Tag Archives: father and son

Does Autism Hurt?

It’s almost as if my son doesn’t feel pain.  He doesn’t cry much if he falls down or the dog bites him or he skins his elbow.

Last year we were at a function for his school and there were bounce houses and all that fun stuff.  William L-O-V-E-S bounce houses and so he was off and jumping when he saw those.  A few hours later one of his therapists asked if he had hurt his foot.

“Why?” We asked…

Well apparently he was limping around.  So we got closer to him and he HAD A SAFETY PIN STUCK IN THE BOTTOM OF HIS FOOT!

Uhh yeah, that’s right…a safety pin!  He was just going along, not crying, still bouncing…YIKES!

William also loves the monkey bars.  He is amazing at them…it’s so cool to see how he’s progressed…first I had to hold him, then he would only do a few bars, now he goes back-and-forth, back-and-forth.

Last night I noticed he was looking at his hand…I went to him, asked if he were in pain and he said “Yes” and I looked at his hand.  It had two huge  blisters and was pretty raw…he didn’t cry, didn’t tell us and more importantly–he was continuing on the monkey bars.

So it got me thinking…does having autism hurt?  I know there are sensory issues with children so that pain doesn’t register with them like a “typical” child…but it’s pretty amazing.

It got me thinking about what other Super Human feats of strength those on the spectrum might have that us mere mortals don’t.  I know he can jump on the mini-trampoline longer than any other 6-year-old in the history of the world!

We have friends whose children will cry at the drop of a hat…William will fall down, say “uh-oh…it’s a boo-boo” and then keep on going.

Does anyone else have this experience?

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!

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…

Don’t look at my son like that!

I hate “that look”…if you’re a parent (especially a father) of a special needs child…you know what I’m talking about.

This has been a busy summer for our family…a great summer for my children, getting to be with family and friends and especially cousins…they love their cousins.

My 6-year-old son with autism has really had a great summer.  He attends summer school and loves that–he’s been going to school pretty much year-round since he was the age of three…that might sound a little mean, not to give a kid a summer break, but with early intervention and solid reinforcement and ABA therapy, he’s happy and improving with his verbalization and socialization.  William loves being around his cousins and so having a few family vacations mixed into his busy summer school schedule is quite a treat for him.

This past weekend we were able to join my side of the family on an extended weekend in the Texas Hill Country to hang out on the Blanco River and all be together.  He did a fantastic job!  His cousins are mostly girls and a few years older and, together with my very strong-willed 4-year-old daughter, they keep him very involved.  It brings me great joy to see him being around his cousins because he is just one of the bunch.  He doesn’t have the typical friend relationships because he doesn’t really interact with other children.  He doesn’t sit in a corner or anything like that when other children are around–he’ll be near the action–but he’s not really part of the action.

During our vacation we took everyone to a swimming hole that was a ton of fun!  It’s in a state park where there are huge trees, river access, tubing and the all-important rope swings.

Now my son is not one to really be adventurous.  I don’t know if he’s afraid of things, maybe just a bit cautious.  This is his first year to really enjoy swimming–thanks to 6-8 months of swimming lessons–and while he’s mostly a dog paddler, it’s very freeing for me and my wife to not have him either stand on the side while everyone else is in the water, or cling onto us in the water for dear life.

So back to this rope swing…so much fun!  They had one just for children and the line was long to enjoy it.  Kids would grab it and swing into the very chilly water of the river and do it over and over and over again.

I was just happy William was in the water–it was really cold and for those of you who have seen William, he’s a string bean with very little meat on his bones to keep him warm.

I had no thoughts of William ever wanting to attempt the rope swing, but when I causally asked him, imagine my surprise when he not only said, “YES” but got out and headed right over to it.

For the next 3+ hours that’s about all he did…it was fantastic!  He would climb up the little ladder, grab the bar on the rope and hold onto it and swing into the water.  He didn’t hold on very long most of the time–so it was like he was jumping into the water–but it was a thrill to see him be a “typical child” and get so excited to be doing what all the other children were doing.

So I was pumped up!

Then came “that look” (and you thought this was just going to be a blog where I gushed praise and joy…nope)

There I was, helping him stand in line (not easy) and get a hold of the bar of the swing.  His cousins and other family members were taking pictures and just having a great time enjoying that he was having a great time.

As we were standing in line he was shivering and flapping.  He still flaps when he gets excited and he was not only really excited but he was probably really cold because the water was cold and there was a wonderful tree canopy.  So as we were standing in line shivering and flapping I noticed two younger boys staring at him and snickering to themselves.

These boys were probably 8 to 10 years old if I had to guess.  They were also enjoying the rope swing…and they were enjoying noticing that my son wasn’t typical.

Here I was, on Cloud Nine because my son was doing something daring and brave, he was having this fantastic time and I was so proud of him…and yet I was crushed.

That look…you all know what it is don’t you?  Maybe you don’t see it directly but you certainly can feel it when you’re out in public and your child is doing something that’s reserved for our Special-Ism Children.  That look.

I wanted to push those boys into the cold river water.  I wanted to get into their 8-year-old faces and give them a piece of my mind.  I wanted to defend my precious boy, whom I love and am so proud of for all the progress he’s making.  I wanted to cry, scream, fight…everything.

I did nothing.

As I stood there, William flapping and making his inaudible noises, the boys giving that look and snickering at one another about how William was behaving, I just stood there…taking it all in.

Just like that cold river water, the splash in face of cold reality just crushed me.  The reminder that my son isn’t “typical.”  That he’s not just one of the boys.  That he is going to probably stand out in many situations for the rest of his life.

So on this day of joy and gladness…it was also a time of reality and sorrow…and that sucked.

What should I have done?  What should you do when you get “that look”…what have you done in the past?  Here are a few thoughts…I’d love to hear your opinions on what I should’ve done…

1. Ignore…easier said than done but I can’t go through life with a huge chip on my shoulder about my son.  I can’t be there to defend him from those looks and snarky whispers.  So maybe we just ignore?  Ehhh…that’s hard

2. Confront…I almost did that.  I almost tapped those boys on their shoulders and gave them a piece of my mind.  Not that I would’ve really gotten onto them,but maybe I would’ve gently informed them of William’s situation and how they should be celebrating his accomplishments like the rest of us

3. Make a scene…again, would that have accomplished anything?  One of my concerns about making a bigger deal out of it was that I didn’t want to put a damper on William’s experience.  Although he doesn’t talk much and oftentimes doesn’t appear to be paying attention–I KNOW that he would’ve understood what was going on and I don’t want for him to be more and more aware that he’s not “typical”…that he’s different from others.

4. Removed ourselves from the situation…but why?  Why should my son be punished and removed from a fun situation just because others are making fun of him or commenting about his actions and behavior?  I’m glad I didn’t do that.

5. Blog about it…bingo!  That’s what happened.  SO here I am, expressing my sorrow and frustration…but was that the right thing to do?

I know I can’t be there for my son every time someone gives him “that look.”  Maybe he doesn’t care if people are looking at him like that.  Maybe he doesn’t even know they’re looking at him like that.  Maybe it’s all on me.

Whatever it was, it was an incident that still sticks in my brain.  There we were, having a great time–and we still had a great time–playing, experiencing, participating, enjoying…and yet there’s always that little reminder that our children aren’t quite the same.

Anyone have any thoughts?  Would love to hear

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!