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 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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

It's "Spirit Week" at Noah's school, during which each day is assigned a "theme" for the students to dress up for. Spirit Week has never been Noah's jam, historically speaking. It brings out all kinds of nerves and rigidity in him. So we've never pushed him to participate. Crazy Hat Day? No, thank you. Wear Pajamas To School Day? OH GOD OH NO OH GOD STOP NO. NO. This year, though, he's been surprisingly flexible about it. He wore his school shirt on School Spirit Day. His football jersey on Sports Day. He even came up with his own take on Wacky Day that allowed him to technically participate without triggering his anxiety: He wore a pair of shorts that were one size too small. "See, Mom?," he said proudly. "I look normal and like myself, but these shorts are a size seven. That's so silly. I'm so silly." Today was Character Day. Dress up as your favorite character or hero from TV, movies, video games, books, etc. I figured Noah would prefer to sit this one out, since it veers so closely into full-on Halloween/costume territory. I figured wrong, as usual. He dressed up as — who else? —... Read more →

I came here to post something happy and exciting and now I'm crying. Dang it, eyeballs! Long story short, and let's just get the justified feelings of jelusbitchpants out of the way: We're going back to Jamaica next month. Back to Bluefields Bay Villas. We went there four years ago, had the most unbelievable time, I blogged about it, and afterwards a whole bunch of you guys also decided to go there (and were nice enough to mention that you found them through my blog). I've stayed in touch with the owners off and on, and they've always been super-nice and open to the idea of us returning, but I always felt weird about specifically asking, like I was being grabby and inviting myself, until finally they called me and were like, "YO. STOP BEING A DORK. HOW'S THIS JUNE?" EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEOMGGGGG. So that happened, but that's not why I'm crying. After we settled on dates and I booked our flight (full disclosure: Bluefields is covering the all-inclusive accommodations, we pay for our airfare, I receive no additional monetary compensation for posting, and everything I choose to post is my own and not being reviewed or influenced, yadda yadda), I asked... Read more →

Prior to — oh, the EXACT MINUTE the end credits of The Lego Movie started to roll — Legos were pretty much Noah's exclusive domain. It's always been soothing for him, I think, to sit and tackle a big, complicated set, step by step. His visual-spatial skills are pretty amazing, and those Lego instruction books always managed to cut through his attention and focus issues. He enjoys building his "own" versions of things as well, and is thankfully pretty flexible and accepting of the fact that inevitably, most of his sets will break apart and eventually get completely assimilated into the Borg of his Lego bag. But there's always the Next Set He Wants, the bigger the better, so he can spend hours building it and perhaps gain a small sense of control in a world full of sensory chaos. Ezra, on the other hand, Did Not Get It. Any Of It. He WANTED to love Legos, you could tell. Noah loves Legos, Ezra loves Noah (like, to epic levels), and so Legos must be super amazingly cool and awesome. So he'd request Legos of his own, and would even forgo buying something I knew he REALLY wanted with his... Read more →

Pretty Okay

I hope I've told y'all this before, but just be sure I'll tell you again: You are the best. You. And you. All of you. I'm making swirly-type all-inclusive hand motions at my laptop screen. Thank you for all being so polite and kind and encouraging this week, in comments and emails. I've read every single one and hopefully can start plowing through some replies soon. (As for the TwitBookFace thingies, I hope you'll forgive me for being too skittish to look over there right now. Everything is too calm and reasonable! The crazy/mean people must be hiding somewhere else! Let's...not go looking for them.) Anyway, I'm not entirely sure what to write about next. It's been a lot to process. I guess let's start with some blunt talk about ADD/ADHD medication. What could go wrong? That's not controversial at all! Ha ha! Man, it's too early to be this drunk. Noah started his medication yesterday morning. We waited until he could see his regular therapist on Monday, who guided us through the conversation about ADD and what it is and what the medication does. And what it doesn't, since Noah was very scared that it would change him or... Read more →

The Long and Winding Road

Last week, out of the blue, one of the doctors finally called us back. The one we wanted to see in the first place, but had given up on. He could see us on Sunday. Would that work? Uh. Yes? Noah and I spent several hours with him yesterday. I sat with my giant binder on my lap — every piece of important paper we've generated since the Early Intervention days — while Noah played with a Magic 8 Ball and simultaneously broke my heart and took my breath away with his amazingly self-aware and articulate answers to the doctor's questions. I see too many things all the time. I'm always distracted. My ears don't work. My brain needs to be fixed. Can you help fix it? I want to be smart and I'm not. My ways are not the world's ways. And: There's a war in my head and the bad guys are winning. Of course, these responses came out in between long, detailed descriptions of the entire plot of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and were spoken while he turned upside-down and backwards on the couch, as if it were physically painful for him to sit still... Read more →