Grown

I am the proud mother of two sons. Both adults now – one a Senior in High School and the eldest, diagnosed on the autism spectrum so long ago that it really doesn’t matter.

The burdens of raising children in this day and age are quite remarkable. It has to be said with todays technology we can loose touch with each other in a home more often than keeping in touch with children being sucked into the vortex of social media. Never looking up from the dinner table is not my idea of time well spent.

Since retiring early from a sparkling career to care for my eldest, we’ve finally hit a time that we could come together as more of a family. With the sacrifices of raising a special needs child, i.e. the monetary outlay, abbreviated social life, appointments and therapies, it can be said that our earlier years were a blur and nothing to be envied.

So, now, when it’s actually legal for me to run away (oh ya, I won’t lie, it’s not a thought but a fantasy) we have pulled in and are actually enjoying each other. Call it upside-down and backwards – but we are now living forward.

I never got to (had to) drive either of my sons to a soccer game. I’ll leave that pleasure to other parents. Neither of my sons played sports, one couldn’t and the other wouldn’t. While we missed out on all the extra-curricular activities I hear other parents bitch about (no time to themselves, the expense, the coaches, the juggling of a calendar) its all good.

But hey. I can’t even describe how wonderful it is to be dragged out of bed way too early on a Saturday morning by my eldest, The Artist!, who wants to show off his newest graphic art work. Always a surprise – this man is going places. Need more coffee on those mornings.

Or, watching my youngest son, also technically an adult, gain success at school. He’s growing outward and finally enjoying unique activities that appeal to him. Ecentric, smart, shall I say dapper? We love going to thrift stores to score another vintage pair of jeans, or a Pendleton wool flannel to wear overseas when he visits Europe this spring.

Who else can claim that even though the new eclectic movie by Wes Anderson “The Grand Budapest Hotel” isn’t showing in our city, yet, still holds enough interest that we will be re-creating their signature confection this weekend. Why, that would be me – any my youngest! This little sumptuous ditty requires a trip to the farmers market for the best cream available plus a run to the local german import store for the finest chocolate from Bavaria. “Courtesan Au Chocolate” – on the menu. And no, I’m not sharing.

Tonight, we’ve already planned whats for dinner. I’ve gathered up some great nibbles and drinks to watch the next episode of “The Vikings”…one of our favorite historical shows – together. We four Fryes.

I am lucky. Twenty five years this July, married to the same great guy, two adult sons who are finding success in their own way….with some tasty treats along the way. And even though, deep in our hearts, we would have preferred a different outcome than being lifetime caregivers…..we are still miles ahead when it comes to appreciating family. And now, finally coming to a time when we feel a little more normal than not as a family. Our little, teeny tiny, family.

(Oh, I should add the tag-line about the two horrible little white dogs count around here too.)

Enjoy the day! ~ Wendy Frye

“Everybody thought I was a bit of an eccentric for wanting to be out there looking at the stars, but I still do.” ~ Brian May

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This article ran on wwww.ageofautism.com – complete with video!

http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/01/take-time-to-dream-and-live.html

We were well into our parenting years the first time we took a real break from our “unique” routine. Our way of life, with autism in the home….well, lets just say it was a rarity to move in a group LET alone consider just WHAT it would take to achieve one of America’s finest family pastimes – taking a vacation.

Our eldest son, diagnosed on the autism spectrum at the age of 3 1/2 years old, was making measurable progress. He found his voice in his 8th year – and was being released from physical and occupational therapies at school. Now, I don’t think I need to detail the herculean efforts poured into this young man to get to this place – or feel bad about the $90,000 outlay. We took personal debt (aka credit cards) to a whole different level. But Man! Oh! Man! we had finally made it to a positive, measurable milestone. What a perfect time to pause, take a honeymoon from all the therapies per se, and quickly celebrate a little bit of progress.

It was our last purchase made on the last line of credit we had available – a trip for four to Disneyland. And was it ever worth every single penny PLUS interest, fees and the stamps to mail in payments! Well before Mickey Mouse got pissed and quit handing out VIP passes to families who could use the extra time and assistance, we were able to secure that very golden ticket to fast-tracking the park attractions. While I had to physically force my eldest son to stay with me on the first ride (yep, that was me manhandling my son – don’t judge unless you live the life, friend) soon after that, he was hooked. We finished 16 attractions that first day, going on to have a delightful dinner in the French Quarter of the park and ultimately enjoying the best vacation of our lives.

