Let's Make It Official
To Do: Drive to Doctor's Office, Walk in Door, Fail Spectacularly

The Report

The report arrived on Thursday, all 20 pages of it. Twenty single-spaced pages to describe something I summed up in about eight paragraphs. I've never looked so concise! Or so predictably clueless, as I was so smug in my confidence that this evaluation held no surprises or new information, that there was nothing anybody could rattle me with anymore. Am like stone! Or steel! With a soft, delicate side, and damn, I can't seem to come up with the perfect oxymoron here to describe my tough-yet-fragile nature. Steel Cadbury Creme Egg? Close enough.

So the "developmental evaluation report" arrived and I read it and I read it again and I pulled out some books and I looked up some terms I didn't understand ("tactile hypersensitivity" and "poor bilateral integration and coordination" and "disorganized motor planning") and nodded and put the report away for awhile.

And then a few hours later I stomped around the house and was all, "What do they MEAN Noah's play skills are 'simplistic and immature' for his age? What the fuck is a 'play scheme'? And why are they grading his 'play skills' anyway? I did not take him in there for concerns over his 'play skills'. Grrrr. And rawrrrr. And etc." I read it and re-read it again and read it out loud to Jason.

Later I was trying to translate the report for another mother* ("Well, basically he has bad handwriting? He can't use scissors? Eh?"), and watched her eyes narrow and her mouth start her response before I was done talking: Don't you think kids just outgrow this stuff? Don't you think we put too much pressure on them? Don't you think this is all just a load of autism boogeymonster hullabaloo?

You'd be proud of me, Internet. I just shrugged and said: Yes. And no.

There is truth to the idea that when you go LOOKING for stuff, you'll find it. Every evaluation we've gone to has had a different point or objective, and every evaluator has ultimately found "stuff" in his or her target realm. Since this report came on behalf of the school district, there is of course concern over Noah's "significant" delays in pre-writing skills and his difficulties behaving in a group setting. But at the heart, it's still the same old thing: underlying sensory integration dysfunction. We toss a few more labels on top of it to drill down to the specifics, we look at it from a different angle and setting and try to figure out what's a problem and what's a quirk and peel away the layers and it's like parenting the World's Largest Onion Parfait.

On Friday, at the Mother's Day party, I watched Noah's teacher call the class to the blue carpet. I watched Noah obey and take his spot. I watched him sing the attendance song for each child, and sit patiently while each child got a chance to jump up and down and then describe what kind of jumping they'd performed. There were ballerina jumps and princess jumps and crazy jumps and when it was Noah's turn he stood up and jumped and called it a racecar jump.

He was observed today by a member of the school district assessment team, and his teacher fretted that she'd only stayed for less than an hour, that she hadn't fully "appreciated" what class is like for Noah. I got the distinct sense that his teacher was annoyed because Noah had actually behaved the whole time. I assured her that the report "appreciated" Noah's difficulties and was really very thorough and accurate. We go back on the 20th to hear the district's decision, and incidentally find out just who was wrong about Noah. Early Intervention assured us -- over and over andoverandover -- that Noah would not qualify for special ed services. His teacher clearly thinks that's the only place he belongs. The report seems like it agrees with her, at least in part.

I put the report in the binder where I keep all of this stuff.  And there it sits with everything else, suddenly not looking so thick or daunting anymore, just a few pieces of paper, just a tiny sliver of the story.


*NOT the 4:20 playdate friend**, oh no. This was a mom who has consistently scared the crap out of me all year for some reason, which is why I ended up blabbing on to her about the report in the first place, because she asked me where Noah would be going to summer camp and I PANICKED and started compulsively oversharing as a defense mechanism.

**Oh my God, so on our playdate on Friday? Her phone rang? And she answered it and said, "Can I call you back, I have a friend over right now." And I'm such a dork because inside I was all, "SQUEE SHE CALLED ME HER FRIEND!"



