An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

Brother’s Path

Joshua has finally gone through an official Autism and Developmental evaluation. He hasn’t had one since he was three and even then I was only given a summary, not the paperwork or specific diagnosis like I had gotten with David’s various evals over the years.
Today he came out with a diagnosis of Autism level 2 with communication delays level 1. From what I understood, in the old way of saying things that would be moderate Autism. That paired with his severe Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome led the doctor to advise us to seek SSI/disability status for him to provide us the funds needed to get him the extra equipment, supports, and services he needs. We are also recommended to look into ring splints to stabilize his fingers in hopes of taking down some of the barriers that have made it near impossible for him to write or make progress in his handwriting skills.
The road ahead is going to get bumpy, but it’s nice to finally have a defined path to help guide us in helping my youngest along.🙂

Have Book, Will Travel

After a couple months of increased doctor/therapy appointments for the boys and increased outings and field trip opportunities for school, I got hit hard with another round of weakness which led to getting pretty sick.  I guess the feeling of finally being strong and stable again after so long got the best of me and I ended up over doing it.  Currently I am still trying to bounce back again from an illness that held on for 2 and a half weeks. Seems I am weak more often than I am strong these days. Definitely not something I am used to, which is why I keep overdoing it on accident when I finally start getting strong again. I am trying to adjust to the new reality and am slowly but surely succeeding.

In the mean time, the boys have finally caught a love for reading and for hearing stories read to them beyond the basic board book or stories that just simply retell their favorite movies.  The mom and teacher in me are both shouting for joy over this new development. ^_^    I have jumped on this new love of theirs and have started introducing to them to what I like to call “traveling through books”.  We’ve explored abandoned islands, lived out of an old box car on a forgotten track, traveled across the country with Alice Ramsey on her pursuit to be the first to drive across America, explored galaxies in outer space, hid nervously in our tents while a bear rummaged through our camp in the woods, rode along with firefighters as they went to put out forest fires, helped a detective solve his case, and so much more.  Oh the adventures that can be had when reading a good book and all from the comfort of the bed, living room floor, or the all time favorite couch.:)

Our most recent reading adventures took us to China and Japan as we explored their cultures and learned about their Moon Festival, which turns out to be the Asian version of Thanksgiving. I thought that was pretty neat. 🙂  We read about the legends of the Jade Palace on the moon and those who live there and the boys and I even picked up a few Japanese words. We are working on learning more but so far only two are successfully sticking in our memories. lol  We also watched videos on-line to accompany the stories we were learning and got to see some amazing dragon dancing ceremonies, lion parades, and other celebrations.

I am looking forward to incorporating some of the crafts as well that we discovered in one of the library books on Japan, but will have to pace it out based on my energy.  No more overdoing it for me. lol  I don’t like being down for the count due to something I could have prevented if I had just been more careful.😉

What kind of adventures have books taken you on recently?  We would love to hear about it in the comments and if you have a book you would like to recommend, please tell us!  It might just become our next adventure.🙂  The boys send their excited squeals of delight in advance as a thank-you.😉

Space Study Meets God

img_3664-editedDid you know that every light year is worth 6,000,000,000,000 (trillion) miles? That our galaxy, the Milky Way, measures 100,000 light years across? That the Milky Way contains more than 100,000,000,000 (billion) stars and is just one of 350,000,000,000 (billion) galaxies in the universe, each with their own sets of billions of stars and their own spinning planets?

Did you know the God Who created all this with his breath and word, who controls it all and set it up with perfect precision and order, is the God Who lives in the hearts of all who love and believe in Him and His Son? That the God who knows all the stars by name also knows the number of hairs on each of our heads and cares enough to come close to know our every thought and feeling and hold our hurts and joys in his arms as he leads and carries us through life?
img_3665-editedThese are just some of the amazing facts the boys got to hear and learn about from their new Bible that grandma sent them. Such a joy to see their eyes grow wide with awe, respect, and understanding. Such a beautiful thing to hear them talk about how huge God is and yet how near as well. And the best part? They were excited to hear one of God’s stories after hearing all those amazing facts and sat with full, excited attention through the first 6 chapters of Joshua. ^_^  That’s saying something considering David’s attention span usually can’t last through a handful of verses. lol
I am excited to have this new resource at my fingertips to get the boys excited about the Bible and God’s word. The fact we’re studying space this month helped catch their interest when I opened this Bible up to the special feature pages showing real pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope. The facts about space and the universe paired with basic facts about God and His love for us opened up a whole new world of understanding and awe inside of them that got them excited to hear more. Definitely a blessing.❤

