An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

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. ❤

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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 ^_^

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Relaxed and Happy

img_4235-taggedWe took a slower pace for David’s birthday this year to help him stay calmer with the hopes of the violent overloads not showing up from too much stimulation. For the most part it worked which I am thankful. ^_^   It took us all day to open 4 presents and we didn’t get to the cake baking, but it was definitely easier on him than years past. 🙂
 
We enjoyed a birthday dinner at McDonald’s where we all ended up making a new friend with a lady who sat near us and Joshua struck up a conversation with. She was really sweet and we found out that all her children are grown now and she delighted to have the boys share their special day with her like they did. Well the feeling was mutual as David and Joshua truly enjoyed her smiles and willingness to share her time. 🙂
 
img_4243_taggedWe also attempted a quick run to the store because we ran out of milk only to find the store was out too.  What irony. lol   David enjoyed seeing his Walmart friends though and wanted to explore the store. Since he was doing better than usual at staying near me I granted his request and both boys enjoyed looking at sparkly rings, checking out the Christmas section, saying hi to their fish friends, and exploring the toy isle for things to play with.. We had one incident when he found a Boulder from Rescue Bots and I had to put my foot down and remind him we weren’t buying toys today. He worked himself up so much over that he ended up sending himself over the edge sensory wise. We worked through it though and his smile returned when a kind worker struck up a fun conversation with him and laughed at the jokes David attempted to share with him. ^_^
 
All in all, today was a slower pace, but a great birthday. David felt special all day and enjoyed many big smiles, some calls to and from his favorite people, and hours of relaxed play time. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday for him. ❤

Happy 9th Birthday David!

img_4206-taggedMy sweet precious David is officially 9 years old. ^_^ Oh how the time is flying by! This is him just after midnight with his first present of the day, his very own Michael W. Smith cd featuring his favorite song “You Won’t Let Go”.

Before the car ate my copy a few months back, David had me playing this cd pretty much daily. Sometimes several times a day. lol And when he was overwhelmed (even the times when he was reduced to punching himself 😥 from being so overwhelmed), it was this cd and song, set to repeat, that always calmed him down.

He’s been missing “his song” and was so happy when he opened this present. 🙂 And was even more excited when I told him this copy was officially his, not mommy’s. ^_^ (although he had to agree to let me take care of it until he’s capable of doing so himself). His OT and I are also working on ideas for how to make his music portable for him too so he’ll be able to listen to “his Michael” whenever and wherever he needs to. 🙂

From his first concert at 4 (we ended up listening from the lobby of the church because he couldn’t handle the crowds but he was sooo happy ^_^ ), to the countless hours of listening to Michael with Mommy, to the sweet hug I got when I brought him back his own hat from my last concert, to now having his very first CD of his own. The official start of his own collection. 🙂 I feel blessed to be able to share something this special with him. ❤

My sweet boy, may your birthday be filled with many more smiles like this one and many reasons to be excited and happy. ^_^ I love you David! ❤ ❤ ❤  Happy 9th birthday! 🙂

A Critter Filled Birthday Wish

I am very worn out but what we did today was well worth it. ^_^ I only wish I had not forgotten my camera. lol No pictures to share from our adventures, but memories I hope to be able to hold onto. ❤
 
David wanted to meet and hold a hamster for his birthday (the 6th) so while we were out after appointments we stopped in a few pet stores, one leading us to another for more great animal encounters. In the end, both boys got to hold a hamster, cuddle a guinea pig, pet a rat, snuggle up with a bunny, and meet and hold a chinchilla. They also said hi to all the fish, turtles, and birds. lol
 
I so adore these two precious boys I have been blessed with. Gives life a little more warmth, a lot more adventure, and a chance to see through a child’s eyes once more. ❤

Brother’s Path

Joshua has finally gone through an official Autism and Developmental evaluation. He hasn’t had one since he was three and even then I was only given a summary, not the paperwork or specific diagnosis like I had gotten with David’s various evals over the years.
 
Today he came out with a diagnosis of Autism level 2 with communication delays level 1. From what I understood, in the old way of saying things that would be moderate Autism. That paired with his severe Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome led the doctor to advise us to seek SSI/disability status for him to provide us the funds needed to get him the extra equipment, supports, and services he needs. We are also recommended to look into ring splints to stabilize his fingers in hopes of taking down some of the barriers that have made it near impossible for him to write or make progress in his handwriting skills.
 
The road ahead is going to get bumpy, but it’s nice to finally have a defined path to help guide us in helping my youngest along. 🙂

Have Book, Will Travel

After a couple months of increased doctor/therapy appointments for the boys and increased outings and field trip opportunities for school, I got hit hard with another round of weakness which led to getting pretty sick.  I guess the feeling of finally being strong and stable again after so long got the best of me and I ended up over doing it.  Currently I am still trying to bounce back again from an illness that held on for 2 and a half weeks. Seems I am weak more often than I am strong these days. Definitely not something I am used to, which is why I keep overdoing it on accident when I finally start getting strong again. I am trying to adjust to the new reality and am slowly but surely succeeding.

In the mean time, the boys have finally caught a love for reading and for hearing stories read to them beyond the basic board book or stories that just simply retell their favorite movies.  The mom and teacher in me are both shouting for joy over this new development. ^_^    I have jumped on this new love of theirs and have started introducing to them to what I like to call “traveling through books”.  We’ve explored abandoned islands, lived out of an old box car on a forgotten track, traveled across the country with Alice Ramsey on her pursuit to be the first to drive across America, explored galaxies in outer space, hid nervously in our tents while a bear rummaged through our camp in the woods, rode along with firefighters as they went to put out forest fires, helped a detective solve his case, and so much more.  Oh the adventures that can be had when reading a good book and all from the comfort of the bed, living room floor, or the all time favorite couch.:)

Our most recent reading adventures took us to China and Japan as we explored their cultures and learned about their Moon Festival, which turns out to be the Asian version of Thanksgiving. I thought that was pretty neat. 🙂  We read about the legends of the Jade Palace on the moon and those who live there and the boys and I even picked up a few Japanese words. We are working on learning more but so far only two are successfully sticking in our memories. lol  We also watched videos on-line to accompany the stories we were learning and got to see some amazing dragon dancing ceremonies, lion parades, and other celebrations.

I am looking forward to incorporating some of the crafts as well that we discovered in one of the library books on Japan, but will have to pace it out based on my energy.  No more overdoing it for me. lol  I don’t like being down for the count due to something I could have prevented if I had just been more careful. 😉

What kind of adventures have books taken you on recently?  We would love to hear about it in the comments and if you have a book you would like to recommend, please tell us!  It might just become our next adventure. 🙂  The boys send their excited squeals of delight in advance as a thank-you. 😉