James, who turned 20 this January, went on to complete his education. And now, as with all things Autism, we’ve had to change up our family plans to assist him in his chosen career, as an artist. We are now knee deep in Special Needs Trusts, Business Plans, Vocational Rehab, Employment Support, Job Studies, and on and on…..

(Heavy sign here)

If there was one thing I regret out loud, it’s not remembering to look back and reflect more often. In the relentless pursuit of recovery, the sheer angst of being a parent helpless to ever understand what “normal” family life is, thats when and where we missed it. We simply missed stopping to turn back to GAZE at the amazing accomplishments of a young man who was working harder than anyone to plant his flag. So, take pictures, lots and LOTS of pictures! Stop, pause and reflect every once in awhile, and go ahead, do it! Take a jump off the listing carousel we know as life, and give the sword a pull from the stone ~ you’ll never pry it loose unless you try.

“The soul never thinks without a picture.”
~Aristotle

Flip

These days, aging out of services for someone on the Autism Spectrum is a very real and unfortunate reality. My son, James, aged 18 and moderately affected, was able to vote in our presidential election this year. His father, my husband, and he went through the entire ballot and he made his own choices. We still laugh regarding his reaction that we were voting to legalize marijuana in our state. Flabbergasted! And sincerely ticked that it passed! It was awesome.

So, tell me, how is it that this capable young man, on the cusp of a tsunami of younger individuals affected by Autism, just how is it that he can be marginalized when he is capable of a higher education? He votes. That’s an adult privilege. He was required to enroll in the Civil Service upon graduation. Why can’t he be admitted to college classes at the local community college? Well, yes, it will take some accommodation and understanding, but the key here is that he is CAPABLE.

The amount of heart in this young man to get to this point, well, indescribable. We, as a family, would never want to meet a other family on this path, unfortunately – with 1 in 36ish boys now affected…..its becoming an autism freeway.

Visualize:

Take a notebook. Draw a picture in the corner on page one. Next, on page two, draw a slightly altered image – carry on the next, and next (you get it) to create a cartoon book. Using your imagination in the same manner, imagine our life in a little book:

Two people fall in love.
Get Married.
Have fertility issues.
Two surgeries later, pregnant.
A Boy!
Born beautiful, well and happy.
Gets shots (5 at once).
Cries.
Develops severe eczema.
Take doctors advice.
Gets 18 month shots.
Second pregnancy.
Another gorgeous boy!
First son looses ground.
Gets really sick.
Suffers hearing loss.
Regresses language.
Very unhappy.
Withdrawn.
Doctors are certain he’s fine.
Make us wait until he’s three for intervention.
Go to local non-profit before he’s three because we know something is wrong and desperately need him evaluated.
The volunteer SLP recommends us seeing a neurologist.
Declines treatment.
Oh no!
Brain scans fine.
MRI perfect.
Little boy is too sick to believe.
Low body tone.
Gorgeous eyes loosing focus.
First diagnosis, global developmental delay.
He’s over 3 now, no early interventions available.
Second diagnosis PDD-NOS.
Allergies RAGE.
Becoming totally submarined in his illness.
Go to experts at the state university.
Give blood for genetic testing.
Handed the Autism diagnosis.
No hope.
No cause.
No cure.
Told to get ready to institutionalize at 18.
Fuck off.
Go home.
Google Autism.
Grieve for 24 hours.
Get angry.
Get motivated.
Get moving.
Enroll in special preschool.
Only 6 students in the district.
Allergies continue to rage.
Allergic to everything.
Severe dietary restrictions.
Visit health food store.
Clerk alerts on vaccines.
Study.
Get violently ill.
He stops eating.
Food Clinic.
Behaviorist.
She visits once, wants to tether him to his chair.
He’s sick, not defiant.
Fire behaviorist.
Every day – study.
Every day – do something to improve his health.
Go to an integrative doctor.
Treat underlying health issues.
PT.
OT.
ST.
A therapy a day for 5 years.
Talks more.
Gets stronger.
Grows up.
Healthier.
Becomes very sassy!
A little happier (not easy being him).
We still hope.
We imagine.
Starts taking bus to school.
Lets himself into house and stays alone.
Calls me on the phone when he’s home!
Growing.
Makes honor roll.
Survives being bullied.
Survives being harassed, barely.
Makes a few friends.
Has amazing sense of offbeat humor.
Loves music.
Loves to fly and go on vacation.
Allergies abate enough to get a beloved dog.
Get another beloved pet.
Discovers talent.
Becomes published artist.
Passes standardized testing.
Graduates high school with achievement awards.
The crowd roars on graduation day.
Has hope.
Has dreams.
Has a family who loves him.
Turns 18.
Wants to continue education.
Its another challenge.
Can’t stay home alone.
He’s lonely.
Mom retires.
Family is happier.
Still ready for secondary education……..

