Tag Archives: ASD

a Thief and a Liar

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William has been taught or shall I say, “trained” to do and say many things.

On his own, he has an amazing ability to remember names and comments almost immediately if you have new shoes or a new haircut… that’s his schtick and has been for quite some time.

He also likes for items to be in their place at all times… my little organizer.

It’s not uncommon for something to disappear if left floating in space.

The amazing part is that you almost never see the swipe occur. Yes, he’s fast, slick and just that good.

But like I said, much of everything else has been trained.

So when something “untrained” or spontaneous seeps out, I can’t help but get excited, throwing my hands up in the air, looking like the cheerleader I was so many years ago.

Oh how I love the “untrained” responses.  I live for these moments.

Last week we went swimming. He loves to swim.

Thankfully, this is an activity that keeps his attention, keeps him in the circle, keeps him… happy.

I love happy.

We came home, wet suits and all and I started to walk near him to help him change.

He said just one word. ”no.”

I tried again. This time he patted his left pocket and said, “no.”

I had forgotten that his suit had pockets <smile>

From the look on his face I could tell he was hiding something from me.

As I had him empty his pocket, a plethora of trinkets appeared. Three water torpedos and an unidentified plastic toy to be exact.

“Did you take these from the pool?” I asked. “No.” he said.

I asked again and then again…. his final reply being “Yes.”

As I talked about lying and stealing I couldn’t help but turn around and smile my biggest smile.

He had accomplished a heist.

Something rather typical in children… something I almost never experience with him.

This took many calculated steps from him and I counted them all, proud of his premeditation.

Yes, yes people, we will try to keep his robberies to a minimum.

But for now, having a thief and a liar is something I have been secretly looking forward to.

Something untrained and well… delightful really.

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

 

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

 

great things He hath done

 

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Dear Margaret,

I see it. I see your mind trying to understand the complexity of the situation everyday.

I see you putting forth the attempts over and over to connect with him in the slightest inkling of a way.

I’ve watched you cry. I’ve watched you watch me cry.

I’ve watched you make a wish with your only precious penny that there would no longer be autism in our lives. That he would play with you. That he would snap out of it and be the big brother that you see in so many other families.

I’ve heard you ask as his birthday comes around each year….”Will he talk now?”

Last year you stopped asking.

I’ve watched you work tirelessly to get his attention and how a word uttered back to you is like having a thousand gifts to open. Your eyes reveal it.

I’ve seen you try to fix it. I’ve seen you fail.

In all of this, you must know…

This was not a mistake.

In many ways, you are closer than any other brother and sister could ever wish for.

You hang on to every word, touch, or look he gives you.

You are proud of his accomplishments and encourage him to always do more.

You are lavished with hugs and kisses from him anytime you wish.

You are his and he is yours.

The greatest gift is seeing how you are being changed, molded, and used for the ultimate purpose… for God’s glory and HIS alone.

Hold steadfast to this purpose sweet girl and know….

This was not a mistake.

Love,
Mommy

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

 

change of heart

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Eight years ago, my husband became a father.

It started out the “usual” way…. rocking, loving, kissing, holding.

He was present in all of it. The baby stuff: baby carrying, baby changing…baby duty.

Honestly, for us, that was the easy breezy.

After the diagnosis, things definitely changed. Hearts were hurting.

Things got hard. I felt and saw the distance.

The “Dreading to come home and deal with the inevitable” look.

The “How am I going to relate to my son who doesn’t want or know how to relate?” look.

The “I can’t do this!” look.

With precious time and extensive therapy, <very extensive> the hope began to grow.

Hearts changed. His. Heart. Changed.

Many selfless acts followed. Many. Too many for you to comprehend.

Finding ways to connect became his mission. It became his way to love and support his son.

Thank you for finding ways.

Thank you for the selfless acts.

Thank you for being the father with a mission.

Happy Father’s Day to a father that really knows what that means.

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

 

sway

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Everything starts with small steps. Everything is taught. Everything.

A few months ago, it occurred to me that I wanted William to learn how to slow dance. I’m not sure why I desired this to be.

Maybe because I thought he would like it. He didn’t…. not at first.

Maybe because I liked the idea of him being close. I did…. always and forever.

Who am I kidding, he is a scrumdiddlyumptious bar and any way I can be close to him, I’ll take it!

