part of our book “Look At My Eyes” and our speaking engagements.  And the numbers keep getting smaller and smaller.  It feels like we’re running a marathon in sand….deep, wet, slooooooow sand.

The CDC report goes on to say how a person with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) can cost as much as $3.2 Million over their lifetime to take care of.

1 in 68 and what is our society doing?  What is our government doing?  What is our local government doing?  What are our schools, churches, community groups doing?

We MUST come up with a plan to educate, train, teach these 1 in 68 children!  We MUST have outlets and avenues for helping these 1 in 68 children live as independently as possible.  We MUST have opportunities for these 1 in 68 children to learn a trade or skill where they can work and pay taxes and be productive members of society.

I don’t have $3.2 Million to spend on my son.  I refuse to believe that he is merely a statistic and property of our government.  We MUST start the discussion NOW as to how we are going to help make these 1 in 68 children as successful in life as possible.

So let’s talk…

To read more blogs from Seth and TheFowler4Group, check out their Website (www.lookatmyeyes.com) and while you’re there, buy a copy of their book, “Look At My Eyes”.  Or find them on YouTube.  To contact TheFowler4 Group email: info@thefowler4group.com

 

Ugh, ANOTHER thing I hate about Autism

The list is long and distinguished regarding the things I hate about autism…but this is the one on my mind…would LOVE to hear if this affects you and  your child and if so, what do you do about it?

William has these episodes of frustration or confusion where he starts spiraling and just can’t regroup and bounce back without major meltdowns or fits of rage.

For example…yesterday my wife picked him up from school and  he for some reason didn’t want the snack she gave him in the car.  He got frustrated with the snack and then when she took it away, he started freaking out.

Well what do you want?  The snack?  To eat it?  There’s almost like a no-win solution.

It got progressively worse.

We have these ABSURD radio stations in DFW that think it’s funny and cool to start playing Christmas music 24/7 starting the day after Halloween…it’s extremely annoying to me because I get very tired of the same 100 Christmas songs and why rush the holidays?

So William hears a Santa song…then they go home and watch a “Max & Ruby” (he loves those) and it’s about Christmas and so William can’t understand WHY there is no Christmas tree in our house.  He doesn’t understand the concept of time or seasons or anything like that.

He has a total meltdown…he cries and throws his favorite item (these days it’s hair brushes) and just can’t regroup and get it together.

So we turn off the video because he can’t handle it…to which he gets even more upset.

Have I mentioned a no-win situation?

We can’t start talking about going on a vacation or visiting family too soon because it doesn’t compute to him that we’re going to BeBe’s house…in a few days.  He thinks that because we’re talking about going somewhere, that it is going to happen immediately.

It’s really frustrating because we want to involve him in our activities and experiences and want to share the joy and excitement of anticipation and holidays and all that…but more often than not it ends up with him getting very upset and emotional and having a fit of frustration and rage.

Surely this happens to you too?  What are some tips to not have this happen or when they are spiraling, are there any ideas of how to regroup as quickly as possible and not have it turn into episodes?

To read more blogs from Seth and TheFowler4Group, check out their Website (www.lookatmyeyes.com) and while you’re there, buy a copy of their book, “Look At My Eyes”.  Or find them on YouTube.  To contact TheFowler4 Group email: info@thefowler4group.com

Progress Can and Will Happen!

Daddy and Wiggy climbing8 years ago my precious William was born.  I remember exactly where I was when my wife called me and said, “it’s happening–hurry home…NOW!”

Has it really been eight years?  Wow…some good times, fun times, hard times, miserable times.

Eight years ago (heck 2 years ago) if you would’ve told me that I would have a son with autism who could climb to the top of a rock climbing gym…I’d have probably said you’re crazy!

But that’s exactly what we did on Saturday for his 8th birthday party.  We took William and 12 other children to an indoor climbing gym and he had a blast!

William scampered up to the top of the wall over and over and over again.  I was so proud!

