Preparations for Bill's arrival!


Natalie just finished this large portrait of Bill on a piece of paper. I'm going to place it on the fireplace shelf, next to the Welcome sign. Yay!! We're having lots of fun over here. The kids are waiting for their beloved brother Miro who came back from college. He's planning to visit us today. Bill is on his way back home already, he arrives tomorrow. We're all so excited!

Also, a friend suggested that I place a Facebook 'like' button on this blog so I just did it. See the little "Become a fan" icon on the sidebar. I hope that I did it right. If you click on that little like button I will see it as you sending me a hug. Right now I'm seeing that I have received 3 hugs. Thank you!! I love hugs :)

See you later!

I hear Miro arriving!!!!!!!

Natalie's revolutionary music composition method :o

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What you see in the picture is a song composed by Natalie for the piano. She's been playing it since early thins morning. Bill offered to teach her how to write music the traditional way but Natalie refused the offer. The reason is that she already came out with her own method. The best part of this method is that only Natalie can understand it, that makes it copyright proof. 

As you can see Natalie's method consists in two simple principles:

1.Use the numbers 1,2,3 and 4. (The number 5 that you spot in there was a mistake according to Natalie).

2.Use the word low.

Now, if I could only understand how the combination of these elements produce music I would consider myself very smart. I asked Natalie to explain me how to read her music and she said: look, it's very easy: 3,1,4 low, 3, 2... 

The most important thing after all is that Natalie composed this song for her Grandma Joan who's turning 80 today! Isn't this a very special present?

Happy birthday Joan! Please enjoy Natalie's beautiful music, she composed it with lots of love for you. Enjoy your special day!

Elsita, Bill, Miro, Natalie and Diego :)


If you Believe in Magic, Magic will Happen!

I came running from Diego's school to share something wonderful with you. Something magic just happened! Here is the story:

I religiously spend about 25-30 minutes in Diego's school playground every single morning, from Monday to Friday. I have been doing this since Diego was in Kindergarten. By keeping this routine Diego is consistently exposed to an environment where he can get social clues about how children interact in a spontaneous dynamic. My hope has been that one day he will learn how to connect with other children on his own, without the participation of adults. I believe that adult help is key for Autistic children (which Diego has all the time) but I also believe that it's a positive thing to give Diego the freedom to figure things out on his own, from experience.

Diego is able to engage in play with children from his class and from his social skills group. But when he's in a situation where he doesn't know the children, then he never initiates a play and he doesn't follow kids that want to interact with him neither. That's what I see every morning in the playground. Non of the children from his class go to the playground, for various reasons, so he's there on his own.

Every morning when we arrive in the playground he has the same routine. He walks in circles around the playground. Then he runs following the same path and then he goes up to a little bridge and jumps over and over again. He loves doing that. But he does all of this alone while all the rest of the children are engaged in their own games. There was a time when I actively tried to help him connect with other children but it didn't work so I decided to trust the fact that Diego is a good learned. I think that in order to learn you need some space so I did that.

Sometimes, just to get an idea of how Diego is feelings I ask: Sweetie, do you like the playground? Do you like the kids in the playground? Do you want to keep going there in the morning? His answer has always been YES. But if you see how disconnected he looks from the children in the playground you would imagine that he's not happy over there. The thing is that I had to learn how to see beyond my eyes. 

Well, today is the day that I have been waiting for!! It was a normal day, he was doing the usual thing. I was talking with other mothers when suddenly Diego comes running to me. Two adorable smaller kids were having fun chasing him. Diego hugged me and with a mix of excitement and confusion, like expecting some kind of clarification he said: Mom! Those kids are chasing me!! I have been so ready for this moment that I immediately said: That is sooo cool!!! Go ahead and have fun chasing them now! Go! Go! They're waiting for you! So he did it. He started chasing the kids, they were laughing and having so much fun. Then they went to the slide and started playing together and taking turns. Then they run again...For a few minutes Diego was one more kid in the playground, having fun, sweating, smiling, his face was read. His body and mind were 100% activated.

I have visualized this scene in my mind so many times! And today it became real. This seems to be such a small thing but it was HUGE for me! It was a milestone. This is the first time that Diego engages in a play with other kids totally on his own, outside the group of children that he's familiar with. It's too bad that I didn't have a camera to take a picture. His face was so radiant! He was so happy!! I know that this is just the beginning of a long road.

