An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

Zoo trip! :)

David_zoo2The weather today was rather nice and the sun was out shining so this afternoon we all jumped in the van and took off for the zoo!  We haven’t done that in a while with the cold weather and everything else going on and it felt so good to be out in the fresh air again. 🙂  The boys truly enjoyed their time there too.   Grandma even called while we were pulling into the parking lot and ended up coming out to join us. 😀  The boys really liked that part. 😉

David ran off a few times, but overall he did pretty well at staying with us.  He also got to find out the hard way that goats don’t care about their snacks being lined up first before they eat them. LOL   We gave the boys some food pellets to feed the animals in the petting zoo section and David was determined to be orderly about the whole thing.

He managed somehow to sneak away from the hungry and eager young goats and sheep and once he was satisfied that their attention was elsewhere he proceeded with “preparing” their snack.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of it.  He was trying so carefully to line each little pellet up “just so” before the animals could come and eat them.  lol  He does the same thing with every snack we give him to eat so I figure that’s what he was thinking about when he tried to do it for the goats.  It didn’t take long though for the goats and other animals to notice the trail of pellets on the ground though and come running.   Poor David valiantly tried to save his “line up” and get the goats to “behave” and get in line but to no avail. lol  I am proud of him for being a good sport about it though once he was forced to give up due to them eating all his pellets. lol : )

David_zoo6He did show preference later on for feeding the fish though. lol  The main reason being that even though they were crowding the surface of the water just underneath him (we were on a bridge) he could still control how they ate his pellets. lol  I looked away just long enough to get a second set of pellets out for Joshua and, when I turned back to David, he had laid down on the bridge and scooted to the edge with his head leaning out over the water.  Upon closer observation I found that he had successfully lined up every last little pellet and was feeding them to the frenzied crowd of fish below him one at a time. lol  Making sure each pellet was successfully eaten and the fish had calmed down at least a little before dropping the next one.  haha : )

It was cute to watch him doing this for sure. : )  And all without a single word too which is unusual for my little guy but lately it’s been happening a lot.  His signing skills have taking some huge blows/regression since a couple of weeks ago around the time of the whole seizure/hospital stay.   Likewise, he has seemingly fallen silent more often than not as well.  He still talks from time to time and has his moments where he goes non-stop still too (still mainly echolalia though or mindless babbling), but he has been having more and more prolonged silences too.  Especially when he is focused on something that is really important to him.

David_zoo8One of my favorite things about David though is his passion for life and all things around him.  And that was so clearly visible today as he danced around the path, ran up and down the fences, played with the animals, sat and pet some of the quieter ones, rode the toy horses, and took in all the sites.  Watching David live life is so inspiring. : )  Just a few moments with him can put a smile on anyone’s face and can fill up just about any heart. 🙂  He is always living “in the moment” so to speak with no time to think about what happened 5 minutes ago let alone over a day or two.  He can, and usually will, recall past experiences when his current moment calls for it, but for the most part he sees no need to think about anything but what’s right in front of him right at that moment.  He truly is a blessing to have in my life and an inspiring teacher in so many ways. 🙂

David_zoo5David may have disabilities and struggles.  He may have to fight hard with speech and getting across his thoughts to those around him.  He may not be able to keep pace with his peers or impress random adults with his knowledge.  He may struggle with seizures, digestive issues, headaches, and random ailments.  Yes he’s not potty trained and no he can’t brush his own teeth or hair yet.  Yes, when he dresses himself his clothes are usually on backward (today being no exception lol).  Communication may be truly hard for him, especially when those around him “refuse” to “follow the script” and he may struggle to take in all that’s going on and all that others are trying to tell him.  But this is not what you see when you simply set David loose and let him immerse himself into the world around him at his level and at his pace.  You don’t see a disabled kid with many various trials and that doesn’t quite fit in.  You don’t see the struggles and the tears that have filled so many frustrating moments.  You don’t see the screaming, panicking fear of a child who just can’t understand or the social consequences of one who just can’t figure out social cues and personal space.

David_zoo1What you see is a young boy, alive with passion and excitement for the world around him.  He may steer away from the people and show strong preferences for being surrounded by things like the plants and trees, the various animals, or the silent paths with random bridges and solid statues (he likes climbing them lol), but he is still very much involved and connected.  He may be silent and reflective or he may be boisterous, “talkative”, and hyper.  Either way, his every action is intensely full with his passion for exploration and his eyes dance with life at every new thing he takes in.

When David is released to just be himself, with as minimal restrictions as possible and all outside expectations, standards, and regularities put aside for a moment, the scene that develops is a truly beautiful one.  Full of purity, innocence, passion, exploration, and life.  And it’s positively inspiring to watch. 🙂



  1. Looks like a great day 😀

  2. Lovely to see him having fun and being a kid. : )

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