Topics in search of cohesion
Much Like the White House Party Crashers, This Is All Reality Television's Fault

The Loop

The Hardest Part, at least from a day-to-day basis, the rigid, inflexible thinking. Things that must be done the way they've been done before. No variation, no deviation, from morning (and the order that breakfast items get set on the table) to night (pants come off first but socks come off last and books must be read while sitting on the right side of the bed RIGHT SIDE RIGHT SIDE!). Routines become rituals and the rituals are a religion.

It's all CONNECTED, of course, we're told. I fret about OCD but am assured that no, it's SPD. Dyspraxia is a motor-planning disorder, but when you add in tactile and auditory hypersensitivity and fine and gross motor delays and receptive and expressive and pragmatic language delays and whatever-the-fuck else we've been diagnosed with at some point or another...well, you've got a child who can't sequence day-to-day problems, or recognize patterns in events and behavior, who can't reason things out to their logical conclusion, who doesn't understand the order of the world and other people and basically exists in a tensed-up state, minutes away from fight-or-flight mode at all times.

Okay, not at all times. But just enough for it to feel that way some days. Some little inconsequential details doesn't go as planned and a mental wire gets tripped. He goes from a happy, smiling chattering little boy to...well, something else. Something I'm getting weary of describing, because I still can't seem to get it right. Please to reference EVERY OTHER POST EVER.

So lately we (with help and guidance from his teachers and therapists) have been working hard on improving Noah's problem-solving and abstract-thinking skills. You do this, in part, by deliberately creating problems and then pretending to be a complete moron.

Problem One: Oh no! You need to get dressed for school and Mommy put on your bathing suit! And now she's trying to put your socks on your hands! And your underwear on your head!

Solution: STUPID MOMMY.

Problem Two: You come downstairs for breakfast but your chair isn't at the table. It's in the middle of the kitchen. When you say you want your chair at the table, Mommy pushes it in the wrong direction.

Solution: STUPID, GOOD-FOR-NOTHING MOMMY.

Problem Three: You get permission to go play in the basement, but the baby gate is closed. Mommy suddenly can't get it open, insists on making wild dramatic gestures about WHATEVER SHALL WE DOOOOO in the general direction of a nearby stepstool. IT'S LIKE WE NEED A TOOL OF SOME KIND. HMMM!

Solution: Ask to watch TV instead, because DAMN, WOMAN.

And...so on and so forth.

It's working, we think. Not all the time, but in past couple weeks we've managed to get him to work and reason through a couple change-ups and "why/how come" questions. A good start, but nothing that seemed to curb the Big Bad Reactions to a triggering event.

One such triggering event is, and has always been, taking the alternate way out of our neighborhood. Our house is on the edge of a street that loops around a couple of other houses, kind of like a cul-de-sac but not. But weird. It's like whoever built this development was legally required to toss up some affordable townhouses among the gigantic single-family homes, but sure as hell wasn't going to put them where anyone would actually have to look at them. Thus, we have two ways out.

Map 

Obviously, the preferred exit is shorter, but quite often gets blocked by landscaping trucks, extra cars that simply don't fit into two- or three-car garages, I mean, MY LANDS, and...I don't know. Piano-and-Ming-vase delivery trucks. So it's sometimes a little easier to just go around the other way.

Except that Noah always, ALWAYS loses his shit when we go that way. It's takes all of three seconds to end up exactly where we would end up ANYWAY, but in three seconds he can manage to completely lose it. He screams and kicks and pulls his hair and thrashes around in his seat. We actually moved him out of his booster and back into a harnessed carseat thanks to one of these fits, when he managed to turn his body completely around and slide out of the seat belt and onto the floor. 

We tried everything we could think of: we took walks around the block, we took pictures of the road for social stories, we drove that way every day on purpose, we drove that way only when we absolutely had to.

It's a little, silly thing, right? But that's how it is. Even if we can avoid a three-second detour right outside our front door, we may have to take one further down the road because a traffic light is out. We have to turn on a blinking red light instead of green. We have to double-back in the grocery store because we forgot something, order orange juice at Chipotle because they are out of the usual apple, wear this red coat because the blue one is in the wash, and on and on it goes. Explaining, comforting, bargaining, begging, completely unable to get him to understand that it's GOING TO BE OKAY. REALLY. 

