An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

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.:)

Not So Restful Rest

Thankful for rest. Thankful for kids to cuddle with. Even thankful said kids turned most of my nap into a tackle and play session. lol Life can be full of fun if you let it. Even if the moments come when you would rather be doing something else.😉

Boxes and Kids

The boys are finally discovering the joy and fun of an empty box!
Joshua turned his into a rocket ship and enjoyed an adventure out in space.
David? Well… he climbed in and enjoyed trying to roll over with the box. Giggling every time he caused it to tip and he came tumbling out. haha
Such huge differences with these two lol, but one thing that was the same was their huge smiles and contagious laughter. ^_^

A Child’s Surprise

My two sons’ surprises came in today! A beautiful bouquet of flowers with a feel of “wildflower picking” to them. ^_^ The florist did a great job creating an arrangement that looks like a young boy would put together if given the chance. Joshua was very pleased. ^_^ Joshua also had them add a balloon to the order.:)

Joshua's Mother's Day gift

From David came a beautiful new Ariel doll to add to my collection. The surprise behind all the mentions of “Ariel cookies” over the last few days. lol He was trying so hard to keep the secret and was flap happy about getting to surprise me with a gift. ^_^

David's Mother's Day gift

What precious boys I have. I am so truly blessed. Aside from the presents, I feel I have been gifted with the sweetest little boys ever.❤ My heart swells with happy tears when I think of how much thought they put into their gifts and how excited they were these last few days at the idea of surprising me with them.❤

The boys decided to be silly for their picture this time lol  They sure do make life fun ^_^

The boys decided to be silly for their picture this time lol They sure do make life fun ^_^



Mother’s Day 2016

Mother’s Day 2016
No breakfast in bed or cards to display
Just two sleepy heads and a “mommy I want to play”.
No special “I love you” or “Happy Mother’s Day” wishes
Just two little boys who still haven’t put up their dishes.
Powdered sugar everywhere
from a special breakfast I planned myself.
A stolen hug from my cuddle bears
while once again pulling them off the shelf.
Mother’s Day in our house is just another day
No big celebrations, or even recognition of the holiday.
I use echolalia to get a special wish from my sons.
I may never get one unprompted, but I still feel like I won.
You see, my kids may not understand
All the hype and the noise
But they love me all the same
And they’ll always be my special boys.
And thanks to some friends
and a Mom who understands
I still get remembered
and special gifts still get planned.
This year my mom worked with my boys
to surprise me with gifts that has them flapping with joy.
They may need help remembering why,
But seeing them so excited, brings a happy tear to my eye.
Mother’s Day 2016 is a day just like the last.
Just like most other Mother’s Days in the past.
Tomorrow is when the fun begins
As that’s when grandma’s packages from the boys come in. ^_^
All in all, my holidays may look different
than the ones celebrated by others
But I still find joy in the precious boys
who made me into a mother.❤
❤ Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there!❤

The Sky is No Longer the Limit

IMG_1681 -taggedSomething positive for the day:

My sons got to go for a ride on a real plane today.:) We stood in line for two hours for the chance which definitely wasn’t in the plans, but considering how huge a fan Joshua is of Dusty and planes in general, getting out of line was out of the question. lol It was worth it though as my boys truly enjoyed the experience and it’s not something I would have had the means to provide for them on my own. To help the line time go by, there was a magician there too that would come through and show different magic tricks and even had a dove that he let the children pet. Joshua got to hold it at one point too.:)

IMG_1672 -taggedSomething to be thankful for today:

I had checked ahead to make sure there would be a way for me to ride with the boys because I knew they couldn’t go up on their own. By the time we finally made it to the front of the line though, the extended standing on a bad ankle and with unreliable knees took it’s toll and I was unable to climb into the plane the boys were put into. I begged the pilot and the volunteer that was helping organize the rides to not take the boys off and for a chance to see if there was a teenager or adult who would be willing to take my place to keep an eye on the boys so they could still ride. When the situation was presented to the people that were still lined up inside the hangar, a father volunteered to take my place so the boys wouldn’t be forced to get off.  A true gift from God in my opinion.

IMG_1655 -taggedThe pictures from the plane ride are courtesy of my son Joshua.  He’s getting quite good with my camera.:)  As for the plane ride itself, this proves what I knew all along.  The sky may very well be the limit for some, but my boys were destined to rise above. ^_^

This was all made possible because of a local charity that works with at risk youth.  They put together this event to help raise awareness of their organization and to raise funds for their next project with the kids they help, building a plane!  You can learn more about them hear.  Go check them out.:)

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The pilot with the boys shouting, “We got to fly!” ^_^

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This is the magician that helped entertain the kids.  He had a fun variety of tricks to show them and was a definite hit.:)

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Here he is making Joshua’s dollar bill levitate!  Still can’t figure out how he did this one. lol  Joshua let the magician borrow his brand new, crisp dollar bill and almost started to cry when it was promptly wadded into a ball.  Then the magician let go and the bill stayed in the air!  Joshua got over the tears fast when he saw that and now treasures his wrinkly bill as it was the one that “was made to fly”.:)

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This is the magician’s pet dove that he let the kids pet.  Joshua even got to hold the pretty bird at one point.:)

This has definitely been a day filled with memories that will last a lifetime.❤





David in a Magazine

It’s here! An interview about David was turned into an article for my favorite magazine‘s April edition.:)  Click on the link below and check out the story that starts on page 20, “Rising Above: A Story of Embracing Life No Matter What” (you can click on it from the contents page to go straight to it.)  Feel free to share it and pass it around!  You can even download it so you can read it later if you want.  I also have gotten permission for the file to be taken to a print shop if any of you prefer your magazines to be hands on.:)   I know I will be printing a copy or two for our home and to share with some proud grandmas. ^_^

->-> Broken but Priceless the Magazine <-<-

On a side note, I am sad to say that the main site ( will be coming down in the next few days.  Our contract is up for renewal again and after much thought and deliberation, I have decided it isn’t a good use of budget anymore to keep the site up.  This is NOT the end of the Stripes and Puzzle Pieces family of sites (facebook, the blogs (1,2), and the youtube channel), just the end of the home base site for now.  I may decide to renew in the future and will let you know if I do.  Thank-you for understanding.  If anyone wants to write us, you can reach us through our facebook page, or by e-mailing us at


Unexpected Moments

David and I had another really rough night and I sent him to the bedroom to calm down and hopefully go to sleep. He couldn’t sleep but we shared a pretty precious moment together when I went in to check on him. We talked about all that’s going on and about how he misses Kansas and Grandma, Pilar, Caitlin, (even Gizmo lol), and Taco Shop. We cuddled together and I held him while helping dry his tears and share happy memories with him.
The best part though? Really two things: 1) he opened up to me and shared his feelings. Not a bunch of lines from various movies and shows. Not echoing scripts from past talks, or things he’s heard from others, or any trained responses. Real honest-to-goodness conversation with David that is getting so rare these days. Sure he still used robot jargon, but it was David talking to me finally. Not Phineas, not Sir Topham Hat, not some random quote from who knows what show or past conversation. That really meant a lot to me.
2) I started singing to him to help him rest as he curled up under the covers and snuggled close. I sang some old favorites from when he was little and then started in on one we learned from my hymns for beginners piano book. When I started that one, he peeked out from under the blanket and started singing it with me. We then continued to harmonize with each other for 3 or 4 more songs. It was the most beautiful thing this mommy’s heart could have heard.❤

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