The important think is for Noah tp be placed in whatever program he needs, whether it be SpEd or something else entirely. Which I know you know. But I just wanted to say it myself.

And I would definitely "squee" if I were you. Why do you think I send coffee? It's the squee-factor!!


Wait, what? Summer camp? For THREE-year-olds? Really?


I overshare as a defense mechanism too. And, yeah, they have art summer camps for 3 yr olds where I live...crazy, isn't it?


stephanie: "summer camp" here loosely translates to "school-run summer daycare."


lables, reports etc.
I try not to get too wrapped up in them, even thought they send me in OVERDRIVE.

For real, this is MY son - why
doesn't eveyone see how damn special and NORMAL he is. Idiots!
What I have found, 8 yr later, that most of the doctors are eating their words, and the most of the report words were just that; words and not reality. They helped me watch him a bit closer, observe more and perhaps work a little harder w/ him. We have some shortfalls. He struggles a bit with his speech -but the he makes all A's (2nd grade).
this makes me questions whoes child is he really - we dont' make A's. We are average.
I am not blinded by his shortfalls, nor do we embrace them. He will strive with or with out the district.


I remember that initial report. I drank heavily when I read mine.


I wish I had something really cool and encouraging to say! I honestly can't wait for Noah to be in Kindergarten - kids like him always shine at that age. So much imagination and so smart - he reminds me of my son Jake in a lot of ways. Jake is finishing his kindergarten year and will start 1st grade in August. I am so scared to send him into the "big kid" world. He has definitely grown out of most of his "quirky" behaviors, but he still does some weird things, like body ticks. He blinks his eyes really hard and every few seconds brings his wrists up to his shoulder in what we refer to as "Praying Mantis" pose. He says he's scratching the inside of his elbows. Go figure? He is off the charts when it comes to reading and math, but is just now catching up with fine motor skills (writing) and self control. Luckily he has a seasoned pro for a kindergarten teacher. My boy takes after his father's side of the family; they are all extremely smart, kind of "odd" people. But I love 'em!


I'm sorry that I have nothing useful to offer...the youngest in our family has Down's sydrome and touches of autism, but in the beginning, we had no idea that the autism was there, and it was so heartbreaking to try and find the appropriate classes and teachers and all that for him. Anyway...I think Noah is perfectly lovely. That's all.


Our son made it into the district's developmental preschool last year, but is in a regular classroom for kindergarten with pull-outs for speech and occupational therapy. He has an IEP and a special services coordinator, but that mostly translates into a couple meetings a year for his parents and very little that he notices as setting him apart. It works well for us.


"... his teacher fretted that she'd only stayed for less than an hour, that she hadn't fully "appreciated" what class is like for Noah. I got the distinct sense that his teacher was annoyed because Noah had actually behaved the whole time."

OMG. Teachers like this give the rest of us a bad rap.

But seriously... a racecar jump? That's a little boy after my heart!

Sue Gallagher

G'day, I have a little boy who was born the same month as your 2nd child.....he is my first and my absolute heart!!! He has learned to lift his arms up now when he wants to be picked up - which is A LOT - not that I mind at all......I am new to all this blogging and twitter stuff - but you know what? I really enjoy it. It is fun to read about what other mum's are up to and realize that you are completely NOT going insane afterall........:))
My blog is www.mumreport.com. I hope you visit one day. I do twitter as well.....
Thanks for your great site....Oh and I really don't understand the whole schooling system here at all. It is a very different dynamic to Australia.......I get very nervous!!!!


Oh, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who squees inside. Everytime my best friend says "and this is my best friend katie" I have a little inside-squee myself :D


ohmigod, my favorite part of this whole post is when 4/20 called you her friend! i am so excited!!! and seriously? summer camp for 3 year olds? wtf.

(also, i overshare. so much, in fact, that a paramedic in an ambulance told me i was oversharing one time. i told him to shut up because i'd been in a car accident and didn't he know that i got to talk about whatever i damn well pleased?)

