riding-the-horsie, originally uploaded by Sara J. Smalley.

Here he is with his skills trainer. She is trained in ABA and wonderful!!

First day of school ...

well it was more of a preview while mom enrolled Hekili type of deal. His skills trainer Sara went with us and they played while I took care of business. It was nice to see the director there. She used to be Hekili's Gymboree teacher when he was much younger. So her and I discussed a few things that I would love to do to raise awareness in the school. I want to have my Autism Awareness cards readily available. I am also going to be speaking with the staff to give them insight on early detection.

I really want to be a support system for other parents who are taking a new journey through this world of Autism. I want them to know that they are not alone and that even though it is scary there is so much more help out there than what is presented.

I will keep an update on his preschool adventures!!

Proud Mama


Hekili2, originally uploaded by Sara J. Smalley.

His avoiding eye contact transfers even to my camera. He looks at the camera about as often as he makes eye contact with people. It is interesting!!

look at me...

Hekili1, originally uploaded by Sara J. Smalley.

It is a task to get him to look at the camera. As he avoids eye contact he avoids looking directly at the camera as much as possible. I wonder if he is like me. I get uncomfortable looking people in the eyes when it gets too serious or when I am not comfortable with them. I know he is comfortable with me and his family but the eye contact is , well I don't really know how to explain it. I hope one day he can explain it to me.

He lights up my world

Hekili, originally uploaded by Sara J. Smalley.

He helps me to see thing differently I see the little quirks that I have because of him. He taught me the meaning of unconditional love.

Happy Thanksgiving...

I know I know, I am late on this but better late than never right? I just wanted to send out holiday wishes to everyone!!


The journaling speaks for itself. My son is very affectionate and loving. He is my hero!! I am stronger because of him. I wanted to share another side to my son.

Autism/Hyperlexia/ABA Therapy Video

My Beautiful Son (Autism/Hyperlexia/ABA Therapy) from Sara Smalley

ABA Therapy

So many people have questions about ABA therapy so I will be posting a video to show what it is like. I personally love ABA and think it works wonders. Please stay tuned for it.

Been absent

I have been absent for awhile. I am back though. With prepping for the IEP tomorrow and a death in the family I have been consumed. I have also been trying to get my business back off the ground.

Here are a few updates on Hekili. He has been using much more words and socializing a little more. He still requires prompts at times but he has been having more spontaneous socialization. He initiates affection with his sister, cousin, and aunt. It is so wonderful to see him do these things.

I also wanted to show parents who question ABA what it is like. I will be uploading a video clip I took today during Hekili's session. I am also using it tomorrow for the IEP. Wish us luck!!!

He is so smart!!!

Hekili is so smart it amazes me. He not only reads hundreds of words, he also knows the first letter of words you ask him. He is also learning to sound out words so if he doesn't know it but it looks similar to another he says it how he knows best. He is 3 years old and I never imagined he would be so advanced for his age. Autism has not hindered his academics at all. In fact Autism has opened up a whole new learning curve.

He counts backwards from 20 which is very cute. He likes numbers but not as much as letters and words. I wonder if he will be a writer when he grows up. Hyperlexia is not a word I was familiar with until his diagnosis. I should have known since he started reading at 14 months of age. His PED said he was just advanced and I should get him into preschool early. She had no idea that it was related to Hyperlexia. She doesn't know much about Autism at all.

Which leads me to warn parents. If you feel that your doctor is not knowledgeable about autism or anything else for that matter don't hesitate to find another doctor. His PED thinks that Hekili is rare in his cognitive ability. He is not. Autism does not mean retardation. This is a common misconception, that sadly even the so called smart doctors conceive. That is a whole different post though.

Beautiful Son

I watched a documentary last night titled "Beautiful Son" by Don and Julianne King. This documentary featured their son Beau who has high functioning autism. I sat down and watched the movie and started to cry. This beautiful boy was so much like my very own son who was at home with his father at the time. To see another child who mirrors the everyday actions of your own child was eye opening. My son makes the same faces and put toys and books up to the corner of his eyes just as their son does. My son loves the water and their son is like a fish. I learned a lot from this documentary.

It also prompted me to start a poll. Hekili had chronic ear infections when he was younger along with what seemed like colds every month or so. My PED said it was normal but it never felt normal to me to see my child sick all the time. He was sick all too often. So I asked many other parents in my other autism groups and many of them (more than half) said that their children also had chronic ear infections and got sick all too often. So now my question is ... has this been studied? Are the PEDS communicating enough with each other to see a correlation?