Now an adult son.

Time to quit?

No.

Time to change things.

Time to change the paradigm for him and the legion of his peers coming up who have expectations for acceptance and a place in this word.

Time to throw out the notebook.

I will be a devoted parent until I cannot, and that will be the day I die. ~ Wendy Frye

“People need motivation to do anything. I don’t think human beings learn anything without desperation.” ~ Jim Carrey

Admissions redux

I am one of “THOSE Moms”. The mom who was pushed (slammed) into a corner with a diagnosis of Autism for my child. The diagnosis period for our son was dragged out over his second year and into the third – needlessly, on a step system (Global Developmental Disorder, PDD-NOS, etc.) to finally land on ASD, moderately affected. Since he was meeting major milestones, it wasn’t necessary to address his regressive language development – so we were told. This was 1998, putting this into perspective, the book Special Diets for Special Kids by Lisa Lewis, PhD, came out ONE month before our son’s diagnosis.

“Mrs. Frye, there’s no known cause for your sons developmental disabilities, and no known cure for him….just get him through special education and get him ready for an institution. He will have a “qualified” future living in a group home. P.S. Mrs. Frye, can we take some blood for genetic research before you leave?”

Driving 300 miles home, in our mini-van, I wondered what does this “Autism” thing really mean and why am I so scared? Arriving late in the evening, we instantly (instinctively?) ran downstairs and searched “Autism Cure” on Google. (I’m sure anyone reading this article can imagine how heart wrenching that evening was.) We actively mourned for about 24 hours and then got extremely pissed, and formed our anger into action. What action during what I so lovingly call “the lost decade”? The good stuff, biomedical interventions as well as sensory therapies – old school style! We were shooting from the hip – and not taking it from anyone wearing a white coat. Does any of this sound familiar?

First, my husband and I will never be convinced that our previously healthy, happy boy was born this way. He was well and over a period of time started slipping deeper and deeper into poor health. We started asking questions during the last two years before “the final diagnosis”. Those questions were answered with shrugs and denials for treatments. We appealed our insurance company’s decision – complete with a dog and pony show….it was miserable, looking back. Absolutely and certifiably 100% miserable.

Ultimately, WE made THE executive decision as his parents DECIDING that WE would do to get him back to healthy BEFORE concluding any lifelong, abrupt diagnostic ending for our boy, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! To this day, that was the BEST decision WE ever made. Our family has coined the phrase – “Juggling the Astronaut”. That’s what we did, juggled our son who was attached at the end of a cord, a lifeline if you will, through space and time to arrive here, back with us.

I would like to share here some of our home-grown (but not so random) therapies, supplements, processes and procedures that I researched and implemented with my young ASD son. By trial and error, directly or indirectly these things WORKED and helped him REGAIN some of his health and to ultimately grow into the HEALTHIER and HAPPIER young man he is today.

***DISCLAIMER***

This is not health advice (blah, blah, blah). I am not a licensed health professional, so just like everything we do for our kids, please research and determine if any of this has value to your family and children. And remember this was the 1990’s, there just wasn’t the support available with only 1 in 10,000 families with Autism in common. So take all this with a grain of salt or a glass of wine, and thank all that is good and holy that we have a better understanding of how to heal our children.

Where did we start?

First item on the agenda was to tackle was our son’s severe allergies that presented as nasal congestion, plugged ears, and horrible eczema. Our baby boys’ immune system was out to lunch. We did not relish giving him prescription and/or over the counter anti-histamines while his nervous system was struggling to develop. So we looked for viable alternatives. The best thing EVER for scaling back inflammation and slowing down the inflammatory response was MSM. I read the book, The Miracle of MSM by Stanley W. Jacob, MD, and never went back to conventional allergy meds. Over time his skin condition improved, sinuses dried up, asthma abated and he felt better than he had in a long time. The BIG plus? – We were also supplementing bio available sulfur to aid his liver function around his phenolic sulfatase deficiency.

