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”What are you doing different?” Asks Dr. Sam Tan’s yearly eye exam in 2016?

First let me explain that my son is special.  I mean that in an “AWESTRUCK AND ASTONISHED” manner. Let me exclaim that I am not the only individual to notice this or these features of the characteristics called “Autism,” “Autisitc,” “On the Spectrum,” and often having “ADD” with this. An adult with “ADD” is a diagnosis I have after a journey with my son.  Growing up I have a reputation with my siblings and parents as “Sandra has to do it her way!”

Recently, my son and I were eating out at “Chili’s,” his favorite resturant, in the town we live in here in Oklahoma.  Tanner, my son was asking the waitress about recent menu changes.  I hadn’t noticed but in addition to the mouth watering “Molten Chocolate Cake,” there is a new addition to this with a twist, the “Salted Caramel Molten!” It has a caramel center. Instead of chocolate ice cream it has vanilla and caramel sauce and salted caramel pieces on top.

This is from Chili’s Menu…a new lovely item..at my son’s favorite restaurant @ this website






“May I ask…I don’t mean this in a bad way.  But are you Autistic?” Asked the waitress that has attended to us with great service at this Chili’s.

My son at first scrunched up and you can tell he was frustrated.  If you haven’t read my blogs. One can better understand this reaction by reading this post “Obvious Trouble with Current Accepted Disability Advocacy; Pointing Out What is Wrong!”@ .  It explains that he felt being called “Autistic”was like calling him the MR word. I tried to explain. Now I understand. It only came across that he was different or less than.  Anyone that has ever felt peer pressure or like an outsider knows this feeling.    My friend of over thirty years from college didn’t tell me she had CP until 2013.  I wondered why.  It didn’t matter but it was the same reason.  My mother has a clubfoot and one leg shorter than the other but she never went around explaining she had a disability.  Actually ever doctor visit when asked tall she was she like to play with people and say she average five feet.  This was met with confusion and blank stares.

“I say this because Autistic’s notice details and change with attention to details more than most!  I have admiration for those with autism.” Explained the waitress.

As she went on to state she had three siblings with autism. Saying she was quick to defend them when people were not polite or rude to them in public.  Further along in the conversation I found out she was from Wisconsin; not too far from where my father grew up.

Tanner’s expression began to change as the waitress Scan 4complemented those with autism and their great memory, attention to detail, honesty and other characteritics she admired.  I told her thank you and again reaffirmed that he had taught me a lesson but that there was a positive side to the term autism.  One that I can mention is that there are plenty of people known to be very smart that have been found to be Autisitc or have autism.  This doesn’t mean that everyone or person on the spectrum has a high IQ but many do.  I think my son is growing…has at least average to above average but his anxiety and nerves or other learning issues have made  him hide his true presentation from the world.  He keeps telling me that doesn’t mean he is that smart or that he will always remember something.

Don’t fear.  I am happy if he is below average, average, or above average in what society terms IQ. Although, I disagree with how this magical number is arrived at per tests as it is currently arrived at per formula’s.  Trust me I am vehement about this.  Reproducing drawings is one test and other such nature.  I have always been bad at this.  Now that I take ADD meds I have actually started drawing.

Oh well.  Put this another way and I love her for it, my son’s current psychiatrist said, “Tanner’s anxiety may cause him to function at MR level!”

Now I know we all hate MR as a word and what it means.  Yet, this wasn’t another undegreed or unmeasured scale adjective word that therapists, teachers and other providers had used for years with me to help me understand Tanner’s crippling anxiety.

Back to the question, “What are you doing different?” Asked by Sam Oliphant Developmental Doctor of Optometrist, Samuel C. Oliphant, O.D., F.A.A.O. see more at this link http://www.afeyecare.com/Categories.aspx?Id=Staff. He practices at Advance Family Eye Care here in Oklahoma City.

Oliphant has been Tanner’s eye doctor for many years.  We owe Oliphant a great deal.  In a way he has been a case manager for Tanner  helping direct me to the therapies most appropriate to his development and with what we could afford even though my husband is a pharmacist as I am (but I worked part time to work with my son extra time).  Also, knowing Tanner for so long, he is well qualifed to expound on noticing a vast difference in my son to comment in it.

Let the video’s give you the answer to the question first then I will explain some of the difference seen in Tanner my son of twenty years now.

Tanner riding horse at Letham Stables in Piedmont, OK

Letham Stables website Letham Stables webstite


Here 2535afad-700c-47a4-af56-daee3e62bfee

The Letham Stables Mailbox!

John and Debby Letham have had the stables in Yukon not Piedmont, Oklahoma as i mistakenly stated above, “for over thirty-five years!” Both the person that takes my son, Melissa Andrews (http://linkedin.com/in/melissaaandrews  A person specializing in working with special needs/mentoring, youth employment, job coaching and more) and my cousin in Wisconsin that have extensive horsemanship knowledge are very impressed with John.  Heidi, my cousin, (riding since age 2 and has two horses of her own) said John had his horses considerable well trained after watching a video I sent her of Tanner working with the horse in the arena. Tanner had to learn to command the horse to trot/walk/lope and turn on a dime.  The horse responded to John’s voice and the whip (only an instrument of direction not used to hurt the horse I promise) instantly.

This is giving my son confidence and learning to pay attention and teach an animal to respond. Thus, helping with communication and confidence. Plus, the bond that happens between animals and humans, seemingly especially those with special needs such autism (at least to me) gives added emotional response of love and reassurance to Tanner and those like him or really any person that is a human!

John Letham is outstanding in his ways of working with people.  I doubt he changes when he is working with people of a disability or age or gender.  I expect John adapts his tact to meet the needs of his customers is all.  You can tell John loves his horses, customers and introducing each to the other.  John has facilitated a bit of a miracle in Tanner’s life with a lot of help from the horses ove the last year.

Therefore, Dr. Oliphant, to answer your question., “What are(am) I doing different(with Tanner)?”

That has caused Tanner to grow by leaps and bounds in his mannerisms, expressing himself and confidence is giving him riding lessons at Letham Stables.  Below is the address and phone number for contact info.  The website has already been posted.  I want to say I am sure part of this is his age and growing up development. However, I attribute plenty to the riding lessons, the horses as well as John’s input. Some may not like this part of what I know is a big deal in the mix…God.  His plan for Tanner is just that….his plan.  The lessons people learn from Tanner’s life are many.  I know I have learned plenty. God gave me more than the gift of a child in my son Tanner.  He healed me in many horrors of my own anxieties.

Here is the address of Letham Stables.

John & Debby Letham
Letham Stables
Yukon, Oklahoma 73099
(405) 373-1133



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