An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

Disconnected But Happy

David’s riding lesson didn’t go as well yesterday as the last two have, so the teacher definitely didn’t go through with the plan to teach the trotting. David was just too disconnected today and that was causing him to struggle with his focus quite a bit. You could tell he was trying, but this definitely wasn’t one of his best days.

At first, I thought he was just extra excited with it being a day we were going back to see his horse, but when we got there he started getting worse instead of better and soon it was pretty evident he wasn’t fully “with us” so to speak anymore.  He struggled to focus, couldn’t repeat what had just been said to him (for someone who uses mostly echolalia that’s a pretty bad sign), and he kept breaking safety rules he previously had down like second nature (don’t go under the horse, approach from side not front, stay clear of back legs unless patting and saying “whoa”, etc).   While up on the horse, it showed through his loss of posture control, his sudden changes in saddle position (just suddenly slouching, leaning forward or tilting to the side), and his sloppy control of the reins.

We tried to keep him on task and keep him focused, and David definitely tried too.  Goodness knows he didn’t like the idea of getting off the horse so he was willing to do his best to focus.  He was even struggling to steer the horse in the pattern he had mastered during the last two lessons.  It was so bad, the teacher even said that he seemed like a completely different kid up there, noting how this just didn’t match up to the lively, yet focused and skilled kid she has seen from him before.  The only thing that seemed to be the same was how calm the horse made David feel and how much David loved being up on his back.

Towards the end of the lesson, David was able to grab onto enough focus and control to be able to lead his own horse (with the teacher right by his side just in case) out in the big open corral today so that was neat to see.  I can’t wait to see what he can do out there on a day where he’s not struggling so much. : )

All in all, though the Autism definitely shined through more today and demanded center stage, we still walked away with mostly smiles and David still got some valuable time with his favorite friend, Domino. 🙂

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