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.)
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 had a mini-meltdown at school over a social studies lesson. Everyone was taught how to say hello in another language, and given a badge identifying what country and language they "were." Then they were supposed to mill around the room and practice saying hello to each other.
Noah was Eygpt. No, Noah was NOT Eygpt. The sea of everyone pretending to be from somewhere else, saying different words, the idea that "hello" is not always "hello" was all too much and the rigidity amped up and gaaaaaaahh that was the end of that.
I picked him up from school and drove him to his weekly therapy appointment. They moved marbles from their Regular Bowl to a Different Bowl. Then they put them into a box of tissues, which was just so silly, Mommy. Later, he got a bag of Doritos as a reward for saying the word "merci."
When school started this year, Noah insisted that he did not know how to read and would refuse to even try. Every unfamiliar word was an unbelievable source of stress for him, for he refused to sound anything out because he might get it wrong. This perfectionism crossed over into writing and...well, lots of things.
He's reading above his expected grade level now. He loves to write and tell stories and is no longer concerned if his spelling is perfect. Math is a strong suit, and his behavior at school (the occasional rigidity tussle aside) has been impeccable. On Monday nights, after dinner, he sits down with that week's homework packet (due on Fridays, go at your own pace)...and does the entire thing, cover to cover.
On other nights we have to invent homework for him. Illustrated book reports are a popular choice, or math problems, or seeing who can list the most adjectives or nouns.
He reads bedtime stories to his brothers; he does fractions over breakfast with his pancake. I still have to remind myself to pick my jaw off the floor, sometimes. And to let go of my own worst fears and anxieties. Like he has, and continues to do.
ADHD and dyslexia are now off the table, diagnostically. He is not on the Spectrum. All signs are pointing to a very smart, very quirky, visual-spatial learner who is slowly outgrowing a myriad of sensory issues and developing at his own zig-zaggy pace.
The Downs still happen. For anyone who reads this blog because they see their own child echoed in the archives, yes. The Downs can still be scary, and frustrating, and make me feel like I'm doing something wrong, or at least not right enough. Noah is not a light switch, who will one day just flip completely to "easy" or "typical." His wiring is so much more complex than that, like a electrician's lighting board at a giant stadium concert.
But the Ups happen more often now, and are higher and better than ever before, and the stadium is full of cheers and applause from every seat in the house.
Because we all know what's coming next is going to be awesome.