An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

Quick Update

We have had quite the adventures in the last two days. Friday, we went on some field trips with some help from my neighbor that had us all over Wichita and even included a stop at my favorite little spot in Maize, MOXI Junction. While there we saw the DogForDavid artwork up so I encourage all our local fans to stop on in and check it out while you enjoy MOXI’s amazing bakery skills and great drink varieties. ^_^ We wrapped up our day hanging out at home with our neighbor sharing jokes and stories. :)

We also had fun last night with our neighbor learning Sign Language together.  The boys and I brushed up on our skills and our neighbor learned some new ones. ^_^ Also, I got to attend the first local Ehlers-Danlos support meeting Saturday afternoon and met a handful of nice ladies and some great kids. I got to learn a lot and met others like me and Joshua. Looking forward to the next get together. : )

What will this next week hold? Outside of the boys’ school work, I am not sure yet, but things are definitely looking up as I am slowly getting more stable. I still can’t walk, but I am getting better with my wheel chair and am not having near the problems with my Autonomic Nervous System as I was shortly after surgery. That’s a big plus for me. ^_^  It felt great to start getting out again like this too.  Being cooped up so much was seriously doing a number on me which I wrote about over at Stripes and Puzzle Pieces.  So glad to be finding my footing again.  No matter how long my recovery takes physically, it always feels great to be getting back to being me. ^_^

Showing Love

DSCF0338-editedOh boy, where to begin. lol  I have definitely been having a hard time with keeping up with DogForDavid lately.  The boys and I have been doing a lot though and have been working together to find ways around my inability to walk or take them on drives.  Sometimes it goes really well, sometimes it goes really bad, but most of the time it ends up somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. lol

One of the biggest things though in the last week or two is that we’ve been trying hard to find a way to get better at school work with my new limitations.  I am happy to say I finally worked out a new system and the boys are adjusting well to it so far. :)  There is not as many lessons out in the community or while walking around or playing outside as their used to be due to me being chair bound for now, but I have found some websites, some fun worksheets, and some games to add to the videos we already had and some things I came up with on my own for them to help keep them interested and still make their learning as hands on and relevant as possible.  One of my favorite finds though I must admit is a site called Leadership For Kids.  It has several videos and different sets of lesson plans to help the boys with their Bible study as well as with learning about and practicing some basic character traits that I want them to have.  Things like being loving, helpful, kind, creative, etc.

DSCF0336-editedEach video comes with a lesson guide that includes a small quiz about the video’s lesson and Bible story, the memory verse for the week, and a project to do with the family.  Today’s lesson was “God made me to love” and the project was to come up with an idea of how to show love to others in our community.  I had to get creative with this one because our usual projects involve needing me to be more mobile so we had to come up with something new.  I am happy to say the boys helped me come up with the idea of making cards for other people and families who are currently shut-ins like us whether it be due to age, disability, being sick, or whatever the case may be.  I added some writing practice to the project by modeling a phrase I wanted them to put on each card before they decorated it.  They were having trouble with some of the lower case letters though so I ended up also making dashed line letters for them to trace.

The boys were very excited when they heard I had found someone willing to come pick up the cards this Friday and get them to the church for us to be handed out.  I am really proud of my boys for wanting to do a project like this.  They are definitely learning more about what it means to be loving and to show love to others more and more every day. ^_^

What We’ve Been Up To

I have collected a few pictures recently that represent some of the things the boys have been keeping themselves busy with while Mommy is chair bound due to the surgery.  Schooling has temporarily become heavily worksheet and video based until I am back on my feet and able to do more hands on projects with them again (or until we get a new sitter/assistant that would be willing to help with that part).  Because of this, I have been letting the boys branch out a bit more often into free time to do as they please so they don’t overload and get too cranky to work with.  I am happy to announce most of their free time activities they have chosen has been to watch more episodes of their favorite educational shows, drawing and other art, writing practice, and self-led math practice!  The latter though is admittedly Joshua, as David still isn’t convinced math is a good thing. lol

They have plenty of play time too where they practice using their imaginations to create new stories.  Mommy sometimes has a direct hand in that one… usually when I am tired of hearing the same cartoon script played out for the umpteenth time. ;)  Right now for instance, as I am typing this up, they are setting up a “store” for their toys to play in.  They held a “story time” session earlier which is admittedly a tried and true script based play for them but at least they have fun while doing it. : )

Before I go rambling on further, here is the collection of pictures from the boys. :)  Enjoy! ^_^

