An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

Late Night Thoughts

This came up in my memories section on facebook. Fitting timing for it too considering what all is happening in this new year. It’s been a wild ride and we’re only a month and a half in. Looks like this year is going to definitely be filled with lots of adventure, both good and bad. I pray I can face what lies ahead with dignity, grace, and most of all faith.

Stripes and Puzzle Pieces

Life doesn’t come easy for me,
but I still believe in my dreams.
Some people may call it crazy
but I like to stretch beyond my means.

For it’s only when I am spent and done
that God can truly show His strength.
And when He shows up, I know I’ve won
and for that I would go to any length.

Things might not always turn out right,
but they always turn out best.
There are times I feel like giving up the fight,
but then He gives me rest.

Of course His ways are higher than mine,
so I don’t always understand Him.
Sometimes I wish He could send me a sign,
then I realize He’s just waiting for me to read them.

His Word is here right in front of me,
It’s value truly worth more than gold.
When I humble myself and read,
His words help make…

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Lego Train Station

David’s latest lego creation. A train station, complete with tracks and a train that can really move along them.

Happy National Backwards Day

David really had fun with this silly holiday and went all out with switching his clothes around for the day.  We also learned the Moonwalk (aka our “backwards dance of the day”) and had fun walking around backwards in the house.  We also played board games and worked on some schooling, but David wanted to make sure we wished everyone a “happy National Backwards Day” before the day ended. 🙂

Play to Learn

img_5662-taggedThe snow has gotten the best of my family over this last month, leading to a lot of hard days shut in and a lot of pent up energy and anxiety from the disrupted schedules and lack of freedom to get out like we normally do.  Recently though I ran across supplies on-line for creating your own board game so I bought some for the boys.  Our delivery came in pieces so as we waited for the final package we have been hashing out different ideas for games that would make learning and reviewing easier and more fun.

Well the blank dice were the last thing to arrive and they finally came in yesterday!  I went to work as soon as I could creating some custom dice for the boys that help with different skills. The boys were so excited, that we actually started playing with our new dice by themselves instead of waiting to finish planning out the board and cards.

img_5661-taggedThe power of hands-on learning and learning through play showed through strong as I watched my boys approach with excitement subjects they previously ran from and to even start to master some new skills previously out of their reach. They even tackled their first division problems that don’t end evenly and mastered the concept of remainders in less than 10 minutes! That’s a new record!
In less than an hour of simply throwing some custom dice around and making hard skills into a game, the boys mastered 3 new concepts (division with remainders, > vs <, writing money in decimals), memorized their 11’s times tables up to 9, gained ground on their coin value recognition, worked on reliably reading the $ sign vs the cents sign, and made great starter progress on adding (and subtracting!) money.
If this is the ground we can make with just the dice, I can’t wait to find out what’s in store once we have complete games to work with. ^_^

Learning New Skills

Digital CameraThe kind people who have been routinely showing up to help shovel us out of the snow this winter were here again the other day when the major storm hit.  We caught them in action this time and David immediately rushed out to go join them.  Anything for a chance to use his shovel. lol 🙂  Pretty soon, Joshua joined him and two little boys were eagerly throwing snow around as they “helped” the kind strangers.

The strangers turned out to be the Pastor of the church across the street and his family.  He truly has a heart of gold too.  When he saw how badly David wanted to help (and how much he didn’t really know how to do so lol) he took the time to teach some simple shoveling techniques that David could do himself.  David was so proud of himself when he started seeing the path before him actually start clearing.  The best part though was when David’s excitement and impulsivity got the best of him and his new skills went out the window.

Digital CameraDavid started going back to just swinging the shovel around and tossing the snow in every direction but the one it should go in.  He accidentally got the pastor in the legs a few times and repeatedly threw snow back in his face (David was ahead) and over his feet.  I say this is the best part not because of what David was doing, but rather because of the way the pastor chose to respond.  The man heard me trying to coach David and help him focus, he could see that David was special needs and truly wasn’t doing any of it on purpose, and he could see David’s pure excitement at being included and being “helpful”.  So he told David “great job”, moved in front of David and increased the distance between them by a few steps to avoid the flying snow and wayward shovel, and smiled genuinely everytime David looked back for affirmation that he was doing a good job.  What a sweet man. ❤

Glad to be home

Today has definitely been one of those days that I am glad to just be done with.  The snow is picking up yet again and I needed to get out in it because of government business and missing groceries.  David was struggling more than usual today too.  Kept playing with things he wasn’t supposed to be touching, stemming loudly, and running around when I needed him to stay by me the most.  Thankfully, we were dealing with people who chose patience and compassion as their response today though.  So glad to finally be back home.  David is taking out his stimming on some legos and a singing toy now, but at least he’s not running off or adding millions to my bank account amount entries because he can’t resist the number pads while I am being interviewed. lol

Days like these are where remembering to find the little joys becomes such a crucial task in order to stay afloat amidst all the stress.  I am thankful that I have two little boys who help me do just that even on the hardest of days. ❤

A Special Gift

Digital CameraYesterday, Christmas finally ended at our house.  Or at least the present opening part of it. lol  David can’t handle all the excitement at once, even with a few presents let alone a the amount that tends to come in at Christmas time (when you count that it’s not just his but others as well unlike on birthdays).  Over the years, I’ve gotten good at just rolling with it and letting him take as long as he needs to truly enjoy the process verses become stressed or overwhelmed by it.  As a result, it usually takes us about a week to get everything unwrapped and longer to complete all the thank you calls to friends and family.

