How We Do It Where We From
The Month of Too Much Pizza

Back in the EI Life, Again

Well. I don't know what to say. Are you okay? I hope everybody is okay. 

*deep, weary sigh*

Moving back around to my little myopic world, Ike attended a classmate's birthday party at a local gymnastics place with Jason. About an hour in he sent me the following:




Goddamn birthday parties. What the hell is your problem with my kids?

This was not a completely out-of-the-blue suggestion, by the way, but a nagging worry we've both had and been rationalizing away for a bit too long. Ike is not Noah, he is not Ezra, and developmentally he's always fallen somewhere in between his brothers' respective paces. 

But lately we're seeing more and more overlap with some of Noah's more...quirky little developmental hiccups. His vocabulary is solid but his pronunciation is poor and his grammar lags far behind his peers. He swaps words in ways that aren't wrong, but aren't necessarily correct either (i.e. "up" instead of "top"), and has trouble using more specific descriptive words so he defaults to the more general one ("arms" when he really means "fingers"). And these are all words/concepts he knows! He just seems to be physically struggling to pull the words up and out, and once he gets a sentence out he tends to repeat it several times, like hey, that was a lot of work so I'm just gonna keep saying it so I don't have to start all over with something new. 

He covers his ears at loud noises and yes, the happy birthday song. He doesn't like the songs or group poems/chants/prayers at his school and refuses to join in. He wanted to leave the party the instant he realized there were structured activities and melted down because the cake didn't come in the order he wanted. His fine motor skills are all over the place: he can zipper a coat and expertly use scissors, but he can't hold a crayon correctly. At home and on playgrounds, his typical little-boy wind-up gets frantic and compulsive as he hurls his body around on the floor and furniture, seeking big sensory input, usually until he hurts himself. He worries, he asks a million questions about what's happening next, and when, and why, and whyyyyyy, and transistions are eeeeekkkkkk, and it's time for me to admit that I can no longer be an impartial judge on what's "normal" here and what's worth worrying about. 


(Obviously costumes = not an issue with this one.)

He's not as bad as Noah, I think. Nowhere as bad as Noah. 

But not only is that a useless comparison to make, I have no doubt that my memories of Noah's preschool years are not entirely big-picture accurate at this point. I remember the Dramatic Low Points better than little day to day moments when everything was Just Fine and Pretty Okay. 

And so in Ike's case, I think I've had the tendency to use all the things that are Just Fine and Pretty Okay as evidence that he just needs some time, some maturity. Cognitively, he's great. He loves going to school, despite having some issues with a few aspects of the day. He's starting to read and is obsessed with animals and bugs. He's affectionate and loving and makes perfect eye contact. He absorbs everything he learns like a sponge, even if he can't always squeeze it back out in a way anyone other than I can understand. Maybe it's just a little baby-lisp he'll outgrow. Preview

But now we're less than a year away from a pretty dang intense kindergarten program and it's becoming more and more obvious that at this rate, he will not be ready. And while red-shirting is an option, it's far from our ONLY option. We know this. We've been through this. We can do this. 

So can he. 


Alison C

It would do no harm to have him evaluated - even if he is does not have as many issues as Noah then he can still get any help he needs. Or they will tell you to stop worrying and that you are right and he just needs more time. Either way he can only benefit from you having the answers you need. Hugs.


Big hugs! He and you all are going to be A-Okay no matter what the assessment shows (or doesn't show).


Those darn birthday parties! My kid is 16 now and a birthday party at a bouncy place at around 5 was a turning point. I have left him there with the group (lots of good friends of mine) to run out and get my other child and when I came back he was wrapped in the arms of a grandma…overwhelmed, shaking, holding his ears, apologies from the host…it was bad. Coming to that decision to test takes a long time, it's a hard decision and then it's not. Hand pats..


And, just like Noah, he'll shine through it. Yeah, this is Ike's tough stuff, but he also has an older brother who knows what to expect, and fiercely loves his little brothers. He has Ezra who will do everything he can to help make Ike happy.
Ike's got this.


We redshirted our second son. His August birthday coupled with fine motor delays and anxiety helped that decision. But now he also gets OT and Speech in school as well. He doesn't have a label like his older brother, but we see similarities as well. Trust your gut and remember you have 3 awesome boys. Hugs to you.


I don't know what to say other than you got this. We all know you do. We all deep, weary sighed with you, but we will all walk with you, too.


So you have him evaluated. Whatever comes out of the evaluation you will handle beautifully. He has Noah and Ezra who love him and will shower him with continued love and support. He also has two amazing parents who will do whatever they can to help him. How lucky can a little boy get? I will all be ok.


