Tag Archives: “autism” “asd” “invention” “autistic” “PDD-NOS” “rewards” “responsibilities” “the dollar store” “dollar store” “Spanish” “autismo” “Mirame los ojos”

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

Rocks and Rice…Fathers and Sons and Autism

Rocks and Rice…huh?

What’s that got to do with autism?  Please explain.

Okay I will.

Last month I was visiting with a friend of mine who is also a father with a son with autism.  We’ve developed a good friendship over the past few years–my son is now 6-years-old and his son is a little younger–and we like to bounce ideas, stories and other things off one another.

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again…FATHERS: YOU NEED TO HAVE SUPPORT WHEN DEALING WITH YOU AND YOUR CHILD ON THE SPECTRUM

I have a weekly group I meet with–but that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about getting to know another father who has a child on the spectrum.  You need to have a go-to person (not a spouse or family member) preferable another male that knows EXACTLY what you’re talking about.

It’s one thing to have a buddy listen to you and say, “gee, that sucks.”  BUT it’s another thing to have a buddy say “man, I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about…my kid did the exact same thing”

Trust me…do it, do it….DO IT

So my friend was telling me a story about his son (and it’s okay bc he said I could share)

His son loves to pick up rocks and put them in a kiddie pool in their back yard.  Over and over and over again this boy will pick ’em up…put ’em in…pick ’em up and put ’em in

I’m assuming that parents return rocks to yard when child isn’t paying attention.

My friend’s son is also big into texture and so they decided to fill their kiddie pool with a 100 lb bag of rice because his son loved the feel of the rice.

Like my friend…I love sports.  I love to throw the ball and Frisbee and be active.  I loved shooting hoops as a kid and do all that fun stuff.  My dad had two left feet.  Not only was he NOT into sports but he had these “coke bottle” glasses and so wasn’t comfortable with balls flying in the air.  I learned at an early age that if I were going to have someone tossing me the ball…it wasn’t going to be my dad.

Growing up I always thought about how much fun it would be to have “a catch” with my son.  You know…stay out until dusk tossing the football or baseball when it gets just dark enough that you’re not sure if you can see the ball–and then getting clunked in the head from time-to-time…fun stuff like that.

So to my friend.  Even though we understand that our sons might not be super athletes, we still think about tossing the ball or kicking the ball in the yard.  His son isn’t into it…and neither is mine.

And that’s okay…we’re not so hung up on ourselves that we can’t find joy in doing other things with our children.

But my friend was perturbed because he didn’t feel as if he was bonding with his son just by picking up rocks or sitting in a kiddie pool of rice.

OH CONTRAIRE MON FRERE…

He’s doing just what he’s supposed to be doing.  No, he’s not tossing the ball or shooting hoops…but he’s doing what he needs to be doing…and that’s spending time with his son.

At times fathers (and mothers I’m sure) feel they’re not doing anything constructive with their children on the spectrum.  I know I feel as if I’m not making a connection or bonding with my son fairly often.

But then I got to thinking about it…IT’S ALL ABOUT ROCKS AND RICE!

It might not seem like a big deal to us fathers…but to our children it MIGHT be a huge deal.  We’re spending time with our children.  It doesn’t have to be the most fun we’ve ever had–but get out there and spend time with your child…you are making a connection.

I started thinking about my relationship with my son…”what are my rocks and rice?”

Then I thought about bath time and the little games I play with my son.  He loved to tap, tap, tap (yes, drives me CRAZY!) on the water bucket when I’m pouring water in the tub.  I know he loves it, he knows it drives me nuts, we’re a very knowledgeable family.

So the little game we play is for me to try and swipe his hand away before he can tap on the water bucket.  Then it becomes fun because he tries to get faster and faster and maybe distract me.  All he wants to do it tap, tap, tap that water bucket.

We have other little things…yeah they might not seem important…BUT THEY ARE.

So fathers (and mothers) just remember…it’s not about what you’re doing with your child on the spectrum, it’s not about YOU and your needs…it’s about Rocks and Rice.

