In Noah's Social Studies class yesterday, the kids were divided into two teams for a mock debate. Team assignments were random; no one got to choose their side. The two teams? Patriots vs. Loyalists, set to debate the pros and cons of the American Revolution. Guess which team Noah was on. Or more accurately, he was supposed to be on, until he freaked out, melted down, and refused to participate. We got an email from his teacher afterwards explaining what happened, and two sentences in I knew exactly what was coming. WHY OH WHY DID YOU NOT SEE THAT COMING? He couldn't be a Loyalist. Loyalists were the ENEMY. Loyalists were the Bad Guys. Even just pretending to be a Bad Guy makes you a Bad Guy, at least while you're doing the pretending. His teacher called it a temper tantrum, but really, it was probably more along the lines of a panic attack. It's interesting that this happened so close to Halloween, given all those years Noah refused to wear a costume for similar anxiety-tinged reasons: Pretending to be someone or something else means you must not be yourself anymore. Putting on a costume represented a fundamental change in... Read more →

Late Summer Wrap-Up of Nothing in Particular

Oh, hello blog. You're boring! Life is boring. I don't actually mind boring, though. Noah finished up four weeks of a summer school program for social skills, and despite originally being supppppperr not-so-on-board with the whole riding the BUS to SCHOOL in the SUMMER, that is UNFAIR MADNESS, he ended up having a really great time. When we showed up to the open house, we immediately bumped into a boy who Noah had an on-again/off-again/on-again friendship with all year. A boy who I admittedly did not always think the most charitable thoughts about during the off-again part, but who lit up with a huge, excited smile at the sight of Noah, and rushed over to give him a big hug. His mom and I looked at each other like, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, okay, I get it now. That friendship is solidly on-again, as are two new friendships with two other boys in his grade. I think 5th grade is going to be pretty great. Ezra and Ike are finishing up a school-prep camp together this week, and are also having a surprisingly amount of fun despite the heavy academic focus. Learning can be fun! Especially with your brother there, even if the... Read more →

Well, that didn't take long. I sent Ezra's teacher some evaluation forms and surveys on Monday. She filled them out that same day and faxed them directly to our doctor, like, OMG GET THIS KID SOME HELP. The doctor called within 24 hours and was like, whoa, yeah, that's ADHD and also OMG GET THIS KID SOME HELP. This is the book Noah's therapist read to him after he was formally diagnosed and we made the decision to start medication. I just ordered a copy for Ezra, and yes, we are making the same decision for him. We were very reluctant and resistant with Noah, and in retrospect we agree that we waited too long. Believe me, we tried just about all of the alternative med-free strategies, multiple therapies, diet changes, you name it. We didn't just throw up our hands and spring for the meds to make our lives easier. (Well, okay, I did throw out one of those ADHD IS A PACK OF LIES-type book that my MIL gave us after a cursory Google search on the author, revealed her to have close ties to the church and teachings of Scientology. Didn't even recycle it. Not even a... Read more →

Special Needapalooza

I went to Noah's IEP meeting yesterday, our first "real" meeting with the new school. We had an initial "move everything from County A to County B and try to not let anything get lost in translation" meeting in the beginning of the year, but this was the Actual Annual Big-Deal one, where we determine services for the next 12 months. The good news is that...well, it's all good news. Noah has transitioned beautifully and his new team loves him, and even better, REALLY understands him. After years of being classified solely as a SPD/ADHD kid at his old school, to the point that the team seemed surprised by his eventual Autism diagnosis (and then had to rapidly overhaul his IEP), I think it was really beneficial to move into this school with the ASD code firmly in place. No question, Noah needs those specific needs met, and here is everything this school can possibly provide. His new IEP is strong, comprehensive and best of all, was written from the point of view that this is just who Noah is and how he thinks and learns. He is not a problem to be solved. He is a child who will... Read more →

I called our county's Child Find office on Monday and requested an assessment packet for Ike. (Or technically for "Isaac," a name I only ever hear called out in doctors' waiting rooms, and I usually sit there for a few extra seconds like "Why are they looking at me? Who's Isaac? Oh, right.") So now all that's left on that front is to wait for the packet to arrive in the mail, fill out all the parent forms, send teacher forms to his school, wait for his teachers to return the forms, mail everything back, wait for a phone call to schedule an appointment, wait for said appointment, perform some ancient sensory ceremonial rituals involving obstacle courses and small toys hidden in shaving cream, and then maybe...MAYBE...we'll get some speech therapy before his fifth birthday in June, at which point he gets handed over to the school district and whole process starts all over again. (Do I sound chill or just jaded? I can't tell the difference anymore.) After I made the call, I decided our chalkboard wall needed a new family motto. Vinyl decal from Etsy, found here. NERD TIME: As a copywriter I have to quibble with the... Read more →

