Tag Archives: ASD

He’s Growing…YIKES!

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Seth Says…

When William was born he was a pretty skinny kid.  His first few years we would call him “Noodle” because he was this long and skinny child that had very little meat on his bones.

I was a pretty skinny kid growing up too.  I remember when I was in elementary school I had this great party trick where I could suck in my stomach and pretty much touch my backbone–okay not really but it was like something out of National Geographic Magazine.

Earlier this year I went on a trip with a few buddies.  When I got back I was giving William a bath and noticed he seemed thicker…heavier…meat-ier.  WHAT?  Could it be that “The Noodle” was growing?

Sure enough we took him for his check-up and the doctor said he was gaining weight at a pretty good clip.  “The Noodle” was becoming “The Gnocchi” apparently.

He’s getting taller…he’s getting thicker…he’s not a little boy anymore.

I can’t hoist him up so he can touch the ceiling anymore!  I can’t carry him up the stairs with ease as often as before.  My little dude is becoming a little man.

NEW TERRITORY!

Now I know that all parents go through the child becoming an adolescent and all that that includes…but to go through that plus autism?  Oh boy…this should be fun!

Not only how are we going to handle this–but how is William going to handle this?  Surely he’s dealing with things and emotions and changes and yet can’t explain them as a typical child could.

Once again the reminder that there’s not blue print for our situation.  We’ve said it over and over…every child on the spectrum is different.  What “works” or helps for one child might be totally different for the other.

So there’s not stock answer.  There’s no guide to refer to.  There’s no 1-800 hotline when crisis is happening.  Now what?

I’m so thankful for the few fathers out there I’ve met with sons on the spectrum–but many of their children are YOUNGER than mine.  So now what?

I guess we’ll find out…

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

hear say

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I’ve taken such a nice long break that I forgot my password.

I remembered it. <smile>

It has been good. I needed it. We all need it.

For me, vocalizing is not usually difficult or strained. Facial expressions too… I can’t hide them. Gosh I really can’t.

My husband. If you know him, you know expression is his world. He’s a talker…much, MUCH more than I am. It comes easy.

For William, every word is mainly work. Something for others to hear.

I see the wheels turning, the eyes shifting… I know there are thoughts, but many times it is silence I hear.

With two expressive parents, it must me in his genes somewhere. Trapped at times.

I can’t speak for him, not always the way he would like me to. His sister has, does, and will often. Those two.

My questions are not always the right questions.

But I do try…probing constantly to get a true depictive response from him.

But, those are words. Really, just words.

If I look closer, he speaks often.

Each raised eyebrow, pause, snicker, and hand gesture… speaks to me. It’s loud sometimes and yes, I do sometimes yearn for it to come in one easy box of simply uttered words.

Sometimes it does and I relish…pondering on it for days sometimes. Ok years.

His expressions. I’ve learned to live and breathe for. I’ve learned to hear him with passing hours of no words in sight. It’s all there.

It’s a different bird though and not easily caught.

In fact, I know I have missed it many times by waiting for words.

Don’t get so caught up in the words that you miss the expression.

Sometimes you just need to just shut up to watch the expression unravel. <smile>

You’ll hear so much 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
   

believe

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The first race he wanted to be with the parked cars in the parking lot.
We had a big team.
Fussing and fighting, I showed him our team…his team.
He stayed in the parking lot.
His team ran well and hard without him but for him.

The second race, I managed to get him out of the parking lot.
He wanted solitude and ate way too many chicken biscuits.
His team ran well and hard without him but for him.

The third race was cccccccold. He said, “I go home” and never stopped. Not even during the consumption of his chicken biscuit, which he squeezed through his fingers and threw on the grass.
He wanted to go home <smile>
His team ran well and hard without him but for him.

The fourth race was a blurr but he watched the race from afar.
His team ran well and hard without him but for him.

The fifth race he laughed a little and hugged the chick-fil-a cow a little too tight.
He ran a little, walked a little, and then I carried him… a little.

This year, his team ran well and hard with him and for him.
His biggest fan ran by his side <smile>

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
   

july 9, 2015

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This date deserves a title. 

He said them.  Those 4 words.  Beautiful words.

Of course I always say them and he says them back.

But, July 9, 2015 was different.  No mimicking.  No prompts.

