An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

Impromptu Field Trip

img_4438-taggedThankful for a small break from reality tonight. The boys and I took an impromptu field trip up a mountain side and to a famous local historical site.

We got to learn about a local battle, see the flag wave as part of a memorial for 9-11 that was added after the fact, and get a real good look at the super moon tonight as it hovered over the top tip of the mountain we we were on. It was big enough that even my simple point and shoot managed to get a pic worth keeping.🙂 Not an amazing pic, but at least something more than a white speck on black which is the usual result of me trying to take pics of the moon. lol

img_4417-taggedWe also got to look out over the side of the mountain and down into the valley below. The city was far enough away that the lights looked like Christmas lights. Joshua said the furthest edge looked like twinkling stars. ^_^ It was nice to get that little trip in tonight. For the moment, we were just a mom and her kids again. A trio, a team, out having fun and learning new things together. Well worth the drive. ^_^

Local Fun and Games

The boys and I found out about a fun local group that paints rocks and hides them around town for others to find. We went on our first rock hunt earlier tonight and to our surprise and the boys’ delight we found quite a few little treasures. ^_^ To keep in the spirit of the group and to allow the fun to continue for others, we also went back and re-hid the rocks. I am not sure which part they enjoyed most; the finding or the hiding. lol
 
Thanks Nampa “Rocks” for the fun ^_^

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Relaxed and Happy

img_4235-taggedWe took a slower pace for David’s birthday this year to help him stay calmer with the hopes of the violent overloads not showing up from too much stimulation. For the most part it worked which I am thankful. ^_^   It took us all day to open 4 presents and we didn’t get to the cake baking, but it was definitely easier on him than years past.🙂
 
We enjoyed a birthday dinner at McDonald’s where we all ended up making a new friend with a lady who sat near us and Joshua struck up a conversation with. She was really sweet and we found out that all her children are grown now and she delighted to have the boys share their special day with her like they did. Well the feeling was mutual as David and Joshua truly enjoyed her smiles and willingness to share her time.🙂
 
img_4243_taggedWe also attempted a quick run to the store because we ran out of milk only to find the store was out too.  What irony. lol   David enjoyed seeing his Walmart friends though and wanted to explore the store. Since he was doing better than usual at staying near me I granted his request and both boys enjoyed looking at sparkly rings, checking out the Christmas section, saying hi to their fish friends, and exploring the toy isle for things to play with.. We had one incident when he found a Boulder from Rescue Bots and I had to put my foot down and remind him we weren’t buying toys today. He worked himself up so much over that he ended up sending himself over the edge sensory wise. We worked through it though and his smile returned when a kind worker struck up a fun conversation with him and laughed at the jokes David attempted to share with him. ^_^
 
All in all, today was a slower pace, but a great birthday. David felt special all day and enjoyed many big smiles, some calls to and from his favorite people, and hours of relaxed play time. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday for him.❤

Happy 9th Birthday David!

img_4206-taggedMy sweet precious David is officially 9 years old. ^_^ Oh how the time is flying by! This is him just after midnight with his first present of the day, his very own Michael W. Smith cd featuring his favorite song “You Won’t Let Go”.

Before the car ate my copy a few months back, David had me playing this cd pretty much daily. Sometimes several times a day. lol And when he was overwhelmed (even the times when he was reduced to punching himself😥 from being so overwhelmed), it was this cd and song, set to repeat, that always calmed him down.

He’s been missing “his song” and was so happy when he opened this present.🙂 And was even more excited when I told him this copy was officially his, not mommy’s. ^_^ (although he had to agree to let me take care of it until he’s capable of doing so himself). His OT and I are also working on ideas for how to make his music portable for him too so he’ll be able to listen to “his Michael” whenever and wherever he needs to.🙂

From his first concert at 4 (we ended up listening from the lobby of the church because he couldn’t handle the crowds but he was sooo happy ^_^ ), to the countless hours of listening to Michael with Mommy, to the sweet hug I got when I brought him back his own hat from my last concert, to now having his very first CD of his own. The official start of his own collection.🙂 I feel blessed to be able to share something this special with him.❤

My sweet boy, may your birthday be filled with many more smiles like this one and many reasons to be excited and happy. ^_^ I love you David!❤❤❤  Happy 9th birthday!🙂

A Critter Filled Birthday Wish

I am very worn out but what we did today was well worth it. ^_^ I only wish I had not forgotten my camera. lol No pictures to share from our adventures, but memories I hope to be able to hold onto.❤
 
David wanted to meet and hold a hamster for his birthday (the 6th) so while we were out after appointments we stopped in a few pet stores, one leading us to another for more great animal encounters. In the end, both boys got to hold a hamster, cuddle a guinea pig, pet a rat, snuggle up with a bunny, and meet and hold a chinchilla. They also said hi to all the fish, turtles, and birds. lol
 
I so adore these two precious boys I have been blessed with. Gives life a little more warmth, a lot more adventure, and a chance to see through a child’s eyes once more.❤

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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