Best bath soak in the world: Queen Helene’s Natural Mineral Bath Salts in Lavender. This gem of a product has been around for decades and contains not only magnesium sulfate but real sulfur, lithium and natural lavender oil. Whoo-hoo! My son was not swallowing pills at the time so everything became a topical application or ground up and swallowed in a beverage. When I smelt the real “brimstone and fire” smell of sulfur in the bathroom I was thrilled! It is one more arrow in my quiver to treat his phenol sulfotransferase deficiency AND eczema. The lavender oil has antiseptic properties and the lithium? Naturally occurring lithium is an excellent mood stabilizer. After his bath my son was somewhat relaxed and ready for bed! Thankfully this product is still in production, stocked in nearly every drug store across America.

My son wouldn’t (or maybe couldn’t) swallow pills for the longest time. As a work-around we resorted to “cereal bottles”. We cut the nipple off midway, filled the bottle with warm rice cereal plus apple juice to conceal whatever powdered vitamins and supplements we could include in his snack. I used a dedicated coffee grinder for pulverizing – and still do while compounding his vitamins to this day. Who really cared about weaning a 3 ½ year old off a bottle when it was the only bridge to health available? Not us.

We spent our tax return on what had to be the last vial of Secretin on the market – had it compounded by a pharmacy with DMSO as a carrier. It really did help our son. As a replacement I was able to locate and supplement freeze-dried porcine duodenum to aid his digestive health. There are several products still readily available as alternative medicine.

Best “quick “education:

The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, Brain Injured Child Course. I learned enough in that one week parent program to move forward and choose sensory therapies that made a serious and positive impact on my son’s discombobulated nervous system.

Sensory therapies:

Berard Auditory Integration Training. We found Marcie, a therapist, who was travelling through different cities administrating the training. It was thrilling to see the documented improvement in the quality of sound my son was able to hear.

Sensory Learning Program: Mary Bolles method. We spent 12 days in a town about an hour from where we live to take the program. While I learned at the Institutes about brain injury and the amount of effort that it takes to reprogram a previously healthy brain, I had to work full-time and couldn’t implement the full days of therapy necessary to help my son. But with the Sensory Learning Program all modalities of sensory input is implemented within each session. My son simply lay on a table that rotated to stimulate his vestibular system. At the same time there are flashing colored lights on a random cycle to stimulate his visual pathway, all while listening with headphones to chopped up music as in AIT. This was the best therapy EVER. Surprisingly, he was a willing participant. I worried about over stimulating him – but he actually enjoyed the process.

Binaural Beat Brainwave CDs from Hemi-Sync, a Monroe Product: These are outstanding works of art for deep brain stimulation via the auditory pathway – a different take on AIT. I catch my son using these products to this day.

Good Reads:

I found many helpful books at a local used book store. Treasures included a pediatric gastrointestinal medical book from the UK dating from the ‘60’s. Also, another favorite of mine is Let’s Get Well by Adelle Davis – plain and sensible information.

The Singin’ Pole is a good read by Doris Wilson Adams – I met Mrs. Adams in person doing a signing of her book. Her story is our story too – just decades older. The measles/mumps correlation made by the author and her son was very interesting……

Favorite whole food supplements:

I want to offer my favorite nutritional trick for the picky eaters out there. Chia seeds aka salvia seeds. Those seeds have some of the most magnificent nutritional elements I have ever run across. Rich in good fats, high fiber and protein, excellent for gluten free cooking – it is a powerhouse of goodness! In our case, my son really likes pizza. So, to clean up his diet, I make homemade tomato sauce. For a healthy addendum; I grind up and toss in carrots, broccoli and cauliflower as well as a ton of garlic as well as chia “gel”. When soaked in water, chia seeds form a dense gelatin like substance that is slightly sweet – which is perfect to put into the pizza sauce. He doesn’t even know – and there is no telltale evidence he can find.