Been There

I too had reams of reports, hours of observations, alphabets of acronyms associated with B. Never quite removed from mainstream, all the analyses and reports served to notify the teachers that this kid was different and that was okay. It also confirmed to me that he was different and I wasn't crazy. When he chose to orbit his chair instead of sitting in it, or to hang from the back of it by his knees, it was tolerated because he wasn't disturbing anyone else. At 13, he is an honor student, great musician, and athlete. Whew! I wish you the same outcome. (You really have to suck up to the teachers, volunteer, send food, hang out, provide supplies, etc.)

Marmite Breath

I find it really reassuring that you squee over people calling you their friend, you know, since you're famous and all.



The whole yes and no thing? Exactly.

During the toddler years we went through the whole EI thing with my now 6 year old son. The system sucks. Intentions are good, but the execution blows. First they go all alarmist and start passing out labels. You go in with one or two real concerns and come out with twenty new ones, not that you qualify for services or anything. (They told us it was that there were too many children with Downs to make the top of the list even though OMG he sooo needed to be there in their opinion.) What seems to be forgotten along the way is that with intervention (which you are getting/will get) almost all of these kids are going to be totally mainstream in a few years and no one of us will ever know the difference. I'm talking about your kid here, and mine too. For my son it was a super-d-duper so severe there isn't a term for it speech delay which turned into "Oh no! Minor this delay and that delay and he doesn't hold a crayon correctly at 24 months and his scissors skills suck! OMG he's never going to college blah blah blah." It all worked itself out. He was a boy, and fuck crayons and scissors, let's go play with wheelz! and dirt! Sit still to color pretty rainbows? Are you people mad?

It's so obvious that you are very intitutive about what he needs. He's gonna be fine. You guys are gonna do it. They have spent at most a few hours with him, you a lifetime. Can't beat that shit.


I wish I had words of advice for you other than somehow this will get all figured out. I know the system failed you once and it is so hard to trust them again.


Noah will find his place in school with teachers who care about him. I've taught countless kids over the years, kids in special-ed settings, kids in regular settings, kids in collaborative settings, the whole shabang, and you know what? They all succeed in their own ways. I refuse to read any child's "folder" because, quite frankly, I don't want to know what's in it. The important stuff finds its way to me before school in the form of an IEP, 504, or parent email, and I go with that. I don't want to know that J's 6th grade teacher thought he was defiant and difficult, because well, now, he says his pleases and thank you's, and the two of us make it work. My wish for Noah is that he finds a teacher who sees beyond the "label" and nutures everything he is now and will one day become.


I think I have totally been that annoying, autism=boogeyman mother. I am biting my tongue next time and just nodding in sympathy.

Noah's lucky to have you guys.


I'm really relieved to know I'm not the only compulsive oversharer. (Also related: my inability to keep the price of my $4.99 shirt from Target's clearance rack to myself when complimented on said shirt.)


My initial reaction is one of anger towards his teacher - it sounds as if she just wants to pass him off to someone else to deal with. I'm sure that's not fair of me - I hope that's not fair of me - but still... special ed? When I grew up, special ed was for the mentally challenged kids who were allowed to stay in school until they were 20. That is CLEARLY not Noah's situation. Do you read Tertia's blog? From South Africa? Both she and her son, one of her twins, suffer from sensory disorder. http://www.tertia.org/


Amy, I'm glad his evals were comprehensive. Better too much than too little. Best wishes for his upcoming iep. Just know you don't have to come to any decisions at the meeting, you can just take it home and take time to process it.

Caroline, special education services are provided for about 10% of children in public schools. A child who gets speech therapy, resource room or tutoring is receiving special education services. It's not a place or even necessarily a classroom. What you remember from your days in school was only the most visible example of special ed services.


Oh, I totally overshare as well, and would totally squee, too.