What are your Rocks and Rice?  Share them if you please…

Mirame los Ojos…Look at My Eyes…Autism in Spanish

Hopefully you are already aware of the book my wife and I wrote last year, Look At My Eyes.  IF not…then you need to check it out.  We penned the book to discuss not only our story of dealing with navigating the autism spectrum, but to share helpful in-home exercises, words of encouragement, ways to deal with insurance issues, good Websites and I wrote portions from a father’s perspective–because there is so little out there for dads when dealing with a child with autism.

The book has been out for about 15 months and we’ve had a blast telling and selling.  We have been blessed to have caught the attention of many in the media, conference organizers and parents who are desperate to have a good resource that is a quick read and is meant to bring a message of hope and encouragement.

At our first speaking engagement an elderly lady came up to me and told me about her grandson that she was taking care of and thanked me for writing the book and spending our own time and our own money to publish the book.  She did not speak English very well…she spoke Spanish.

While she could read our book and understand what we were saying at our talk, she was more confident in her native language.  That makes sense…we see that a lot these days.  You only have to turn on the local sports station to see athletes from all over the world playing in the United States doing interviews in their tongue they are most comfortable using.  Heck, there are players who have lived/played in the U.S.A. for years and you know they speak English very well but they just want to be more confident speaking their favored language.

Autism has no language.  Autism doesn’t affect English-speaking children more than Spanish-speaking children.  Autism doesn’t care where you are from, what kind of car you drive or whether you vote red or blue.

And so it hit me…we need to have our book translated into Spanish.

I immediately started thinking how I could make that possible.  The first printing cost us a good bit of money and I doubt we’ll ever “break even” (would be nice but that’s not our goal) and we didn’t have the funds for a second book like we did for the first one.

It was high on my prayer list.  I would pray that it would be possible because there is so little in the Latino community in terms of outreach and resources for families dealing with autism.

It was really cool how it all came about.

As it turns out…my brother-in-law’s brother (follow with me here) is a licensed translator and would be living in the U.S. for a few years…he and his wife spend a lot of time in Central America and we don’t see them that often.  But he would be living only 2 hours from us for a few years and would be willing to help translate the book for a very affordable price…step one.

Step two was finding a publisher that would allow us to keep the rights, not cost quite as much as our first publisher and yet would help us distribute the book and make it available online.

A family friend of ours also has been writing a book.  He used a publisher that met all that criteria.  They were a fraction of the original publisher, they didn’t take so much money up-front (that was huge bc we didn’t have the funds) and they arm of the largest Christian publishing house, Thomas Nelson Publishing, in the world…so they have a great reputation and know how to get things done.

I was so happy to learn about these two options!  When discussing marketing and outreach with our new publisher my answer was, “well, we didn’t spend any money on outside resources with Look At My Eyes and we have been able to generate a good amount of buzz.”

But that wasn’t going to be the case with Mirame los Ojos…not only do I have not have the time to do much for the first book anymore, I certainly don’t have the time or energy to promote the second book…it’s exhausting (oh and I also run the sales and marketing division of a new home building company so yeah, I’m pretty busy)

The icing on the cake with our publisher was that–since we didn’t come out of pocket as much as I had thought/planned for Mirame los Ojos we would be able to spend a few dollars utilizing their marketing and PR arm of their operations.

And thus…Mirame los Ojos came about.

It’s been a few months since the book was officially released.  I have no idea how it’s selling…hopefully well.  We recently spoke at the Autism Society National Convention and met with a number of families, presenters, professionals and they were extremely excited to know about the Spanish version of the book.

Our PR firm started last Monday.  We had enough money to pay for about 3 months of outreach.  I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us and for both books with their knowledge, savvy and muscle behind our efforts.

We have already presented to a group of Latino families (we spoke English and it was translated) and the response was amazing!  We sold more books than we ever have for a small presentation.  You could just see how thirsty the parents and care takers were to get helpful information in their more comfortable tongue.

For Christmas this year I have asked for $$$ so I can purchase Spanish lesson software.  I speak a little French (worthless in Texas) but am dying to learn to speak Spanish.

