top of page

Autism Mom Appreciation Month: Meet Eileen Lamb

By Melissa Lushington, "Don't Cut Corners...Unless It's Cake" - Blog Series Vol. 4, Slice #5

Picture is courtesy of Eileen Lamb


Happy Mother’s Day everyone, and welcome back to another edition of the mini blog series,

Autism Mom Appreciation Month. This year, I would like to give a shout-out to someone who I

came across three years ago. In 2020, I was introduced to a young woman name Eileen Lamb

through her first published book titled All Across the Spectrum. Reading the description of it on

Amazon.com, I was easily invested in wanting to know more of her story because not only is she

a mom of an autistic child, but she herself is autistic as well! So, I really wanted to know what

that life was like for someone on the spectrum to be raising a child that’s also on the spectrum. I

already knew that Eileen was a photographer, but when I looked at her blog website known as

theautismcafe.com, I was just blown away by how skillful Eileen is as a photographer. Her

photos are not just beautiful and stunning, her photos are deliciously tasteful! It’s her story that

matters the most, and this is Eileen’s story.

 

In her book All Across the Spectrum, the story starts with Eileen being born in France 1996. At

a young age, Eileen always felt like she was different from everyone else. One example of this,

would be when she was six years old. It was during class time that Eileen was standing in front

of the class singing a 1935 French song called Madame La Marquise, which is a song written by

a popular French singer that depicts the dialogue between a lady and her gentleman James who

downplays the death of her favorite horse in a funny comedic way. After singing the song, Eileen

saw that her classmates were laughing at her and making fun of her. She didn’t understand why,

but this was the first time that she looked at her peers and thought to herself, “Am I different?”.

Other examples of this, would be that she had different interests from other children and

whenever she spoke children would look at her funny and strangely. She’s lived her whole life

feeling out of place and just getting by, and that didn’t change in adulthood. This is the part

where I tell you that I’ve read Eileen’s book All Across the Spectrum, and after reading her book

I noticed that there are many aspects of her life that I resonate a lot with myself. I was born in

1996, and growing up I always felt like I was different from everyone else. One example of this

was when I was in preschool, everyone was playing with each other while I was by myself on a

bean bag chair reading a book and listening to it on audio tape. Even when I was engaging in

other activities, I remember playing among the other children but not with the other children.

During playtime outside, other children were playing with each other while I was playing by myself and this was a repetitious thing not only in preschool, but in grade school and middle

school as well. In grade school I was sometimes mocked for the way I sounded, and most of the

time I felt out of place due to everyone having their own group of friends or one friend to hang

out with, while I spent most of my time by myself. This would cause people like my brother to

ask me if I even have friends at all, because people would notice that I spend most of my time by

myself. Referring back to Eileen, she was a daydreamer at seven years old. She would dream

about soccer and being in New York City in America, and she always had these big dreams that

no one understood, but she didn’t care her dreams made her happy, yet she still had to deal with

the consistency of feeling misunderstood. She couldn’t understand why other kids would laugh at her and why adults would try to hold her back from her dreams. Her mom would often tell her

how different she is from other children her own age. When she was three years old, Eileen taught herself how to read and write and I resonate with this because when I was very little, I

taught myself how to read too. Eileen loved puzzle games, memory games, and didn’t mind

indulging with them for several hours, yet she struggled socially. Her mom used to always teach

Eileen how to interact with people appropriately by giving her social exercises that involved

going to different places and interacting with people. She hated those exercises because it made

her uncomfortable having to make eye contact with people. As a result of this, people would

often tell Eileen’s parents that Eileen was being rude, and her parents would say that Eileen is

just being shy. As time went on, Eileen’s differences and social struggles became more obvious.

Eileen mentions in her book that she was picked on at school a lot, and while some of those

memories are put behind her, other memories still haunt her to this day. Such as this example, when Eileen was playing basketball at gym class, kids at school would say that she walks like a

penguin. Other examples include being manipulated by people who she thought were her friends

during her rebellion phase in the eighth grade and being spat on repeatedly by teenage boys

while on a public bus. There was one specific moment, where Eileen ran into a man name Jean-

Marc Furlan. He was a coach for the Troyes soccer team, and was on his way to the field to start

practice. When Eileen told him what happened with the teenage boys, he was so irate and

disgusted that he gave Eileen his official team practice jacket. That small act of compassion

meant the world to Eileen. The reason why, is because she learned a simple valuable lesson that

day which is that kindness does exist. After experiencing more harsh acts of bullying in high

school, Eileen was fed up and wanted to leave France for good when she states, “I wanted to get

out and go somewhere far away from France. I craved freedom, a whole new life. I wanted to

move to the United States.” After some time went by Eileen’s dream would finally come true,

when she moved to the United States in Austin Texas.

