Topics in search of cohesion
Much Like the White House Party Crashers, This Is All Reality Television's Fault

The Loop

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 that way some days. Some little inconsequential details doesn't go as planned and a mental wire gets tripped. He goes from a happy, smiling chattering little boy to...well, something else. Something I'm getting weary of describing, because I still can't seem to get it right. Please to reference EVERY OTHER POST EVER.

So lately we (with help and guidance from his teachers and therapists) have been working hard on improving Noah's problem-solving and abstract-thinking skills. You do this, in part, by deliberately creating problems and then pretending to be a complete moron.

Problem One: Oh no! You need to get dressed for school and Mommy put on your bathing suit! And now she's trying to put your socks on your hands! And your underwear on your head!


Problem Two: You come downstairs for breakfast but your chair isn't at the table. It's in the middle of the kitchen. When you say you want your chair at the table, Mommy pushes it in the wrong direction.


Problem Three: You get permission to go play in the basement, but the baby gate is closed. Mommy suddenly can't get it open, insists on making wild dramatic gestures about WHATEVER SHALL WE DOOOOO in the general direction of a nearby stepstool. IT'S LIKE WE NEED A TOOL OF SOME KIND. HMMM!

Solution: Ask to watch TV instead, because DAMN, WOMAN. on and so forth.

It's working, we think. Not all the time, but in past couple weeks we've managed to get him to work and reason through a couple change-ups and "why/how come" questions. A good start, but nothing that seemed to curb the Big Bad Reactions to a triggering event.

One such triggering event is, and has always been, taking the alternate way out of our neighborhood. Our house is on the edge of a street that loops around a couple of other houses, kind of like a cul-de-sac but not. But weird. It's like whoever built this development was legally required to toss up some affordable townhouses among the gigantic single-family homes, but sure as hell wasn't going to put them where anyone would actually have to look at them. Thus, we have two ways out.


Obviously, the preferred exit is shorter, but quite often gets blocked by landscaping trucks, extra cars that simply don't fit into two- or three-car garages, I mean, MY LANDS, and...I don't know. Piano-and-Ming-vase delivery trucks. So it's sometimes a little easier to just go around the other way.

Except that Noah always, ALWAYS loses his shit when we go that way. It's takes all of three seconds to end up exactly where we would end up ANYWAY, but in three seconds he can manage to completely lose it. He screams and kicks and pulls his hair and thrashes around in his seat. We actually moved him out of his booster and back into a harnessed carseat thanks to one of these fits, when he managed to turn his body completely around and slide out of the seat belt and onto the floor. 

We tried everything we could think of: we took walks around the block, we took pictures of the road for social stories, we drove that way every day on purpose, we drove that way only when we absolutely had to.

It's a little, silly thing, right? But that's how it is. Even if we can avoid a three-second detour right outside our front door, we may have to take one further down the road because a traffic light is out. We have to turn on a blinking red light instead of green. We have to double-back in the grocery store because we forgot something, order orange juice at Chipotle because they are out of the usual apple, wear this red coat because the blue one is in the wash, and on and on it goes. Explaining, comforting, bargaining, begging, completely unable to get him to understand that it's GOING TO BE OKAY. REALLY. 

Yesterday I had to drive around the way of doom, thanks to a tree-removal crew blocking the corner. Noah freaked. We continued on. We got to the highway exit for his afternoon program, driving under the bridge we'd soon circle back onto.

"Are we going on that bridge?" Noah asked.

"Yep," I said. I thought about leaving it at that, but instead plunged onward with the kind of endless chatter I do, never knowing how much of it he absorbs, plus, who else am I going to talk to? Fucking Twitter?

"See, we drive arooooound this ramp and get on the bridge! Wheeeee! It's like a big loop."

"A loop." Noah repeated.

I was about to define the word for him when he continued.

"A loop. Just like the one outside our house."

And that was it. He caught sight of a nearby school bus and changed the topic. 


I drove around the loop again today, on purpose, just to see.

In the backseat, Noah started to protest. Then he tentatively raised his arms over his head.

"WHEEEE!" he said, and he laughed.



Gah, the tears, again with the tears. Thanks for writing this.

Charlie Reece

You evil woman. You made me cry.

It's like that guy used to say: Know hope.


Is awesome. Am crying. You're such a great mom.




