The (Belt) Loop

Last week, Noah decided that he wanted to quit karate. I've always told him it's okay if he wanted to quit karate (usually mid-argument over getting his uniform on and out the door in time for class), but he's always insisted that no, he doesn't want to quit. He wants a black belt. Well, that's not technically true, I guess. There was one point in kindergarten when he said he wanted to quit, but didn't like our stipulation that sure, you can quit, but you need to go tell your teachers in person. He waffled for a bit, then finally made it into the office, where he quickly changed his mind after 30 seconds of pep talk from a specific instructor. (Who he worships, but kind of in the same way one worships a terrifying, vengeful god.) He kept at it and seemed to be even more dedicated to the black belt goal than ever, after that. This time, that particular instructor is out on maternity leave, and he had no such qualms about sauntering right in and quitting. And my bluff was called. I don't WANT him to quit. Sure, I can think of a million other things I... Read more →

Bright & Shiny & Full of Win

The meeting went just as well as expected, which is to say awesome, which to say I love everyone and everything right now. Including you! Oh, you. Come give us a cuddle. Noah will transition to the general education classroom for math after spring break, surrounded by the nicest, most supportive team of bona fide Noah Fangirls that we've ever encountered since starting this journey over five years ago. These people looooove him and think he's amazing. And of course I tend to agree. I should note, in case anyone was/is concerned that we're getting rushed or pushed out of services: There is actually no change or reduction at all in the number of service hours on the IEP. As Kari explained in her comment: It's simply a placement change, aka where he will RECEIVE those hours of service and special ed support. Least Restrictive Environment; pull-outs vs. integration; etc. But the support is still there: The school is still being held accountable to make sure Noah's needs are being accommodated and that he makes progress on all his academic and behaviorial goals. He'll continue to receive one-on-one OT and be allowed extra time for tasks and testing and to... Read more →

Pomp & Circumstance

So that...figured. Despite all my big talk and confidence on Friday, Ezra completely freaked out and melted down at his first belt test. It was held in a different room, with a different instructor, and Ezra decided to show his displeasure with these changes by being as obstinate as humanly possible. "Okay, boys and girls, everybody please sit criss-cross applesauce facing me." Ezra sits criss-cross applesauce facing the opposite side of the room. "Everybody line up in a straight line right here." Ezra plops himself down in a random corner, seven feet away. "Everybody stand up." Ezra sits down. "Everybody sit down." Ezra stands up. Aaaaaaaaand ecetera. I pulled him aside on at least two different occasions and told him we'd need to go home if he didn't start...uh, where to begin? Cooperating? Listening? Participating? Doing everything that is the exact opposite of what you are doing right now? He did not want to leave. He cried and begged to stay when I offered him his shoes, which made me feel just great, super great, I'm so glad we're spending a ton of money every month for this enriching experience, but then he would re-join his class and remain completely... Read more →

Downs & Ups

UP: He's a brown belt now. Which (if you aren't up with the karate-belt-color progression, and don't worry, I only know because there's a cheat sheet on like, every wall of the dojo) is the highest belt for his current age group. He's determined to make it all the way to black belt. (Please note the Ezra Legbomb in the above picture. Sibling belt tests are exhaustifying, y'all.) DOWN: He had a panic attack when Jason emptied a new box of Cheerios into a space-saving plastic container. He screamed and cried and hurled his body around. It wasn't right, normal, regular. A tiny deviation from the constantly running script in his head and the world crashed down around him. I wrapped him up in blankets and talked about the time Baby Ike got into the Cheerios and dumped the entire container upside down the floor, which was just so silly, remember? Then I changed the subject completely. It's not like Noah could explain what was wrong anyway, and the last time I pressed him for answers in a situation like that he started talking about hating his "wrong brain" and my heart near ripped in two. The next day, he... Read more →

Family Homemade Chaos Night

NEWISH RECENT HOTNESS: Family Homemade Pizza Nights. Okay, I'm perhaps overstating the "homemade" part. We use pre-made frozen dough from Whole Foods. We dump canned tomatoes in the food processor with a handful of bagged pre-peeled garlic and some olive oil for the sauce. Top with cheese, pepperoni and oregano. Bake on a cookie sheet at the highest temperature your pathetic electric oven can crank up and CLEARLY you will be immediately transported to a rustic pizzeria in Italy. Or maybe just to that pizza joint at the airport. Close enough. I am not, however, exaggerating the "family" part. We get pretty super into it. We may or may not have special outfits. Complete with accessories. Ezra is always nice enough to lend Ike one of his non-pizza-specific aprons. (What? Don't all four-year-olds own multiple aprons?) Family Homemade Pizza Night is strictly pants-optional, however. As for Noah... Once upon a time, getting him to touch something like raw pizza dough or pepperoni would have been unheard of. So was getting him to help in the kitchen, willingly. Pressure! Instructions! Expectations and blenders and all kinds of squishy things! It's all different now. Super different now. Not to mention we did... Read more →

