Surprise, we have autism. World Autism Day, April 2nd.
With the assault on talented and gifted programs and the push towards a George Orwellian “Utopia” and mass censorship that’s been happening, we feel at Frau Fowler, it’s important to celebrate this World Autism Day, with a surprise.
The founders of Frau Fowler are on the spectrum.
Autism is considered a disability. It’s not necessarily the image that is sometimes portrayed in media of quirky college kids, writing code. For many, it’s not just a mental condition, it’s also a physical one, that requires lifelong care.
The word: SPECTRUM, really does describe it. There are those who will need their parent’s assistance for life and may need special schooling and care. Some are late-bloomers, like the movie, “The 40 Year Old Virgin.”
Those who don’t consider themselves disabled, can have remarkable talents and usually use the term “Asperger’s,” which describes high functioning neuro-diverse people. These people may also be aware of (or unaware of), their social function not being like most.
“Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger’s, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.” – wikipedia
The following stories offer a glimpse inside a tale from two sides of the track, both with high-functioning “Asperger’s” diagnosed later in life.
PERRY LOUIS FIELDS, Founder of Frau Fowler
Perry grew up a bit poor in the early years. Her parents valued education. Her dad was off fighting Regan’s drug wars in South American (secretly to even the family) and then finishing law school. Her mother (a gifted middle school teacher) made the public library the entertainment.
Perry is a kindergarten drop-out, often using her mental power to create temporary fever to leave school. Finishing her work early and using a library pass to spend the rest of the day in the book sanctuary (or hall pass to roam the halls), her teachers dismissed her as below remedial, and wanted to convince her mother so. The anxiety of having to engage with other children was overwhelming and frustrating. Perry often described herself as “stupid.”
Perry’s mother insisted on an IQ test around 2nd grade, where it was discovered that she was a genius. She was then placed better in school, including a TAG (talented and gifted class), which may have contained 20% of kids with high functioning autism, who had just as unusual social behavior as her. The new accommodations kept her from dropping-out completely and a guidance counselor saw her weekly for “meditation” exercises. She was PEN PALS with Jim Davis (the creator of Garfield).
During this time Perry’s dad, worried about her lack of social engagement, engaged her in sports, where he created a monster. Her first run with her 82nd Airborne Ranger dad, was 3 miles down a dirt country road. She went on to win everything…all the time. In the 80’s, there were little league teams (99% boys), but with a short haircut, nobody knew any difference (or cared).
Her P.E. teacher (who loved short, tight, polyester coaches pants and a manly haircut) set four posts around the playground and gave Perry a certificate for every mile she ran during P.E., which was better than socializing at recess. By 4th grade she earned over 600 certificates and wallpapered her room.
By 6th grade, she sucked it up and became class president, by 7th grade she won the South Carolina High School State Meet in the 1600m (in the 4A class- the largest), almost breaking the state record. Perry is artistically inclined and musically inclined, attending the Governor’s School of Fine Arts in high school. By college, most couldn’t recognize her differences.
Having classes with others, that more than likely had similar diversities, was helpful in overcoming the anxiety of childhood. However, it didn’t keep her from trashing her room routinely from frustration, stress and anger. Perry still sleeps with her baby blanket, which resembles a brown dish rag. She is highly misophonic, where sounds cause physical pains.
Raised to be anything, do anything and having the “special powers” of what was later found out to be Asperger’, it’s a mostly happy story, with plenty of self-created HIGHS and tortuous life-lesson LOWS.
…her life after high school was even more colorful!
A diagnosis would not have helped, since everything that could have been done, was being done.
And much later in life, Perry finally bumped into her “diamond in the rough,” Ben.
BENJAMIN DYLAN FOWLER, Head of Operations, Co-Founder
Ben is one of four kids and was born the same year as Perry. His parents were young when they had children. Starting as early as he can remember (around age 5), he and his twin sister were left at home to take care of themselves.
He did “okay” in elementary school, but started to have social problems around 5th grade. Ben spent most of his time playing by himself and liked to work around the house, where his parents let him do different jobs.
By 7th grade, he was so far behind in school, he wanted to drop out. At age 13 he was working at the commissary on the Air Force Academy base bagging groceries. He loved sports and was a good athlete, but never got too active with them and was never encouraged.
He was tested by his school, but no follow through was given, other than being given Zoloft (and not continuing). The diagnosis was a “learning disability,” and was soon put in SPECIAL ED.
His parents divorced at age 15, after his dad threatened to kick him and his younger brother out of the house for behavior issues. His mother moved them into a cabin in the mountains, while his sisters stayed with their dad.
This cabin had no school in close proximity, but Cripple Creek ( a casino, mountain town) was close. He kept working odd jobs to make money and to help out. He often felt obligated to take care of his younger brother, who dropped out of school around the same time.
Ben found work in Cripple Creek and met up with all sorts of down and out “friends,” who hung out in bars and gambled. He was homeless by 19 and slept in a sleeping bag in the tree line on the outskirts of town at 10,000 feet (while always working job to job).
Facing drug addictions and poverty, he decided one day to just START OVER.
At 25, he had his GED and after working all sorts of jobs, he started at CC&V gold mine (one of the largest in the world). He moved into a mechanic’s position, after a 2 year associate degree in heavy equipment.
By 36, he reached the pinnacle of being THE SUPERVISOR of mine maintenance.
At 38, he joined Frau Fowler, fulltime.
At 40, he was finally tested (high functioning, with a high IQ and OCPD).
It was just the information he needed to overcome his closet demons about being “stupid” and to finally stop thinking his family’s crisis was his fault.
Autism From the Horse’s Mouth
Together, we’ve experienced just about every low and high, in life.
Our biggest problem is the emotional toll of constantly needing to self-regulate. You’re always wondering why you can’t enjoy the things that most do. You’re alienated, even if you spend your life in service to others.
The flipside is the gift. The gift is FREEDOM to do anything and not get bogged down in constraints (that many people put on themselves). When you live like you have nothing to lose, something dramatically good happens.
What we have found is that learning coping skills is everything and if it’s done early, as our stories illustrate, can really save someone and create healthy functioning people who can then develop real assets for humanity.
Not that we are fans of Bill Gates taking over the world (but we understand WHY he’s like this), but there are many modern day people who didn’t have testing as children (as it wasn’t available, or don’t talk about it as they don’t see it as a hindrance). Nikola Tesla, Ben Franklin, Tim Burton, Dan Aykroyd, Albert Einstein, Stanley Kubrik, Thomas Jefferson, Emily Dickinson, the list is very long.
We also know that the best advice for longevity is: BODY IS THE TEMPLE, which is really the best advice for anyone with any condition. You just have to do what’s best for you and develop a healthy lifestyle that works for you.
It doesn’t matter what professional opinions think. It’s just has to work well for you AND, as we have found, if you explore enough and don’t give up, you will FIND EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED TO survive and even thrive.
THANK YOU FOR UNDERSTANDING.
Also, you’re in luck, as our special interest is NATURAL ORAL CARE (LOL).