Amen, Noah! Loop!

Sprite's Keeper

Looks like you both got it! Yay! (These stories always brighten my afternoon!)


Yay Noah!

Anna Marie

I love that kid. I can see him making progress all the way from here.

The Tutugirl

Its hard not to smile at the thought of Noah going Whee! around a loop. What a great way to change his perspective. (Maybe problem solving in general would be more OK with him if it was generally associated with fun?)

Your patience and creativity with Noah never ceases to amaze me.


I'm saying a happy "WHEEEE!" with him.

College At Thirty

I've been attempting to comment on the Noah posts lately, but I always come off sounding like some asshole assvice giver (a single, childless one at that), so I've just been moving on from here. But I have to say: with what you have, you're doing great. You're proving that nothing is *wrong* with Noah, he just thinks differently. I know tons of adults who are stubborn and refuse to let go of their untrue notions of the world without tons of time to think about how they might be wrong (myself included), so the fact that this is happening in a child just can't be that crazy. Only instead of being insufferable in the "My god, you're over the age of 40! Put on your big girl panties and deal with the fact that the world is round already!" way, he's stubborn in the "You're four years old, and the only way you know how to deal with this stuff is to have a major tantrum, but can you just stop it already!" kind of way.

See? I still sound really sanctimonious, but I do think you rock. And so does Noah. He'll be problem solving for the big round world in no time.


You're four for four. I'm crying too.

Mrs. D

Wheee! What a hopeful, gleeful sound that is. Thanks for sharing this story.

(Also - Piano-and-Ming-Vase Delivery Trucks - hilarious!)


That's totally awesome! Go, Noah! Huge progress.


CONGRATS on the win, Amy!! Yay!!


you guys are such an awesome family.


This made me cry today. You're getting through to him, Amy, and he's making it happen!


I get so excited when I read your stories about SPD that I can't type my own email and URL in to the login screen!
Ok...I survived...
Again, so amazed at how similar yet different our guys are! Mine seems to have more independence/behavioral issues I can't tie to his SPD but it is amazing how one day the light goes on and that little thing isn't a big thing anymore! I didn't cry, for once. I wanted to clap our loud though my co-workers would think I'm even crazier than before! Yay for Noah and Yay for loops!


I'm not crying. *sniff* it's just the onions I was cutting for dinner. *sniff* and seasonal allergies. *sniff* and I might have a cold coming on. *sniff* but not crying.


He's always hyper-vigilant for Things Going Wrong which makes you hyper-vigilant for him going wrong. A loop indeed. Here's hoping that "Whee!" is the start of a more virtuous loop!


That is OUT loud....can't type either.

Love the map, too!


That's so awesome. Yay for you guys. I'm so happy for you.

And yes, dangerously close to tears with the happy of it all.


I can't imagine how hard figuring these things out must be for you and Jason, but wow. Noah just one amazing kid. Hard. But amazing.


My beautiful woman. Your posts are literary gold. I am not sucking up, I swear.

Laughing at the visual of Noah losing it in his booster and slipping around and out.

My heart is so big for that boy whom I have 'known' since he was a pea. He has those 'loop' moments that make everthing else worth it.

YOU are an amazing mom.


Kick ass! And, he made that connection all on his own, thanks to your chatter. :)


I actually clutched at my heart with glee. How awesome for you guys!



chatty cricket

what? I have something in my eye. STOP LOOKING AT ME.

don't make me tell you you're awesome. because I will. I will come over there and tell you right to your face.


This is fantastic - I cannot even imagine how huge this must feel to you. I hope he continues to make connections and progress like this. You guys are clearly doing right by him.


totally rooting for you and your fam, Amalah. go Noah and his understanding of the concept of a loop! we are all cheering from you out here in Internet-land.

also, as a person who grew up in that neighborhood and had elementary school friends who lived in those townhouses, I was very amused by your depiction of the loop. well done. :)


Progress. Beautiful! Noah reminds me of my sister when we were little. Back then, there wasn't a label for it. She struggled, and we struggled, and she grew up to be a happy, fulfilled person.

Tracy D

Awesome. Awesome awesome awesome! Wheeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, did you totally bawl about the whee loop? I would have. (Who am I trying to kid? Am bawling now. Just a little bit....)


Awwww, my day has been a long series of frustrations, and then I came and read this story. Thanks for being such a great kid, Noah!