The Internet Cheering Section is here for him too if he needs us. (And who am I kidding? Who doesn't need a cheering section sometimes?)


It can't possibly hurt to have him evaluated, and better now than closer to kindergarten, yes? You guys totally have this.

While you're talking evaluations, how is Ezra doing in kindergarten?


Saw something on the news this morning about a study that was done that shows starting kindergarten late is actually beneficial. I was only half paying attention so you might want to google it. Hugs!


My second son is being evaluated this week for speech and OT after his preschool teacher suggested it. We are also considering redshirting him since he has an August birthday and is by far the smallest kid in his class. And I just want to thank you for sharing as much as you have with your experience with early intervention here and on AlphaMom because it definitely has me way calmer about starting this process again. (our older son has an IEP for speech and I *also* have that evaluation again this week, wheee!)


Does your school district have a special needs preschool program? My son is in one as a "regional center graduate" and is technically a "normal model" (he had a neonatal stroke), but they have OT and PT and speech that he participates in - and it's been AWESOME! He can hold a pencil better than his older brothers could at this age (4), thanks to a super-small class size and the OT's help.

Sue W.

You've got all of us standing behind you to hold you up. Never having had kids, I will not offer advice, but I'm sending you one of those Puffy Interwebs Hearts and a Virtual (((Hug)))


Hi Amy! Long time reader here. The day you got Noah's letter diagnosing HFA, I got the same exact letter for my 7 year old daughter. Your words have helped me so much in knowing I'm not alone! I have a 4 year old son who is super quirky and sounds a lot like Ike, and we just went through the process of getting him evaluated last summer. Unlike his big sister who FREAKED THE F@CK out at the assessments and scored why higher on the spectrum than I think she actually is (she refused to look at anyone and barely talked), he behaved like an angel. He insisted on wearing a toolman costume and told the team all about his tools and then went to the play kitchen and proceeded to make them cups of pretend tea and cake. He was a flirt and bowled them all over with his charm. So... of course they ruled him as absolutely not on the spectrum and told me it was completely typical for siblings and family members to have spectrum-y qualities without need for diagnosis. But he still wouldn't join group activities at preschool and would get extremely stubborn about the way things were to go. Despite his preschool teachers acting concerned about this behavior, he has now started school (here we start pre-kindergarten at 4) and things are surprisingly getting better and better and a lot of quirks are improving in terms of flexibility and sociability. Anyway, always good to get siblings evaluated when you have concerns, but what I've taken from all this is a spectrum is exactly that... We are all on it. The line where they diagnose it as a SOMETHING varies and is so individual. But as you know, this ain't your first rodeo! Sending hugs and wine.
P.S. I hate birthday parties.

Kim Strickland

When I read your post about EI, I am so glad that your children have you as parents and that you live in a place with a well developed system for kids that need help. I also feel very sad that there wasn't such a well developed system when my 15 year old was a young child. We knew he had issues from 1st grade... probably before that. He was diagnosed as ADHD and I just accepted that.... even though I knew he also had issues with anxiety and, as you put it, quirky behaviors. Uggh, he is now being home schooled because public school was about to fail him in 9th grade and he was getting in trouble a lot. We are limping along, but I am worried we will never get him to where he needs to be. In short, you are doing the right thing. This work you are doing now will save you and your boys down the road. I know it isn't easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.


You absolutely need to get him checked out, as you know it takes soooo long to get him into the system and getting services (3ish months in my own experience). My son went to your ES for early intervention and I love them to no end. Ike will be in good hands.


You definitely have us, and you've definitely got this.


Hey Amy, we've got your back. And Ike's, Jason's, Ez's, Noah's. Sending lots and lots of virtual wine. It's gonna be okay.Really.


Yeah, you've got this...been there, done that. He may be worse here and better there but different in that way...way over there.
I know that gut wrench you felt because we had back to school night and M is delayed here and there but not like D (my Noah) was blah,blah,blah.
In the end, you are just doing what needs to be done and they are smart and are you.
Now, take this tissue...I need both my hands to blot my leaky eyeballs.

Rachel A.

You do completely have this. Both my girls are on the ADD spectrum, and I have learned that there's not really "good" or "bad" as much as "publicly difficult". Or not. Since I didn't have a "typical" child for number two I am pretty much expecting that their little brother will be on that spectrum also, I'm just waiting to see what bouquet of gifts and challenges he presents to the world. So I think you might still be a little surprised by this possibility even while you saw signs, and even though you aren't sitting around going "DANG IT!" I'm sure there is a bit of mental adjustment needed. However, Noah is amazing, he has done amazingly well, and Ike will also no matter where he is or isn't on the spectrum. They have wonderful parents who are great advocates and that makes more of a difference than you perhaps realize.