 

From there, Eileen would eventually cross paths and meet the love of her life and current husband name Willy. Eileen met Willy in Austin at a coffeehouse, where she felt like she could be herself. The people there were friendly, always smiling, and it reminded her of the community she had back in France at the bar. She was in her element and felt free to be herself without fear of judgement. Then one day after work, she went to the coffee house where Willy made a comment to her as she was taking off her helmet. The comment he made to her was “You must pick up a lot of chicks with that scooter.” Feeling off guard, Eileen couldn’t tell if he was actually talking to her or someone else. After all, she was used to not to being a man’s desire of affection, so to have a man compliment her for the first time was nothing less than a new experience for her. After an awkward conversation about chickens, umbrellas, and pencil sharpeners Willy and Eileen started talking more from there. They talked about random things and bonded over their love of music. Eileen liked Willy because he struck her as different and funny, and he wasn’t bothered by her quirks. At the time, Eileen was at the coffee house with her boyfriend for a chess game. When Willy showed up at the coffee house and sat down with Eileen and her boyfriend, the rest became history, Eileen and Willy got married, and they had started their family together with their first child Charlie.

 

Before Charlie was born, Eileen had always wanted a boy. The reason why is because growing up as a child, Eileen had trouble staying friends with girls and didn’t understand them, yet it was easier to understand boys. When Charlie was born full-term, Eileen thought he was the most handsome baby she had ever seen. He was a happy baby that was independent, he smiled, and laughed. Charlie even laughed when Eileen spoke in French because he thought it was funny. When Charlie was 15 months old, Eileen reported to a pediatrician that Charlie wasn’t pointing, didn’t understand simple directions, cried uncontrollably at the sight of other children, and didn’t say ‘mamma’ or ‘dada’. Eileen wondered if this would be a problem, but the doctor didn’t seem worried about it and advised Eileen to keep an eye on Charlie’s development. As time went on, thoughts about things with Charlie being more serious came to mind, but Eileen didn’t worry too much. Eileen understood Charlie’s behavior because finding comfort in being alone and

struggling to make eye contact with people was something that she does as well. At the time

Eileen thought that this was part of Charlie’s personality, but it wouldn’t be until later that Eileen would learn that these were all early signs of autism. When Charlie was 18 months old, Eileen filled out a questionnaire explaining that Charlie was still not pointing, not making eye contact, not clapping, doesn’t say hello when you come home, doesn’t follow directions, doesn’t point to an airplane in the sky, doesn’t bring you a rock when he sees one, and doesn’t respond to his name. After handing her responses to the pediatrician, she explained that there was nothing to worry about because these were just routine questions that they were asking because these

behaviors are early signs of autism. Then the pediatrician explained to Eileen not to worry because, “Charlie is not autistic.” This was after the pediatrician had known Charlie for over a

year, given him his checkups, and expressed that she’s an expert, but Eileen went home that day

feeling satisfied with the results. Knowing what she knows now about autism, Eileen wishes she

had known about it sooner so that she would be able to know for herself that Charlie (as well as

herself) is autistic. A pediatrician with years of experience is supposed to be trained enough to

identify an autistic person based on the information given to them, but Eileen was surprised to

know how little the pediatrician knew about autism and couldn’t see Charlie as autistic right

away. Afterwards, Charlie started to display more of his autistic traits when Eileen went on a

group chat and saw how all the achievements that other kids were doing, were the achievements

that Charlie wasn’t doing himself. Then after a few weeks went by, Charlie started losing his

speech, he didn’t like to be touched, and he avoided people including his parents. That’s when Eileen started to see that Charlie was different, and that he seriously needed help. After taking an online M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers) and being visited by therapists,

Eileen knew that everything would be different and that things would change. Charlie was able

to qualify for every service that was offered to him for Speech Therapy and Occupational

