An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

When Celebrating Can Also Sting

The other night, I was talking to an old friend of mine on the phone and at one point I heard her youngest (5 yrs) counting in the background (she was playing a game with him).  His little voice was so cute and he did so well with his numbers. 🙂  When I said that, I then got to hear all the exciting news about how well he is doing and how much he has learned.  Among other things, he can count to 100 already, knows all his colors, recognizes both capital and lowercase letters for the entire alphabet, and even recognizes half the sounds if I remember right.  I was truly happy for them both and so proud of the little guy and even had her give him a high-five for me. 🙂

What I didn’t share with my friend though, was the silent stings of pain that kept coursing through my heart at the same time I felt the joy and desire to celebrate.  Where did the pain come from?  The back seat…

I was in the car while we were chatting and as I am listening to and celebrating all these great achievements of her youngest, I also found myself trying hard to bat away the realization of where my oldest (at 6 yrs) wasn’t able to match up.  Just that morning I would have told anyone who asked, with pride and excitement in my voice, that my boy could once again count to 12 successfully and to 20 with minimal help, that he recognized his colors and shapes, and that he was getting better at signing and learning new words vocally too and how to use them correctly.  Now though, that very same list that represents so much hard work and regained ground from recent regressions, was bringing pain instead…

To top it all off, David was having a “disconnect” day too so he was back to his old patterns of not being able to focus, struggling to communicate, stimming a lot, and repeating more than usual.  Something I was reminded of when every time I responded in excitement to my friend’s announcements (ex: “how cool!”, “way to go!”, “so proud of him”, “how neat!” etc) I was immediately met with a small voice from the backseat echoing me and knowing he didn’t have a clue what he was saying and that he wasn’t really connected in conversation…

Times like these always hit me so hard it seems.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still very proud of David and I still know how blessed we are for him to have been able to come as far as he has and to be able to keep pushing forward.  I also am in no way upset with my friend.  She was sharing her joys about her son’s accomplishments and I enjoyed getting to be included in that and having the chance to cheer the little guy on as well. : )

Sometimes I guess, the Autism just stands out more than other times… and even though it’s always there, and I know that David is severely delayed and struggling, I can sometimes “forget” how extreme it really is until reality jumps right out in front of me and forces me to look.  Everything aside for a moment though, David is still David and nothing, NOTHING, can or will ever take that away.  He is still my precious boy, who is growing up and growing strong.  He still has a passion for life and a twinkle in his eyes that inspire my spirit and makes my heart flutter.   His hugs still fill me with warmth and joy and his giggles are still my favorite sound in the world.  And no matter how delayed he is, I still know he is doing his absolute best and for that I couldn’t be more proud of him. : )

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