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32 Weeks, Conveniently

PrePreschool

Ages and ages ago, I remember reading someone else's blog post about their child starting preschool. And it was boring! Preschool! It happens! Your kid is too big to cuddle now anyway! Send 'em off, ship 'em out, I have no time for your hand-wringing and hair-biting!

Noah starts preschool on Monday.

*shoves hair in mouth*

We went to drop off another stack of forms and oh, I don't even know how many dollars today and were told we could go meet his teacher.

Noah shyly walked around the room, played with a toy cash register and some puzzles, eagerly selected a moon-shaped sticker from a proffered baggie and recited a fairly impressive soliloquy from Blue's Clues while investigating a toy baby bassinet. ("Cinnamon! He looks like a Cinnamon. What a great name! Paprika, you just named your baby brother!") (We've been watching "The Baby's Here!" episode quite a bit, for obvious reasons.)

Then Noah spotted a pile of posters on the floor -- shapes, colors, numbers, all waiting to be be hung up. "An octagon!" he shouted. "Stop sign is octagon."

He moved on to the next poster, which was about counting to four. "Five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten!" he finished.

His teacher raised an eyebrow and looked at me. I jokingly thanked Noah for making me look good.

(Confidential to Steve from Blue's Clues: THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME LOOK GOOD.)

***
Just an hour or so before, we randomly bumped into one of the Early Intervention/Kids At Play moms at our pediatrician's office. We didn't have much time to talk -- she was there with her brand-new-as-of-THURSDAY baby, looking exhausted and overwhelmed. We promised to get back in touch and finally plan that playdate we've been talking about for months and months now. She headed off to meet with the lactation consultant, I went to go get my forms certifying that my child is not pulsing with lead and infectious diseases.

I'd dutifully filled out my required sections of the forms, occasionally stymied by the questions about Noah's development.

"THINGS I AM WORKING ON WITH MY CHILD."

"MY CHILD WILL NEED HELP WITH THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES."

I attended the panel at BlogHer for special-needs parents, although I almost skipped it, fearing that I would be viewed as some kind of tourist. Hadn't we gotten the all-clear from our EI program? Didn't I have a stack of test results proving that my child was speaking at a normal and age-appropriate level? Wasn't that chapter of our lives over and done with?

Well, yes. And no.

Noah graduated from EI on the basis of speech, and speech alone. I didn't realize that by dropping our (awful terrible grr hate smash) occupational therapist and opting to work on his sensory issues in a group setting only, I was essentially telling the county that I was no longer concerned with those "other" problems.

Noah still has a pretty pronounced oral aversion. He cannot use a fork or a spoon or drink from a cup. If he likes a food, he'll stuff his mouth until he chokes. If he dislikes something, he can't even bear to touch it to his lips. He is the most physically cautious almost-three-year-old boy you will ever meet. He will go down THAT kind of slide but not THAT kind. He hates messes and still lines up toys. The test scores indicate a child who is speaking and articulating appropriately. The average trip to the playground indicates the exact opposite. Sure, he's not silent. But his social language is still mostly roars and amusing sound effects. He's very, very hard to understand. Countless times people have looked to me for a translation and all I can offer is a shrug. Certain triggers send him into a frightened, overwhelmed state that I can only describe as a toddler-sized panic attack.

He is, to put it mildly and spare you a million other humdrum details, a quirky kid.

And I mentioned this to other bloggers who have kids in EI or on the spectrum or undergoing developmental assessments. And, bless them, they all GOT IT. The constant waffling between "he's fine, that's just who he is, embrace it already," and "will his life be made harder because of this, and should I be doing something about it?"  And that's where we are, muddling through. Thrilled to be officially past the label stage of speech delays and SID/SPD, but also at a loss, because now how do we explain Noah and his needs without falling back on labels that maybe don't apply?  "Child had speech delay, is all better now, hooray!"

I wrote a lot of neurotic-sounding nonsense on Noah's preschool forms. Overprotective and overused crap about "transitions" and "overwhelmed easily in noisy areas" and "dread fear of fingerpaints." I wrote it because I worried I'd be doing Noah a disservice to pretend that side of him didn't still exist.

