An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

Fun at the Dentist

IMG_2822 _taggedYep.  I said FUN at the dentist!  The boys truly love the dentist they have here in Idaho.  They even get excited when they find out they have an appointment coming up!  Gone are the days of me having to try and sneak them to the office without their knowledge or coax them away from the edge of a meltdown for having to go.  Dr. Blair and his team at Blair Pediatric Dentistry have been a huge blessing and have been great with both boys.  They expertly handled with ease all the boys could throw at them between Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) concerns and glitches, Severe Autism, anxiety and meltdowns, and even all the sensory issues!  Better yet, they not only handled it all, but did so with a kind smile and gentle attitude the entire time, resulting in the earned trust and friendship of two little boys and a grateful mom.🙂

IMG_2802 _taggedThanks to their dedication and care, the boys had a great visit this last round too.  They both conquered some milestones that were once just too much for them.  David especially as he made it through the entire appointment without me needing to hold, restrain, coax, or calm down.  He even kept a smile on his face and was genuinely happy and playful.  The team managed to get oral pictures, use a spin brush (with TOOTHPASTE none the less!), fully check his teeth, and even FLOSSING!  So proud of my boy. ^_^  His only hiccup was when they needed to apply some fluoride to his teeth because he still refuses to use toothpaste at home and I haven’t been capable of forcing him to.  He got mildly riled up with that one, but still managed to stay calm enough to not need restraining or my help in any way.  I was proud of him.🙂  When they let him go though, and then turned off his movie (all the kids get to watch movies while they’re getting worked on) his pent up energy let loose and I had to chase him a few times around. lol  All in all though it was a great visit and my boys are already asking when do they get to go back!   Now if that doesn’t say something about the quality and friendliness of Dr. Blair and his team, I don’t know what will.😉

Below are some more pictures from the boys’ milestone making day. ^_^

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Proud Mommy Moment

Chick-fil-a playground
David took a small child under his wing and gently, carefully, and lovingly helped him through the playground and helped him do all he wanted to do while playing. David helped the little guy climb, crawl safely through the tubes, held on to him when he wabbled so he wouldn’t fall, and looked out for him the entire time the little boy was there. Later, when two little girls came in, he started doing the same for them.❤
Said he’s a caring babysitter and was watching out for them and keeping them safe and happy. ^_^
Considering David’s struggles with impulsivity and his increasing preference to be in his own little world vs acknowledge those around him, this was quite a huge moment for him.❤

S’mores and More

IMG_2633 _taggedThis month the boys and I have been enjoying a camping theme for school.  We’ve been blessed to find a lot of great parks nearby to play and learn in and have had the chance to try a lot of new things.  One of those things being building our own solar oven and cooking some s’mores inside on a nice sunny day.  I posted a pic of the boys’ enjoying their first tastes of the popular camping treat a few days ago when I realized that we just happened to have done this particular science experiment and treat on National S’mores Day.  That was a fun surprise to discover. : )

Camping CatastropheAs promised, below are more pictures from our adventures with the solar oven and s’mores plus a few from an experiment that didn’t quite work out as planned: our potato powered clock.  We will be trying that one again soon for sure.😉   Considering all the “catastrophes” (I am using that word lightly lol) we ran into while building our oven, trying to cook the s’mores, and attempting the potato clock experiment, (we even got chased out of the park by the sprinklers suddenly coming on), I am starting to think my choice for story time was badly planned. haha   We read Camping Catastrophe! by Abby Klein that day.  The boys enjoyed the story so much they had me read it from start to finish before we even ate our s’mores.  Considering it’s a chapter book, that’s saying something for them. lol

I hope you enjoy the pictures and that this finds you all having a fun day. ^_^  Please comment below if you have any fun camping memories to share of your own.😀

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We added more chocolate shortly after taking this pic.  We were not expecting over half of it to fall off during the process. lol

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My ever distracted David started turning his wire into an art piece much to the frustration of my ever black and white serious little scientist Joshua who is seen here trying to “remind” David that they’re supposed to be doing science not art. lol

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Caught in the sprinklers!  They were running across the field when the sprinklers suddenly turned on and sprayed them sending them into a moment of confusion and distress.  When they saw me signing and shouting to them to run to me fast though, Joshua pointed the way and they both came dashing into my arms to escape the water.


Treasured Friend, Kind Stranger

The boys both have difficulty making friends and struggle even more with keeping friends.  A lot of times, this translates into most of their closest friends being understanding teens and adults that come into their lives in various ways.  Babysitters, family members, police and firefighters (Maize I am looking at you guys❤ ), neighbors, Mommy’s close friends, store clerks, favorite workers at restaurants, etc make up the bulk of David and Joshua’s friend list.