You know, because you care so much what I would do.

I had a friend once who would always introduce me (and, hell, probably everyone) as "my dear friend..." and I squeed everytime.

And now, I'm off to check out mumreport.com, since my Peeper was born in 10/08 as well - and is also starting to hold her arms out to be picked up!


@Haley - exactly. The vast, vast majority of teachers Noah will encounter will be awesome people who have his best interests at heart, who will not pigeonhole him just because of some 'report,' and who will help him grown & thrive into the awesome young man he will become.

Also, @Caroline -- Special Ed. is a catchall phrase used in public schools to refer to any and all educational intervention outside of straight-up mainstream classroom stuff. Many, many children are 'special ed.' and nobody but their learning support teacher and their regular-ed classroom teacher knows it -- including 'gifted' kids. Their enrichment is also considered 'special ed.' The kind of special ed. you're thinking of would now be called 'fulltime pullout' or 'multiple handicaps' or somesuch. The specific name is different in every district. 'Special ed.' is more of a general term for any kind of educational support.

Sprite's Keeper

"I put the report in the binder where I keep all of this stuff. And there it sits with everything else, suddenly not looking so thick or daunting anymore, just a few pieces of paper, just a tiny sliver of the story."
You're so right. In the course of Noah's life, these reports will merely be footnotes. He's a great kid, Amy, and your pride far outweighs your concern. Kudos to you!


On the other hand, he's so stinkin' cute. That counts for a lot.

Hang in there. A lot of this is how the system works and how psychologists and educators talk to each other and get specific and make plans. You do such an amazing job of keeping your eye on what is utterly awesome about your son that he's going to make it. I know it.


I have nothing encouraging to say, but OH that picture of Noah sleeping... he's so precious. Positive thoughts and prayers to you as you sort through this new information in order to better navigate your journey.


Oh my God, so on our playdate on Friday? Her phone rang? And she answered it and said, "Can I call you back, I have a friend over right now." And I'm such a dork because inside I was all, "SQUEE SHE CALLED ME HER FRIEND!"
OMG..too funny. I am in the same boat. I feel like such a nerd but I guess we are all little girls on the inside. My "She called me a friend" moment was one day we ran to the shoe store together while our girls were in ballet class,(this was after months of being class moms together and a couple months of playdates) and she said " this was so great. It's been so long since I've been shopping with a girlfriend!" I too, reverted to the above mentioned excitement!LOL


I'm impressed you already got through it all. I got our OT eval last week. It was only 6 pages long and I still haven't read it all. After about 2 pages I have to put it down before my brain overheats.


Amy, I haven't read all the post (don't worry, I will, but "the wine" is forcing me to regurgitate my thoughts now). I want to stop you at "his handwriting is bad?" and reiterate that I'm sooooooo happy you're figuring that out in preschool and not 3rd grade!!!! (yeah, I thought I was obsessive, but somehow didn't notice until third grade that his inability to write a story while verbalizing incredibly articulate, creative and engaging stories was a "mechanical" problem. My worst moment was the district OT saying "Level of fine motor dysfunction is not likely to improve at this point." That said, keep going with the writing skills, but also teach him typing... and buy an Alphasmart. Best thing I ever did for my (now wonderful in an incredibly sarcastic, verbally articulate, but somewhat burned out 9-year-old) beautiful boy.