And lastly, I’m growing Sea-buckthorn plants in my garden. The oil is superior for sensitive skin. The nutritional properties are renowned and all health benefits cross over to the health needs of our son. There are too many benefits to list – so please, research it, apply it, eat it, juice it and maybe even grow it!

I haven’t attended an AutismOne conference, yet – but certainly plan on it next year. I still have so much to learn – and to this day lament what we could have tried to further assist our son with his health. What a feeling it has to be with so many people in one place, with the same passion to heal our children.

This fall my son and I will be on our way to college. He graduated high school this year, all the while he was in special education – he was even awarded the Superintendents medal of achievement. The astronaut in him is still there, he flies high in his mind to places we can only imagine. Looking back we know his success is this: he truly lives with passion, perusing an art certificate, to ultimately create his own mark on this world.

~ Wendy Frye

“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work; we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.” ~ Pablo Picasso 1881 – 1973

Maestro

My husband, the father to my two sons, has enjoyed a long and passionate relationship with music. He is an avid collector, student and master of all things regarding the Beatles plus about 8,000 other bands of the 50’s and 60’s early rock generation.

It began, he claims, during the ’70’s decade of his young adult life. Waking up to “Muskrat Love” playing from his AM/FM clock radio was his catalyst for a quick change. Delving into the older generations of music; he went on over the years to discover albums, concert tickets and the like at local thrift shops and record stores. A lifelong adventure for him, and a room full of memories. Yep, I personally certify him a hoarder.

Some type of melody is constantly playing in our home, and my husband can reference every band mate, album track, song title, studio session, lyric reference, life span or any other assorted, tiny detail that was musically produced during the given period. A longtime obsession and photographic memory? Yep, that he has.

At some point in time, this true love of music has rubbed off on our eldest son. Our oldest, the one on the Autism Spectrum, had been very, very private about his musical preferences for many years. Until recently. And now that we have set of full on auditorium speakers in the basement? An audiophile’s dream system to play any genre or style of music for the entire neighborhood to enjoy? What does our oldest choose to entertain us with each Saturday morning?

ITALO DISCO! Oh yeah! Sounds just like the same ’70’s hangover you remember from the Saturday Night Fever days of your teenaged years. We couldn’t believe it in the beginning – and didn’t really know where on earth he could have found it…but there he went, playing the very type of music my husband originally tried to duck and run from! When we asked him where he got this music, he looked us in the eye like we were a couple of complete morons, to then dismiss us from the room. He was the one now busy researching bands and the infinite musical details. Yep Hon, that’s your boy.

On any given Saturday morning, “The Maestro” fires up the stereo and serenades his still sleeping family with his personal musical picks for us to enjoy. Around 6:00 am – just like the AM/FM clock radio days of my husbands recollection – we wakeup to The Guess Who, Devo, Wendy Carlos, Queen, Tina Turner, or the J. Giles Band. A long list of eclectic and frankly offbeat finds of his very own. Obsessed with a track or two, we often are required to listen to the same minute of music over and over for a good half hour. Sheer Saturday Morning Bliss.

Of course, my husband feels morally obligated to pick up little gems for our son, a new adventure in finding offerings for him to expand his boys personal music collection. He has gone way passed thrilled to share his decades long hobby with his first born son. Ode to Joy.

Thankfully, my youngest shares my music gene. From time to time, we launch a counter attack with a shot of metal rock….just often enough to make the other two aware that there is current music being produced somewhere “out there”.

We live in our own world, the place we’ve created as a family of four that is as eclectic and varied as our son’s taste in music. We wouldn’t have it any other way, or exchange our Saturday mornings with anyone else. Then again, we’ve threatened him many times, that 6:00 am is a little early for “Whip It” by Devo…………

Aspirin anyone? ~ Wendy Frye

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
~ Aldous Huxley

Given To Fly

April is National Autism Awareness Month in the United States. Autism appears in the first three years of life and affects the brains normal development of social and communication skills.

Today, the day I’m writing this piece, the Center for Disease Control reports that 1 in 88 children are diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum with 1 in 54 boys affected. Is it just that more children are affected with the disorder? Or more cases being detected? Good question, but not one I’m going to attempt to answer here.

Here, I would like to thank the many people who have supported our son, a wonderful, talented and humorous young man, My son. You see, My son is a graduating senior in high school this year. He’s passed his standardized testing requirements, kept his grades up, and is going to walk with his classmates to receive his diploma. Sounds pretty typical, right? Well no, not this time, not at all.