So Long & Thanks For All the Fish

I used to wonder when we'd be "done." After the speech therapy? Occupational therapy? After the mock preschools, special preschools, summer camps, kindergarten or...? I don't even know what I thought "done" meant. No more therapy? No more IEP? A final ruling out of SPD, PDD, ASD, ADHD, AFLACDIAFOMGBBQ? A child with no label? A child who is "cured" and "easy" and "totally predictable" and "not such a quirky little amped-to-11 question mark?" Obviously, duh. Bless my precious little heart, I just wasn't that bright. Noah is who he is, he will always be who he is, and we will always — ALWAYS — do everything we can help him be the best Noah he can be. You know, like we do for all of our children. (It's not like non-SN kids simply raise themselves with a little help from a pack of neighborhood dogs, after all.) There is no "done," really. But we are done with occupational therapy. His therapist is moving on to a new job, after all. We're not transitioning him to someone new, because really, it's time. It's a good stopping point, and he's ready. His final session was yesterday, full of hugs and high fives,... Read more →

Occupational Gratitude

Noah first met his occupational therapist at summer camp. He was three-and-a-half years old and had already developed a fierce dislike of school (and any school-like activities) and a deep distrust of teachers (and any teacher-like adults). But for some reason, Ms. M___ was different. He liked her. He liked her a lot. For over three years now, she's worked with him. First, almost daily, at preschool, then weekly. She was his anchor, the thing he looked the most forward to all week, the one person who could always — ALWAYS — coax the most and the best from him. Balance, coordination, motor planning, social skills, play skills, handwriting, attention span, self-regulation. She's encouraged him, pushed him and challenged him. But most of all she's believed in him, and loved him. Genuinely, unconditionally. She's the first person to hear about Noah's victories and breakthroughs, big or small. She is one of his biggest cheerleaders. She's also the first person I talk to when I'm having a rough time, or need ideas or strategies or some empathy from someone who gets it. Or maybe just to geek out about The Hunger Games. She's kind of been my cheerleader, too. Yesterday she... Read more →

The Face of Awesome

I don't know about you, but I'd give money to that face. Before anyone jumps to the wrong (yet probably all-too-common these days) conclusion: No worries, Noah's photo wasn't ganked from my blog or Facebook. TLC is the non-profit organization that has been helping Noah (and us) for years now. It's where he attended the Miraculous Summer Camp of Miracles and The Preschool That Changed Our Lives. He still receives weekly occupational therapy there for ongoing issues with rigidity, self-regulation, social skills, etc. A couple years ago they asked if they could take photos of Noah and his therapist for brochures and stuff, and we agreed. I always forget about it, though, until one of the photos shows up somewhere, blast-from-the-past style. I don't know how much longer Noah will require OT. (After several ridiculous tussles with several ridiculous insurance companies, we are finally on a plan that covers the weekly sessions without protest, so I am admittedly in no rush to change anything or draw the slightest bit of attention to ourselves.) All around, the reports are good-to-excellent: his teachers, his therapists, even his karate instructors are singing his praises and talking about corners turned, strides made, breakthroughs and... Read more →

First Grade, First Grade

On Friday I took Noah to his school's Open House. We met his new teachers, checked out his classrooms, and I was completely thrilled to see that the school assigned him to the teachers of his dreams, to exactly the kind of teachers Noah has historically responded best to and worked hardest to please. (Young, babyfaced-types with gobs of enthusiasm and no fear of Bribery With Snacks.) (I am about 99% sure his special ed teacher from last year hand-picked them for us.) Before we left, Noah insisted on visiting every former teacher and classroom. There were big hugs and high fives and marveling over his missing front teeth from his kindergarten teachers (and yes, Hot Teacher Is Still Hot, Only Now More Tan And How Did I Not Notice The Tattoos Oh My God), and then we stopped in to visit his preschool teacher. He had the same teacher for two full years of the Preschool Education Program (PEP), though it already feels like forever ago. Noah ran in and gave her a hug and they chatted about his summer (BEACH WATERSLIDES BEACH AND 14 MILLION HOURS OF LEGO), and I stood there and stupidly beamed at him, all... Read more →

The Next Big Thing

We met with a new child psychologist this morning. So I spent last night organizing and re-filing the mountains of old paperwork we've collected over the years. Old evaluations, assessments, treatment plans, progress reports, IEPs, re-evaluations, insurance rejections and appeals and God knows what else. Something old, something new, something photocopied, something blue. (The cup. The cup is blue. The cup is also full of vodka.) Reading through those old files is both oddly inspiring and completely masochistic. On the one hand, how far he's come! The things he says and does! The mind-boggling number of victories, both large and small (and medium and miniscule!), that we've celebrated since that fateful day when I took my non-verbal almost-two-year-old to the pediatrician. When that pediatrician cocked his head to the side and asked, "Does he walk like that a lot? On his toes?" He did it. We helped. I have no doubt that the things we've done and the people we've worked with have absolutely helped. There are miracle workers in that pile of papers. Bona fide. And yet. Ugh. The mistakes are all there too. The consent to discontinue services form I signed for Early Intervention. The progress reports from... Read more →