Better Parenting Through Abandonment
Bait, Switch

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 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, more speech -- because he responds so well, because he's *right there* and *so close* and it's *allsogreat.* This time last year we were still reeling in the wake of his teacher's not-very-veiled threats of expulsion. This year, everyone loves him. He's a sponge, a positive spirit. He is loving, he is kind, he is so very bright.

I've been carefully and cautiously celebrating the little things: fingerpainting, riding a bike, Halloween costumes, the loop, the very first time he ever looked at me and asked "why?" (last week. LAST WEEK.), the very first time he zipped up his winter coat all by himself (today. TODAY.).  And yet I still feel like I missed something, particularly in this past month. I can count on one hand the number of real, honest-to-God kill-me level of fits...yet can't put a finger on exactly when the good days started to outnumber the bad, and at such an uneven ratio.

He digs around in his backpack after school, eager to show off his latest project: N O A H spells Noah, Mommy.

He brings me elaborate Lego creations that no longer resemble the ones he once saw on the box: Look what I made, Mommy.

He plays more like a kid than a ruthless engineer, the last stand between order and chaos in case someone puts a blue block next to a yellow block instead of the RED BLOCK RED BLOCK. There is imagination, purpose, even the occasional good guy and bad guy. I am the Mommy Airplane with a broken wing, he is the Baby Airplane who calls the Compliceman to come and bring me a Band-Aid. A weirdly-shaped office building with an ugly radio antenna on the roof becomes mysterious and magical: Look at that pyramid, Mommy! There are mummies inside that pyramid, Mommy.

He tells me about his friends, his teachers, what he did that day. What they had for snack and who got in trouble on the bus. He tells me about the blue songs and the red songs and how the Christmas tree is "spicy" and that he can't eat a certain food because it's too much like "the ocean" and that shade of orange is too "rough" and every day we get a clearer picture of the nonstop sensory assault he faces and what the world looks and sounds and tastes and feels like for him: This song is yellow, but also kind of green, Mommy.

When he gets overwhelmed and overstimulated, he no longer screams or lashes out or kicks. He gives his body a good head-to-toe wiggle instead and starts everything over. Sure, it looks a little strange, but four-year-olds are a little strange, and it's a pretty effective reset button -- and one that he seemingly came up with on his own, his very first self-discovered coping mechanism: I shaking the itch out, Mommy.  

Everyday he is more "in" than "out," his teachers say. Everyday the other children in the class appear more foreign to me, more difficult than my own, and I am acutely aware that of all of them, Noah's chances for mainstreaming are much, much higher than theirs. 

He is still delayed, of course. Just because he finally asks "why" questions now doesn't mean we're allowed to ignore how long it took him to get to that point. When you teeter on the barest edge of "pervasive" there is always something else to worry about. He still has a very hard time interacting with children, with dealing with the inevitable, unpredictable aspects of daily life. He cannot use a spoon or a fork, or unbutton his shirt, or hold a crayon correctly, or...or...

He throws his arms around me a hundred times a day: I love you, Mommy.




WIN. Big fat massive effing WIN.


Hellz Yes.

Go Noah.


Oh, yay for Noah! And yay for a great supportive team to help him be the happiest Noah possible!


I'm so happy for you. Congratulations!


that's SO great!

i might need to adopt his 'reset' procedure for myself. moms need effective coping mechanisms for 'resetting' too, and his sounds like a good one!


I've said it before, but I'll say it again: He is just one amazing kid. I'm so happy for you and Jason and especially happy for Noah. Progress is the name of the game and he is whoopin' butt.


You are just lovely!


Whatever sacrifice you've had to make to get him to this point, and we know you've made a lot, it is SO WORTH IT! Congratulations!


YEAH!!!!! I'm so happy to hear this! Go Noah!!


BEST news i've heard all day!!!


I am so proud of Noah!
Every day holds a wonderful new experience for all of you.


Food that tastes too much like the ocean - perhaps too salty? Just trying to apply some logic to see if it helps you decipher Noahese. In any case, yay, Noah! And yay, Noah's parents, for risking the financial burden and putting him in a place where he is excelling.


Awesome, awesome, awesome!