Brotherly Love

Today we were supposed to be hosting a story time at the library with David and Joshua’s favorite book. Due to being sick, we had to cancel that event and David was devastated. So what does my little Joshua do?? He gets out the book and he reads it to his brother to make him feel better. Even though Joshua is the one that’s sick. Even though David could “read” this book to himself from having heard it so many times. Even though Joshua would rather just rest or watch a movie. Why? Because Joshua loves his big brother to pieces and understands David can’t understand why the story time was canceled. Now that’s brotherly love at it’s finest.❤

Joshua, you make your mommy so proud of you! ^_^❤ ^_^

Fun at the Dentist

IMG_2822 _taggedYep.  I said FUN at the dentist!  The boys truly love the dentist they have here in Idaho.  They even get excited when they find out they have an appointment coming up!  Gone are the days of me having to try and sneak them to the office without their knowledge or coax them away from the edge of a meltdown for having to go.  Dr. Blair and his team at Blair Pediatric Dentistry have been a huge blessing and have been great with both boys.  They expertly handled with ease all the boys could throw at them between Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) concerns and glitches, Severe Autism, anxiety and meltdowns, and even all the sensory issues!  Better yet, they not only handled it all, but did so with a kind smile and gentle attitude the entire time, resulting in the earned trust and friendship of two little boys and a grateful mom.🙂

IMG_2802 _taggedThanks to their dedication and care, the boys had a great visit this last round too.  They both conquered some milestones that were once just too much for them.  David especially as he made it through the entire appointment without me needing to hold, restrain, coax, or calm down.  He even kept a smile on his face and was genuinely happy and playful.  The team managed to get oral pictures, use a spin brush (with TOOTHPASTE none the less!), fully check his teeth, and even FLOSSING!  So proud of my boy. ^_^  His only hiccup was when they needed to apply some fluoride to his teeth because he still refuses to use toothpaste at home and I haven’t been capable of forcing him to.  He got mildly riled up with that one, but still managed to stay calm enough to not need restraining or my help in any way.  I was proud of him.🙂  When they let him go though, and then turned off his movie (all the kids get to watch movies while they’re getting worked on) his pent up energy let loose and I had to chase him a few times around. lol  All in all though it was a great visit and my boys are already asking when do they get to go back!   Now if that doesn’t say something about the quality and friendliness of Dr. Blair and his team, I don’t know what will.😉

Below are some more pictures from the boys’ milestone making day. ^_^

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Proud Mommy Moment

Chick-fil-a playground
David took a small child under his wing and gently, carefully, and lovingly helped him through the playground and helped him do all he wanted to do while playing. David helped the little guy climb, crawl safely through the tubes, held on to him when he wabbled so he wouldn’t fall, and looked out for him the entire time the little boy was there. Later, when two little girls came in, he started doing the same for them.❤
Said he’s a caring babysitter and was watching out for them and keeping them safe and happy. ^_^
Considering David’s struggles with impulsivity and his increasing preference to be in his own little world vs acknowledge those around him, this was quite a huge moment for him.❤

S’mores and More

IMG_2633 _taggedThis month the boys and I have been enjoying a camping theme for school.  We’ve been blessed to find a lot of great parks nearby to play and learn in and have had the chance to try a lot of new things.  One of those things being building our own solar oven and cooking some s’mores inside on a nice sunny day.  I posted a pic of the boys’ enjoying their first tastes of the popular camping treat a few days ago when I realized that we just happened to have done this particular science experiment and treat on National S’mores Day.  That was a fun surprise to discover. : )

Camping CatastropheAs promised, below are more pictures from our adventures with the solar oven and s’mores plus a few from an experiment that didn’t quite work out as planned: our potato powered clock.  We will be trying that one again soon for sure.😉   Considering all the “catastrophes” (I am using that word lightly lol) we ran into while building our oven, trying to cook the s’mores, and attempting the potato clock experiment, (we even got chased out of the park by the sprinklers suddenly coming on), I am starting to think my choice for story time was badly planned. haha   We read Camping Catastrophe! by Abby Klein that day.  The boys enjoyed the story so much they had me read it from start to finish before we even ate our s’mores.  Considering it’s a chapter book, that’s saying something for them. lol

I hope you enjoy the pictures and that this finds you all having a fun day. ^_^  Please comment below if you have any fun camping memories to share of your own.😀

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We added more chocolate shortly after taking this pic.  We were not expecting over half of it to fall off during the process. lol

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My ever distracted David started turning his wire into an art piece much to the frustration of my ever black and white serious little scientist Joshua who is seen here trying to “remind” David that they’re supposed to be doing science not art. lol

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Caught in the sprinklers!  They were running across the field when the sprinklers suddenly turned on and sprayed them sending them into a moment of confusion and distress.  When they saw me signing and shouting to them to run to me fast though, Joshua pointed the way and they both came dashing into my arms to escape the water.