AWESOME!!!!!!!!! :0) Way to GO Noah.....way to GO MOMMY!!!!!


That's a beautiful story. You have such a unique point of view and a great way with words. I love "socioeconomic tree border."


I love this.

Jen L.

You are an awesome, awesome mom.

Ellyn B

Wow. Just. Wow. Yeah Noah!
When I read posts like this from you, I think about a friend whose child is non-verbal autistic. On the bad days, she can hardly smile and gets guilty over the frustration she feels, but when a break through happens (recently: talking software with the iPod touch. Amazing!) she is a ray of sunshine.
You are doing such an amazing job.

Also, awesome map.


Wow. Just wow. Or maybe Wheee!


I think it's funny that Noah has no idea how many people he has made tear up by making that mental connection on the loop in front of your house. Congrats to you, and thank you for giving hope to those of us with children who have their own difficulties to overcome. Here's hoping that more "loops" become "whee"s in the near future! :)


What I gather about Noah is that while he may not always be absorbing what is convenient (ie: connections that will prevent his anxiety about changes in routine) he is clearly absorbing things on a level that others are passing right by. Children are pushed to absorb all of the cultural "rules" like common signs and symbols in their immediate world and social cues, etc. But Noah's sensitivity to music, color, etc.--these are more unique connections he's working on making all the time, perhaps to the detriment of that other stuff.

What I love about your posts is that while you are able to communicate to us how hard, how unbelievably hard, it can be, day to day, as a parent, you know how hard he is working, too. And you clearly have tremendous love but also respect for your little boy. It's wonderful.

mrs. q.

My heart just shattered. That last line made me go "OH! Yea!" outloud. Hooray for loops.


Wheee! You know what that reaction sounded like to me? Every kid I've ever known. Congratulations - you are helping him to be both special and average at the same time!


Your picture made me laugh. Especially the socioeconomic tree barrier.

I love your posts about Noah. There is just something about reading about a kid who isn't "normal" triumphing over things and showing how awesome he is in ways other kids are not.


I've been there too. And its always nice that after banging your head against the wall for (approximately) 18 million times, they finally get it. :-> Congrats.


That's awesome, Amy. Like, throw your hands in the air and yell, "Wheeee!" kind of awesome.


WOW ! That was trippy. I'll bet he was just as happy as you, knowing he does not have to get all freaky if you go the wrong way. You are a great writer.


Yay! Whee, indeed, Noah!


The loop! Gah, Noah is one fantastic little dude.


wow that is AWESOME!


Oh my lord. I love this entry SO much. I used to work with kids with ASD (I know Noah's not on the spectrum, but as you know, some of the behaviors are similar), and you are doing SUCH an amazing job with him. It is SO hard, for you and for him, and you both are so amazing.


The other day in yoga we were in a particularly muscle-burny, awful pose, and the instructor said: "Breathe into the pain. Because you know it's only temporary, and you'll come back out". I commend you for breathing into the pain, and finding your way back out. Good going!


OMG!!!! So amazing to practically see little kid brains making new connections. Happy for you all.


I kind of feel like a weirdo stalker sometimes. I don't know you, you don't know me, and yet I get all weepy over every single little Noah triumph you write about. I don't think it's just Crazy Pregnancy Hormones because I've done this when I haven't been pregnant, too.

Steph the WonderWorrier

Success! HURRAH!

(Also, the "socioeconomic tree border" brought the lulz).


Simply amazing!


You and Jason are amazing and dedicated parents and the proof is in your children. Whee, indeed!

It always seems crazy that I can silently root for the child of someone I have never met but hearing about steps he's taking - both big and small - never fail to make my day just that much brighter.


I have a kid with minor SPD. So I know some of what you're going through. But compared to what you're going through, we have it easy. You're an inspiration, to me and I suspect to many others, for your patience in living with this and your courage in writing about it. Thank you.

Kristen McD

That kid is so awesome.


Aw, Noah. Aww.


So awesome :)

Cheryl S.




I do have to say though, I cannot imagine myself going through this day after day without completely losing MY shit, let alone Noah losing his. You deserve a medal and a cocktail!


Wheeee indeed! That is fantastic.


Way to go Noah!


You made me cry again.

Noah is the coolest.