This is the same boy who, from ages 2-to-4, would poop and spread it all over his room every single night.  This is the same boy who struggled to learn to tie his shoes.  This is the same boy who continues to work on his speech and socialization with others.

Eight years from now he’ll be 16 freaking years old!  Just typing that makes me feel old!!!

I don’t know where William will be at age 16.  I have thoughts and we have goals and realistic expectations based on history and experiences of others…but I’m not worried about that today.

Today I am here SHOUTING FROM THE ROOFTOPS OF THE WORLD…to all you dads (and moms) out there…your child can and will make progress!

I didn’t always believe it…I still wish it were more frequent at times…but it will happen.

Happy Birthday Mr. William…Wiggy…Wigwammy…little man.  I am proud of you and your climbing (and other) accomplishments and am so proud to be your dad…and to share November 18th as our birthday date!

daddy

To read more blogs from Seth and TheFowler4Group, check out their Website (www.lookatmyeyes.com) and while you’re there, buy a copy of their book, “Look At My Eyes”.  Or find them on YouTube.  To contact TheFowler4 Group email: info@thefowler4group.com

Bored with Autism

Can we be honest for a minute?

Autism is hard!  Gee what a shocking statement huh?  But not just having a child on the spectrum or dealing with the day-in and day-out issues of having a child with autism…but on weekends.

My wife and I were talking the other day and we both agreed that our weekends are E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G!

HELP!!!

Some would say that I am a workaholic.  I love my job and get great pride and satisfaction and enjoyment from what I do…but it’s a cake walk compared to weekends.  Weekends are harder work than just about anything else for our family…and that SUCKS!

Do you have these issues as well?  Would love to hear your thoughts and stories.

I don’t care about sleeping in on a Saturday.  I typically get up during the week around 5:15 AM so if I sleep until 6:30ish on a Saturday (the customary time our son comes into our room for the day) then that’s fine.  Would I like to sleep until 7:00 AM on a Saturday?  Sure.  But I’m not cranky or anything if that’s not the case.

It’s that we run out of things to do.  Are families with typical children like this?  I don’t think so.

Our son is now 7-years-old and he doesn’t play weekend soccer.  He’s not in little league or Pop Warner or anything like that.  From what it seems, the majority of our friends with kids of similar age are spending countless hours going to games, practices  and whatnot on Saturday mornings…not us.

We get up early, I typically will make pancakes or some breakfast, the kids will play or jump around until breakfast.  Then it’s on…

What do we do after that?  It’s 8:30 AM and we’re already looking for things to do.

We live in Texas…if you’ve never been to Texas in the summer…it’s H-O-T early and often…so playing outside for more than 30 minutes is not fun nor is it a good idea…so until it cools down, there go opportunities to go to the park, take the dog for a walk, do anything outside…it’s just too blazin’ hot!

My son doesn’t like to watch TV.  He will play with the iPad for a few minutes but he’s not fixated on it for hours and hours.  He doesn’t like to play with his toys…any of them…he doesn’t have a hobby.  Right now he likes to jump on his mini-trampoline and tap, tap, tap on various objects…not really something that kills a lot of time.

We try and go to the local children’s museum…and we all love that and have passes…but there are only so many times you can go to that…pretty soon it starts to get a little mundane and our 5-year-old daughter wants to go other places.

We’re running out of things to do.  We try and take naps (mainly because mommy and daddy like naps) but most of the time our son will not rest during the day…so he paces the house making his noises and tapping and jumping…not conducive to a restful environment.

It’s really around 3:00 to 6:00 PM that is the hardest.  Then it’s REALLY hot and we’ve already done breakfast, watch a short program or two, played iPad, gone to museum, eaten lunch, tried to nap…and yet we still have a huge chunk of the day left.

Can you see how weekends are so exhausting?

I want to take a few minutes and kick my feet up and relax.  I don’t want to have to be “ON” all the time on a weekend.  It’s hard taking the kids on errands so we don’t get tasks done that need to be done.

