Tag Archives: daddy blogger

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!

Getting High For Autism…is that the answer?

Recently I read an article where parents in Oregon were giving their 11-year-old child with autism medicinal marijuana to “help” with his behaviors and symptoms.

I had to read the article a few times to really digest it and consider it from different angles.

My first inclination was outrage…really?  Parents are now doping up their kid to get him to calm down?  There’s nothing else to do?

After reading it again it just made me sad.  I’m sad for this 11-year-old boy who is afflicted with autism and seizures.  I’m sad for these parents who have had to put their precious child in a state institution…at age EIGHT?

My son is seven years old.  I can’t even imagine–on his worst day–how it would feel to deposit him in an institution because he was too hard to handle.

I don’t condone giving children medical marijuana…but that’s just the superficial  element to this story.  It’s not really about doping up this kid, it’s that there doesn’t seem to be anything out there to help him in his situation.

For that I am extremely sad.

We must do more.  Doping up kids is not the answer.  Maybe it will chill them out for a while, but it’s not going to solve anything or certainly cure or “treat” any of the symptoms.

We live in a society where we want immediate gratification.  If I want something, I’ll buy it.  If I don’t have the cash, put it on credit and pay it off later (or never).  We are in an Internet Generation of immediate results, answers and solutions.

We can’t treat our children on the spectrum like a Website.  We can’t expect to get the quick fix when it comes to autism.

My heart breaks for these parents–I don’t even know them–but I can imagine how their hopes and dreams and hearts have been smashed to pieces time after time after time.

Autism SUCKS!

We have to demand more from local, state, federal resources.  We have to demand more from the private sector.  We have to demand more from churches and non-profit organizations.  We have to demand more from our public and private schools.

If the studies are true and 1 in 47 boys are now afflicted…how much medical marijuana and how many state institutions are going to be needed in 5, 10, 15 years?

This can’t be the solution.  Doping kids and casting them aside isn’t the final answer…I just can’t believe that is going to be the best solution.

We have to demand more from ourselves…no one outside the Autism Community gives a rats-ass about our plight.  No one is going to just start handing out money to help find realistic treatments and maybe even a “cure”…if it’s not going to be you then who will it be!

No…none of us asked for this.  Our children didn’t ask for this either.  But for some reason we’ve been given the duty/chore/task/blessing of having a child on the spectrum and together we can only make changes.

What are you prepared to do?  Take the easy way out or do something about 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

It’s OKAYto have a Pity Party (sometimes)

I get a lot of emails and Tweets and whatnot from other parents with children on the spectrum.  They typically are very positive.  They’ll talk about how the read our book (and you should buy one too!), and will share some of their stories, frustrations, questions.

Every so often I’ll get comments where a mother or father (c’mon dads, need more of you to step up to the plate and be active in your child’s life!) will actually feel badly because they “aren’t there yet” when it comes to accepting and dealing with the diagnosis of their child.

I get comments from people saying, “I don’t want to be peppy and cheery all the time,” and “I’m not at a point where I can deal with our situation gracefully.”

I totally get that.  I have been there…I still go there…P-L-E-N-T-Y.

As my wife so correctly put it in our book  (did I mention you need to BUY IT), “You will never stop grieving, but you’ve got to get over it because if you don’t, it’s not helpful to you, your child, your family and your marriage.”  Lot of truth in that.

I still mourn.  I still get bummed when I think about the future and what may or may not be in store for my 7-year-old son….and that’s okay.

So I want all of you to hear this…IT’S OKAY TO HAVE A PITY PARTY from time-to-time.

No one is going to breeze through your situation.  Like our children on the spectrum, our situations of grief and trials are completely different.

It’s okay to be sad, angry, confused, just flat out pissed off at what’s going on.

My son has started getting very emotional about things at home.  If he doesn’t get something, he’ll start weeping and won’t let anyone see him or touch him.  If the dog jumps on him, you’d think we just shot the dog…seriously, he is weeping at the drop of a hat.  IT’S DRIVING ME (US) CRAZY!!!

I visited with a friend of mine about diet and family meal plans and we talked about how expensive and time consuming and all that it will be…yeah no kidding…it’s okay to be upset at that…have your pity party and then get back in the game.

I’m not perfect.  You’re not perfect.  No one is going to go through our trials without losing it from time-to-time.  I just want you to know that it’s alright to do that…as long as you get over it quickly, don’t take it out on your child, and don’t make it a crutch.

Give yourself the permission to have a pity party about your situation.  Give yourself permission to be sad, angry, scared.  Give yourself permission to not want to have a rosy disposition about the state of your situation.

But then shake it off, get back in there and get after it.

Good luck…oh and buy our book!

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

Celebrating Autism: Waiting in Line

Happy New Year everyone…let’s get to work

I’m sitting here watching some NCAA football, the fire is on, the dog is asleep at my feet, nice glass of vino within arms distance…perfect scenario to blog!

I was going through the family computer and cleaning out files and documents that we don’t need.  My wife has a “William” folder with all sorts of documentation and notes and all that fun stuff.