His teacher will read all of that later this week, I guess.

But...I hope she mostly remembers that Noah is the kid who knew what an octagon was.

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Noah and his very own photo of Baby Brother. He says he loves Baby Brother. He also says he loves windmills, chocolate, his SpongeBob soap dispenser, helichoppers and Olympic synchronized diving.

Comments

Jen

Yay, Noah!

Yew Nork Babe

I'm so happy for you. He's doing great.

Jen

Whoa, I was first? That never happens!

b

I do the waffle with my "quirky" kid. Mostly I know she's fine because she is fine when I am not around. But then I freak out about what emotional damaged I caused her as an infant. After all, she will swing on a swing at preschool, but run for the hills dare I suggest it. This part of parenting sucks.

nonsoccermom

Yay for Noah starting preschool!! I'm sure he'll do great. Good luck!

Oh, and I FEEL YOU on the cost. OH MY GOD, my oldest starts public kindergarten next week and I cannot WAIT to get out from under the cost of preschool.

Michele

I'm with Noah - we're all over the Synchronized Diving here. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, the Olympics might as well be over now.

Oh, we love chocolate, too!

tuesday

Sounds like he is doing great and will continue to do so with you in his corner.

Hope

I love that episode of Blues Clues.

Gillian

In this picture, Noah looks EXACTLY like you.

Kelly

I have a quirky kid who had speech issues. We're muddling through too, but he's mostly a happy 2nd grader now. We deal with things that pop up occasionally, but we get through it. You and Noah will too.

And those pictures of him loving on his baby brother? Too freaking cute.

Kristy

Those are some of the most precious pictures I've ever seen.

Missie

When Noah is about five, and Baby Tivo is hitting his stride in the terrible twos, you will have to pull out these pics to remind yourself that once, peace did reign on earth.

Stephanie

Oh my god... hugging and kissing Baby Brother?! Too cute!

Ramona

He's *hugging* and *kissing* the picture of his baby brother! Oh my stars. How flipping adorable is THAT?

Thanks for sharing your preschool story!

Issa

Just wait till he stays all day long at school. I always thought people were insane, but I did cry last week as my baby went to preschool. Then again, I'm 4 weeks away from a new baby, so I get to start over. Maybe that's why the crazy Arkansas lady has 18 kids?

My oldest has ADHD and while it's not the same, I do find myself hoping that people see the whole Maya, not just the ADHD symptoms. I hope they see the whole Noah.

Jezer

As a mom fresh from First Day at Preschool Pick-up, I can assure you that yes, she/they WILL see The Boy Who Knew An Octagon and much, much more.

My hope in Early Childhood Education was renewed today. In any preschool worth its salt, the teachers just love kids. Period. Noah's teachers will love him and they'll grow to recognize and understand all of the nuances of his personality almost as well as you do. They'll work with his strengths and help him around his fears.

How could they not love that boy?

Kyla

KayTar will be in the PPCD program starting next week and even I feel like this sometimes. She is 3 and she has been READING for a year...I feel like a dumbass saying she is in special ed, KWIM? But there it is. She's smart, but she's different. Or she's smart BECAUSE she's different. But the bottom line is, the differences are part of her and we have to help people see the whole package. You're doing great with him.

Middle-Aged-Woman

If Noah's pre-school employs certified teachers (our state doesn't require it, but many are anyway), they will appreciate talking to you a little bit before hand, but will also want to get to know him on his own. Remember, he will act differently when you are around. All kids do. The best thing that can happen for you is to see a good teacher as part of your three-person team, including you and Noah.

I hope this doesn't come across wrong, but the most important thing for you is to let any issues be Noah's issues. They are not an indictment of you as a parent, just something a lot of kids go through, and he'll turn out just fine. This is said through the experience of raising my own two and teaching hundreds of others.

meghan

I love all of those things too!

Starbuck

Kissing baby TiVo? That is so sweet!

Becca

My GAWD he is cute. Look at him snuggle that pic of baby brother! I imagine you and he spooning little orange Tivo baby's pictures together...
I'm thoroughly impressed by the octagon and the counting and the approaching the classroom with enough confidence to look around and play and talk about things. Amy, he's doing great, quirky and all.

