Today is Noah's IEP meeting, to determine educational goals and his placement for next year. We plan to ask for the immersion program, a new speech evaluation, and to argue against a recommendation of reducing occupational therapy to every other week. I'm going prepared, yet white-knuckled and throat-clenched and stressed-out beyond belief. So. You know. Business as usual. (Wish us luck.) Read more →


The Friendship Jungle

Noah's friendship with the little boy next door continues. Though it's only been two weeks and I'd already have to describe it as "rocky." On the other hand, the confidence boost was almost immediate -- Noah excitedly goes outside in search of Other Kids, and is bitterly disappointed when they don't magically appear. One day a couple of (much older) kids rode by on their bikes and Noah greeted them with boundless, innocent joy: "Are you here to play with me?" They (very kindly) admitted that they were not before pedaling off, leaving Noah behind and his little heart melting all over the sidewalk. "They didn't want to play with me," he said quietly. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and I felt my chest clench, but I felt weirdly prepared for this moment. Like I'd been expecting it, ever since Noah marched up and knocked on our neighbor's door. Kids are mean little bitches. Even when they don't mean to be. So I calmly explained (over and over) that those kids were just so much older and were allowed to go different places and probably already had somewhere to go or maybe it was just time... Read more →


A Special Year

One year ago today, I performed the Heimlich on Noah to save him from choking on a fruit bar, because he liked shoving too much food in his mouth, a common trait of SPD kids. One year ago, he ran away from us in public and threw multiple tantrums a day. We were preparing for his first evaluation from the school district. We were arguing with our insurance company's denial of coverage for speech therapy. He couldn't pronounce "green" correctly. Or ride a bike, or color a picture, or make friends, or do anything that wasn't part of his rigid, inflexible routine. We lost a deposit to a Montessori school that he would not attend, because in just a few weeks he'd have an IEP through our school district and be officially placed in special education. Less than a year ago, I received a report from a psychological evaluation that took place at his preschool. It shook me to my core, because my son was slowly, steadily disappearing into himself and his rituals. He was withdrawing from a world that overwhelmed him. I remember putting the papers down, then folding my arms over them, and sobbing. We had to stop... Read more →


Mad Skillz

Social skills are still a struggle for Noah. "Social skills" being probably the most vague and imprecise bucket of Early Intervention nonsense we have come across so far. People hear "social skill problems" and immediately assume that Noah hits or bites or plays roughly or...I don't. Spits and hisses, like he's spent his life locked in a closet. So when those people meet him, all charming and bubbly and eager to please, they wonder what in sam hill we're talking about. "Social skill problems. My ass. That I just farted out of. Loudly. In an elevator. NOW who's got 'SOCIAL SKILL PROBLEMS'?" So...yeah, it's not exactly something that makes a lot of sense the first time you meet Noah. Especially if you're an adult. It's subtle. It's more of an inability to connect with peers. Other children. (Someone once sent me a link to a blog entry they wrote about dyspraxia being a "social planning disorder" in addition to motor planning and it was absolutely perfect and I cannot for the life of me find the link now.) Noah likes the IDEA of other kids, but not much else. Mostly he just wants to go to their houses and play... Read more →


On Thursday, I took Ezra to a belated Valentine's Day party at Noah's school. He sat at one of the little tables, clearly impressed with himself, hanging out with the big kids. He ate a plateful of cantaloupe chunks with a fork. When he was done, he carefully placed the fork on the plate and carefully toddled over to the classroom's play kitchen. He then placed his dishes in the little sink and fiddled with the faucet for a bit before going back to his seat. I couldn't believe it. I pointed and jabbed in his direction just in case anybody else was watching. No one was, though I insisted on telling everybody about it anyway. Who taught him that? I didn't teach him that. Who is this kid, this mimic? What different species of toddler did I produce this time? Wow. *** On Saturday, we took Noah ice skating. We bribed him, of course: If he tried ice skating for awhile we'd go to the toy store and let him pick out anything he wanted. Jason laced up his skates -- my heart clenched up in preparation for a Big Fight about New Things On His Feet, but he... Read more →