My goal is to not to need a Spanish translator when I meet a father or speak to a group of parents…how cool would that be!

We live in Fort Worth, Texas…if you know ANY organization or group, church, whatever that would benefit from us sharing our story and message of hope in English or Spanish…please feel free to contact us for an engagement…we would love to help in any way we can.

So buy the book in English and in Spanish and tell everyone you know about them.

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…oh and they just released their book inSPANISH as well…buy it now!

The Fourth Greatest Invention for the Autism World

Continuing on our Top 10 list of Greatest Inventions for the Autism World…let’s recap

The First Greatest Invention was of course…The Timer

The Second Greatest Invention was then the…Mini-Trampoline

Then the Third Greatest Invention was the…Exercise Video (mainly P90X and Insanity)

And now it comes to Number Four on the Top 10 list.  Remember, these are MY unbiased thoughts and should not be taken (too seriously) and as absolutes.  Although I’m a pretty smart and witty cookie and I highly would suggest to you that I’m perfectly correct on my Top 10 list.

The Fourth Greatest Invention for the Autism World…The Dollar Store!

HUH?  Is that an invention?  You bet it is and here’s why it’s so great.

We have a “Responsibility Chart” on the door of our pantry at home.  It has the days of the week and little icons like a dog, clothes, dishes, a smiley face…to represent the areas our children (one typical, one with autism) need to perform on a daily basis in order to get a CHECK in the box for that day.

I’ve seen some people reward with candy, some promise large gifts…we do it a little differently.

With a child on the Spectrum…timing is everything.  If you are going to punish, you need to do it ASAP and not wait for a different moment because your child will lose context and it won’t be a learning experience.

We have 5 or so daily responsibilities for our children…were they nice/helpful with Charley  Bear (our GoldenDoodle?) Did they help with the dishes?  Were they pleasant to one another and a servant to their friends?  Did they get dressed, make their beds and brush their teeth? (still working on that last list)

If they do this then they get a check…

1. Let the child put the check in the box themselves…they will  take ownership

2. Stick to the system

3. Don’t bend on a check if they don’t do it that day…stay strong

So if they get all their checks for that day they get TEN CENTS.  Now you’re thinking “big deal, what’s a dime going to buy?”

BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT…the point is to reward immediately, to praise and encourage to keep on going  because at the end of the week…they get a trip to The Dollar Store!

If you’ve never been to a Dollar Store then you don’t know what you’re missing!

Yes most of the items there are ABSOLUTE JUNK…but to a kid, it’s pure heaven!

If your children are like mine, they will take interest in a toy for about 10 minutes then will put it down and get interested in something else.  Maybe they’ll come and pick it back up but 70% of the time…it’s lost its luster and there goes hard earned money.

BUT NOT IF YOU BUY IT AT THE DOLLAR STORE!

Seriously…if I can spend $1.08 on a toy/prize/reward and my kids play with it for a day or two…GOLDEN!

So I’m happy because I don’t care if it breaks, they lose it, the dog eats it, my son throws it over the fence…certainly I want them to enjoy and respect it…but I’m not bummed or upset if something bad happens to it.

PLUS…they love going to the Dollar Store…walking around there looking at all the items they can buy…all the colors, choices…it’s a great way to spend a Saturday hour or two.

So there you go…the Responsibility Chart earns you a dime a day and if you get checks all days for a week…that turns into a trip to the Dollar Store.

Last week my daughter who is typical had a total meltdown on Tuesday…she got an “X” in one of her boxes for the day and didn’t get to go to the Dollar Store last week…she was bummed but it’s a teaching opportunity to try and do better next time…plus she can still earn a dime for those good days with all checks…but there won’t be a trip to the Dollar Store at the end of the week.

So there you go…the Fourth Greatest Invention for the Autism World…EVER!

What says you???  Any thoughts/feelings about Numbers 5 – 10 on the Top 10 list?  I’m up for suggestions…let’s chat!

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…oh and they just released their book in SPANISH as well…buy it now!