Alicia

Wow preschool, so exciting!! I am sure the teacher will defiantly remember the impressive octagon recognizing skills! who wouldn't remember that!

He sounds like he is doing great! And so are you

MMM

So sweet!

Susan

OMG! Helichoppers?:) And kissing the baby picture? How adorable is he!

Sensibly Sassy

It's already time for pre-school?!??!
Oh and Noah I heart synchronized diving too!

alison

Noah is his own little person and that's all there is to it. Sounds like he's a smart little guy too! :) You're doing a great job advocating for him and his preschool teacher will appreciate the time you spent filling out the forms.

kc

Cute. That's great. :)

warcrygirl

What, no love for Michael Phelps? That's okay, I have enough love for him for the both of us. I don't think the county can just drop Noah like a hot potato; if the preschool thinks he needs more help they will have to provide it.

Lisa

Noah is just beautiful. And as the mom of a "quirky" 8 year old, I can tell you it's difficult and challenging - I joke that I shouldn't have had him first - I needed an eay "practice" kid! But I can tell you that after SEVEN years of only-childhood, he LOVES his 11-month-old brother like crazy. To the point of giving ME parenting tips. So hang in there!

ali

I'm marking Noah down on my "excellent taste" list: synchronized diving is the BEST.

Channah @ Get a Grip, Mom!

Aww, kissing the picture of his baby brother!

And Noah will do great, because he's got your support.

Salome Ellen

Too lazy to go back and check the archives.. You DO have the "Quirky Kids" book, right? I love anything Perri Klass authors or co-authors.

Wendy

I think you were right to list all those things. Like you said, yes, he's been cleared from EI, but there are still some quirks. It's best that the teacher know ahead of time.

And we all worry when we first send them to school. He'll probably be different at school, especially if he's worried about whether or not the teacher will accept it.

My Noah doesn't have any developmental issues or anything, but I know there are certain things he does at home because he knows that's what he's always done. And when he's not here he, doesn't do it. For example, he wants me to do *everything* for him, but at school he's very independent.

Good luck! And please take lots of pictures for us.

PS. I sure hope he still feels the same after Baby Brother comes out.

Snarky Amber

Noah and I should hang out, cuz we're totally into all the same stuff!

FWIW, I think it's completely normal behavior on your part to waffle between acceptance and concern. Both are borne out of love.

Kia (good enough mama)

Oh, he's gorgeous! And intelligent! And quirky. So what?! :) I too have a kid with SPD/SID and I too have more questions than answers about how to handle the school business. We're in the middle of a puzzle ourselves with teachers we like and teachers we don't, etc.... It's so hard to know when to speak out on our kids' behalf and when to shut the hell up, isn't it? BLah. If only I didn't give a damn. Life would be wwwaaayyy easy.

anna

I know it's a weird way of putting it, but in a way, it's almost good that he still has trouble with social talking, because it means his memory of the first day of preschool will not be permanently tainted with the memory of fighting with the other Anna in the class over who can count higher, that Anna or my brother. (That Anna was a year older than me, so I didn't think it was fair to compare my counting skills to hers, so I used my brother, who at that point still counted to kill time. I never saw the point, because the numbers were there whether you counted them or just thought of the biggest number you knew and then looked up the name for the next biggest number.)

In conclusion, that is SO COOL he knows octagon already. Good luck with preschool!

MamaCass

My daughter exhibits similar a quirkiness, of her own variety. I feel ya...so hard to articulate on a form, when you really want someone to just see them for the cute loveable little one they are. Good luck with starting preschool. We are a year behind you, but dreading the day.

madge

Quirky is the word I used to describe my daughter until we started the EI process. Seven months later we are processing her PDD-NOS diagnosis. Anyone who meets her cannot believe she's on the Autism Spectrum.

I don't know which is more frustrating: A diagnosis you aren't sure fits or no services for a quirky kid.

Good luck at preschool, Big Boy!

Angella

I really do think he is brilliant. Maybe the speech is a similar hearing thing as to what we are dealing with?

But what do I know? I'm no doctor.