In the file are notes from our 18-month legal battle with our insurance company, notes about what William was doing at certain ages, much of the stuff she used to write our book “Look At My Eyes”

I opened one document that described William at 2 years and 7 months of age–just before he was officially diagnosed with autism and our lives continued to change.

One entry said “has serious issues with patience.  Won’t stand in line, refuses to wait–flips out if he can’t have it now!”

So today as my wife was sick in bed with flu-like symptoms and the kids were getting cabin fever, I took them to the Children’s Museum (a HUGE staple in our weekend routine all year ’round)

They have amazing exhibits and the kids love to go there.  As with many families on the spectrum, we have our routine.  We get our tickets, we go to the gift shop, we say “hello” to Ms. Lisa, we take off our shoes and go down the Dyno-slide, then we go and do other things…but it always happens like that.

As William and his sister were going up-and-down on the slide I realized that William was very patiently waiting in line for his turn.

Kinda made me chuckle.

Another exhibit they love is some spinning mechanism–I don’t know what it is, you step on it, hold on and it spins you and you get all dizzy–kids love that stuff you know.

As usual, there was a line.  Immediately William said (in his broken-but getting better-communication skills)…”not your turn, wait in line…not your turn, wait in line…not your turn, wait in line”

And that’s what he did.  Over and over and over, he waited in line, was patient and  calm, took his turn, flapped a bit, got back in line

“Wait in line…it’s not your turn.”

So ironic that I found the report of almost 4+ years ago where my son was not willing or able to stand in line, be patient, wait for it…and here we are…not saying he’s destined for greatness–but HAVE HOPE PEOPLE…every year that passes we notice successes (sometimes big, sometimes small) and hurdles that he clears.

Way to go my son!  I am proud of you for learning to stand in line, wait your turn, be patient…

now you just need to teach your old man that patience thing…Happy New Years

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

Making Sense of Scratching, Clawing and Biting

It’s December 27th…probably the worst possible day to write a blog and expect that someone will read it…much less respond to it.  But who cares…I have time to write and I just had a good conversation with a buddy of mine who is also a daddy with a son with autism and so it motivated me to write a blog.  So…to the tens of people out there today on December 27th who are blogging or searching…this is for you!

My friend and I talked about how at times our sons (his 5 and mine 7-years-old) can have immediate fits where they scratch and bite and claw and do all that fun stuff that comes with autism.

I don’t know why his does it, but I think my wife and I have somewhat made sense of William’s fits…and it all is about communication.  UGH!

Lately we’ve noticed that he’ll claw/bite/scratch/pinch whatever when he just can’t communicate his needs and wants.  Yeah, yeah, yeah this sounds pretty simple but as he gets older, it’s more and more complex.

William recently reverted back to scratching/clawing/biting not just when he doesn’t get his way, but when he can’t express what he wants and he is embarrassed.

Yep…he’s embarrassed that he can’t explain what he wants.

Wow…it hit me like a ton of bricks when we finally realized this.  It wasn’t that he didn’t get a toy or treat, it’s when he knows that he did something that he shouldn’t have done or that he did something that brings him negative attention.

The mind of the autistic child is so fascinating.  I wish I could just plug into my son’s brain and see how he sees–someone will develop that and will become a Gillionaire!

Yes he still gets upset when he gets in trouble or doesn’t get his way, but the older my son gets the more i see that his frustration is not only in his lack of communication, but that he understands that he’s not “typical” and that he sees how at times it brings him attention that isn’t the right kind of attention.

Anyone else have similar experiences? Thoughts?  Words of advice or in addition to?

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 & Presents Don’t Always Mix

Don’t you just hate it when people ask you, “so what do you want for birthday or Christmas?” and you have absolutely no idea what to tell them?

Huh? That’s never happened to you?  That’s a foreign concept to you because you always have an itemized Wish List ready for birthdays and holidays?

I would imagine that many of us have a Wish List or could put one together at a moment’s notice.

I know my 4-year-old daughter has one…that’s for sure.  She wants matching doll and girl clothes, some toy horse, a harmonica, some running shoes…and just about anything else she can think of.  My wife has absolutely no difficulty when relatives or friends inquire about gift ideas for Margaret.

Our son, William, is another story.  William just turned seven in November and here comes Christmas…and he has autism.

It really stresses my wife out during this season when people ask, “what can we get William for a present?”

Why is that so hard?

Because William pretty much doesn’t like presents.  How crazy is that to say about a 7-year-old boy?  But it’s true.  He has his favorites…mini-trampoline (we’ve discussed that previously), he got a po-go stick recently and seems to enjoy that, he loves to climb on the monkey bars (you should see how torn up his hands are), and that’s pretty much it.

We have a closet full of cars, Legos, puzzles, games, animals…all that he will take a look at and maybe will tap-tap-tap on from time-to-time…but he just doesn’t get into presents!