Yesterday I had to drive around the way of doom, thanks to a tree-removal crew blocking the corner. Noah freaked. We continued on. We got to the highway exit for his afternoon program, driving under the bridge we'd soon circle back onto.

"Are we going on that bridge?" Noah asked.

"Yep," I said. I thought about leaving it at that, but instead plunged onward with the kind of endless chatter I do, never knowing how much of it he absorbs, plus, who else am I going to talk to? Fucking Twitter?

"See, we drive arooooound this ramp and get on the bridge! Wheeeee! It's like a big loop."

"A loop." Noah repeated.

I was about to define the word for him when he continued.

"A loop. Just like the one outside our house."

And that was it. He caught sight of a nearby school bus and changed the topic. 

***

I drove around the loop again today, on purpose, just to see.

In the backseat, Noah started to protest. Then he tentatively raised his arms over his head.

"WHEEEE!" he said, and he laughed.

Comments

Margot

Go Noah! (Fist pump high into the air.) Meanwhile, I'm recovering from the heart attack. Did not expect your entry to end like that. Proud as punch for Noah!

Brandi

Wheeee! indeed. Amy, your stories about motherhood make me want to be a mom. You show the joy and the frustration and the unbeleivable love you have for Noah and Ezra and I think 'me too'. When I do have kids I can only hope to be as great a mom as you. Hugs to the boys! Especially Noah!

Heather

Some times the littlest baby steps are the ones that mean the most!

Deanna

Wow! That just blew my mind.

michelle

Awesome.

Jody

I was just going to make fun of myself for being a dork because this post made me cry, but then I see all the other people who had the same reaction. Sometimes, it's the little things. WHEEEE! it is.

Heather

Ugh. I love that boy. You are doing everything you can, and everything you do, is right. You're fantastic!

Willow Wright

Great post, thanks for sharing your stories.

Rachel

He is amazing! Posts like this always make me tear up.

parodie

Oh wow. I'm so happy for you! Three cheers for all the people at this school who are helping you out. Hooray for you for persevering. Hooray for Noah. :)

Julie

Man...kids. They never cease to amaze me. Maybe I'll have some one day. :)

Stacy

Well, again, I'm crying. But in a very good way. The progress is exhilarating, I hope. And fortification for the rough spots. Good for y'all.

Shauna (Fido & Wino blog)

I just wanted to write to say: Yeah!

That is what I said in my head when I read that. I'm happy for you! Yeah!

Sarahd

Awesome! I am so happy for you both!

kelly

Awesome!

lisa

I am always so happy for noahs progress, you and jason do such a fantastic job.

kate

wow - that is really wonderful. It is amazing the different little ways everyone's brains work. you can explain and explain until you are blue in the face and nothing happens, but then someone else can phrase it in a slightly different manner, and click, comprehension. You are doing such a wonderful job!

Amy in StL

Okay, you know how they say that parents just do because they have to? And how they also say that God never gives us more to carry than he knows we can handle? And how you probably want to have a talk with "they" and or God about the handling?

Dude, I think you are an awesome mom. Because I'm pretty sure I just couldn't cope with all that. I completely lose my shizit when the guy in the cube next to me doesn't get how to do animations in powerpoint and I have to show him every time....and he doesn't even have tantrums.

You=Amazing

Melanie

That made me tear up a little. It is such a great milestone!

I made this recipe last night and it made me think of you and your microwave soufle: http://www.pamperedchef.com/images/cc/us/pdf/white_chili.pdf. I have to admit that I was pretty skepticle. Cooking chicken in the microwave, yeah right (and I even used chicken breast instead of thigh)! It turned out delicious.

Now I feel kind of odd that I had to run and tell my pretend blogger friend about the recipe I tried last night. I promise I have real life friends that I plan to share the recipe with over dinner tonight! haha :)

MsCellania

He is going to be way ahead of my OCD, SPD, WTF, kid. At 8, my Mr. Unique still amps out, but not nearly as much. He didn't talk as early as Noah, and was stymied by inability to process language.