Parsing Nonsense

Wow, it's stories like this that can really help people see what a neat person he is. Seriously, though, he is SO LUCKY to have you and Jason as parents.


WHEEE! you are amazing. (so is noah.)


Oh, yay. What a great step!


You and Noah both win an award -
You for being an awesome Mommy who is willing to do anything for the well being of her babies.

Noah for persevering in spite of the obstacles in his path.


Bravo...*heart* this post :-)


You are amazingly patient and understanding and lovely, even if it feels like your head is going to explode in "Scanners" fashion sometimes. Noah is super smart and adorable, and thanks to you and Jason, he is GETTING it. I have nothing but hope and hugs for you all. Look how far you've come!!


That was an excellent entry. Thanks for your honesty.


WOW!! I am so proud of Noah!! Awesome writing to explain everything your family goes through. I too loved the "socioeconomic tree border"!!


You should gather all the posts about Noah's difficulties and triumphs into a book. I'm betting other parents of SPD children would get a lot of comfort reading these stories.

...and I'm crying too... :)


THAT is worth celebrating. In my family, that would call for a drink. Or maybe a high calorie luscious dessert.


This is amazing. Nice one Noah!

I love reading these posts Amy... my own special kid is almost 13y now (and I swear to you, it gets better) and these posts take me back to just how horrific and wonderful those times were.


May this WIN!!!! continue xD


How do I cry all the time these days? Gah! I'm blaming mah baby. Also, your little trooper. Whee!


ZOMG, I know exactly how you felt today! That has been our life for almost 13 years.

Yay for Noah!


Aaaw, yay for Noah! I am so happy he had a breakthrough. I feel so smiley for you both! What a good momma you are. :o)


And that's what makes you a fantastic mother :)


And that's what makes you a fantastic mother :)


awesome. Just awesome.


Holy crap.


Dr Wendy

I wonder if Noah would like to learn how to read a map--how to find the loops--how to navigate. I bet he might just "loop" all over the place!





Celebrating along with you!

bethany actually

That. Is. Awesome!!! Those moments when you get to see the *click* of knowledge being fitted into place are SO worth it. Good job Noah, for figuring out that loops aren't scary! And good job Amy & Jason, for keeping on keeping on even when it seems like nothing is making a difference because you love your boys like crazy. :-)


Go, Noah! Keep finding those "loops" in your world. Amy, you are doing such a great job!

Leska Mccall



Whee! indeed. Good job, Noah! And good job, Amy & Jason! My God, I read these SPD posts and I just cringe for you and I admire you for perservering and what you have to do to help Noah...and you always end on a positive! Bless you, and your amazing, beautiful child.



I know you get tired of writing about your kids sometimes and probably get tired of sharing Noah's issues. But your writing, your ability to communicate your love for your sons- it is amazing. Honestly, it is such a gift.
I have carried Noah in my heart for three years now. I never, ever hear John Mayer or Ben Folds anymore without thinking of Noah. I listen to songs and wonder what color they are. I smile about Ezra and your awesome captions for what he might be thinking.
You are so gifted and don't ever think we get tired of hearing about your life with your kids. It is our privilege to share in their journey!




Well, I'M not crying. It's just been raining. On my face.

Jessica (@ It's my life...)

It's hard to fathom how scary life must be for Noah or any other child dealing with this issue. Hats off to you for dealing with it with such patience.
Also, now whenever my daughters complain that I'm joking too often about everything I shall tell them that I am teaching them crucial problem solving skills. FTW!


You. Rock.
And so does Noah.

I'm so sorry for how you must feel some days. But you're doing an awesome job, and even if you lose patience some days, it's OK. Noah will remember the Loop. Wheeee!


You always put this stuff up right when I need it. I've been really stressed thinking our SPD daugther is also OCD. These last couple of days it's just be too much to handle. She's wearing me down and by 9pm I'm in bed unable to move. Thank you for documenting and articulating so much of what we go through on a daily basis. We also have two ways to our house - same reactions, although ours involve more crying.


Wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!! Amazing how such small things are HUGE!


See? There IS a light at the end of that tunnel...and NO it is not a train about to run you over!

It must be exhausting to try to maintain exact routines every single day. I feel for you.


for the last half of your post i was holding my breath. and i didn't realize it until noah's "wheeee!" when i exhaled. how wonderful is he? and you?

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