David has definitely been doing a lot of art lately which makes me smile big. :)  Especially when he creates in his notebook because then I get to keep it.  I told him the plan is as soon as he fills every page, we will keep it on the book shelf and I will get him a new notebook. : )

David has definitely been doing a lot of art lately which makes me smile big. :) Especially when he creates in his notebook because then I get to keep it. I told him the plan is as soon as he fills every page, we will keep it on the book shelf and I will get him a new notebook. : )

This is David's new doodle board.  He loves to draw on this and he also prefers practicing his letters, numbers, and math on here as well.  I can't keep the things he does on this though so I usually try to sneak a picture in here and there to document his progress.  ; )

This is David’s new doodle board. He loves to draw on this and he also prefers practicing his letters, numbers, and math on here as well. I can’t keep the things he does on this though so I usually try to sneak a picture in here and there to document his progress. ; )

Here is Joshua with the new doodle board.  This picture is from his free time believe it or not.  That boy loves his math now that we have discovered the touch point method. :)  He's getting fast at it too and enjoys making up his own problems when math time with mommy is over for the day.   He is still working on mastering subtraction, but his addition skills include numbers beyond the hundred thousands place value with what we like to refer to as "column power" and "jump overs" :)

Here is Joshua with the new doodle board. This picture is from his free time believe it or not. That boy loves his math now that we have discovered the touch point method. :) He’s getting fast at it too and enjoys making up his own problems when math time with mommy is over for the day. He is still working on mastering subtraction, but his addition skills include numbers beyond the hundred thousands place value with what we like to refer to as “column power” and “jump overs” :)

The boys have also been doing a lot of lego building ever since Mark showed them some new tricks.  Featured here are two of David's latest creations, his plane and car. : )

The boys have also been doing a lot of lego building ever since Mark showed them some new tricks. Featured here are two of David’s latest creations, his plane and car. : )

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The white works Mommy!

David's car with white wheelsFor the longest time, my precious little guy would get out all his crayons, and the white computer paper I would give him for drawing and coloring, and set to work creating ’till his heart was content.  It was always just a matter of time before I heard the phrase, “Mommy, the white won’t work! :( ”  or  “The white is broken Mommy!”.  He just couldn’t understand that the only reason he couldn’t see it was because he was coloring white on white.  No matter how many ways or times I tried to explain it.

Today though, he had out his new notebook that he now colors in.  He’s been creating entire scenes for me lately and I love it. ^_^  This scene turned out to be our car driving down the road.  When he went to make the wheels, he decided that he would give white one more try.  Next thing I know, I have a very happy and very excited David running up to me shouting, “It works! It works!  Mommy it really works!”  

When he saw the white start to cover up those typical blue lines of the notebook paper he behaved as if he was an explorer who just stumbled upon the find of the century.  And for him, it probably was.  At least until he discovers the next wonder. ;)

Autism and Change

As I have shown with my recent posts over on Stripes and Autism, life has been changed pretty drastically around here.  With me being down for the count and unable to do anything about it without someone’s assistance, it has changed what I can and can’t do with and for my boys.  It also has caused a major change of structure and stableness and a loss of familiarity that David specifically has been butting back at for understandable reasons.  Just a couple days after Mark (our new sitter/assistant) left for college, as we were coming down off yet another meltdown and an aggressive explosion of anger, I sat with David in my arms and asked him what was wrong?  I wanted to know if he could voice for himself what was causing him to be so upset and so unstable behaviorally and I thought I was prepared for the answer.

I figured he wouldn’t be able to articulate anything exactly and pinpoint all the root causes, but I still assumed he would be able to say something to the effect of things being different or him feeling different or something.  In a way he did express these things, but he did so with words I wasn’t expecting to hear.  With the tears still on his cheek from the recent crying and the memories of the chill out session I had to help him do (I brace him until he can calm down to keep him from continuing to hurt me or himself), he said simply, “I’m mad at you Mommy!”.

At first I figured he was just still stuck on having to be braced or that he was still upset for having some of his trains taken away due to getting violent again and so therefore didn’t hear or understand my question, so I asked him again.  To my surprise he said the same thing but with a slight addition that clarified he did understand me afterall…

“I’m mad at you Mommy because you can’t move anymore!  I miss playing with you.”