I would be interested to hear what everyone else thinks or their experiences.


New Behavior

My son has recently started asking for anything that isn't in front of him when I am paying attention to my newborn daughter. I didn't put it together at first then I realized he really likes his one on one ABA sessions and wants more one on one time. So next time your child keeps asking for things every 2 minutes take time to read a book to them. It helped calm my son down enough for me to take care of his sister.

More Early Signs

Here are a few more things to be aware of.

Loss of the following ...
-Eye Contact

Doing the following ...
-Stimming aka handflapping, finger flicking, and verbal stimming
-Squinting eyes to watch objects fall
-Watching from corner of the eye
-Sensory issues like licking, tasting, rubbing, pressing hard with face or chin, disliking textures of food or objects.
-Unwilling to try new foods
-Fearless and unaware of dangers

There are tons more that I will be adding as I get my list sorted. Thanks again!!


Ok let's talk meltdowns. Hekili usually doesn't have them too often and I can usually redirect his attention. This morning was a rare case. We went to an unfamiliar setting to eat breakfast and he wasn't done watching his Elmo show in the car. Many parents will tell you that if you take away something that reinforcing most children cry ... my child cried and was not able to console him. He wanted to leave the restaurant. We got the looks of shock like why don't you quiet your child. There was one couple however that was looking with an understanding and genuine empathy. We spoke and I found that they were able to relate to my story of this morning.

It is nice to meet people who understand and don't judge you or your child. It felt good to know that there was someone in the room of people who were not telling their family members what they would do if it were their child. Another reason I am on the mission to bring on more awareness. I really need to start carrying those Autism cards around with me. I should put this blog on it in the hopes that people will come here to get a better understanding.

Autism meltdowns can be hard to deal with. I know a lot of parents give in to what the child wants and I find myself doing the same. This only reinforces their behavior. So instead I tried to redirect him by tickling. That failed but he started to scratch and said scratch. I gently ran my finger tips down his arms and said scratch. It calmed him down almost immediately. I think that sensory has a lot more to do with the meltdowns than even I had been aware of.

So for other who do have children with Autism and face meltdowns, please share your experience and what has worked for you.

Early Signs ...

I wanted to share a visual version of an early sign of Autism. As many parents who have children with Autism will tell ... the children like to line things up. My son lines up everything from rocks to stuffed animals. Everything he lines up has to be facing the same way also. I never knew this was a sign but when he obsesses over lining up the toys instead of functional play , you have to start asking yourself if it is possibly a sign.

Any Questions So Far?

If any one has any questions for me please ask here. I will try my best to answer to the best of my capability. Thank you for your time.

Here is a small compilation of photos. This is a series I am doing to show a visual of what goes on in the life of a child with Autism.

I will post bigger individual photos to show some characteristics of Autism.


Hekili had his visit today. I have to say I was rather pleased at the progress he has made. For those who are curious how Hekili has made his progress I shall share what we do.
We use ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Therapy. This is a form of intense one on one therapy. It consists of teaching your child how to use their language. The skills trainer/therapist becomes the giver of all good things. They use highly motivating reinforcer to get the child to work with them. We all know that when a child(any be NT or special needs) that they will not do things they don't find interesting. Especially at the toddler age.

I will share an example. My son loves his Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals.He would like them up every chance he got. So we used this as his reinforcer. We would have him start slowly and use one word to ask for what he wanted, which was the stuffed animals. he knows their names so we would have him say Pooh and so on. Then it was want Pooh. Then I want Pooh. You get the idea. Now that he understands what "I WANT" means, he says it for everything. All day I hear "I want outside, I want drinking, I want bath,".

So at his visit today the DR. recognized that he went from hardly any communication to tons in a matter of a couple of months. I was pleased to hear this. I encourage any of you to at least look into ABA if you haven't already done so. It is pricey as many will tell you. Find out from your state who would cover this type of therapy. I know some it is the DOE and in others it is insurance or regional centers.

Raising Autism Awareness

Hello everyone,

My name is Sara Smalley and I started this blog for a few reasons. I would like to raise Autism Awareness even if just one person at a time. This has become a mission of mine ever since my son was diagnosed with Autism early this year. Through our journey thus far I have seen that there is a lack of awareness and many people don't really understand what Autism is. I hope to be able to help those who want to educate themselves and other parents who are on the journey also.

I will try my best to get as much information and resources for my readers. Please stay posted for more information and photos also.