Long time reader, first-time commenter - I think - just piping up to say that my daughter received speech therapy through Howard County EI for about a year, and we were so so happy with the options available to us and the service we received. Like many others have said, no harm having him evaluated! You got this, mama.

Loretta Metra

You know your child better than anyone else; as his parent you can advocate for him when need be. Don't ever hesitate to get another opinion from a trusted professional, and follow your gut. From what I've read here, you and your husband are great parents and are willing to do whatever it takes to help your boys succeed. They are lucky to have such dedicated parents.


At least this time around you know how things work: what needs scheduling, forms to fill out, forms to get, and then those other forms. Also forms. Your kids are all lucky to have such clear-eyed advocates for them.


My 16 year old just got invited to a birthday party and I think this might be the first one where he stays until the end.

Kids. Sigh.


He sounds an awful lot like my son at that age. My son has dyspraxia. He also has an extremely high IQ. I would get him evaluated. It can't hurt.

Megan Judy

My daughter, to everyone's surprise, qualified for speech, OT and developmental therapies because her skills were splintered, too. Like she had some advanced vocabulary but didn't know any animal sounds, etc, etc, etc. It turned out that it was because of her older brother, who has autism. He is her biggest role model and was causing the splintering in her development. We got her therapy and put her in preschool to get some neurotypical peer interaction and she never looked back. Of course, this comment is an oversimplification and I spent a few days crying in my pajamas at the time, but I thought I'd share. Maybe there will be a parallel. Good luck. PS I get upset if my cake doesn't come when I want it, too. Because cake.


I am so happy to figure out from the other comments that "red shirted" means "held back" and not "sacrificed to the aliens". *phew*


Joy, that was my first thought too. and I laughed an inappropriate laugh.

Eileen Ryan Ewen

I haven't gone through what you and Noah have gone through, so I realize my experience may not help one bit. However, what you described for Ike is exactly like what my oldest son (now 8), and third child (just turned 5, in preschool) went through. My son NEVER joined group activities in preschool, and only sometimes in Kindergarten. It took him ages to hold a pencil correctly, pedal a bike or trike. He loved the idea of birthday parties, but sort of shut down or flat out melted down during them. He was fine at home and with people he knew well, but in groups or when instructed to do something he wasn't comfortable with (like at a gymastics bday party)--it could be bad. My second child was fine (though ironically we're seeking OT for her, for different reasons) in these matters, and the third is just like her brother was, only more extreme. Throughout the entire year of preschool last year, she barely spoke or participated with anyone. Even on the playground. She shut down completely at her own birthday party, and refused to eat cake. It's still painful to go to "friends" birthday parties. However, my son came out of whatever developmental Thing he was going through between K and 1st, and is a happy, outgoing, fun-loving, confident kid who participates in everything. And while my five year old is starting to come out of her Thing, she's still not totally there. Personally, why not get Ike evaluated--no harm, and it gives you some answers. However, if it makes you feel any better, I think there's almost always a kid who just needs to take their time interacting with groups, sounding out words, etc....Either way, I agree with everyone else here--you've got this, and so does he.


We red shirted my first, he was later diagnosed with ADD, ODD. Socially at 11 he's still 9 or so. We've got a typical 8 year old who was not red shirted, but I think he's got ADD just not as severe. If you've been to the rodeo and the Cowboy is not wearing his boots get him evaluated.


We red shirted my first, he was later diagnosed with ADD, ODD. Socially at 11 he's still 9 or so. We've got a typical 8 year old who was not red shirted, but I think he's got ADD just not as severe. If you've been to the rodeo and the Cowboy is not wearing his boots get him evaluated.


You know what you are doing with this, so I'm sure you don't need any advice. However, I strongly recommend having him assessed and considering not red shirting him unless he can get PT/OT before entering the school system. I know people who held their kids out, thinking an additional year would be a magic bullet. In the end, kids are who they are. Struggles are what they are. And sometime all that year does is make it that much harder to qualify for help (the extra year puts them that much further along - kids are often assessed at grade level, not age. So while they may be struggling as a 7 year old, they are just squeaking by as a first grader and don't qualify for the help they need.) Best of luck.