My heart broke into what felt like a million pieces at those words.  I was flooded with a range of emotions from being angry that my body had to fail me to the point that we got into this mess to wanting to cry for how badly it was effecting my kids and everything in between.  I did my best to talk David through how this was just temporary and that it was hard on us all.  I tried reminding him of things I could still do as well, and about some of the cool new things he has as a result of the situation too like the Roku from Grandma for instance.  I wasn’t sure how much he understood, but I am used to that as he isn’t always able to communicate well enough for conversations that break away from his tried and true scripts.

Over the last few days though he has definitely been coming around more and has started finding pride in his ability to help mommy in new ways.  Things like helping bring me water or working with his brother to hold the walker still so I can use it to pull up and transfer myself to the wheelchair and back when needed, etc.  His favorite though I think is getting to answer the door for me, although he is still working on doing that one correctly. lol  I am right here on the couch so I can help with coaching him through and telling the people to come on in, but I happen to be just out of reach of the door knob so I can’t actually open and shut it myself.  (Joshua’s new roll with the door is climbing up and chaining it shut and sounding an alarm for me (he’s a LOUD whiner/screamer when he thinks David is taking over his territory ;) ) any time David starts to climb up after it as well.

Through it all, things are still no where near the same that we’re used to, but we have regained our ability to work as a team and are making the best of it.  Kind of reminds me of that saying by the three musketeers… “All for one and one for all…” ;)  Proud of my little guy. : )

Stripes and Puzzle Pieces

Stripes and Puzzle Pieces WordPress Banner

The day is finally here.  We are officially launching the new and updated DogForDavid!  This blog, “An Autism Diary”, will still be mainly focused on Autism and David with a touch of me and Joshua here and there and a few fundraiser posts like it has always been, but I will be trying to be more open with my faith as well as it is my faith in Christ and the strength and comfort He gives me that keeps me going and that keeps all this from falling apart.

Our main page has been changed the most, but mostly in design and layout.  We also took away some of the features that were not working very well and/or weren’t as easy for me to maintain and added a new feature I hope you all will like.  A FAQs page filled with the questions I tend to hear most when at an event or talking to DogForDavid readers and fans. :)

DogForDavid has grown from being just a video, a kid, and fundraising goal to being all that and more including a YouTube channel, an official website, a facebook page, and a sister blog that was once known as, “Beyond the Autism”.  The sister site was meant to be a place for me to branch out and write more about me and my interests and hobbies and other random things that crossed my mind.  It’s use was short lived though for a few reasons but has now been both revamped and revived to be an important part of the DogForDavid team of sites.

Same address, but now with a new name, “Stripes and Puzzle Pieces” will be the blog that ties in most of DogForDavid’s updated outreach with EDS, faith, and other topics.  I will also still use it to branch out in general at times like it was originally created for.  To learn more, please check out the post “The Zebra Chronicles” on the front page, and consider following the blog to make sure you don’t miss any DogForDavid updates, whether from “An Autism Diary” or “Stripes and Puzzle Pieces”. :)

Wait is almost over! :)

Thank-you everyone for being so patient with me. Some big updates are coming soon to DogForDavid, including an updated and revised sister blog, a new website design, some new artwork, and a broader subject reach. The DogForDavid you all have grown to enjoy and follow will still be here in every way, we are just adding a bit more. :)

With me knowing now that both of my boys have EDS just like me, we will be adding that condition to our awareness and support efforts side by side with the Autism awareness and support we already do. I also will be trying to be more open with my faith because in all honesty, it’s my faith in Christ that helps me get through it all and keeps me standing. I also use my sense of humor to help me laugh away the stress as much as possible. This chaotic life we’ve been dealt with all three of us being physically disabled to one extent or the other and the two boys having the severe sensory and cognitive delays due to the Autism on top of it, and having to handle all this as a single mom, would crush me without those two pieces of my life to fall back on. Not to mention the now added issue of being bed/chair bound from the surgery. ;)

The meds I am on for pain and the issues with my foot and the boys right now are making things a little more unpredictable than usual, but the plan is to launch the new updates tomorrow by sharing a post I have been saving/storing on the sister blog. It was going to be today but the meds knocked me out more than I meant them too and I was groggy all day because of it. lol

So keep an eye out for us tomorrow and I hope you all enjoy the new updates and the new adventure. :) For now, go ahead and check out our mother site: www.DogForDavid.com to see the updates there and please feel free to leave us some feedback. We value getting to hear from our readers. :)

Sneak Peak

As a lot of you have noticed, my blogging has slowed down quite a bit again. That is due in main part to the pain meds I am on and their effects on me. ;) That and I keep falling asleep… :/ This whole “two weeks bedrest” isn’t turning out quite like I had imagined it to when they first told me about it before they finally did the surgery for my foot. haha