To clarify, I meant the wine I drank...


i get excited the first time someone calls me their friend too. it's like the first time a new boyfriend calls you "baby" or "sweetie" :)


I think some of the best advice I ever got was inadvertent. My cousin, whose son may or may not have PDD-NOS, told me he didn't give a HANG what they called it, and was not going to fret about the label, he just wanted to keep the early in early intervention and get him the services he needed. It was then I sort of let go of my fear of (in our case) the label 'autism' and just started booking therapy appointments. It has been the longest year of my life, during which I've also had a newborn to tend to, and also gotten pregnant AGAIN and am about to give birth to YET ANOTHER one of these buggers! We have had to push and pull and schedule and reschedule and (in my case) cry in front of strangers a LOT. The thing is, we start one kind of therapy and if it doesn't work after a few months, and by that I mean we don't see any change, we switch it up. But the first and best thing I did was get over that label thing - I don't care what they call him, I just want them to care about him and getting him where he needs to go - wherever that is. It's so frustrating and it's so hard, but FWIW I think you are doing the right thing - read the report, process it, and then keep on keeping on. Noah is just beautiful and so smart and fun and as he gets older, it will get easier to see more clearly what it is he needs to thrive.


Amy -
We had our IEP meeting Monday and I had blogged about how exhausting that was and then read your same frustration. It is so draining to talk about your own child, your perfect child and all the things that make him who he is. I thought I had heard it all too and then they whip out the new 28% delay in expressive/receptive language and say the evaluator stood beside him for


I do the over-sharing and the Squee! She's my friend! thing too.

I have faith with someone like you there as his advocate, he will turn out wonderfully and end up where he needs to be.


(let's try this again - weird internet)

We had our IEP meeting Monday and I had blogged about how exhausting that was and then read your same frustration. It is so draining to talk about your own child, your perfect child and all the things that make him who he is. I thought I had heard it all too and then they whip out the new 28% delay in expressive/receptive language and say the evaluator stood beside him for 15 minutes and he didn't speak to her. RED FLAG-a-rama.
Whatever. The important thing is not what they call it or what other flags they start to wave...it is that there is a shortfall somewhere and you get him the help he needs to overcome it.
They asked what I want for him...like what I wanted out of life for him. I said for him to fit in as much as possible and for him to be happy. I could care less if he is a doctor or lawyer...I just want him to have every opportunity another child might have.
You're a great mom. Keep going and you'll find Noah will end up happy and well-adjusted too.


The best part of this post for me was when you said that you were able to read the report, process it, and put it away and KNOW that YOUR SON IS STILL WONDERFUL. You are a great mom, navigating a path that will have many twists and turns and MANY magical moments with your lovely children. Good for you!


I remember getting THE REPORT and initially being devastated by how they picked apart my boy...until my husband gave me the verbal slap in the face required for all hysterical women..."He is not just a report or a number. He is so much more than anyone could put on paper."

I filed the report away and knew in my heart he was right.


Beautiful picture of your perfect little boy.


Gosh, I don't know how you handle all this so well; maybe it's just practice, since you've been dealing with it for a while now. If someone suggested that my son should be in special ed, my hackles would go up in this "What do you mean, my son isn't the most brilliant, developmentally appropriate, practically-perfect-in-every-way child ever?" way. But then you've spent so long trying to get people to see that he needs more help than he's getting. It seems like it must always be an internal tug-of-war, trying to get what's best for Noah. And as always, what a beautiful, sweet picture--because that's it, isn't it? He's not just a list of diagnoses, he's a kid, a sweet, wonderful kid. (And I would flip out if someone asked where my 3-year-old was going to camp. We didn't even send our oldest to preschool. I'm home with them all day (I do day care), and they get plenty of exercise and social interaction and we even read the occasional book! (And with my oldest almost done with his first year of school, I'm overwhelmed that it goes so fast. I'll be damned if I'm going to send them away just because.)


yay.... "friend"; and kudos to her for not taking the call.

and i'm the same way with the oversharing.

love the pic.
very interested in your journey. you share it well.


yay for having a new friend!!!

Noah is sooo cute there!

It sounds like he is doing great, it must be hard to see things written down in a report like that, but I think you have a great perspective of this whole situation.


how awesome that 1) she called you a friend, but 2) she didn't take the freaking call and sit there chatting in front of you! She is well-mannered : )

I know lots of people have said this, but I would try not to worry about Noah - he sounds like a quirky and smart little boy. Just try to advocate for what you think best. This teacher sounds like she's a little cookie-cutter and can't handle a quirkier kid. I am not saying Noah does or doesn't need a little extra help, but this teacher also doesn't sound like she's interested in doing anything extra. Can you switch classes or anything like that, maybe?