I’ll take the kids to the grocery store or Lowe’s some weekends just to get them out of the house.

UGH…can you sense the frustration?  When my son gets bored then he starts disobeying, having tantrums, getting into trouble and becoming a major grouch.

I don’t want to loathe weekends.  We want to spend time as a family together.  We want to do fun things and have good down-time and all that…but it doesn’t seem possible.

We are going to meet another family with a child on the spectrum this weekend and are going bowling…looking forward to that.

Thoughts????  Suggestions????  Let us hear from you!

To read more blogs from Seth and TheFowler4Group, check out their Website (www.lookatmyeyes.com) and while you’re there, buy a copy of their book, “Look At My Eyes”.  Or find them on YouTube.  To contact TheFowler4 Group email: info@thefowler4group.com

Success is Possible with Autism

It was over two years ago…but yet it seems like it was just yesterday.  If you haven’t read my post from 4/13/11 entitled “Vacation and Autism..a Father’s Sadness” then I would encourage you to do so before you continue.

If you don’t have time to read it…and it’s a pretty lengthy blog…then here’s the summary.  Two years ago, the Fowler4 went to a local indoor swimming/slides/amusement facility in the DFW Metroplex called The Great Wolf Lodge…at NO FAULT of the facility…we had a MISERABLE time!

It was B-E-Y-O-N-D brutal with our son…who was a little over 5-years-old at the time.  Needless to say, we cut the staycation short and experienced sadness and trauma and frustration that we rarely had to deal with.

Earlier in 2013 my wife mentioned we try Great Wolf Lodge again.

“NO FREAKING WAY” was my reply!  I wanted zero part in that experiment again.  I didn’t want to spend the money (it’s really pricey) and I didn’t want to spend the time or the possibility that we’d have a similar outcome like we did in 2011.

But we decided to go.

IT WAS WONDERFUL!

I can’t tell you how different it was.  William is two years older…so that makes a difference for sure, but his entire demeanor was 100% different this time.

We played in the pools, he was able to stand in line, ride the slides by himself, he obeyed instructions and would wait for us at certain spots when we were behind him in line…it was awesome!

What was really cool is that he was able to ride on all the big kid slides and rides…the ones my wife and I wanted to go on!

I think they have 4 or 5 slides/shoots that you need a tube and go tandem or in a group.  William had zero hesitancy and in fact, wanted to ride the biggest and most challenging one over and over and over…

It was one of my proudest moments.  He did wonderfully and I was/am so proud of him and his progress.

We will certainly be going back to this place and others.  With this success so many new opportunities will be opened for us in terms of amusement parks and events.

Success is possible…we did it!  I saw it.  I was so proud of him and how well he did.

Hang in there fathers with kids on the spectrum…I’ve blogged about it time and time again…expectations will be smashed at first but they will take on a new shape and form and will be met with you and your child.

Thanks to Great Wolf Lodge and their wonderful staff…there were a few times when we needed to let them know about William’s situation but few and far between and it was mostly for our sake and not his or the Park’s.

To read more blogs from Seth and TheFowler4Group, check out their Website (www.lookatmyeyes.com) and while you’re there, buy a copy of their book, “Look At My Eyes”.  Or find them on YouTube.  To contact TheFowler4 Group email: info@thefowler4group.com

Autism is Expensive

Autism is expensive…yeah that’s the understatement of the Century isn’t it?

I actually had a friend of ours say that to me and I think I replied…”uhhh yeah, no kidding…”

Like that one time you went to Mexico and came back with some strange rash (hypothetically speaking of course)…autism is the gift that keeps on giving.

Often when I am talking to parents–in particular other fathers–the topic of money and how expensive therapies and medicines and treatments and just about everything can be.  I have to say that it’s terrifying to really think about how much money we have spent over the past 7 years on my son…but I know deep in my heart that it’s all worth it.