He was a beautiful, healthy baby born at the local hospital. We were the proud new parents of this clever, happy boy. Developing well, meeting and beating all his milestones on time, we became very concerned when he started turning so ill, allergic, and quiet around 18 months of age. In those days, this was a very uncommon situation and a deep sense of confusion became our new norm. Were we scared? Stunned stupid.

Subsequent to his diagnoses of moderate Autism Spectrum Disorder at 3 1/2 years of age, we decided as his parents that this was not about us. It is about him. To regain his health, his development, and his life – and just how he was going to make it a good one. Were we crazy? We’ve been told so.

The starting point was his first official physical therapy appointment. Stripped down to his diaper, facing a sensory obstacle course, he mustered all his remaining courage. While making it to step two of ten he passed out, fast asleep. The shock to his system overwhelmed him so much he just shut down. This far behind the rest? Tragically so.

Our son started his school career at 3 1/2 years of age. His allergies raged for much of his young life. He didn’t have much to say until he was about 6 years old. He had a personal speech therapist for 11 years and a string of school teachers, aides, and assistance provided to him almost daily. Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Food Aversion Therapy, Behavior Therapy (just once, he was sick not defiant), and an assortment of medical treatments were embedded within the moments that fill his childhood memories. Were we sad? Seriously? Don’t go there.

My husband, a teacher himself, and I were invited to an Autism workshop hosted by the school psychologist at our sons high school. It was a room full of educators, counselors, administrators and others interested enough in the subject to attend. We were wide open for Q & A from this crowd. What is it like to have a child on the spectrum? Wow, how to explain?

Does he know? Yes, he does and he gets self conscious in some situations because of it. How about his brother, what is their relationship like? Solid, his younger brother is an outstanding man of his own – they wrestle, bicker and tease somewhat like other siblings do. A good day memory? The day he lied about eating the Fritos. That brand of higher cognitive function was welcome in our home. Did we think that teachers should point out the autistic students and discuss behaviors with the other kids in class for understanding?, What do you think causes Autism?, and many other valid questions – to understand an autistic student better.

Mostly, we credit our son with his amazing life story and turn around. He is the master of his own soul and the driver of his own development. He participated in therapies and took the medicines, suffering through it all. But not by himself. Never alone…he had us, his family.

The perfect opportunity was presented that afternoon. An opportunity to personally THANK those people involved with his education. The outstanding, dedicated staff that has helped shape a young man who had so far to go to get here, his pending graduation. We thank all the special people who got to know him, share his offbeat humor, develop his passion in the Arts, and calm him down when he lost his temper. We truly appreciate you all – right now and into the big, bright future of our boy.

When our son was diagnosed some 15 years ago, it was a 1 in 10,000 chance to win the Autism lottery. Today, the CDC announced the odds are now 1 in 88. One child is diagnosed on the spectrum every 20 seconds. This April, let’s all hope, think and pray that someday, we will not be living in the age of Autism.

~ Wendy Frye

“And sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky, A human being that was given to fly…”
~ Edward Vedder, Pearl Jam

The Artist’s Statement!

Our oldest son was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum 15 years ago and will graduate this year. He is a bonafide artist……This is his professional statement to the world. Enjoy!

THE ARTIST’S
STATEMENT

word – n
…a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representations, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.

ON THIS PLANET, MOST PEOPLE COMMUNICATE WITH WORDS. MANY, MANY WORDS ALL STITCHED TOGETHER; RICH WITH EMBEDDED OVERTONES THAT TINTS OUR MIND WITH EMOTIONS AND FEELINGS. WHAT OF THE MEANING OF ALL THE WORDS? ALL THOSE WORDS WHICH ARE TO BE INTREPRETED BY THE LISTENER TO EVOKE AN UNDERSTANDING OF ANOTHERS EMOTIONS AND FEELINGS? TOGETHER, THOSE WORDS CAN COLOR ANYTHING, EVERYTHING OR NOTHING.

LIKEWISE ON THIS PLANET, JAMES FRYE, COMMUNICATES HIS FEELINGS AS A YOUNG MAN ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM THROUGH HIS ARTWORK.