I am constantly in awe at this kid. What a gem. I love the "shake the itch out" coping mechanism. I may need to employ that for myself.


So happy for you guys. Go Noah!


again with the crying! but I'm so inspired and proud of YOU guys for being so diligent and aware and sensitive - this win is all in your court!!


Totally verklempt over how joyous this moment is and how beautifully you describe it all.


I loved all of this, and am secretly in love with Noah for his clever song-color system. I have an almost 5yo who is a lovely, challenging, funny, whiny person - and he only just started buttoning and zipping. Just a reality check for you, for what it is worth.
It is so great you are archiving his use of language - when you aren't a part of your constant experience, hearing that orange is rough is really kind of beautiful and poetic - I mean, who doesn't think that about orange?


Beautiful. I can't imagine the joy you feel over this. Congrats!


heartwarming. cheers for Noah. he's lucky to have you as a Mom.


Go Noah! Go Noah! Go go go Noah!


Yay Noah! And congrats on Babble! I was not at all surprised to see you there.

It's no wonder it took Noah a little longer to talk because he has such complex things to explain. Trees are spicy? Orange is rough? It takes a lot of thought and vocabulary to be able to explain experiences like that.


My son is almost 7 and still has problems with things like clothing fastenings and staying dry at night, so we're definitely aware of how he remains delayed.

But... Most of these things are not evident to his peers, and he is easily mainstreamed at school--pull-outs for speech and OT, but also likely gifted when they start that in another year. So it balances out, and we don't feel the need to push for faster progress at this point.

Sprite's Keeper

Four year olds are strange, but ever so fascinating. Go Noah!


Amy-I anxiously await your blog entry every single day but have yet to make a comment until now. I have seen you speak of the stresses of raising such a wonderful being as Noah. Im sure you have been told before, but there are a million people that (I dont want to say a lot more worse off) but. but. but. Noah, is a great kid! I would have him as my son in a second. Im glad you found a school that 'gets' him. Everyday is a stepping stone and it seems as though Noah is running accross the path of flagstone full speed. This entry made me smile 'til no end.

P.S. I started reading your blog because my 14 month old is Ezra's long lost twin. They have hit all the same milestones at the same exact time.

P.S.S. Jackson, my son, loves Polenta also :-)


Spectacular update!


Big huge YAY for progress!

I love the reset button. I think we all should have one.


Awwww yay! *Happy shakes*


yay noah! that is so wonderful to hear.


Oh, you've made me cry. A HUGE YAY for Noah! We are all rooting for you!


Yeah Noah! Yeah Amy and Jason!

Mrs. D

I don't know you or Noah (aside from what I read on this blog). I don't have any kids. I don't even KNOW any kids. But oh my god my heart. I feel so so happy for you and your family and Noah's amazing progress.

Megan@Blueberry Scones

I always hold my breath when I see that you have another update on Noah and his school - what's he doing now? Has he made any progress? I then cross my fingers and continue reading. I'm so glad that he's doing well, and that this school is definitely what he needed.

(But on another note: What did you DO when the teacher mentioned your blog?)

Jen L.

Noah rocks my socks.


I am having a not-so-great day and am going to try that. "Shaking the itch out." Tee hee, thanks Noah ;) .

Kate @ And Then I Was a Mom

Not only are you proud of Noah--you're proud of yourself, too, right? You did this. You gave and give it everything you've got and it's working out. Congrats.

Parsing Nonsense

Great news! Take the good news where you can find it, and leave all the other stuff you can't do anything about for now where it belongs: in the garage.


And what's also great: that you see it. That you see HIM.


You know Amy you really should put cry warnings at the beginning of posts like these!! I absolutely love these posts so much and they bring me tears of joy!!! YEAHHHHH NOAH!


Oh, Amy. This is so unbelievably beautiful. I'm so glad Noah's finally in a place that's working for him. I'll say it again: big fat massive effing win.


Damn that feels good!


I think I can speak for everyone & say that we are so proud of Noah. & you! & Jason! & Ez, if for nothing other than being so adorable. But mainly Noah, for growing by leaps & bounds the past year.
This post made me smile. Lots.


