Tag Archives: autism

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

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

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

 

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