When Fraser Met Billy
By Louise Booth
Aria Paperback edition, 2015
Reviewed by Linda M. Olsen, M.Ed.
Fraser is the son of the author, Louise, and her husband, Chris. He was born in February of 2008. After ten years of marriage the couple decided to have a child. They lived in England and then moved to Scotland for Chris’s work. Louise writes that she had a very difficult pregnancy. She gained an enormous amount of weight which resulted in her having to walk on crutches. In addition, she was in labor for three days and had to have an emergency C Section.
Shortly after Fraser was born, Louise knew there was something wrong. He cried and screamed all of the time. His screams and crying were making her a very nervous and upset mother. She didn’t know what was wrong. She began to think her new baby was angry with her for not doing anything right for him.
She was feeling very guilty for his behavior and blamed herself for it. At one point she even considered jumping off a bridge. She felt very isolated and depressed. She was diagnosed with post-partum depression. She was given pills to take, but refused to take them.
After a few months in Scotland, Louise flew with Fraser to visit her mother. The first night of their visit Fraser started to vomit profusely -- much more than usual. His temperature went up to 107. He was diagnosed with gastroenteritis, and came close to dying. This was a “turning point for his mom! She started to develop a whole new mind set. She realized how terrible it would be if she lost Fraser and was determined to display a whole new attitude toward him. She was determined to leave her depression behind and do whatever she had to do to keep her son, who she knew really loved her, alive.
At eighteen months of age, Fraser was diagnosed with autism and hyptonia, a muscle tone condition that affected his ability to walk and use his hands. It was
two years later that Billy, a cat, came into their lives. The beginning of some major positive changes!
Since before Fraser was born, Louise and her husband had a cat for ten years. At first, Tobey, the cat, paid positive attention to Fraser. However, things started to change and Tobey was not paying attention especially when Fraser had his crying and screaming sessions. Louise got the idea that perhaps they should get another cat -- one that Fraser could call his very own. She and her husband went to a local charity, Cats Protection, and adopted “Billy”. From the get go Billy and Fraser paid positive attention to each other. They seemed to bond almost instantly!
Billy was a very calming and positive influence on Fraser. Louise clearly and warmly describes many of the interactions between Billy and Fraser. Billy helped Fraser to use the potty, socialize more with people, get used to his new nursery school, and in many other specific ways helped Fraser to grow and improve.
Have you ever thought of using Pet Therapy with a person with autism?
I did not until I read When Fraser Met Billy! This is an inspirational book filled with love and hope!