Here is what I learned from this experience:

*Follow your instincts and always do what feels right.

*Have hope.

*Be extremely patient and consistent.

*Don't give up.

*Belive in magic and magic will happen.

*Visualize your dreams as if they were real.

*Be ready for what you want so you know what to do when it happens.

*Don't ever believe that idea that Autistic children prefer to be on their own. They do want to belong, they want to have friends, they want to be accepted and they want to have fun. They just don't know how to do it naturally. They don't "prefer" to be on their own, that's what they do because it's just easier or because they have been so affected by their unsuccessful attemps that they decided to give up trying. But very deep within, every Autistic child wants the same things that neurotypical children want.

Much love!

Elsita :)




My Precious Daughter.

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I can't believe that Natalie is turning 9 years old today. I still remember every detail from the day when she was born. My tiny premature baby has become one of the most special people that I know. I feel extremely honored to be her Mom. Natalie was born way before the due date. She was so ready to come out that the Dr. couldn't make it to the hospital on time. She was so pretty and vibrant. Bill held her in one of his hands, I couldn't believe how small she was and how pretty.

Natalie is a sponge, she captures everything from life around her. And she wants to learn on her own. I have never felt like a teacher to Natalie, I feel more like her student. As a Mom all I do is to make sure that she knows how much I lover her and how amazing I think she is. 

I know that my girl will be doing great things with her talents in the future. Time is going fast, we only get to have her with us for 9 more years. At 18 Natalie will be ready to fly away and find her own voice in the world. In the meantime I want to enjoy her presence as much as possible and I want to learn from her as much as possible.

Happy Birthday Natalie!


Mom :)

Much love to all the Moms in the world!

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Today I want to send a big hug to all the mothers out there in the world, specially to my Mom Margot. She has been the first most important person in my life since I was born. My Mom is a real inspiration to me. She raised 4 children on her own with absolutely no help. Mom worked in the most awful jobs in order to support her family. She never had the chance to go to school. She didn't graduate from anything but she became a Master o life.

My Mom has gone further than most people who lived under similar circumstances. When she moved to the USA she immediately learned how to drive, how to use a computer and other things that have helped her become 100% independent. She has always been open to learning anything that could be good for her. That interest in learning was one of the most important things that she taught her children.

My Mom is a fighter and a believer in justice. She feels people's pain as her own and she helps everyone around her. Mom had to struggle her whole life raising a severe Schizophrenic daughter (my sister Ileana). She went through the pain of seeing her child in the hospital all the time, very close to losing her life. But that didn't kill her positivism and drive. 

I could write a whole book about my Mom but with this post I just wanted to say: Un millon de gracias Mami por ser una inspiracion para tus hijos!

Con mucho amor!

Elsita :)


Diego's Progress. From 2009 to 2012.

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Dear friend,

Three years ago I wrote this post about Diego's progress. He was four years old back then. Very soon our boy is going to turn seven. It's amazing how fast time flies. Diego has gone through an amazing transformation in the last few years. His progress has gone way beyond our expectations. He's a boy full of personality and ideas and great energy. There is still a long way to go but I have no doubts that his future will be a bright one. 

To all the parents with recently diagnosed Autistic children out there here is a little message: be patient, be positive and get as much help as possible. But most of all, be patient. Great things will happen little by little.

Here is a list of things that Diego can do now. 

1. Now he can make his own jokes. Before he couldn't understand humor.

2. He plays creatively and invents clever words. The other day he put together a pair of scissors and a miniature plastic sword that I have in my studio then he said: Look Mom! My super instrument! It's called a A SCISS-SWORD!

3. When someone gets physically hurt he spontaneously says: ARE YOU OK?! Before, he didn't care much about other people's feelings.

4. From not having language he now doesn't know how to stop talking. Diego has a lot to say now, all the time.

5. He likes to create stories and illustrate them as well. He has a huge imagination.

6. Sometimes he writes notes to me, mainly to apologize for something that he did wrong. Here is what he wrote the other day when I was about to lose my patience: Mom, I am sorry for driving you crazy. Sincerely. What a woman!