Kristen

I had a very similar preschool experience with my oldest, Annie. She did not "transition well", was the only kid to not climb the rock wall thingie, didn't make eye contact and would just repeat whatever someone asked her.

It scared the shit out of me.

I had a new baby, a tendency to go psychotic over the smallest of things and worried for a YEAR if this was the start of something realy bad.

She was just two.

Big hugs to Noah, and enjoy your mornings- it does get easier.

Kimmers

I think Noah is an incredible kid, and I'm sure that's what his new teacher took away from their first meeting. Good luck with his first day! I know he'll have a great one.

rachel beto

Show me a 3-year-old who speaks crystal-clear sentences and loves all preschool activities ever, and I'll show you my self-cleaning living room. I have a "normal" boy who is also particular about slides, breaks into hives around finger paints, and thinks "schling" is a letter in our alphabet. You know--the one right after "B?"

Redneck Mommy

With a great teacher, Noah will thrive. I remember marching Bug into preschool. I felt like I was sending a lamb off to slaughter. The poor kid was in diapers still for crying out loud and didn't have a lick of speech. I felt like the worst mother.

And that wasn't even taking into account all of his autistic tendencies. Oy.

But after the first couple of weeks, everyone (including Mom) adjusted and that year of preschool made all the difference in the world.

And I bet it will be the same with Noah.

Good luck!

Sherry

Thank you for the part about the waffling. We have twins, one of which went through EI for speech, and now recites the periodic table of elements for fun, and the other who didn't qualify for EI, but won't sit and have a conversation about anything much past Little Einsteins. People give us funny looks and it's hard. HARD. We don't understand her most times, we get frustrated and irritated and so does she because we can't communicate. But, with that said, she's been classified as "fine" and "quirky".

Thanks for getting it. Good luck on the first day of preschool.

sherry

I just needed to blame you for my death because that photo series of Noah hugging the picture of his baby brother has KILLED ME DEAD.

sheilah

Ohmygod!! I love the picture of him hugging BabyBrother's picture.

I think my ovaries just exploded.

amy

It might not matter, because all kids are different, but my Evan had similar issues. His main were cowering in a corner amidst any kind of noise/chaos, and a terrible fear of heights.

We did a little OT but without insurance dropped it. Other than the fact that he pinches and smells me for comfort, he has simply outgrown all his SI issues.

amy

Oh, Evan is almost 7 entering 1st grade, and did just fine in Kindergarten.

Chris

I come at a "quirky" child from the opposite end of where you are. When i married Rob, he came with a "quirky" child who didn't eat with utensils (she was 9). She would swing for hours on the backyard swing. She would spin and spin and spin. When she would get overstimulated, she would rub her face. She was very socially challenged.

However, that kid did so well in school that none of her teachers ever picked up on any of that stuff.

And at that time, unlike you, I didn't know all I know about Asperger's and different sensory challenges then.

I will just say this. She is now 20, well, almost 20, and in college and doing very well in school. Socially, she has been lucky enough to find a group of friends who find her "quirkiness' endearing. She still swings a lot more than any 20-year-old ever...it's just her mechanism to calm herself, I guess.

Just know this. Noah's teachers will most definitely remember he knew what an octagon was. and, I think, with you in his corner, acknowledging and continuing to work with the other issues, he will be fine.

S.A.

I work in EI, and I try to honor both.
The unique, adorable, quirky kid who is exactly who she/he is, and deserves to be loved just like that, while at the same time doing everything I can- in conjunction with parents, other therapists and teachers- to help smooth their path in life just as much as I can. Because they deserve that too.

With a mom like you, Noah has it in the bag.
He is so stinking cute it is really unfair.