And that’s OKAY.  Parents out there who are in this situation…it’s okay.  Celebrate the items your child likes to play with.  Celebrate if they like odd and strange things more than they like cars and video games.  Celebrate when your child actually finds an object to carry around (William used to carry this car around, didn’t really play with it but just carried it around and pushed the noise button…drove me CRAZY!)  

No…it’s not typical and parents, grandparents, relatives won’t understand.  But who cares.  It’s not about them, it’s not about YOU, it’s about your child.  If your child is happy playing with a paper towel tube, then let them play with a paper towel tube.

We have started getting board games and memory games and things that William likes (enough) but that we can do as a family.  He’ll play for a little while then lose interest and go back to the mini-trampoline…and that’s okay.

So don’t stress…when someone asks, “What can I get your child with autism for a present?” don’t worry about it.  If they need clothes, get them clothes, if they need basic items, have them get the basic items.

Most of all, make sure your child is happy, knows they’re loved, and knows that they are special.

Enjoy!

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

The Church and Autism

This is blog post #2 in my series: “The _______ and Autism”

First was “The Government and Autism” and I have thoughts of writing about Public Schools, Insurance Companies, the Private Sector…if you have any ideas or topics you want me to spew about…just let me know.  Always looking for good topics where I can pretend I’m an “expert.” 🙂

Remember…my thoughts, my opinions, my blog…goal is to share, provoke, start discussion…enjoy.

The church my family attends is literally a God-send.  For those of you who don’t attend a church or don’t have a church family…get one.  Of course variety of reasons but when it comes to having a special needs child, you need a group that will support you…and for us, our church is such a group.

I’ve heard horror stories of people being asked to leave a church service or the church entirely because they have a child on the spectrum…and that makes me sick.

For us, informing our church about our son, who has autism, was such a blessing and relief.  It wasn’t always like that.  We tried to “hide” our son thinking it was a learning delay or just the way 2-year-old children act…but when we finally let people know, many people came and walked alongside us and supported us and for that we are eternally grateful.

As a whole…from what I’ve seen/experienced/heard…the church is failing the autism community.

Hard pill to swallow isn’t it?  Again…the church is FAILING the autism community.

Now I know there are programs and churches out there that have a “Special Needs Ministry”…not sure how I feel about that…why does a group that is already stigmatized need to be further stigmatized and segregated from typical members in the church?  But I do applaud those churches out there that at least attempt to meet those special needs members where they are.

I realized my frustration when we started promoting our book, “Look At My Eyes.”  My wife and I are open and vocal about our faith in Christ and how our faith and dependence on Him through the early stages of learning about our son’s diagnosis allowed us to deal with it as best we could.  We discuss what our relationship with Christ means to us in our lives, our marriage and our raising our children…and it’s all in the book.

I was surprised to receive such a “mehhh” response from churches across the DFW-Metroplex when we approached them about having us visit and speak and sell books.  I researched all the large churches and wrote them letters (not emails!) and sent them books.

Our goal has never been to make money off the book.  We’re so in the hole it’s not even funny–and that’s okay because we wrote the book to bless others going through similar situations.  We wrote the book to help as many people as possible…not make a buck.

So here we are…giving churches our book, telling them we’d love to come and speak FOR FREE, to help minister as much as possible to families, to help train Sunday School teachers, nursery workers, administrators, members…anyone in the church who might need or just want to know how to help the autism community in their congregation.

Do you know how many churches took us up on that?  Two.  I probably sent out 20 books.  Two.  And one of those was our church.  The other bought 4 books and  that was about it.

Bitter?  Heck yeah I’m bitter!  The autism community is not being served or paid attention by the church and that’s a shame.

When our son was younger and we’d visit a friend’s or family’s church we were horrified to take William to the nursery.  He didn’t have the ability to sit with us in the church service, but it was such an ordeal trying to explain to these nursery workers how to handle him if he has an episode or whatever.

Finally we just stopped going to churches where we didn’t know the nursery staff.

And that’s a shame.

The church needs to do a better job at educating their ministers, teachers, workers how to handle the simplest of situations.  The church needs to offer training and support to parents of families with special needs children.

The church needs to encourage “typical” members to engage with those other members who might be a bit different.

What if a young family moved to a new town and had a child on the spectrum and was looking for a church family to call home…so they start looking around and one Sunday they try one and when they drop off their child for Sunday School or Children’s Church they either have to explain how to handle their child or are so embarrassed they just get up and leave?

That’s not what the church is all about.  That’s not making all comers feel safe and secure.

Shame on you church for not doing everything possible to make people feel at home.  Shame on you church for not taking the time to teach your child workers the basics of how to relate and handle a child with autism.  Shame on you church for not taking advantage of free resources to teach your congregation how to love and cherish those on the spectrum.

Melanie and I don’t have all the answers.  We are definitely not experts on all things autism.  BUT I think we have something to say and I think it could help those dealing with life with a child on the spectrum.

We’d love to share our story, our book, our ideas and mostly our faith with your church.  Together we can discuss how to make the church a safe and attractive place for families thirsty to hear the good new of Jesus Christ and to know their autistic child will be loved.

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!