THE WORK OF JAMES FRYE IS UNIQUELY HIS OWN AND HIS OWN UNIQUELY. HIS PRIDE REFLECTS DIRECTLY UPON HIS PURPOSE HERE AND IS THE VERY REASON WHY HE CREATES ORIGINAL ARTWORK TO SHARE WITH THE WORLD – COMMUNICATING HIS FEELINGS UNLIKE ANY WORDS CAN EXPRESS.

Art, at its simplest, is a form of communication. As most forms of communication have an intent or goal directed toward another individual, this is a motivated purpose.​

JAMES FRYE HAS DECLARED HIMSELF TO BE “AN ARTIST!” WOULDN’T IT BE SOMETHING TO JUST KNOW WHAT YOUR LIFE WORK WILL BE BEFORE YOU GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL? WOULDN’T IT HAVE BEEN SOMETHING MORE TO KNOW HOW YOU WOULD BE LEAVING YOUR BOLDEST THUMBPRINT ON THE WORLD SO YOUNG?

YOU SEE, JAMES FRYE, “THE ARTIST!” WAS DIAGNOSED ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM AT THE AGE OF 3 ½. JAMES WAS BASICALLY NON-VERBAL UNTIL AFTER THE AGE OF 6 YEARS OLD. JAMES HAS WORKED VERY, VERY HARD OVER THE YEARS TO OVERCOME HIS LINGUISTIC COMMUNICATION DISABILITY.

JAMES PAINTS WITH ACRYLLIC PAINTS IN AN ABSTRACTED STYLE AND SOMETIMES FORMS SYMBOLS WITHIN THE HARD LINES THAT ARE UP FOR INTREPRETATION. HE DRAWS AND SKETCHES HIS HANDS AND THEN FORMS STRINGS OF THESE SYMBOLS ACROSS THE PAGES. HE IS ALSO A VERY TALENTED CERAMIC ARTIST THROWING POTS AND WORKING THE CLAY BY HAND TO MAKE SOME VERY INTERESTING WORKS OF ART.

WITH HIS ART JAMES MOVES BEYOND HIS COMMUNICATION LIMITIONS – HE NAMES HIS PIECES VERY THOUGHTFULLY SUCH AS; “SQUIGGLY LINES & BRAIN CELLS”, “FRACTUAL FACES”, “SADNESS OF MEMORIES”, “RUSSIAN GEOMETRY OF NUTRITION” AND “PEACE MORE”. IT IS WITHIN THESE TITLES, WHERE THE WORDS ARE, THAT IS THE PLACE WHEREIN THE ARTIST COMMUNICATES.

The Artist!

Even though it wasn’t obvious early on, our oldest son was destined to be an artist.

You see, he was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum when he was 3 ½ years old. We won’t be digressing back from here to “The Diagnosis”. Nope, we left that animal to die on the side of the road a long, long time ago. It was a good strategy for our family, a damn fine strategy.

But what we can do is “go there” to look between lines and around corners, back to his young childhood, back to the good days, when he was present with us – to uncover evidence of his emerging talent. The boy, who couldn’t yet speak, was drawing. The proportions were correct and the eyes had that little circle to highlight what direction light was coming from.

We didn’t see it then, but there he was, communicating in his own way through his artwork. Okay, it was not perfect, but it was purposeful, intentional and rational.

I can name his most precious work to me. It is my 1998 Mother’s Day card, drawn with long dangling legs and curly hair and I was SMILING. He drew me smiling. He SEES me as a smiley Mom. “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!” was stamped on the inside very likely by his preschool aid. I’m keeping this card, deep in my heart, for the rest of my life.

To date “The Artist!” has painted enough pieces to fill closets. His abstracted style is in the likening of Picasso or Pollock. Within his craft he communicates through the titles he awards each colorful representation: We have yet to display the “Sadness of Memories”, “Tree of Knowledge”, “Squiggly Lines and Brain Cells”, or “Peace More”. The artist has an ongoing dialogue within his works of art (unseen to date) and he is eager to educate us all about what it’s like to be him.

There will eventually be an unveiling of his work – mark these words. For now, he’s preparing for college. That is correct, college. The beautiful little boy, who couldn’t speak has grown into a most remarkable young man. And this grown man eager to leave his finest thumbprint on this world. He is speaking to all humanity now, for himself and others that are still muted from the rest. He speaks loud and clear, in his own unique, personal way. Just listen……

~ Wendy Frye