Cynthia Samuels

This was amazing to read because of your care, wisdom and powers of observation. Noah is so lucky. As a veteran of LD intervention, I have three thoughts (best at the bottom):
1. Progress is progress. And good. It's good to fill out those forms w/appropriate levels of neurosis, but one caveat:
Sometimes teachers choose to read the forms AFTER they've had time with the child, so they "aren't biased in advance." That Happened to us once w/our LD kid and it was not helpful. SO maybe you want to speak briefly with the teacher - ask if she has that "read later" philosophy and let her know there are things she may want to be aware of from the get-go, just so she knows to take a look at the forms before Noah returns.
2. Noah's accomplishments (and an Octagon is pretty damned accomplished for such a new person) are worthy of the pride you feel. To an outsider too. I'm sure you know that. Things that are still difficult or that may affect his social experience are tough to think about but you again, I think, from my experience w/LD offspring, are not wrong to be thinking about them. And struggling to decide how to manage them.
3. The way he entered the classroom on your visit and engaged with the tools and toys is a great sign. No guarantee but that confidence -- walking away from Mom into the new environment -- is an accomplishment for both of you. It took a long time in our family.
OH and this is a gorgeous child, by the way. Comes from mom, from what I saw at BH.

Michelle

I vaguely remember preschool as being lots of free time for me to sit in a bean bag and play GeoSafari.

I hope it's as enjoyable for Noah!

Tracy

Meh. My daughter could give you an oral dissertation of her doctoral thesis when she was three, and I STILL had to translate for her. No - really - late in her 3rd year she was very very vocal, and clear - but 2 and early 3, people were always looking to me to translate. And I only knew what she said about half the time. SO - don't get down about that. The other things...meh...they'll work themselves out!

sam {temptingmama}

*squee* He is soooooo cute! LOVE him hugging BabyTivo. OMG.

As for his oral sensitivity, I really hope it passes and maybe eating with other children in a school setting, seeing them eat might help him realize that it's not going to kill him if it passes his lips.

Joanne

Like a previous commenter, my son has been found to be on the autism spectrum and no one that knows him can believe it (except me!). He started in a developmental preschool classroom this summer for an extended year and just started his school year last week.

Personally, (and this is just my experience) I think that kids that have speech delays have some ticky behavior as a result. I think sometimes the ticky behavior gets called PDD NOS SPD SID ASD, etc., etc., and it gets harder and harder to treat the original 'problem' of the speech delay. I think once we get back to the original problem, we will do better with our son and his issues.

BUT I am writing to say that he did so well in preschool, he had never been to anything like it before and he seems to really crave it. And also, his teacher and assistants this summer and this school year seem to really love him and want the best for him - just like his father and I do! So that has been a big relief. I tell them EVERYTHING about my son, I say that he only likes green beans from the can so he can drink the bean water. And that he likes mac and cheese but you have to shove the first forkful in his mouth to remind him that he likes it. I tell them all the weird things that he does and sometimes I say "I have no idea" when they ask me "What did he say?" I do not want to waste time judging myself or him when I could be making his life easier or better.

I hope it goes great for Noah, I know it will. Take lots of pictures! someone advised me and I was happy I did. It kept me busy and made a big fun deal of it and stopped me from crying!

Amalah

Cynthia -- thank you for that great, practical advice. I did mention (in person) that Noah had received therapy and attended special classes for his speech delay to the teacher, who was sweet and pleased to hear that we'd tackled the problem early.

I mentioned some of the more pronounced quirks that his Kids at Play teachers/therapists had noted (i.e., he WILL join circle time, but ONLY if he is allowed to wait until EVERY OTHER KID has sat down. THEN he will come sit on his own, but if you try to encourage him to join before he makes the decision he will freak out and scream and hide), since that seemed like it would be helpful for her to know.

So we'll see. Noah really loved that classroom (he loves ANYTHING that is obviously geared for little kids) and she seemed really laid-back about her expectations for behavior -- these are really little kids and school should be fun and not overwhelming. I don't think she'll be putting many demands on the class for the first few weeks while they all adjust, which sounds PERFECT for him. Fingers crossed.

MamaKaren

Having completed pre-school with my "quirky" child, I can say with a decent amount of confidence that the teachers will know the boy who identified the octagon. For every incident in which the teachers needed to account for a food aversion or a routine that must be performed (lest Lil Joe be forced to melt into a pile of shriekiness), there were plenty of times when the report at the end of the day was an account of how Joe managed to perfectly recreate every detail of the block sculpture that had collapsed, or how he recited everyone's birthday (after having asked for such information months earlier) or his stirring rendition of "Walking on Sunshine" during free play.

