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 TwigTale.com, 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 that...you 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 →


It's been a few years since one of their birthdays really and truly unnerved me. Nine, for some reason, is an age that does. Nine. NINE. One year until TEN. I don't feel old enough to have a nine year old. But obviously I am. My years of parenting babies and toddlers are almost completely behind me now, and that's only "almost" if you include Ike under the toddler umbrella, which: Okay, but barely. I've got maybe six more months before that's officially ridiculous. Nine. He's a quirky nine, but self-aware of his quirks and self-accepting of most of them. Frustration swirls to the surface occasionally, sometimes anger, but mostly an over-the-top positivity and excitement that can only be expressed at top volume while he tells you absolutely everything he knows about Ninja Turtles. He can stop himself now, though. He'll ask you first now, like an earnest, door-to-door missionary: "Are you interested in Ninja Turtles? Would you like to talk about them?" A yes brings a look of immense relief and happiness to his face, a deep breath before he can uncork the thoughts and words in his brain and let them out. All of them, at once right... Read more →


Noah's Back to School Night writing assignment. Write a letter to your parents and tell them a few things about school. Details to include: 1) Something you like ("the commutative propertay") 2) Something you LOVE ("the cromebooks") 3) Something new you're learning ("divide and multyply") 4) Your favorite subject ("math is very esay.") 5) How you felt on the first day of school ("excited")... And... 6) How you feel about school now. So yeah. An update in his own words. We're all really, really enjoying third grade so far. Read more →


So this finally, officially happened. Friends of ours are expecting and took the crib away this weekend, which was a weird mix of "aww" and "good riddance, giant heavy-ass thing we never use anymore." We've had that crib in our house for about nine full years, and while it wasn't always in constant use for nine full years, we at least had plans in place to fill it with another baby eventually. So it stayed up and assembled the whole time. No plans. No babies. Smell ya later, crib. This isn't really an official "after" photo of Noah's tiny new room, since it only reflects what we accomplished in a single weekend, which isn't much. Wait, no: We accomplished 1) going to Ikea to purchase this bed/desk combo, 2) reveling in the fact that ALL THREE of our children are height/age eligible for the children's area, 3) getting paged back to the children's area after 10 damn minutes, 4) booking back to the children's area expecting an Ike-related potty disaster, only to be told "He's not listening. We have rules. He has to leave," and I immediately assumed "he" was "Noah" and internally debated pulling the special needs card, until... Read more →