One of these friends is a young man named Jacob who works at one of our local Wal-Marts.  He became an instant favorite from the moment the boys first met him.  Kind, fun, willing to look at their various treasures they would bring specifically to show him, and was even full of hugs and high fives for them.  He once even spent part of his work break just hanging out with the boys because he enjoys seeing them smile so much.🙂

Today though, the boys found out some news that was really hard on them to hear.  Bittersweet describes it best.  This wonderful young man got accepted into a college that is offering him an amazing opportunity, but he has to move far away in order to accept their offer.  As a result, his last day to give high fives, share hugs, and spend those precious moments with the boys will be later this week.  The boys were heartbroken and started crying as soon as they heard.  Being the amazing young man that he is, he got them thinking about their recent adventures and telling him stories to help them stop crying.  They started back up soon after we were back in the car and when we were walking into a local McDonald’s for a wifi and dinner stop.

This is where I get to say how grateful I am for how loving and attentive God is to even what some would consider the “little things” in life.  A sweet kind stranger saw them crying on the sidewalk outside the McDonald’s door and me trying to get them to come on in and she asked them what was wrong.  When they couldn’t answer through their tears I told her about their friend moving.  What she did next was the sweetest thing; she bought them both some cookies and gave them hugs.  When she found out who it was that was leaving, turned out she knows the young man too and had some happy news to share.  She told us that he plans to come back for the summers and when his schooling is finally done too.  That news sent the smiles spreading back across my boys’ faces real quick and turned our whole night around.🙂

To our friend Jacob:  We have come to treasure our chances to spend time with you and you have truly been a bright spot in my boys’ lives.  We will always be thankful for that and will keep you in our hearts and prayers as you start this next adventure in your life.🙂

To the kind stranger:  Thank-you for showing such sweet compassion for children you don’t even know.  I will never forget the kindness you showed them and how you helped put smiles back onto their sweet faces.❤

Happy National S’mores Day!

Apparently it’s National S’mores Day and we just happened to have done our Solar Oven S’mores project today for homeschool. Perfect timing! lol
Happy S’mores Day! A post with more pictures will be up when I am able to get more wifi time.🙂
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Homeschooling at the Park

IMG_2561-taggedThe boys and I have chosen to do a camping theme for our homeschool this month and that meant I have had to get creative on how to help them have some of the experiences even though it is still not safe to take David on an actual campout yet.  To the delight of us all, we recently discovered a quite sizable park within a few minutes of our home that has a quiet, open, and peaceful area of just the right size for laying out a blanket, playing in nature, and even looking for constellations in the night sky.

IMG_2567-taggedDavid and Joshua have explored making temporary art with leaves, pine cones, sticks and other things they can find lying around on the ground.  I moved their story time to the park too as I’ve found they enjoy hearing about the adventures of the Boxcar Children while they work on their art projects and lay on the ground watching the clouds.  David has also taken to building pretend campfires to roast pretend marshmallows and hotdogs over as he is so excited about that part of camping. ^_^  We even sang around the “campfire” and while looking at the stars to “complete” the scene.

IMG_2570-taggedWe’re hoping to be able to measure trees in the next couple of days to help us guess their age, build our own mini waterfalls, and practice camping safety with a game called “Whistle Hide and Seek” that teaches the kids to blow a whistle if they get lost or when they hear someone else blowing their whistle so the group can reunite.  If that one works out well, I might even try incorporating it into more of our daily life if I can find a way to do so.  David is still a runner and it would be nice to have something like this if he could be counted on to follow through with it.

IMG_2578-taggedSo far this area of the park has been working out well.  David has run away a few times, but it is bordered by trees that have helped keep him from leaving the area, and it is a wide open space so he is much easier to keep track of even when he runs.  Joshua has been a huge help in getting him to come back too when I can’t get David back on my own.  Both boys are loving the exploration of nature, the time outdoors, the stories, and the chance to run around and be loud.  Joshua especially has taken a liking to that last one. lol

I am hoping that this new discovery lasts for a while as it has been nice to be able to share my love of nature with my sons like this.🙂

Update and Blessings

Been having a lot of health issues lately and just life on our plates has gotten a bit more full than I can keep up with, but wanted to touch base with an update for you all.🙂

My day was not without it’s bumps in the road of course, but it was definitely one full to overflowing with blessings too. ^_^

1) We are finally starting to settle into our new home and neighborhood after having moved again here recently. Nice quiet neighborhood with a kind neighbor and our own yard. Not fenced in, but hey, at least it’s ours.🙂

2) The boys and I got to reconnect with some precious friends in Kansas today. 4 phone calls that were definitely well worth the battery drain. ^_^ Where my phone started running low, our hearts were spilling over. We needed that reconnection and time with friends.🙂

