Backpacks, Loops & Spoons

Today's the last day of school. There are parties, ridiculous fake graduations, special year-end slideshows. I'm bringing the napkins and paper plates. Noah wears a backpack now. We can drive around the loop without a bone-melting, ear-piercing tantrum. He can hold a crayon, cut with scissors, ride on the big-kid swings and a merry-go-round. He can write all his letters and his name, and will draw pictures of things he likes from his favorite books. He's starting to read a few words and is really, really good at math. We suspect that what we first assumed was synesthesia is actually something more like perfect pitch -- he identifies the song colors right along with key changes, and can describe the color of other tones in the world, like cell phones and car horns. And he can eat ice cream with a spoon. Last summer, right before school started, we went to a pizza restaurant and bribed good behavior from Noah in exchange for chocolate ice cream. Which arrived not in a cone, but in a bowl with a spoon. Noah still ate everything with his fingers, but couldn't handle the mess and the cold of ice cream which is supposed... Read more →


Verdict

In the end, the decision was easier than I thought it would be. Jason and I essentially did a "on the count of three everybody say their gut feeling okay one, two, three" conversation and both blurted out the same answer. And it felt like the right one. Even though it wasn't the answer I originally saw myself choosing, honestly. Not that we haven't revisited the topic over and over and over again since (because oh, Christ, we have, and I am so sick of talking about this, even though I am here on my blog continuing to talk about it gah stab this entry with a fork I am so done). But each time we've ended up back where we started, nodding in agreement. We're going to stick with the IEP, the public Preschool Education Program. (breathes into a paper bag) I think I've mentioned it before, but we are fortunate to live in an AMAZING school district. And we live in a pocket of that district with especially well-regarded schools. Every time I set foot in the elementary school where Noah attends PEP I am endlessly impressed with the facility and the teachers and the quality of services... Read more →


I, EEEEPPP, Round Two

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 →


Jedi Master

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 →


Cocoon

On Saturday morning, I wrapped Noah up in two layers of outerwear, a musty-smelling scarf around my head, some vaguely Christmas-y paper around an awkwardly-shaped birthday present and headed out in the snow -- our first of the year -- to attend a preschooler's birthday party. Also our first of the year. Save for the occasional laid-back house party, we've politely declined all birthday invitations. I know I wrote about Noah and birthday parties -- my memory is suggesting that I very much watered down just how awful our last attempts were, but I simply cannot bring myself to go hunting up the entries to confirm that. Awful. The helpless shock of seeing your child behaving in a way that suggests he has been set on fire, instead of being asked to come sit on a brightly-colored parachute for a minute. The confusion of not knowing what's wrong, the hurt of knowing that whatever it is, your child lacks the verbal skills to tell you about it, and of course: the searing, shameful embarrassment of knowing that all eyes are on you, the parent who cannot control their child. We were, not surprisingly, never a very popular playdate choice at... Read more →


Yesterday @ 1 P.M.

So...yeah, OBVIOUSLY it went way better than that. I mean, I knew it would, even while lying in bed at 4:07 A.M., all saucer-eyed and tense, like WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT ABOUT, because I honestly had no idea I was that worked up over it. This is...what? Evaluation number five or six this year alone? The seventeen-dozenth since this all started over just about two years ago? Up until last night I hadn't even double-checked the appointment time, so I guess my subconscious decided to SURE SHOW ME how entirely NOT used to this shit I am after all. Triple-check and obsess while you're AWAKE, next time, sweetcakes. Or face our nocturnal wrath. And...imaginary stressful haircut scenarios. (I have been putting off getting a trim for a few weeks, actually. Maybe I should put a reminder in iCal, just so I don't have to wait for my brain to inform me that my hair looks like ass.) ANYWAY. It went well, as they tend to go whenever I am left out in the waiting room rather than brought along to sit there and apparently provoke all kinds of horrible uncooperative behavior. We get the full report tomorrow (TOMORROW. as... Read more →


Today @ 1 P.M.

It starts off badly, right in the parking lot. It's crowded, very crowded. I see someone pulling out of a spot on the end and am halfway in before another car appears out of nowhere, honking and yelling. I protest meekly before backing out and taking another spot down the row, only to realize that it's too narrow and I cannot open the doors and get the boys out of their seats. I stand there, panicking. We are going to be late. Suddenly, three girls appear and offer to help. They know our names and I realize they know us from my blog. Somehow, we're all inside. It's bigger than I remember -- more like a cavernous warehouse than a waiting room. There are dozens of people milling around rows of chairs and cafeteria tables. I check in with the front desk (Noah Storch, speech evaluation, 1 P.M.) and we're instructed to wait and listen for our names. We wait. And we wait. There are books and toys but neither of the boys wants anything to do with any of them. Names are being announced over an echo-y loudspeaker that I can't understand. Noah has climbed up a bookshelf and... Read more →