Just him… spontaneously.

He is nine.

Most of those years, I wasn’t patient.  Outside, yes.  But inside, I was burning and yearning.  It was a  “long term” goal that I was not sure would come to fruition.

It did.  I wasn’t ready.

My hands were drenched in soapy water from the sink and I felt a tap on my shoulder.  “I love you mommy.”  It ended with a kiss on the cheek.

I was distracted and then became undistracted and… undone.  

It reminded me of the days when he was young and we would go over animal noises. For years.

Over and over and over and over and over again to only hear crickets.  Not a word.

One day I was nursing Margaret and he walked in the room, picked up a plush cow toy and said, “The cow says Moo!” and walked out, as if he were telling me with his middle finger pointed upward, “I am listening all of the time.”

I don’t know if or when I will hear those words again.  Speech is complex.

But, I heard them once.  The words came out of his mouth.

When the days are slow and difficult, a sweet gem of a blessing pops up to keep me going.

I know it does for you too.

This just happened to be a big one. <smile>

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
   

a watchful eye

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To the mother at the Museum of Science and History,

You walked outside while we were eating lunch. You had two children with you.

Your oldest boy was curious and wandering. I watched your youngest girl and thought how well she listened and obeyed you. She reminded me of Margaret so I watched closer.

I noticed how much time you spent with your oldest boy. Watching, closely following… very closely.

I noticed how your youngest just followed in line and…

Well, then I watched you.

I watched your eyes and began to see the picture. I know it well. Your watchful eyes, the concerns, the constant of it all. It was only after watching you that it clicked… autism.

Your oldest was moving about and your watchful eyes spoke thousands.

Once or twice you looked at me but in a flash, your eyes were back on him.

I wanted William to make a sound or move about so you could see that you and I were one.

He was eating.

The only time he is somewhat physically still and free of sound is when he is eating. So, we sat still and I watched some more.

You looked tired. Your watchful eyes looked tired but loving.

Watchful. Tired. Loving.

I hoped for you to have support. I hoped for you to have breaks and time away to recharge.

I hoped for you to have what I have.

William was finished. He leaped up and broke into a sonnet of some sort <smile>

Your eyes watched him. Then your eyes met mine and you smiled a big smile.

It clicked.

Your eyes looked revived.

And I think mine did too… <big smile>

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

Special Thanks to Jewett Photography DFW Photographers http://www.jewettphotography.com

the skinny

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For some of you just tuning in, I thought it might be good to start from the beginning. You know, for the sake of a new year <smile>

Some of you may not have read the book. Some of you may only know shreds of how this is all pieced together…perfectly under God.

You must know. I must tell you.

After receiving degrees in speech pathology and special education, I was assigned a few clients with special needs.

These children were non-verbal. These children were capable of learning.

These children had autism.

So there I was, 3 months pregnant sitting on shag carpet in the home of one of my clients. She was learning sign language and I was teaching her. As I became more aware of her behavior, likes and dislikes and sporadic movements, autism was becoming a part of my daily intake.

She was challenging but she was learning.

I left that house exhausted. Every time.

I left that house wondering how on earth that mom was surviving. Every time.

Fast forward 6 months later and I was holding my first baby.

William.

He never crawled. He scooted. Sitting up on his own took him a loooong time and we worked on it everyday. Milestones were few and far.

Then I started to see some real stuff.

I started to see some similarities in him and the client I once had.

Once I saw it, it never left. It stayed. It truly lurked behind every moment I had with him.

There I was on the other side of the table. They didn’t teach me this part of the side in grad school…

I couldn’t leave and shut it off until the next day like I did with my client and her mom.

I was that mom.

I never wanted to be that mom.

He began therapy at 16 months and by two and a half, he was officially diagnosed.

That was an early diagnosis at the time. That was over six years ago.

Since then, it’s been twists and turns.

I have a passion. It found me. I didn’t seek it.

Perfectly under God. The buck stops there.

That’s the skinny! Aren’t you glad you know 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 YouTube.  To contact TheFowler4 Group email: info@thefowler4group.com

 

get it, got it, good!

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At first glance, this just looks like a normal picture…nothing more than a picture. A toss-able one even.  I came across it last week.  Haven’t seen it in years. Oh, but I’ll never forget.