"tactile hypersensitivity" = touching stuff squiggs him out a bit.

"poor bilateral integration and coordination" = he's not great at activities that involve both parts of his brain, like drawing on paper. It's spatial awareness stuff, things that a child with "sensory integration disorder" would typically have trouble with.

"disorganized motor planning" = you've not got the most coordinated child.

Really, all of these are still very mild and and should not hamper his intellectual development in the long term. It would be a flip of the coin whether or not he qualifies, likely.


“No Child Left Behind” because it sounds good in theory; however, I think it really stands for “No Child Left Alive” by placing so much emphasis on standardized testing and pressure on children.

Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com

This corner of the Internet is proud of you!

And I would SQUEE too.

Parsing Nonsense

No matter how old we get, we're all still geeky middle schoolers in our squishy middles, silently delighting when we make a new friend.


Amy, it has to be so hard and weird to go through this over and over. But we're all here for you. And I'll be your friend. I know I'm across the country and you don't actually know me, but it's like applying the chef saying in "Ratatouille" that not anyone can be a great chef (friend) but great chefs (friends) can come from anywhere.


You know, I still remember the "not gween, guh-reen" post you wrote a while ago, and how that made me fall in love with your precious little boy who totally needs to become my son-in-law in about 25 years. ANYWAY, reports are written in order to show off scientific jargon; you know much better what's going on with Noah. OTOH, it's always a good thing to receive services for free, so maybe you could look at it that way.

I'm not an expert, but it looks to me like Noah's a sweet quirky little boy.


Have nothing to say except that the pic of Noah melts my heart. He's gorgeous and I want to squeeze him. You're a lucky lady!


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I think you're handling all this so well! I'm in Rockville too, and when we have kids I have no idea what will be in store for us. Your boys are super adorable and I love that you embrace Noah's question-markiness while still fighting to be sure there's a system to help him feel more comfortable too... GOOD LUCK moving forward with a system I'm not sure I'll ever be able to understand!
PS, and i'm happy your new friend is well-mannered too! at 32, I still get excited when i make new female friends!


Is he really supposed to be writing and using scissors at 3? I have a just-3 year old and her "writing" consists of just vertical lines and (when pressed) the occasional lumpy circle. And scissor use is more theoretical than actual. But no one seems worried. Noah's report is now kind of freaking ME out.


That "friend" who wants to know where your 3 yr old is going to summer camp? Is not a friend. She is someone who is using her kid and yours to have a pissing contest. Parenting is not a competitive sport, and those who think it should be are to be avoided.


by-the-by, my 16 year old holds a pencil like an orangutan - silverware, too. He gets high-80s overall and is taking AP and honors classes next year. He never could do Legos, and his writing has always been awful. All homework is done on computers in high school, Praise Jesus.


Wow! He just looks exactly like you doesn't he? At least from pictures I've seen and your Food Network star turn (which was on again recently).

It sounds like you've turned a corner and have a new perspective on all of this, which must feel good. I hope he gets what he needs, whatever that is, and I still think that teacher of his should take a flying leap!

Mariana Perri

I cannot help but think that even though Noah might actually have some "special needs" (which, let's agree, nearly ever child has anyway!), his teacher might be the one actually needing some evaluation on behalf of the board of education!!!!
Blahhh to this teacher!!!
Noah needs someone who can actually look at him patiently, see his gifts and use them in his favor! Not someone who frowns because he actually behaved!
UUUGGGHHH... I truly hate teachers who only want standard students!
Ever give home schooling a thought? I have a friend who practices it and could provide you loads of info on that... Your baby needs someone as special as you to care for him!

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