Know about Look at my Eyes: Autism Spectrum Disorders: Autism and PDD-NOS by Melanie Fowler with sections written by her husband, Seth? I love this gem of a book from cover to cover! I recommend it to the general public so they can know what it is like to raise a child with autism, in this case a boy diagnosed with PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified). I recommend this book to new parents who are questioning if their toddler is on track with his developmental milestones. Most of all Look at my Eyes in a must-read if you have a child newly diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum or who has other special needs.
You do not know where to turn? What to do? Who to believe? Look at my Eyes: Autism Spectrum Disorders: Autism and PDD-NOS – Early Intervention and Navigating the System is the book you need at the beginning stage of your journey. Melanie and Seth Fowler, Williams’s author-parents, will take you by the hand and show you the ropes.
About the Author
It is important for my readers to know at the beginning of my review that Melanie is completely qualified to give you advice both as a professional and as a mom who has “Been There, Done That”. She has degrees in speech-language pathology and special-education, has worked for years with special-needs and deaf children, and has taught sign language as a second language to high school students. She is also a certified educational diagnostician and has helped children with autism spectrum disorders in groups and on a one-on-one basis. Melanie lives in Texas with her husband Seth, and their two children William, age five, and Margaret, age three. This is the first book of this now stay-at-home mom.
A Book About Raising a Child with Autism
You find practical, immediately doable steps to make your life with a child with autism more manageable, more fruitful, and most importantly, more hopeful!
You will appreciate the conversational tone used to convey their message. It is as if you were sitting at home with a comforting friend or friends, because in this book, the father does have a say. Woven throughout the book are sections called Seth Says… where we get a glimpse of how the father feels, about his fears, his dashed dreams, his shaky hopes for the future, and his wise words of encouragement. It is refreshing to get a father’s view point and counsel as often these books are written by moms. Therefore, if you are a father of a child with autism Look at my Eyes will appeal to you also. These are excerpts from Seth Says… that struck a chord in me:
- If you don’t do something for your child with autism, then no one is going to do it for you.
- It’s depressing and absolutely crushing, not only because we fathers are grieving for all the things our children will not experience, but because we are trained that it’s a rite of passage to pass along our interests, desires and skills to our kids… and that’s probably not going to happen.
- About the marriage: If you don’t take a few moments to spend together, then it’s not going to last.
- I am filled with joy that I have a son and he has my name and it’s not about me or my silly expectations—it’s about loving a child who isn’t “typical” but who is a special child of God and someone I am proud of.
It is one thing to be involved with children with different needs in your professional life but like Melanie soon found out it is still a challenge when it involves your own child. Melanie writes, “If you’re back where my 2005 self was, wondering how in the world you’re going to cope, how you’re going to handle the days and months and years of going through the same motions over and over, addressing the same problems over and over, it might help you to know that “handling it” will always mean different things on different days.”
Melanie writes in a clear, concise way and is so genuine that most readers will connect with her immediately and have faith in what she says. Melanie explains in simple, basic terms and is never condescending or patronizing. She becomes the friendly mom chatting next to you at a support group or in a therapist’s waiting room. As it says in the Foreword, “You will find yourself enamored by Melanie’s passion, her courage, her conviction, her humility, and her humor.”
Melanie’s advice will help you avoid the unscrupulous charlatans peddling silver bullet treatments as she leads you straight to the evidence-based treatments that have been scientifically proven to produce meaningful outcomes.
Heard the expression, “Make every bite count”? Well Melanie has “made every word count” because in a 122 page book she has crammed lots of valuable information on raising a child with autism. Bravo for those who had a say in its content because it is given in a chronological, organized manner divided into twelve chapters. Like their great web site, their book centers around scientifically proven effective methods such as ABA, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy. The book covers most topics parents need to know as William’s first five years of life are revealed. Here are some.
- Getting an early diagnoses and treatment.
- Sifting through the various therapies and choosing evidence-based ones.
- Alerting readers not to be gullible and fall for quackery but ask for data and proof.
- Surviving the nightmare potty training years.
- Navigating the school system.
- Keeping detailed records of all contacts with professionals.
- Cutting through the delay tactics of your insurance.
- Setting the bar just right, enough to motivate and set up child for success.
One chapter has pages of helpful sites from the Association for Behavior Analysis to Quack Watch. Another chapter, In-Home Activities, lists suggested supplies you can gather to implement skills such as language, sensory, fine motor and gross motor, and daily living/self-help. Then Melanie describes 21 fun family activities to do at home not to replace therapy programs but to supplement them.
You will read about various strategies used to stimulate growth and development and become familiar with the terms used in this new world you are entering.
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy sessions
- Sign Language
- Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
- Behavior Management Strategies
All this serious, absolutely essential information is sprinkled with encouraging excerpts of William’s achievements and wise tips from the parents. When you get to the last page you will be amazed at all you have learned in 122 pages! You will feel more confident and more capable, like the feeling you get after attending a worthwhile conference with super guest speakers.
About the Message
Early diagnosis and intervention is the key to success with any special-needs child. The goal is for your child to be as self-sustaining as possible one day. Parents of a child with special needs must have support. They need help so that they have enough energy to advocate for their child. You cannot be sleep-deprived or stretched too thin because the whole family will suffer if you’re at your mental, physical, or emotional limit. Besides making quiet time for yourself, make time for your spouse. Be patient. Be consistent. Be fair. Be willing to try new things … because you will try them all and then some.
And I add; be sure to read Look at my Eyes: Autism Spectrum Disorders: Autism and PDD-NOS to guide you safely through those difficult years of raising a child with autism.
“Mírame los Ojos” está disponible ahora! El precio es $9.99. Una porción de cada libro vendido será donado con gusto al Centro del Estudio del Niño en Fort Worth, Texas. Se le enviará el libro a Ud. tan pronto que Ud. hace el pedido.
Buy the book here.
- Interview with Seth Fowler about Raising a Child with Autism and Book, Look at my Eyes
- Interview with author Melanie Fowler About Raising a Child with Autism and Navigating the System