Treasured Friend, Kind Stranger

The boys both have difficulty making friends and struggle even more with keeping friends.  A lot of times, this translates into most of their closest friends being understanding teens and adults that come into their lives in various ways.  Babysitters, family members, police and firefighters (Maize I am looking at you guys❤ ), neighbors, Mommy’s close friends, store clerks, favorite workers at restaurants, etc make up the bulk of David and Joshua’s friend list.

One of these friends is a young man named Jacob who works at one of our local Wal-Marts.  He became an instant favorite from the moment the boys first met him.  Kind, fun, willing to look at their various treasures they would bring specifically to show him, and was even full of hugs and high fives for them.  He once even spent part of his work break just hanging out with the boys because he enjoys seeing them smile so much.🙂

Today though, the boys found out some news that was really hard on them to hear.  Bittersweet describes it best.  This wonderful young man got accepted into a college that is offering him an amazing opportunity, but he has to move far away in order to accept their offer.  As a result, his last day to give high fives, share hugs, and spend those precious moments with the boys will be later this week.  The boys were heartbroken and started crying as soon as they heard.  Being the amazing young man that he is, he got them thinking about their recent adventures and telling him stories to help them stop crying.  They started back up soon after we were back in the car and when we were walking into a local McDonald’s for a wifi and dinner stop.

This is where I get to say how grateful I am for how loving and attentive God is to even what some would consider the “little things” in life.  A sweet kind stranger saw them crying on the sidewalk outside the McDonald’s door and me trying to get them to come on in and she asked them what was wrong.  When they couldn’t answer through their tears I told her about their friend moving.  What she did next was the sweetest thing; she bought them both some cookies and gave them hugs.  When she found out who it was that was leaving, turned out she knows the young man too and had some happy news to share.  She told us that he plans to come back for the summers and when his schooling is finally done too.  That news sent the smiles spreading back across my boys’ faces real quick and turned our whole night around.🙂

To our friend Jacob:  We have come to treasure our chances to spend time with you and you have truly been a bright spot in my boys’ lives.  We will always be thankful for that and will keep you in our hearts and prayers as you start this next adventure in your life.🙂

To the kind stranger:  Thank-you for showing such sweet compassion for children you don’t even know.  I will never forget the kindness you showed them and how you helped put smiles back onto their sweet faces.❤

Happy National S’mores Day!

Apparently it’s National S’mores Day and we just happened to have done our Solar Oven S’mores project today for homeschool. Perfect timing! lol
Happy S’mores Day! A post with more pictures will be up when I am able to get more wifi time.🙂
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Homeschooling at the Park

IMG_2561-taggedThe boys and I have chosen to do a camping theme for our homeschool this month and that meant I have had to get creative on how to help them have some of the experiences even though it is still not safe to take David on an actual campout yet.  To the delight of us all, we recently discovered a quite sizable park within a few minutes of our home that has a quiet, open, and peaceful area of just the right size for laying out a blanket, playing in nature, and even looking for constellations in the night sky.

IMG_2567-taggedDavid and Joshua have explored making temporary art with leaves, pine cones, sticks and other things they can find lying around on the ground.  I moved their story time to the park too as I’ve found they enjoy hearing about the adventures of the Boxcar Children while they work on their art projects and lay on the ground watching the clouds.  David has also taken to building pretend campfires to roast pretend marshmallows and hotdogs over as he is so excited about that part of camping. ^_^  We even sang around the “campfire” and while looking at the stars to “complete” the scene.

IMG_2570-taggedWe’re hoping to be able to measure trees in the next couple of days to help us guess their age, build our own mini waterfalls, and practice camping safety with a game called “Whistle Hide and Seek” that teaches the kids to blow a whistle if they get lost or when they hear someone else blowing their whistle so the group can reunite.  If that one works out well, I might even try incorporating it into more of our daily life if I can find a way to do so.  David is still a runner and it would be nice to have something like this if he could be counted on to follow through with it.

IMG_2578-taggedSo far this area of the park has been working out well.  David has run away a few times, but it is bordered by trees that have helped keep him from leaving the area, and it is a wide open space so he is much easier to keep track of even when he runs.  Joshua has been a huge help in getting him to come back too when I can’t get David back on my own.  Both boys are loving the exploration of nature, the time outdoors, the stories, and the chance to run around and be loud.  Joshua especially has taken a liking to that last one. lol

I am hoping that this new discovery lasts for a while as it has been nice to be able to share my love of nature with my sons like this.🙂