Therapy, but was unable to get an official diagnosis for autism. To get that, Eileen would have to

see a specialist. The Early Child Intervention Organization (ECI) provided therapists to visit

Charlie in order to help him right away, but Eileen saw for herself that the amount of time the

therapists spent with Charlie according to experts in the field wasn’t enough. Charlie was to

receive two hours of speech therapy, two hours of occupational therapy, and Eileen with her

husband were offered one hour of parental training per week. The recommendations were

anywhere between 15 to 40 hours of early intervention a week, but Charlie needed more. Charlie needed someone to be his voice and fight for him, so Eileen became that voice and fought for

him. After weeks of speech and occupational therapy, Eileen saw that Charlie wasn’t making any

progress. During her conversations with therapists, Eileen kept hearing that her son may be

autistic, and the more Eileen learned about autism, the more convinced she was that it might be

true. As time went on, the big day finally came when Eileen had Charlie evaluated for autism.

After an hour long of evaluating The Developmental Pediatrician Dr. Jones made a statement

that changed everything forever when she states, “Charlie’s behaviors are consistent with an

autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.” After that, Eileen learned the undeniable truth that her child Charlie is autistic and this was just the beginning of a new chapter in her life. This new chapter didn’t just involve Eileen learning something new about her child, this new chapter would also involve her learning something new about herself. Before Charlie’s diagnosis, Eileen had a conversation with her mom about Charlie in which her mom stated, “Charlie can’t be autistic. You were the exact same way as a child.” Afterwards, things started to click into place in ways that finally made sense.

 

One year later after that statement, Eileen went to get a full therapeutic assessment to get

some answers about herself. She decided to do some research about autism in adults, and

was surprised to see how much the information resonated with her. This resonates with me

personally because when I first did my research about autism online, I went to a website

in which some of the traits about autism resonated with me too. I also looked through old school

documents, in which I looked at a Psych Evaluation document that had an interview my mom

participated in when I was being applied for the IEP program back in sixth grade. The document

listed traits about me that are related to autism, and that’s when I realized even more that I’m

autistic. So, Eileen went to see an Autism Specialist Dr. Chuck Robble. After two weeks of video

recorded sessions, questionnaires, and surveys, Eileen finally met with Dr. Robble in her office

and she gave the life-changing revelation when she states, “Eileen, you have high-functioning

autism”. A flood of emotions was running through Eileen’s head, but the most emotion was

relief. For the first time in her life, Eileen finally understood about why she always felt different.

It's because she was different, she is different, she’s autistic.

 

When Charlie first got diagnosed as autistic, it happened a few months into her pregnancy with her second child Jude. Eileen always wanted a big brother growing up, she always wanted to have one as her best friend who would always be there for her and protect her. When she couldn’t have one of her own, she was happy and excited to see that Charlie was going to be a big brother to his little brother Jude. When Jude was born, he was the opposite of Charlie, he was sociable, made eye contact, and enjoyed being around people. When Jude started to display the same behaviors as Charlie, Eileen eventually realized that Jude wasn’t autistic, he was just mimicking his brother. Jude had a hard time at first adjusting to the fact that his brother Charlie is neurologically different from him and was therefore going to have a different sibling relationship from other siblings. Eventually, Jude had gotten used to Charlie’s nature and became nothing more than supportive and helpful in taking care of his big brother. Today, Eileen is still a devoted wife and mother to her husband and children, and is also sharing her autism journey with the world on her blogging website called The Autism Café.

 

In conclusion, Eileen’s story is worth telling for Autism Mom Appreciation Month because

this is more than a story about a mom raising her autistic child. This is a story about how a mom

found herself, rediscovered herself, and finally understood herself for who she truly is because of

her autistic child. In this sense, I can relate to this too. After I discovered myself to be autistic in

2017 and started writing blogs for the Verge of Independence Project: Multimedia Autism

Advocacy Organization in 2019, my mom started reading them and recognized some of my traits

within herself too. I recommend that everyone should read Eileen’s book All Across the

Spectrum, which you can buy on Amazon.com and I also recommend that you check out

Eileen’s blog on her website theautismcafe.com. Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Autism Mom

Appreciation Month!


Special Note:


We'd like to hear your comments on this post. In order to share your feedback, the blog site powered by WIX requires that you sign up/log in. Thank you for your support, and we can't wait to hear from you!

Recent Posts

See All

コメント


bottom of page