I did! I really did. But not a book for you. It's you know, for kids. (But I guess since kids don't have all that much money of their own, and the target audience is probably in the pre-Tooth-Fairy dollahdollahbills age range, maybe I did write it for you. To buy. With your money. YOU ARE SO WELCOME!!) After I wrote about the incredibly helpful pre-moving book I made for Ike through, they reached out to say thanks, and then a couple emails later they asked if I could write a new book for them in time for Halloween. This book is essentially a much more beautiful looking version of a social story I created for Noah when he was a preschooler, back when EVERYTHING about Halloween terrified him. The costumes, the decorations...anything vaguely Halloween-like stressed him out to the point that just leaving the house became difficult. The costume shop at the mall! The billboard advertising the haunted hayride! The CANDY AISLE IN THE GROCERY STORE. As with All Things Noah, we eventually learned that letting him acknowledge and actually feel his fear worked much, much better than having him fight it, or trying to logic him out... Read more →

So of course, after a week of momentous firsts! and progress! and nostalgic amazement over ALL THE THINGS, we were due for a crash. There was an incident on the school bus on Wednesday, which I heard nothing about until Thursday, when I stepped outside to take Ike to preschool, only to find another mom from the neighborhood awkwardly waiting to talk to me. Because um, your kid punched mine. Could he...not? /head explodes all over the driveway There's a particularly brutal flavor of shame/guilt that comes from finding out your child did something just plain wrong, something he knows better than to do, and then a weird reflexive circle-jerk of searching for excuses or alternate interpretations or reasons why THIS IS ALL JUST ONE BIG MISUNDERSTANDING. And after talking with Noah, there's still a small, petulant part of me that feels like it WAS, as he seemed completely clueless/stunned that the other kid was upset or even bothered, it was part of a game, not really a "punch" at all, the bus driver didn't even notice anything, etc. But he was likewise completely clueless to the fact that he's much BIGGER than the other kid, so any sort of... Read more →

This morning was Noah's first IEP meeting at the new school, with the new team. It was, as always, thrilling and full of drama and I lost my cool and flipped the conference room table over at least twice. Wait, no. Opposite of that. It was actually pretty boring, since it was mostly about moving everything from our old county's IEP form to our new country's IEP form, which we received a couple weeks ago covered in Post-It notes explaining evvvvvvvvery single checkbox and code and category because everything from the old IEP transfers, but it's all just called something slightly different. If I came away with any great insight on moving a special needs child from one Maryland district to another that I can pass along to you, I guess I'd say that Montgomery County IEP forms allow a little more flexibility on a kid's pull-out hours and certain accommodations can be marked as "ONLY IF NEEDED." Howard County IEP forms are like, NO WAY, YOU GONNA DOCUMENT THAT SHIT DOWN TO THE MINUTE. (Also, you have to give them explicit permission to use wearable sensory tools like weighted vests, blankets, etc. on your child because they have technically... Read more →

Noah spotted the photo on my computer screen immediately. Of the dozen or so colorful Windows live tiles cheerfully flipping around with updates, he zeroed right in on that one in particular. “Spock!” he shouted. He spotted the headline a few seconds later, before I even had a chance to even finish my internal groan of “ohhhhh nooooo.” “He died? Spock died?” His voice dropped at least eight volume levels, and his always amped-up body froze. There was no way or reason to sugarcoat it, so I explained that yes, the actor who played Spock had died earlier that day. This month marks the four year anniversary of my dad’s death. It really doesn’t feel like that much time has passed, and yet when I do the math and realize that Noah was only five years old when he lost his Pop Pop, it feels like an eternity. He was a baby! Noah remembers, and will talk very objectively and matter-of-fact about it, which is a nice way of way of saying that yeah, My Quirky Kid Is Quirky and doesn’t always phrase things in the most sensitive manner. “Your dad died. It’s too bad you don’t have a dad... Read more →

Halloween was such a non-event this year it hardly seems worth mentioning. Except know...Halloween was such a non-event this year. Noah decided a couple months ago that he wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. He didn't know which one, and lately being asked to make a choice between several options or to pick a "favorite" really stresses him out, so we randomly picked Raphael for him. And Leonardo for Ike by mistake; he asked for Michaelangelo but I screwed it up and bought the wrong one. (I am getting really terrible at this stuff; a selective form of toy-and-cartoon-related dementia, or just a willful ignorance to hand over my remaining precious brainspace to the names and rich cross-merchandizing backstories of loud and obnoxious cartoon characters. Meanwhile my children want to talk about absolutely nothing else besides Teenage Transforming Mutant Ninja Angry Birds. Or something. I dunno. I'm rereading The Hunger Games, get off my lawn/battle arena.) Noah and Ike were thrilled with their costumes, at least, and Noah was especially comfortable wearing his and pretending to actually BE Raphael. Still not a big fan of Halloween decorations, either on houses or in stores, but considering the nearby mall hauled... Read more →