This season, we finished yesterday with three remaining gifts from their great grandmother and a gift David picked out with Grandma’s help for me.  The best part?  Grandma helped locate the item, helped get it paid for on-line and set up the shipping for it to arrive, but David himself made the choice.  He even excitedly burst into the package when it arrived and double checked every little feature and detail that he wanted to be there then wrapped it up as best he could for under the tree. ❤  It was simultaneously the most rumpled up wrapping job and the most beautifully wrapped present in the home.  And when I got to open it up yesterday evening, after waiting for David to be ready and able to handle it (he was protective of the package), I was greeted with the most beautiful Rapunzel doll from Tangled for my collection.  My heart started welling up with tears as my smile spread wide.  Usually when my oldest gets me a present he picks out things for himself, not quite understanding the concept of thinking of the person he’s trying to gift.  Lego sets, new markers, pirate ships, Woody dolls… He truly tries though and every once in awhile he does something incredibly special.  This year, he beamed brightly as he proudly and excitedly took pictures of me opening his gift.  He had heard me once talk about how I didn’t have a Rapunzel doll for my Disney doll collection yet even though she’s one of my favorites and he applied that to choosing my gift.  A rare thing for him to be able to take a conversation and apply it to future decisions like that.  This mommy’s heart was deeply touched. ❤

Digital Camera

Getting Back to the Keyboard

Over the last few years I have let my writing take a back seat because I needed to focus more on the day to day life.  I have found though that I miss it more than I thought I would, which is why I had tried to get back to it a bit lately.  My goal for the new year is to pick back up my writing and to try and share something new everyday on at least one of my blogs (today I am sharing on both).  Health may interfere with that goal but I am going to still do my best to reach it.

Since my faith is such a huge part of me and my life, one of the things I am going to be starting too is sharing some of my thoughts and lessons from my devotions time.  Those will be shared on my sister blog here.

Digital CameraBoth of my boys are doing well.  Joshua is now 7 and just lost a third front tooth this morning.  He’s pretty excited. ^_^  He has really gotten into collecting Hot Wheels cars and got a good handful of them for Christmas, including a fancy true replica car that my sister and brother-in-law found for him.  He’s been showing that one off to all who will take the time to look he’s so proud of it. lol

Joshua has also been making huge gains in OT.  His therapist has been working on finding solutions to helping strengthen and stabilize his fingers so that he can write better and without pain.  As a result, Joshua happily was able to sign his name to almost all of the Christmas cards we sent out this round!  He was so proud of himself. ^_^  He’s been working with a developmental counselor too to help work on communication, understanding, recognizing emotions, self regulation, and social skills.  He’s slowly but surely making progress there too. 🙂  He will hopefully be starting back up in PT soon now that the new year has started and his doctor team and I are working towards getting him recognized as officially disabled which will help with resources for both his Autism and his Ehlers-Danlos.

Digital CameraDavid, now 9, has been working with OT and the developmental counselor as well.  His progress has been slower and harder to achieve, but we have been blessed with a great team and they are not giving up on him.  His biggest struggles are handling routines, sensory issues, self-care/hygiene, and applying what he learns to his life and decision making.  That last one has been a doozy to deal with and has all of us on his team baffled as to how to help, but we’re not giving up.  I must admit it’s frustrating to see his echolalia and scripting get in the way of him actually taking in what we’re trying to teach him.  He repeats back perfectly parroted answers to everything, but he can’t seem to apply what he’s learned to the situations when they’re happening.  Situations like running off, social skills, personal responsibility, brother relations, etc.

All that said though, David still fills our home with lots of smiles and fun.  In some areas he has caught up to only a couple years behind and in art and creativity he’s been said to be a bit advanced.  His love for legos has developed into a new passion and his old love for Woody has regained passion level for him as well this year.  However, he is continuing to maintain at a developmental level of a toddler in most areas.  The silver lining in that though is he still has that toddler-like joy and passion for the world around him.  He helps me to remember to take life slow and to enjoy the journey more; a true blessing. 🙂 I have high hopes for this boy and his future and I know that whatever potential he ends up reaching, he will reach it to his fullest ability and shine bright from there. ❤

That's about all I have as far as updates for now.  I pray that this new year holds hope and bright futures for you all.  May 2017 be filled with blessings both big and small and plenty to keep you smiling. 🙂

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 ^_^