7. Whenever he does something wrong he says: I am so sorry.

8. Even though he still does a little bit of scripting (repeating sentences taken from movies, books etc.) most of the times his speech is coherent and it makes sense.

9. He is much better at expressing his feelings. 

10. He knows what he wants most of the times so he asks for it in a proper manner.

11. He's much better at transitioning from one activity to another.

12. He has a lot more eye contact than before, with new people and people that he already knows.

13. He initiates games with Natalie. Before, he never, ever, started any game.

14. He is much better at following directions.

15. His fine motor skills are so much better now. Diego can build complicated things with blocks and other objects.

16. His reading/comprehension skills are now ahead of his age. Diego reads for personal pleasure at night and he also likes Bill and I to read stories to him often.

18. He had his first "official" play date recently. It was an invitation from a boy that goes to social skills therapy with him. This boy invited Diego and another boy to his house. Under the boy's grandma's supervision they played, watched a movie and ate pizza. 

19. He recently told me that one day, when he grows up, he wants to drive a car.

20. Some of the professions that he's interested in so far are: artist, comedian, astronaut, inventor, chef and ice cream seller.

Diego is such a great teacher to me. I have learned more from him in the last few years than from all the books that I have read in my life. Here is the main lesson that I have learned from him:

1. Be happy being exactly who you are.

Diego loves being Diego from the time he wakes up to the time when he goes to bed. He often says: I love my life. That doesn't mean that his life is easy at all, the opposite. He has to work harder than most children. He has to deal with frustrations more often than most children. But his energy is always focused on the brighter side of the street. 

I love my Girl. She's an old soul.

  Natalie's note

It amazes me how mature Natalie if for her age (only 8). I love it when she's able to express her own frustrations and find a positive way out of them. She wrote this note because one of her good friends has been absent from school for a couple of days. Natalie misses her a lot. 

It's been a hard time for me as well because I miss Billy (Natalie's Dad) who has been traveling a lot. Bill makes great jokes just like Camille. As you can imagine it's hard not having Bill's jokes in my life ;). But as Natalie said: we have to live life forward and not backwards. Meaning that she's going to see her friend again soon and I am going to see Bill soon as well. Looking forward to the future is good.

I hope that you have a nice and peacefull weekend.

Elsita :)


Diego's Homework.

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Diego can write really nicely. Sometimes it is so perfect that it looks like an adult writing. BUT when he gets hit by inspiration magic things happen :)


Happy Holidays from the Horbergs!

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Today my main mission was taking a picture of Natalie and Diego in order to send it to family and friends for the Holidays. I asked Diego to put on his "fancy" jacket and he said: But my jacket is only for when I get married! Meaning that he only wears his jacket for parties, including weddings. I told him that taking this picture was going to be even better than getting married so he said: OK Mom.

We went to the garden and Diego started laughing and laughing because I said that he needed to be happy for the picture. It was contagious so Natalie and I started laughing as well. I could hardly hold the camera but fortunately I was able to take these four photos. The whole thing took about 2 minutes but it was sooo much fun!!!

So here is for you my friend and for all our relatives these pictures that I think capture the essence of how we feel right now. This has been a difficult year but also a year for growth and love. We're looking forward to the future. Wishing you and your family all the best from the bottom of our hearts!

The Horbergs :) 

Bill, Elsa, Miro, Natalie and Diego.

(I still have the mission to take a picture that includes Miro as well, but he got a Winter job so today he's working. I will have a new photographic session when he's home with us. Miro is now A LOT taller than his own Dad, very soon he will be 20!!! :)

Natalie's Wish List for Christmas .

Natalie's christmas list 2011


I sneaked into my studio for a second to scan this letter. I really wanted to share it with you :) We're going to "mail" it to Santa Claus in a few minutes. Natalie still believes that Santa is real. I sent this letter to Bill at work so he can try to get these presents for her. We already have many special ones but I know that she will be excited if she gets what she wants. Natalie is 100% into reading right now, she's reading more complex books and we're supporting her choices. That makes me so extremely happy. Reading develops an interior world in kids that later on helps them look at life with wiser eyes. And a red dress in childhood is something that every girl will remember years later when she's an adult :)

Happy Holidays!

Elsita :)