This is unrelated, except that it is about children. There is a woman in California who is trying to help the Syrian refugee children. One of her efforts is to get wearable baby/toddler carriers to their parents. Anyone who wants to help can do so by mailing clean, gently used carriers to Carry The Future, 121 W. Lexington Drive, Suite L 106D, Glendale, CA 91203. They can also donate to Carry the Future's carrier campaign or its Operation Refugee Child, which provides refugee children with care packages including water, flashlights, blankets, and other necessities.


As a 45 year old woman that never had kids, this both interests and mystifies me. Can there be no variation in children's developmental rates anymore? As the youngest, maybe Ike is just a little behind because he had two older brothers doing/saying/getting things for him? Lots of people (introverts) don't like parties.....the over stimulation is just exhausting, and little kids just don't have the self control to calm themselves and be like "this will be over soon....just chill". I work with male engineers that cannot hold a pencil correctly. I didn't ride a bike til I was 10, not because I couldn't but because I had anxiety about ALL THE BAD THINGS that could happen if I fell off. I guess I just look back and wonder if I am on the spectrum? Is anxiety part of being on the spectrum? Were people I went to school with on the spectrum? Would we have benefited from intervention back in those days or were we just normal little kids that turned out okay and the education system now is just too quick to diagnose an issue? Anyway, like everyone else said, you got this.


I stumbled upon your advice column about 2 months ago and have been reading faithfully ever since! I also peek into the archives every now and then because I just love hearing about Noah, Ezra, and Ike. I am so proud of both you and Jason. You're both such great advocates for the boys. Like everyone else has said YOU GOT THIS! Sending hugs and smiles your way all the way from Michigan :)


I know exactly how you feel. When you already have a special needs kid it's tough finding that balance between not obsessing over every little developmental issue and also not ignoring things that could be red flags. One of the reasons we enrolled our daughter in the specia education pre-school program as a "typically developing peer" was that even though we didn't have any real concerns about her development we knew that they would catch anything that did pop up.

As you know you're absolutely doing the right thing. As the mother of an HCPSS first grader (who is also HFA) I can confirm that Kindergarten has gotten hard. All else aside they will be expecting him to be writing a fair amount so if he's struggling with holding a pencil correctly it will definitely be an issue. The good news is in my personal experience and what I've heard from friends/family Early Intervention is great. They're also fast; everyone I know has had their first preliminary evaluation within a week or two of making the call. Good luck!


What Arnebaya said, what almost everyone said. And thank you again for tracking your family's journey with us - you have made me much less fearful of the labeling and the system, and I recommended your blog to someone just last week. You are awesome and so is Jason, and your boys are just wonderful. My girls are, too, and so am I.

And in answer to Meredith, maybe. I got my ADD diagnosis hard on the heels of my 7yo''s. They didn't codify ADD until 1975 - I was 10 already. But having that diagnosis, a name and a plan for treating/coping with a neurological condition, rather than my own laziness/lack of focus/ditziness/whatever else I called it has been life changing. Getting tested, getting a name for it, is the first step towards getting kids *help* that they need. And it is totally worth it.
Sorry - I know that's long. But my grandmother has it too - she's 96- and I just found out she had electroshock therapy to deal with her symptoms. Test away, I say.

"He's not as bad as Noah, I think. Nowhere as bad as Noah."

Noah can read, right? I mean at some point he's going to know that Ezra and Ike are the 'good ones'?

Way to go, Mom.


Re: Meredith… excellent question and one that parents with special challenges ask them selves all the time I think. You will see your kid being "normal" and fitting in and you pat yourself on the back and relax and think you had it wrong all the time, the doctors and teachers are crazy and what do they know. And then your kid does something that isn't "normal" and is so far from "normal" that you feel like collapsing as the weight is so heavy you are not sure you can bear it.

Kids should be evaluated if there are concerns. I have a cartoon on my desk that says, "If one person says you have a green tail you think they are crazy, if 2 people say you have a green tail you think there is a conspiracy, if 7 people say you have a green tail you turn around and look". Parents that get their kids assessed have had more than 7 people or more than 7 events that point them to their kid needing testing. They look.

There are heavily researched tests the kids take and comparisons against "norms". In my experience drugs and diagnosis are NOT just handled out like candy as some people who don't have any experience like to assume.

Helping kids outside the norm when they are little is essential. These kids struggle and when they are teenagers they struggle more. They can commit suicide, they do drugs, school is impossible. The stakes are so much higher.

Again, good question and I don't fault you for asking. The nostalgia we have for the past and how we view that time is wonderful but kids also suffered terribly. We didn't see those kids that really struggled because they weren't in our schools. That is not how things worked "in the good ole days".

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

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