It’s dead-on.

This one is way more than a thousand words people.  This is hard stuff.

His 5th birthday.

I so wanted him to want to open the gift. I tried really hard to get that picture. The one where he is interested, the one where he get’s excited… just one.

There is so much pain there with me looking down.  You can’t really tell… or can you?  I’m trying to keep it together.  I wanted to cry… really hard.  Hysterically, but I kept it together.

He wants to go outside.  I know it.  He doesn’t care about gifts.  I know it.

Birthdays and Christmas’…  I know the drill.

A lot has changed since this picture.  A lot.

It’s still hard. Yes.  And even at nine, I still have to encourage him to open the dadgum gift.

Every year I watch in amazement as his cousin (same age) barrels through his gifts with the wrappings and trimmings flying all over… William’s gifts would still look pristine and intact if I didn’t coerce just a titch.

But, I do know certain gifts he prefers. <converse shoes> always and forever…

They are never really toys.  He doesn’t “play” with toys.

Some of his favorites include plastic spoons, an eraser, and a mangled hairbrush that he has managed to keep for two years now and I am currently contemplating on getting a new one.  Or does the old one carry meaning?… we’ll see. <smile>

When you start realizing what they do like…even if it sounds ridiculous, get it.

When it seems silly and not so age appropriate anymore, get it.

When you can’t think of anything to buy, dig deep for it. It’s there, get it.

There is always something that is of interest. It may not be what you want them to want, but… it’s not about you.

One of my all-time favorite posts is Merry Christmas, Here’s Your Spoon!

It still holds true today on many levels.  You can end some of the pain by digging for what really brings them joy.

These days, we are all about experiences. Trampoline parks, zoo trips, museums of all sorts, and swimming… anything active.

Although it may seem boring to open up a card with an “experience” inside, the smile on his face when we are actually experiencing the preferred above activities is unstoppable.

I’ll be sure to take a picture.  It will look nothing like this one <smile>

Merry Christmas!!

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 voice

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I’ve thought a lot about conversations that could’ve, should’ve , would’ve.

The pitch, the inflection…the whole shebang.

What could he tell me about the years past?

I’ve thought a lot about it.

I have so many questions.

I think it would look like a piece of this…

ME: Why don’t you like opening gifts?

HIM: I think gift wrap is stupid. I don’t understand why people buy it and make it look nice and then tear it all up. It takes too much time and I want to be outside anyways.

ME: Why do you cry when someone on TV falls down?

HIM: I think it is real and I feel sorry for that person. It kinda scares me.

ME: Why do you have to look at your lunch every morning before school?

HIM: Because I really don’t like turkey sandwiches…you pack them because the school has a “no nut” policy but I like peanut butter and I wish I could have one.

Bless him… he does get them on the weekends.

ME: Why do you smile so big at girls?

HIM: I like pretty girls. I really like girls with long hair. I like when they say hello to me. I just want to stand next to them.

ME: Why is it difficult for you to pay attention?

HIM: I listen to what people say… a lot. I listen even when I don’t look at your eyes. <smile> I like my world better. It’s easier. Your world is busy and confusing to me at times. I wish everyone would just be quiet and stop talking.

ME: Why do you get frustrated when I ask you questions?

HIM: If you only knew how hard it is for me. I have to think about the question and then think about how to answer it and then actually form words into a sentence that you are happy with so you will stop asking me more questions. It’s totally exhausting for me. Can I just go outside and play?? <smile>

ME: Why do you hum when you eat cracker products?

HIM: I love a cracker. All is good and right when I can eat a cracker. Plus, I like to hum. Can I have a cracker??

ME: How do you feel when I pick out your clothes, Halloween costumes, etc?

HIM: I really don’t care about clothes. I do like shoes though. Converse are my favorite. I don’t care about the costume… I just want the candy. Put me in anything as long as I can eat a Twix.

ME: Why do you like being at home so much?

HIM: I love my house. It’s nice and clean. It makes me feel safe and I know what to expect. I’m tired after school. Please don’t run errands after school… It’s such a beat down.

ME: Do you like it when I love on you and make you give me hugs?

HIM: I am used to it. You make me love on you all of the time. It’s your way to connect with me. I really do like your hugs and I like to play with your hair.