3) Got to go to the aquarium again today and since we were practically the only ones there and the only ones interested enough to ask questions, we ended up getting a private tour. We got to watch the different animals get fed, learn fun new facts, and even get to see and learn more about the individual animals’ personalities while there while we walked around with their caretakers. That was pretty cool.😀

4) I started a new project with the boys last night as part of their homeschooling: sewing. I honestly didn’t think they would like it or stick with it long, but it turned out they LOVE sewing. haha Now I have two boys eager to work on their special projects with mommy and learn more. The teacher side of me cherishes the spark of joy and interest for a new subject. The mommy side of me cherishes the bonding time being created by it.

Another blessing and update is that even though I recently found out some hard news about my EDS and it’s progression, I discovered that the latest doctor on my team is also on a research team that has been working hard to learn more about EDS so they can find ways to help fight back. What a blessing to have someone like that as a personal doctor on my team.🙂

Learning Adventure

IMG_2218-taggedYesterday, a nearby city celebrated Public Works Week by having an event to help teach kids about the different companies and people that help keep a city running smoothly  and keep it clean.  Plumbers, disaster response, street sweepers, street stripe painters, construction workers, building inspectors, water works, and more!  We got there a bit late so didn’t get to do everything there this year, but we still had a couple hours of learning adventures that the boys will not soon forget.🙂

IMG_2311_taggedWhile learning about building codes and what it takes to get approved to build a house, store, or other building in the city, the boys got to fill out their own “applications” where they filled out their names, named their projects, came up with an “address”, and then were given the materials to build something of their very own.  A bird house!  David named his Birdtopia and gave it the address 617 Bird Lane.  Joshua named his Bird House for Nice Birds and gave it the address 315 Nice Bird Lane.  They were both complemented on their choices; David for being the most original name of the event and Joshua for thinking ahead at making sure his birds would be bully free. ^_^

That was definitely the biggest part of the event for these two, but they also got to explore different trucks, machines, and even a robotic camera that helps check for plumbing problems in the city pipes.  They really liked that one.🙂

IMG_2325_taggedWhile David took a break, Joshua even got to learn about the different layers of the ground and how wells are dug and how they work.  He was a little surprised though when he found out he had to “drink” his finished project (everything used was food or drink) and refused to do it. lol  I need to look up the project myself to see if I can replicate it at some point.  It was really well thought out. : )

Idaho continues to be a place full of surprises and opportunity for us.  So many opportunities out here to get more involved in the communities and to learn new things; and most are Autism friendly too.  I have been so thankful to see that the majority here tend to accept (and in some cases even understand) Autism and all that can come with it at times.  We still have our barriers with David’s running and lack of danger awareness, and some issues with connecting on more personal levels with smaller groups as he stands out more in those situations, but at the same time we have also broken down a lot of barriers that once held us back so much.  Very grateful for that and am looking forward to continuing the journey to see where it can take us.❤

In the mean time, enjoy these pictures from our latest adventure. ^_^






Hope you enjoyed these pics from the boys’ learning adventures.  May many more be yet to come and may we never tire of looking for them. ^_^



Through My Sons’ Eyes

What happens when you give two young boys access to your camera to help take pictures? Well it depends on the boy. lol
I let each son have charge of the camera to help take pictures of their brother while I helped them make their bird houses. Joshua tended to focus so much on the actual hammering and other work that he continuously cut David out of his own pictures. lol David? Well, David is David and I am getting used to him and his lack of focus. With constant reminders from me of what he was supposed to be taking pictures of, he managed to get a few good ones in of Joshua working. I had to search for them though amongst all the pics of random people and things which included even a pretty good picture of my keys and lanyard laying across his boots. lol


It’s fun getting the camera back after the boys have been using it. It feels like I am getting a small glimpse into how they see their world. ^_^


Joshua’s View:

David’s View:

Love my two. lol ^_^

We have a new team member :)

David met a new doctor yesterday. His first GI doctor to be exact. The guy was great and so was the student he brought in that was shadowing him for the day. He came into the room already aware of David’s Autism and prepared for creatively handling the behaviors that are most common with David in a doctor’s office. That was nice to see happen and I can’t help but think Jordan (our primary care doc) had a lot to do with that.🙂   His student was even great with David and went along with the flow with great ease and skill. Even though David kept changing things up. lol

Best part though is we now have a plan in place to start trying to help David with his GI system. And it doesn’t involve meds as the doctor thankfully understood the barriers that have been making getting meds down David practically impossible (even hospital grade nurses couldn’t get meds in this kid and they tried every trick in the book). Glad to have this guy on our team.🙂