An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

Rain Puddles and Advocacy

Josh on couchToday has started out a rainy one for sure, just as predicted by the weather forecast, but it has also been one of our best days over here. : )  Since I was trying to make sure I was up for my ride this morning (and the boys didn’t go down until practically 5:30 in the morning), I didn’t get any sleep last night.  But that also means I was awake to see the sunrise (I love that 🙂 ) and that I was able to get my second wind by stepping out into the fresh air and warm sunshine this morning while the boys were still out cold on the couch where they finally had dropped last night.  I couldn’t get them to wake back up in time for my run to the post office so my friend said she would be back around 3:00 instead so I could just let them sleep.

I got a lot done in those next few hours, but I truly enjoyed it when my oldest, David, woke up and starting playing.  He may be a handful and he definitely keeps me on my toes a lot of the time, but there is so much joy to be found in simply watching him play. 🙂  He was outside too when it started to sprinkle.  And since it had been a while, David had already stripped off all his clothes down to his diaper.  As soon as the first raindrop hit his head, he came running in declaring that it was raining.  I left him to decide for himself what he wanted to do about that and was pleasantly, and humorously, surprised by what he came up with…

David in coat

Yep. LOL  That’s my David in his winter coat/rain jacket with nothing else on but his diaper. haha   All he cared about was not letting his head get wet anymore.  He didn’t mind so much the rest, so he didn’t see any point in getting anything else on.  Sometimes I shake my head at some of the things David comes up with.  Sometimes his idea of logic makes me laugh.  And sometimes, he catches me off guard with the unconventional but in a way that actually makes sense.  And then there are times like this one, where all three of those scenarios apply. 😉

David on porch with trainsIt’s been a play the day away kind of day today so far, but I have gotten some work done in between joining in on the fun.  I have to admit my breaks were more frequent and definitely longer than I usually let them be.  Childhood was simply calling too loudly today and I didn’t want to miss more of it than I had to. 🙂  David was even adapting his usual routine to make up for the way the fun was just calling out to him.  He was having a “I don’t want clothes” day today, but he did go back and forth between wearing his coat and going in just his diaper. lol  Most importantly though, he was having fun.  And a lot of it.  🙂  With the rain stopping and starting, it was keeping the area pretty calm and empty too which meant I could let him run a bit more freely than usual without as much worry about him running after a random child on their bike, or getting up and suddenly following another family down the path.  I still had to watch him of course, but it did feel easier today and not so stressful. : )

The best part of the day by far though was when some young girls showed up and just stood there staring at David playing in the water with his trains.  One of them was teasing him and making some comments that could have been done without, but the other two seemed to just simply be watching with only the occasional word.  Either way, David was pretty much oblivious to them though.  He was happy and content in his own little world.  When Joshua saw them he rushed outside, but he soon forgot about his intent to interrogate when he saw all the trains splashing through the water like one of his favorite Thomas movies.  He decided at that point that he wanted to join in on the fun instead. lol 🙂

David in rain puddleI will admit, with all I’ve seen David go through, my first urge was to come on out and ask those girls to move on, that there was nothing to see and they didn’t need to be making a spectacle of my son.  The urge especially got strong when the oldest of the three sat down on the curb in front of my boys with the comment, I am just going to watch them.  I wanted to cry from the pain of seeing yet another kid not be interested in playing with David.  I was torn over the reality that David didn’t even seem to notice them, let alone try to engage them.  I was frustrated at the idea of another group of kids who thought it would be okay to get their amusement out of my kids for all the wrong reasons.

Then I remembered what had been told to me when I first started this journey called Autism, and what I then in turn told other new moms and dads.  Just as much as we don’t want them to judge our children, we need not to judge them as well.  No matter how many have hurt, belittled, picked on, teased, or in other ways bullied your child, there are still kids out there whose actions stem purely from curiosity of the unknown and unfamiliar.  My heart, now humbled by my memory and moment to think, quickly softened and I went out to be with the kids.  I was still nervous this may turn out bad, but instead of letting that be the main thought in my mind, I forced it to be a back thought where it was put on hold until it was needed in hopes of not having to use it.  I put on a smile and listened at first to the girls talk about David.  Then, I tried to help engage David for them and got Joshua starting a conversation with them.  I am so glad I did too.

David playing in rain puddle (blog)One of the girls is still a bit of a problem, but nothing that can’t be easily handled when she comes around.  She is still very young and she seems to look up to the other two quite a bit, so I believe there is still hope of her turning her attitude eventually.  Best part of the whole experience though was the other two girls.  Specifically the oldest.  Her motives did indeed turn out to be curiosity driven and she was a very sweet girl.  She asked questions, listened to answers, and even tried to help the other two understand.  Now I did not go and give her some big lecture on Autism and all that can go with that.  I let her lead the information that I gave by simply answering her questions, and throwing in an extra sentence or two to help soften a fear, or correct a misunderstanding.  In the end, all three girls were being nice to both boys and even playing with them as best as they could (aka as most as David would allow).  Even the youngest, who had been causing problems before, seemed to quickly follow the lead of the two older girls in her presence who were now treating David more like a friend than something to be studied or made fun of.

David in rain puddle2 (blog)In the end, the girls went home and David and Joshua came inside for a rest.  There isn’t any fantastic news about a new friendship being born or about being able to plan future play dates, but something wonderful still happened today.  Two (possibly three) little girls changed their mind about what Autism is, they see David and Joshua firstly as two boys not “the disabled kids” or other names I have heard my boys labeled with over the years.  And as if that wasn’t enough, there was also a lesson in it all for Mommy.  More of a reminder though I guess I should say…  That whole “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” concept?  Yeah.  It applies to us too even when it’s hard to make ourselves remember that. 😉  Even those of us on the side of being judged more times than we care to count, can easily wind up finding ourselves at the end of our own wagging fingers, doing the same thing to those around us that we get so hurt and upset about them doing to our children and loved ones.  Barriers need to break down, stigmas need to be erased, acceptance and compassion need to be encouraged.  But we have our role to play as well if we want all that to come to be.

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