On Being That Mom

But first, elsewhere: Deconstructed Cotton Balls From Spaaaaace! *** The comments on Monday's post were...well, they were humbling. In a shaming kind of way, the endless chorus of praise and virtual applause and refrains of YOU ARE SUCH AN AWESOME MOM, because oh. Oh. Only sometimes. That moment...yeah, I'll own that. I was proud of Noah. I was proud of MYSELF. I was proud that I didn't march us back to the house in a huff of frustration and anger, letting Noah know that I was indeed, frustrated and angry, either through my words (or lack or words, ah, nothing like busting out the silent treatment on your four-year-old) or through impatient tugs on his hand: COME ON. YOU WANTED TO LEAVE, WE'LL LEAVE. GOD. I was proud that I didn't react that way. The way I react far too often. Maybe even most of the time. Fifty-fifty? On a good day? The way I reacted just the night before writing that entry, while locked in a bedtime battle of wills, confronted with an uncooperative child who wouldn't stand still, get undressed, get dressed, listen to me, look at me, stop that, stop that. If it made me feel better,... Read more →


On the first day of our vacation, I took Noah to the beach. Just us. Jason was putting out one last work fire. Ezra was...well, he was eating, having already figured out that 1) all the food here was delicious, and 2) he could get into the kitchen via an always-open back door, and that there was ALWAYS someone in there cooking something, and they were ALWAYS happy to give him a taste, like an over-eager puppy begging for scraps. So Noah and I went to the beach. I might as well have taken him to the dentist, because he did not want to go to the beach, because of the ocean. He did not want to go near the ocean. He did not want to look at the ocean or hear the ocean. NO OCEAN. He stood as far back on the sand as he possibly could, practically climbing up a wall of rocks in his bare feet, adamant about the NO OCEAN part. The ocean in Jamaica is not like the ocean here, which knocked Noah over two summers ago and he has refused to go near since. (He holds a mean grudge, I've learned.) It's calm, shallow.... Read more →


Before the snow, before we lost power, Noah announced that he wanted to draw some pictures. This...was news to me, as Noah does not particularly like to draw. It frustrates him. His fine-motor delays clash with his perfectionist nature. He favors his left hand but is more skilled with his right, he has difficulty getting all of his fingers to do what he wants, he sees Pixar in his head but scribbles on the paper, and within minutes he's pushing the crayon at me, asking me to please recreate the Paradise Falls tableau from Up, complete with the House, Balloons, Carl, Russell, The Snipe, The Mean Dogs and Also Russell's Lost GPS Unit Right Over There, NO, NOT THERE. THERE. All of which are also way beyond my own limited skills with an unsharpened Crayola, but whatever. They please him more than his own creations, apparently. So anyway, this request came out of the blue, as if he'd randomly asked for a bowl of Brussels sprouts. But we quickly supplied the crayons and paper and he got to work. After he was done, he asked for a toy airplane. This is the airplane outside our house. This is the house... Read more →


First, though: You know you're in for an interesting conversation with your child's speech pathologist when she starts out by saying, "Yeah. So this might sound weird, but the other day I was at Babble.com and..." Yesterday was a mini-parental-update day at Noah's private school. I don't know what else to call it. I stick around for an extra half hour after school and meet with all of the various teachers and therapists (last count we were up to a baker's goddamn dozen, I think) and discuss Noah's progress at school and at home. But we don't sit down for it. And no one takes notes. So it doesn't feel like a real thing. I completely forgot about yesterday's and didn't even take my coat off until the third therapist came over to talk, which is when it finally dawned on me that oh! Right! That's today. The mini-thing. Okay. Noah's progress is, in a word, spectacular. A little over three months into the program (it's the DIR/Floortime model, for the special ed geeks out there) and they're all thrilled at the improvements they've already seen. They want to throw everything they've got at him -- listening therapy, music therapy,... Read more →


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... Read more →