warning: file_exists(): open_basedir restriction in effect. File(/var/www/vhosts/glencoenews.com/httpdocs/../ad_/ad_cache_.inc) is not within the allowed path(s): (/var/www/vhosts/glencoenews.com/httpdocs/:/tmp/) in /var/www/vhosts/glencoenews.com/httpdocs/sites/all/modules/ad/adserve.inc on line 160.

LaFountaine deals with autism

Charley LaFountaine is very similar to many five-year-old girls. She’s energetic and enjoys the outdoors. She loves riding the bus to preschool, and when at home she is a big fan of watching “Bubble Guppies” on the television and listening to music.
Young Charley, one of two daughters born to Sheri and Travis LaFountaine of Glencoe, is also nonverbal autistic. She was diagnosed approximately two years ago, not long after the family moved to town.
“It was when she was around 3-3 ½,” Sheri said. “She wasn’t speaking. She had been saying some words and counting when she was about 2, but then that stopped and she regressed.”
Though not completely non-verbal, Charley relies a lot on pulling and pointing to get her point across. It can be a difficult process.
“She has outbursts,” Sheri said. “It has to be frustrating for her to not be able to communicate.”
To help Charley in her quest to be better understood, she works with SunnyDays Therapy in Waconia. She receives both speech and occupational therapy through SunnyDays, with an eye towards helping her with normal daily routines such as sitting, getting dressed and going to the bathroom, to name but a few.
One of Charley’s favorite therapies is music therapy. When frustrations begin to boil, putting on headphones and listening to calming music helps make things make sense again.
“Normally, we are not able to really put anything on her head,” Sheri said. “But she allows the headphones. She can just calm down, breathe and listen to her music. It makes a big difference.”
Charley also loves to dance, with the music again working to calm her down after an outburst, or merely for the enjoyment of dance.
“We often have our own little dance parties to get the wiggles out,” Sheri said.
Sheri said she hopes that through continued therapy, Charley will someday be able to recognize when she is frustrated and use the headphones herself as a time out from the struggles.
Becoming one of the Orth Foundation recipients will help the LaFountaines purchase a tablet for Charley in order to help her better communicate.
“We are hoping that she will be able to use an iPad as a speech device,” Sheri said. “Instead of pointing and then getting mad because we may not understand what she wants, that she can use the iPad to communicate and just make it a more relaxing process.”
The family learned in October that they would be one of this year’s beneficiaries. Josh Otto-Fisher, who works with the foundation in addition to his role as a Glencoe-Silver Lake teacher, put the foundation and the family together.
“Josh works with Charley some at GSL,” Sheri said. “It all progressed through that. This will help us a lot.”
Through further therapy and efforts to come, the hope is that Charley will be able to tolerate more of what life has to offer. Sheri hopes that matters can continue to be made easier for her daughter to handle and that she can continue to learn how to become more self-sufficient in the years to come.
“She needs a lot of help and has to be monitored constantly,” Sheri said.
A daughter’s love makes it all worthwhile.
One of the blessings that Sheri counts is that while many suffering with autism refrain from human contact, Charley is physically demonstrative of her love for her mother, father and younger sister, Frankie.
“She is a very loving girl, and loves to hug,” Sheri said. “We have been very fortunate in that we get lots of hugs.
“When she grabs my face and gives me a kiss – she might not be able to say it, but I know she loves me.”