OK. This mother of 4, grandmother of 5, is so thrilled at Noah's progress and so proud of his amazing Mommy that it feels as if my family has gotten even bigger.


Way to go Noah!


wow those are some really great descriptions of synesthesia (music is a color, sounds are a number etc) Its amazing how the right educational environment filled with people that are capable of unconditional love can make all the difference for kids with different needs...awesome post ;-)


I'm crying. I hate you when I cry. Sort of. Win, Noah, win. I'm so happy for you both. When the good days started to outnumber the bad. It's such a little shift, but the one that means the most.


So cool. This made my day. We are cheering for you Amalah!

Noah looks so much like Jason, and Ezra looks so much like you -- it's freakin uncanny!


You WIN. Totally win. Noah rocks the casbah, baby.


I love this blog so much. Keep enjoying the good, it's wonderful to read about and hear your excitement as well...

Blue Satin Sashes

I know this is oversimplifying the issue, but I think your experience typifies one of the problems with most school systems today: trying to fit all kids into a single learning style. Noah has his own set of challenges to overcome, but what seemed impossible to his last school is becoming the norm with the kind of attention and teaching styles to which he responds. I'm cheering for Noah all the way!

Did you ever say how he responded to your hair? I've been really curious about that, if it was a big deal to him or if he didn't look twice.


I am so happy to hear of his progress! I have followed you for a long time, ever since you were pregnant with Noah. We are currently starting the whole early childhood evaluation process with our son who is 3 1/2 and it is all very overwhelming! Could someone tell me more about the not asking "why"? My son has never done that while I hear all the other moms I know talking about how it is driving them nuts. I would love to know more on that particular!!


These entries always make me tear up a little. Clearly I'm not the only one a leeeeetle too attached to the people I read about on the Internet, but goddamnit I am so PROUD of him and PROUD of you and HAPPY for your whole little family. Noah is awesome. You are awesome.
And may you all live happily ever after.

Bachelor Girl

Oh, Amy.

You have no idea how happy this post made me.


i agree with blue satin sashes. i'm super curious about noah's reaction (and ezra's, for that matter) to the red hair.

Kristin J

Yayyy! Good job Mom and Dad and good job Noah. All your hard work and efforts are paying off. Keep it up!

Dr. Maureen

What a beautiful post, Amy. I think that sometimes we - or at least I - forget that the snapshots we see of your life here are not the whole picture, and I therefore underestimate the challenges you and Noah face. But I am so happy for you all that he is making such great progress. And oh my goodness, how lucky he is to have you and Jason for parents!


Every time you post about Noah's quirks it gets to me. He is so very lucky to have you and Jason rooting for him and making the hard decisions that help make progress for him. They are hard, these special little guys that we have but the progression can be so wonderfully amazing.
It's been exhilarating to read the updates. I'm one of the many strangers out here pulling for Noah. Right on little man!


Have they talked to you about theraputic listening? My son is starting it this Friday. The headphones are $145 (!!!!!!!!!) but we're going to go for it. He has sensory processing disorder.

chatty cricket

I second Em.

Noah, For The Mother-Effing WIN!


And he's wearing a HAT!

(Yes, I know, old news. But I remember when that was a hard thing too.)

I am SO, SO thrilled for Noah!


The Floortime model has done WONDERS for my son's imagination. I love our Floortime/speech therapist.

I love all of his therapists, really, but she has taken his imagination to levels beyond what he was just a short year ago.


This post made me cry a little. The one thing I miss being a SAHM is working with my kids (special needs pre-K and K) and getting to watch them develop and start to open up to the world like that.


This post made me cry a little. The one thing I miss being a SAHM is working with my kids (special needs pre-K and K) and getting to watch them develop and start to open up to the world like that.


Fantastic, just fantastic! You go Noah.


Amy, his progress sounds amazing. I am so happy he is doing well! Enjoy all the small victories!


Noah rocks. He is so VERY smart, and articulate now--to be able to put more of his feelings into very creative words. I love reading about his progress. It makes me -- a total stranger--SO PROUD OF HIM! He is one great kid . . .with AWESOME parents. I know you had such a hard time making a decision about his schools. Hope you feel validated now, because you so obviously made all the right ones.