R.E.A.D.I.N.G. will help Noah sort stuff out. It will be how he chills, how he reckons his world out. Taking the stuff in at his own pace, via his own eyeballs, will explain a lot of his world to him. Get those BOB books. Start working with Noah. (Did you just say "Fuck You!"? Well, alrighty then.)

Adelas

Damn it! You made me cry!

I can make it through stories of loss and depression and simply be choked up, but I cry about the road loop.

So incredibly thankful.

Adelas

That, and I wanted to add that the posts like this make me wish it was next year and BlogHer so I could come tackle hug you and then say, "that was for the one about the loop."

ChristieNY

Wheeeeee for Noah! He totally got it - you explained, he absorbed and together HE GOT IT. Absolutely awesome. Keep on doin' what you're doing Amy, it's WORKING! <3

Jennifer

You know...I was going to say more, but I think that's enough. You know. It helps me get through my day.

Loretta S.

Did you cry when it happened? Did you cry when you wrote about it?

It's almost too profound to talk about. Amalah, I feel like it's almost holy - your work with him, his receptivity. It's grimy and tough and frustrating and holy all in one.

Meg

Yea!!!

Elizabeth

Noah is such an awesome little boy.
I heart him.

Jen

Hooray Noah! Hooray Mommy! LOVE this story - it's so amazing to see things "click" with our little ones.

terra

Totally crying over here because of a loop! How sweet!

Sara

Sorry I'm late. I was doing somethins stupid like finals instead of reading the awesomeness that is your blog. Silly me. But I just wanted to say, see it does get better.
Mine's turning eight next month and some days I'd never think he would survive that long because I'd kill him, but he's soooooooo much better. He just needed his own time to figure things out in a way for him.
I'm totally for the wheee.

Leah

Nicely done, my friend. Nicely done. (The writing/storytelling, I mean, although the parenting is damn fine too.)

lizneust

Atta boy! And atta Mommy, too.

You are an awesome mom, Amy, and you prove it again and again - one victory at a time.

Jennifer

That's awesome Amy. I would have danced in my seat when he said that.

My formerly-little cousin, who is now sixteen, used to have a thing about highways when he was about Noah's age. Both sets of grandparents lived an hour away and they had to take local roads. If they got on 81 (PA!), he'd SHRIEK.

Amy

Amy, I have commented several times before and almost always do on your posts about Noah. My sweet Sarah is just a few months older than him and she too was diagnosed with SPD, not on the spectrum, speech delayed, low muscle tone etc...We too have been through ECI nightmares, speech therapy, OT, etc...Anyway, while all of those things I believe have helped her make progress, I have to say that the one thing I noticed the most rapid and greatest improvement with was after we took her to a pediatric neurologist and he suggested trying an anti-anxiety medication. I am not at all for medicating kids for behavior, but decided she desperately needed help especially with rigidity of routine, OCD behavior, anxiety in general etc..and we gave it a try. We started her on 1.5 ml of Celexa and within the first two weeks of being on it we began to see improvements. After a month on that dose, we increased it by .5 ml, and are now at 2.5 ml after being on it for about 8 or 9 months she is a completely different child for the better!

Before the medication, she didn't even talk or say a word at her school, had major anxiety and OCD issues. She now talks nonstop to anyone and everyone, has shown amazing flexibility where before she would have had reactions just like Noah's, and just generally all around is a happier, more easy going child. Her teachers at her typical preschool are amazed and so is everyone who has been with us in this struggle. So, I just wanted to let you know that may be something you may ask a doctor about for Noah....it is so worth it if it works for him believe me! Good luck and thanks again for always sharing your heart and your sweet Noah!

desertmom

I know, it's not possible for you to read all the comments you get...100-200 a day :).
But I just wanted to tell you how much I admire your courage in actually writing about your issues and tackling them, and the way you bare your heart out to others. I am sure that there definitely must be parents out there who will benefit from you posts.
Love your blog....and this post....Wheeeeeeeee for Noah!

Lynn

Jeez, your Noah (I have a Noah too) thinks so much like me.

Rachael

And enchanted and inspired WOW!

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