Maybe because most 8 year olds don’t slow dance with their mommies and I wanted us to accomplish something out of the norm. Something to call our own.

No time frames, no comparisons, no charts, no age-based norms to look to.     Just us.

But, like most tasks, it took a lot of work. I began to see the small steps seep through just as they always do. It is always work… for him, for me.

We started with the simple task of holding one hand and I had his other hand around my waist. This took about a week. He would flop on the floor like a fish when I would even utter the word “dance.” “No no no!” he would say. “No dance!”

It was new… William doesn’t like new. I kept going…. as his resistance towards the new doesn’t stop me nor does it control my emotions, at least not the way it used to.

Two weeks went by and the “fish flopping” decreased.   He began holding my hand and the arm around the waist was quite loose but it was a start.

Next came the swaying…many times we fell over. Did I mention he is almost 4 and a half feet tall? He’s very strong too (thanks to the monkey bars) so if he falls, I fall.

After the third week, the swaying softened up a bit. A few moments turned into a few longer moments.

A few times the mirror caught my eye and I could see us both standing there.

Quiet, perfectly engaged, and in the moment.

It happened.

Maybe one day he will want to dance with a young lady.

Until then, I will be standing there ready to be swayed.

Nothing can take that away… not even autism.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Allergic to Autism

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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

Stare? Yes please!

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In the beginning, I didn’t like the stares. I mostly ignored them. Sometimes I stared back with “the look.”

On a few occasions, just a few… I fought back with rude sarcastic tones and huffy behavior, sometimes appearing sweet but it was quite sour I assure you.

I was young. I was young to autism. I wanted everyone to understand and the stares infuriated me. I loathed the situation I was in. It was me against all the ignorant… the general public that knew nothing about autism.

I don’t know exactly when it all changed…when my frame of mind changed.

Realizing that I was in “the club” and not getting out felt suffocating and threw me into a tailspin…

That was my first act of acceptance. Once I got over that hump aka “Mount Everest,” the stares began to bother me less and less.

I found myself wanting to speak more freely, more openly to others. I found myself using the stares for my own purpose… the purpose of educating and advocating.

I found myself talking to strangers that…. stare. <smile>

It began to look like:  Stare= Opportunity= Discussion= Knowledge= Awareness

If I don’t act on a stare, I see it now as a missed opportunity.

Don’t miss an opportunity.

In the beginning, I didn’t like the stares. I mostly ignored them.

Now, I can’t get enough of them! <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

Photography by the famous Callie Shepherd at www.callieshepherd.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

 

fighting for Gray

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Color coded tabs, labels of any kind, a well stocked and organized pantry… these all put me in a state of sheer bliss.  Put me in an office supply store and I could meander for hours with a crazy smile on my face. Seriously.

Organization and structure are key ingredients for autism.  All children need structure BUT for children with autism, it is absolutely necessary.

Man oh man, I had this down.  Timely activities? Check!  Well organized routines? Check!  William thinks in black and white.  It is an organized way of thinking… it goes way farther than my colored tabs and labels.  Yes, it’s black and white… it’s always the same.

BUT.  Where is the Gray?

Where is the line of flexibility?  Over the years, I have come to love and nurture the Gray.  It’s the Gray that makes the big splash.  He thrives on Gray… that hard place he never wants to go to.  The place where his structure is questioned and put up on a shelf.

Thank you shelf.

I realized we needed more Gray years ago… The setup:  I pick William up from school.  We drive our route home.  I remember, “Oh, we need groceries.” I turn right instead of left to stop by store.

Fits of rage fill the car like a huge fog… crying and self infliction follow shortly after.

What just happened???  Gray entered the picture.  We began doing this more.  A missed turn here, a stop there… completely out of routine.  Over time, it got easier.  He became, well… pliable. FLEXIBLE.  That’s what you want people… I promise.  Routine is great, but you must, absolutely must, give room for a little Gray.

Gray is where you will see the most progress. It is where the the most strides in accomplishing goals are most visible.  We can now eat at different restaurants, do unexpected errands, change our minds and go a “different” route…. uh, we can be “normal” in a lot of ways thanks to Gray.

Keep fighting for the Gray while keeping your black and white close by.  Everyone needs a little Gray.  I am beginning to really like this color…it’s done wonders for William.

I need it too… <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