Go Noah! So happy that you've got him in the right place with the right people. I pray that you continue to get excellent reports.


Crying, here. So happy for Noah. And you. But mostly Noah.


Wonderful! Well done Noah. I love your "re-set" :)

I was also wondering how he coped with the hair, Amy. My daughter still hates me colouring my hair and I've been doing it for five years...

MN G'ma

I had tears in my eyes as I read this wonderful post. What a privilege to have a glimpse into the wonderful world of Noah. That is one very sharp guy who can figure out how to conquer a world that assaults him with songs that have colors and colors that have feelings and attacks on the need for ORDER, OH, PLEASE ORDER. What a hero you have sent out into the scary world of school and other new experiences. But, he is armed with an abundance of love and he is winning. Yeah, Noah!


Congratulations, Amy! That all sounds wonderful...for Noah...and for you and your husband, too. You have ALL worked so hard to get to this point. Noah is lucky to have parents who recognize what a special kid he is and are committed to helping him be the best kid he can be.


Oh Noah!! You've already come up with a coping strategy all on your own!! I am seriously impressed. That is HUGE. :)
Not to mention all the rest of his wonderful progress, of course.
YAY for Noah (and totally YAY for his parents, too, for letting him tell them about how HE experiences the world. That is ALSO huge. :)
Um, did I say YAAAAYYYY!!!! yet?


Wow - awesome! Great job Noah and Amalah - keep up the wonderful job!


God, I love your blog - please write a book!


I'm so proud of your boy and so happy for y'all. GO Noah!






I am so glad you found "The School". It is the greatest feeling to have people talk about your child's progress and bright future...especially after months or years of shrugs and question marks.
It is amazing how these people are able to reach them...I still don't understand how they do it but I want to learn is amazing. My little guy is doing great too, so great that we're going to give public pre-k a try next year. You're doing great! Keep going!


So wonderful! Good for all of you!

I hope I can be half as good of a mama to my boy as you are to yours. What an inspiration you are.

Erin (Snarke)

I wanted to write a big lengthy comment about how awesome this whole post is, but it boils down to this: it gets me veklempt with happiness for you guys. Seriously. What a great post.


Oh, crying now. Love it. Thanks, Amy.


Aaaaaaaaaaaand... I'm bawling. Way to go Noah!! And I now have a new blessing: May every day be more in than out!


Aaaaaaaaaaaand... I'm bawling. Way to go Noah!! And I now have a new blessing: May every day be more in than out!

Maxine Dangerous

Sigh. I love him like I know him. :) (File under Endearing and Complimentary, not Creepy and Stalker-ish. :))


my heart broke a little with happiness for that sweet little boy. if that makes sense.


I'm with everyone else who says that Noah rocks. What an amazing little guy. I know it's overwhelming for him sometimes, but I love how he "sees" the world around him.

And you rock too, Amy. You and Jason are fabulous parents, and your boys are very lucky to have you.


wow. just wow. go Noah!


Holy effing AWESOME. I think I would cry if any of my little speech patients even knew the words mummy or pyramid, let alone could use them in play! Go Noah! Keep up the incredible work!

Lori McBride

WAY TO GO NOAH!!!!!! Way to GO Momma!!!! ;0)


halle*freakin* luiah

what a great burst of news, delurking to say hip hip hooray


I have been following your blog for longer than I care to remember but don't think I have ever commented before. I just wanted to say Yay Noah! There are a lot of people you have never met cheering you on.


YAY! Obviously, the work isn't over but CONGRATULATIONS on helping your little man come SO FAR! You are right to celebrate the little things, and you're both very lucky to have each other!

Heather Ben

so awesome, way to go Noah!

and if i ever meet that teacher with the "not-very-veiled threats of expulsion" in a dark alley...she's going down, big time.


I'm not supposed to be crying before I have my coffee. I love reading your writing. Thanks for sharing your life with us.


*high five* Noah rocks the world!




This rocks AND kicks much ass!




Thas frickin' schweet. Absolute pure awesomeness.

Boston Mamas

So, so wonderful to read about these developments! And kudos to you for hanging in there -- it's not an easy ride. -Christine

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