I have however been working hard still on the design updates for DogForDavid and wanted to give you all a sneak peak at the new look for the main website that ties the whole DogForDavid family together. Check it out and let me know what you think. Feed back is always welcome here. :)

Sneak Peak at website design

Almost Done :)

The changes I mentioned in an earlier post are coming along well so far.  I am not done yet, but I wanted to take this chance to get some feedback from all of you.  What do you think of the new look for “An Autism Diary”? :)  Also, notice that I have figured out a way to chart our fundraising progress on here for you all to see (look in the column on the right).  There is also a menu item added up top that I hope will make it easier for people to find our contact info if desired/needed. : )

The next place to work on will be our main site, then our facebook page.  Our sister blog was the first one that went under renovations and is now just waiting on me to catch the other sites up. lol  I am considering making it the main blog too once all the updates have been set in place.

If any of you have any comments, suggestions, ideas, or feedback of any kind, please let me know in the comments. :)

MOXI Junction: THE place to be in Maize!

3 of the people that brought us MOXI Junction and who are always there to greet you with a smile when you come in. :) (L to R: Laren, Scarlett, and Kara)

3 of the people that brought us MOXI Junction and who are always there to greet you with a smile when you come in.  (L to R: Laren, Scarlett, and Kara)

MOXI Junction is a new business that has opened up recently in my town.  To my excitement, I got to meet one of the owners while it was still being built and learn more about the place and their mission in building it.  I was so eager to see their dream become reality that their opening day was practically a holiday for me and my family. lol   I got the chance to go check out the place the first day they opened, and have been back a few times more too even though they’ve only been open for a little over a week.

I’ve got to say, I absolutely love this place!  I love everything about them from the fun and vibrant decorations to the friendly atmosphere and bright smiles.   From their art displays that include local artists and groups to their multiple choices of environments to choose from when it’s time to pull up a chair and stay awhile.  I personally enjoy the rocking chairs on the front porch and their fenced in covered patio on the side the best. ^_^  One also should make note of their unique and fun drinks and their delicious desserts and other foods. They are good about providing a lot of variety and high quality in both those areas too so one would find it hard for their taste buds to get bored here. ;)

Here are two of the moms that brought us MOXI Junction hard at work. :) (L to R: Joanna and Scarlett)

Here are two of the moms that brought us MOXI Junction hard at work.
(L to R: Joanna and Scarlett)

My favorite part about MOXI though has to be why they built the business in the first place.  MOXI stands for Mothers of eXceptional Individuals and was brought to reality by a team of mothers who shared a dream and vision to provide a place where their special needs young adults could find purposeful work and continue to be active in their community.  They not only succeeded at doing that, but they have created a place where special needs families are welcome and can get out into the community and interact fully in a safe and understanding environment.

MOXI Junction pics2The MOXI mothers haven’t been shy about sharing their vision either or their passion for the special needs community.  Their staircase leading to their upper level room fit for larger groups to gather together, has a character or quality of what makes up a MOXI individual written beautifully on each step.  The featured words include:  dreams, powerful, hope, love, exceptional, courageous, and friendship among others.  The artwork they feature includes those from special needs individuals when available too.  In fact, they are getting ready to feature art from the ARC of Sedgwick County for the next two weeks, and after that some artwork from DogForDavid’s second annual Spectrum of Pawsabilities is going to be featured. :D  There are plans in the making for them to be our new host next spring as well when we bring about our third annual art show. : )

When you park your car and walk up to their front door, you are greeted with a big smile and friendly conversation from Laren.  As he gets to know you, he even starts to throw in some fun and friendly banter as he welcomes you back. ^_^  As you walk in you are greeted with a fun atmosphere and the smell of freshly baked goods awaiting you behind the counter.  I must say, I have already become a huge fan of their cookies collection.  Have been buying them at a dozen or two at a time. lol  Their drinks are great too, but the one I must highlight is their hot chocolate.  It is so rich and creamy that it tastes like you’re drinking a chocolate bar!  Yum!  In between lines of customers you even catch some friendly conversations with some of the moms of MOXI Junction, and once I had the joy of getting to meet Kara as well.  A sweet girl with a beautiful smile. :)

To learn more about MOXI Junction and the amazing families behind it’s creation, check out this video and their facebook page.  Also, don’t forget to head on over to the picture album on our facebook page to see more pictures from my visit on opening day.  Hope to see you there soon! : )

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