ME: Why don’t you like Legos?

HIM: I hate Legos. If the pieces don’t fit right, I want to squeeze them and break them. I’m sorry to burst your autism stereotype, but I hate Legos.

ME: How do you feel about Margaret?

HIM: She’s pretty bossy. I like when she is outside with me. I like that we share a room. She talks a lot but that’s ok. Sometimes I hide her things and smile about it. I’m still her big brother….

Actions do speak. He must have a loud voice. <smile>

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

Special Thanks to Jewett Photography DFW Photographers http://www.jewettphotography.com

mind the gap

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I’m not gonna lie, the gap can be painful.

Oh, but yes, there is much to celebrate… many hurdles that get hurdled, many boxes that get checked.

But, with some, the gap continues to grow even with all of the successes.

Before you point and shake your finger at me… keep reading.

The first gap crawled in when his friends started kindergarten.

From then on, the gap grew feet and ran.

Interests shifted and soon all I heard about were orchestrated sports teams, play dates, and well, normal stuff.

But, he was making his own honorable progress…. He worked like a dog.

He still does.

The second and most shocking gap explosion came when my own daughter started kindergarten.

I couldn’t stop her brain!   It was so easy for her.

I marvel at the easy.

But, alas, the gap between my two muffins came and never left.

Sometimes I ignore and shove it way waaay back.

Sometimes I call it as I see it… and I deal with it.

Sometimes, I completely lose it.  I do.

I still do.

She has now surpassed him in math and reading and really any other subject you want to throw in… and she knows it. She is aware.

If I ended here, that would be sad.

But, wait for it…

Yes, she is aware. But, she is also aware that he can do the monkey bars better than anyone in our neck of the woods, that he has a crazy awesome ability to remember people and navigate, and can build a two story card house in a minute flat.

The list goes on. It keeps growing.

We celebrate it.

We talk about it.

We cultivate it.

The gap does exist. But, new talents and gifts can replace those cracks.

You just need eyes to see them… or maybe a brand new set. <smile>

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

Special Thanks to Jewett Photography DFW Photographers http://www.jewettphotography.com

wake up

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I get this question at least once a week.

Usually from friends who have friends. Usually from friends that are trying to be good friends.

“I think there is something wrong with my friend’s child… what do I do?”

I always first ask the age of the child. If they say 2-4… I breathe and begin the spiel calmly.

If 5+, I cringe and get a bit rage-ish

EARLY INTERVENTION people.

Let me back up…

If you have a child with autism or any type of special needs and you are proactive… then you are ON.

You are ON all of the time. 24/7.

thinking, doing, investigating, pushing, crying, praising, persevering, nasty persistent. Yep, it is unrelenting… but you are ON and being ON is good.

It’s really good.

If you are in {pause} mode, you are doing none of the above. Nothing.

Pausing for a while to catch breath? Yes, fine.

I am talking about pausing for months that turn into years and chalking it up to be “nothing but a speech delay.”

Oh how people love to use this phrase.

Oh if I had a penny for every mother in {pause} mode that tells me “it’s just a speech delay.”

What a cop out!

I haven’t even gotten started… this is your wake up call.

This is for you. Give me the evil eye now and thank me later.

Okay, if your child is speech delayed, seldom exhibits eye contact, does not interact/engage with others and has many repetitive behaviors…. the list goes on… then it might be more than a “just a speech delay.”

How do you know? You don’t always. That is why you get an assessment.

Get one.

Who do I call???  Start with a licensed Neurodevelopmental Pediatrician.

Look it up. Google one in your area. They are the Gurus and can steer you straight.

“Oh, but I don’t want to talk about it and I don’t want others to talk about it.”

I promise you, people are already talking.  Tis true.

For the love…Do something.

I can say all of this because I know the {pause} button well.

We were once short-lived friends…. Hallelujah!

Get off the {pause} button because that button is debilitating. It is.

That button is preventing you from being proactive.

That button can be a form of child neglect.

Ouch, harsh.

Yep, tough love. You need it.

Make the call. Get on the list. Have a full assessment done.

Call me. I will talk to you. I will cry with you.

But I won’t say it’s okay to {Pause} for too long.

I will never say that.

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

Photography by the famous Callie Shepherd at www.callieshepherd.com