Jacquie

On behalf of preschool educators everywhere, thank you for your honesty. Hanging out with a bunch of other 3 year olds will probably help him a great deal - they are ALL quirky - we ALL have special needs. It is so much better for everyone when the parent opens up the discourse about what might and might not be going on with their own kid so we can work on common goals. I hope he has a blast!

Nikki

Yay, for you guys making it this far! Having absolutely no experience with preschool, I will just say good luck. Even though I have a feeling that Noah will be just fine. Even with the quirky traits!

moo

My speech delayed son also loves the synchro diving ... what is that?

I think he'll be fine. But it's scary to release him into the great unknown, isn't it?

Nancy R

I wanted to throw out another book suggestion - Hello Baby was a huge favorite around here.

stardust

Hi, I just started reading on your blog recently. I did not know you have a son who has speech delays too, same as mine until I read this post. My Vince started full day pre-school (childcare centre) when he turned 24-months-old but started calling us Mama, Papa and talking only when he turned 30-months-old!

I put him in full day childcare centre earlier because of his lack of speech development hoping he can pick up talking through interacting with teachers and other children. He is still on speech therapy but only goes once every few months to monitor his progress.

BOSSY

Sorry - did you say something? Bossy was eaten by the cute photos at the end.

Erica

As a teacher, I can tell you it's better to know all the information about each child. It's also really hard to assimilate all that information off of forms, so please don't be surprised or too overwhelmed if she needs to meet with you and talk it all out again at some point. Teachers have a really steep learning curve at the beginning of the year, we have to figure out a whole group of people in depth and with great insight and understanding and love while we also have to actually teach stuff to them AND get them to be kind to each other in our setting.

Also, I remember I had a quirky first grader once who was not quite as cute and adorable and cuddly looking as your son. In fact, he looked a bit pointy. And he had these thick glasses. And we weren't connecting at all. His mom came in to help me figure out his attention and communication issues a little more clearly, and within the course of our conversation, she shared about what an affectionate and loving child he was. She said it completely out of her adoration of her son, not with any big motive in mind, but it gave me a new image of the child to focus on and really challenged me to find that affectionate kid for myself. He was slow to warm up with me, but it wasn't too long after we spoke that he became one of my all time favorite kids. Teachers love to love their students. That is your son's teacher's goal. Help her with it if needed and it can really pay off. :D

Jill (CDJ)

totally not at all related to this post. Did you see what Sweetney did? You're even more famous, yo!

http://www.sweetney.com/sweetney/2008/08/my-top-ten-favo.html

Karen

It just clicked that I have a grandson just like Noah. He can tell you the names of very type of shark and parts of shark anatomy but can't tell you when he has to pee. He just started Montessori (he was 3 the beginning of Aug) and it has been the perfectly place for him.

Marlo

As a former preschool teacher, I can tell you that they probably welcomed any extra info. about Noah. It's much harder to figure out that a child will have such a hard time with transitions,etc... on your own when you could have prepared the child ahead of time if you'd just known to do it.
The best part will be rejoicing with his teachers on how awesome he does and how much more he learns by the end of the year. Go Noah!

Vicki

Every time I read your blog about Noah I feel like you are writing about my son, Will. He is 3 and has SPD and also has the oral aversion as well. Will started preschool on August 6 and I did the same thing as you did filling out all the forms and when I talked to his teacher I wondered, "Is she really hearing me or thinking I am just overprotective?" But he is doing great and has only had one major meltdown so far over Finger painting!! I pack his lunch each day so I know he will have things that don't send him into meltdown mode and that has worked well. It is so hard to let go of our quirky ones but they do better than we think they will. I fully expected to pick him up the first day and get a letter saying that he was not ready for this and try again next year but instead his teacher wrote me a whole page telling me how well he joined in and thanks for the tips regarding Will's quirks.

Good luck!!!

Dejoni

My oldest child doesn't have SPD but does have a diagnois that makes her very different from her peers. It's so hard...you're continually frustrated with your child and the diagnosis...but yet so protective 'cause you don't wanting anything to happen to them. You want to make life easier for them 'cause they struggle so much.
I can't tell you life will get better but I can say as the years go by...you find better coping skills or good medication for yourself. :)
Good luck to Noah!

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