It wasn’t always like that.  I remember one time my wife wanted us to go to a weekend conference on autism…I threw a HUGE tantrum and basically said, “why do I need to go to a conference where they’re going to talk about autism and remind me that my child isn’t typical and then they’ll try and sell me some magic potion and will try and convince me that this magic elixir is the end-all, be-all for treatment of autism!”

I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to spend the money, I didn’t want to be around those in a similar situation like mine.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is the only scientifically proven therapy to help children on the spectrum…and it’s expensive.

My son takes medication to help his moods and swings…that’s expensive.

There are all sorts of secondary therapies: horse, gymnastics, music, art, water, judo, kung-fu….yeah those are expensive.

As a father I hated spending money on these things…do they really work?  How do I even know they work?  It sure doesn’t SEEM like it’s helping my son.

It’s not like he was coming home and showing me new Kung-Fu moves…or really becoming a polished horseman…or telling me how much he was enjoying these activities.

Ahhh…once again the ugly head of selfishness rears it’s little head.

It’s not about me.  It’s not about what I think or what I want or what I can see or what I can prove.  It’s about my son.  He might not be the next Bruce Lee…but I know he’s getting something out of Kung-Fu…I’ve seen him improve and that little improvement bit-by-bit….is enough to pay for lessons.

You have to remember that progress has to be measured differently from your other “typical” children…it’s not a linear progress…you might never see progress!  You might see little bitty progress and then BOOM…a lot.

Yes…autism is expensive.  Figure out a budget.  Talk to your spouse.  Make sure you don’t spend money where you can’t spend money.  Do your research on activities and therapies and medicines…if you feel it’s worth it and you feel that it will benefit your child…and you have the money…go for it.

Remember…you and your spouse are the family…your child is an addition to your family unit.  If you are causing  your family hardship by spending on things for one child…to the detriment of the others in the family…then you might want to reconsider what you’re spending on and try to cut back a little.

Money isn’t going to cure autism.  While there are many expensive aspects to autism…there are also some free aspects to autism as well.  Go to the park.  Run around the yard.  Embrace your child.  Smile at your child.  Make them know they’re loved.  Hold them to a high standard…when you want them to pay attention to you–make them pay attention to you (even for a few seconds)

It’s not going to benefit your special needs child one bit if you spend all your money and have nothing for them…

Go for it!

To read more blogs from Seth and TheFowler4Group, check out their Website (www.lookatmyeyes.com) and while you’re there, buy a copy of their book, “Look At My Eyes”.  Or find them on YouTube.  To contact TheFowler4 Group email: info@thefowler4group.com

A feel good autism story…

You can tell that April is around the corner.  Yes, April is Autism Awareness Month and that’s when all your media outlets pay attention to the world of autism for 30 days.

But recently I’ve been seeing more articles and stories regarding autism so that’s positive.

I ran across a story of a police officer who has befriended a young man who is on the spectrum

It’s a simple but powerful story of how a little act of kindness and taking a little time out of one’s day can make a huge impact.

As our children on the spectrum get older and older and more into the “typical world” both sides need one another.

I mean that we need more stories, more events like this police officer and young man.

We need to expose the “typical world” to the world of autism…they need to see that there’s nothing wrong with our children.  There will be differences but they’re not harmful (mostly) and so there’s nothing to be afraid about when being with a child on the spectrum.

The autism world needs the typical world as well.  We need to have our children around as many typical people as possible.  My 7-year-old son needs to experience what it’s like to be with others who are not on the spectrum.  He needs to learn what’s socially acceptable and not acceptable…the only way he’s going to learn that is from being in that world.

It’s not an Us vs. Them scenario.  If we educate each other about autism and our children, and how they’re smart, happy, funny, playful, sensitive just like everyone else, then maybe in years to come we won’t have issues will people thinking those on the spectrum are not contributing members of society.

Kudos to this police officer for actually taking time to be a part of this young man’s life…he might not know it but he is not only helping the young man but he’s helping many across the country who may soon realize that children on the spectrum are different…but the same.

We need more stories like these!