I originally started this blog a few years ago to chronicle Noah's daily struggles with autism. It was a dark time in my life - a time when I felt that things would never get better. It was a time when I felt that all my hopes and dreams for my son and for our family had died. In my efforts to help Noah recover from autism, I began a journey that inadvertently led me to rediscover myself. I learned how to laugh again. How to dream again. How to live again. How to love again.

Autism Schmaustism. He's still our son.

This is a blog celebrating our family. Our kids. Our life.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Our best evening ever!

We had such a good evening tonight! Oh my gosh, it was like an answered prayer. Seriously. First of all, Noah has not shrieked since about 4:00 this afternoon. It's been so wonderful! And then, I've made a friend out here, and we went to the mall around 5:30 to just walk around and push the kids in the stroller. She has a little boy Noah's age who also has autism. Anyway, we went and played at the mall playground and Noah was so happy. He was all smiles and he immediately went in and started climbing up on all the toys. This is the same kid who a year ago couldn't climb up or down a 3 inch step. Now, he's climbing all over climbing structures. He wasn't scared at all. And he never even hesitated. Just went right in there and started climbing.

So, after that, the boys rode the toy train that they have at the mall. Noah was smiling and so excited. He wasn't scared. I was sure he'd be whining and getting all panicked. Nope, he just grinned at me everytime the train went past me. And he'd turn around in his seat and just grin. He was so happy. When the ride was over, he pushed open the stoor, stepped down from the train and walked straight out the gate to where I was. It was like he was a normal kid! No one would ever have suspected he had autism.

Then, we all went upstairs and ate in the food court. (Yeah, we didn't do the diet today). But it was just awesome. I mean, it was me and Noah and Eli - and my friend and her two kids. And we were all sitting there eating and talking and laughing and Noah was so happy. And anyone watching us would've just thought we were two moms out with the kids. We looked so normal and happy - no one would ever have guessed that our boys have autism. It was a scene that I've seen so many other mom have at the mall and I've never been able to participate. And it was so awesome because I felt like all my worries went away. We were just a normal family having a normal time. And then the kids rode on the merry go round and Noah didn't panic or tense up or anything. I stood right behind him and he smiled. I think he soooo enjoyed today. It was the best day I can ever remember having.

But the best part was when I kneeled down and asked for a kiss. He was looking at the ground and his head snapped up and he lunged forward and planted one right on my lips!!! Noah stopped giving kisses when he was 19 months old. I remember it distinctly. It was at Aunt Jane's and he gave Tyler and James a kiss and that was the last kiss he gave. A year later, he gave kisses for about 2 weeks and stopped. So, of course, I got all teary-eyed. You all know by now that I have a problem with emotional outburts! hahaha. But it was just such a great moment. And I wish you all could've seen how happy he was. It was pure joy. I just want to freeze it in my head and always have it there to go back to and remember.

Of course, now, he's back to shrieking... but I'm so glad we had this evening. It was like God gave it to me as a symbol of hope. I needed it so badly and it's given me something to hold onto.

Anyway, that's all. Oh! Wait. I have to tell you what Eli did today. It's too cute.
I was kneeling by the bed putting lotion on Noah and Eli kneeled beside me and he bowed his head and clasped his hands and said, "Mommy, I pray". I said, "Oh really? What are you praying about?" And Eli closed his eyes and said, "Dear God, please let Mommy buy me balloon. Thank you! Amen".

Where do they learn these things???

Noah's Mom

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Pretty Good Week

Thought I'd post how Noah did this week. There were some rough patches, but I figure I concentrate too much on those and need to lighten up this blog a bit.

Noah started giving kisses on the phone this week. So, if I'm talking to Sim or Mom & Dad, I can put the phone up to this ear and say "Give Daddy (or Nonna or Papa) a kiss and he'll actually place his lips on the phone. Isn't that awesome? He doesn't look at the phone or act like he's even paying attention, but he does lean in and touch the phone with his lips. He's doing it pretty consistently, too, so we are all sooooo excited. I think it's been 3 1/2 years since he last did that.

Also, today he climbed into his car seat by himself. All by himself. I was so excited and said, "Give me five, Noah!" - totally not expecting anything in return. But that kid actually looked me in the eye and smacked my hand with his his. I was in shock. And, of course, then I had to call Sim and Mom & Dad and tell them all about it. Just like kissing the phone, it's been 3 1/2 years since he last did a proper high five.

Another thing is that Noah is now sleeping much better. He's pretty much sleeping through the night now. He's been getting up about 6:00 this week, but last night he slept until 8:00 in the morning. Whoo hoo!!! He went to sleep at 9:00 tonight and I'm going to try to hit the sack just in case the spell gets broken and he's up at 3:00, but it's been really good this week. He has been stimming like crazy and has added crazy laughing to his current bag of tricks, which include grunting, hissing, screeching, and banging his hands together. But give me a full night of sleep and I can handle about anything - so it's okay.

Eli had decided that he loves day care - which he calls "school". He loves his teacher (he calls her "grandma teacher" because she's older) and he actually asks to go to school. It finally dawned on me that maybe he's sick of hanging around me and needs a break! hahaha. He's probably sick of seeing me all the time! And he loves his little friends at school. He's having a blast now.

He's getting so smart. We bought a membership to the Nashville Zoo (which also gives us free visits to the Dallas Zoo) and we go once or twice a week just to give us something to do. Well, Eli has become like this expert 2 year old zoologist. We saw some birds at the zoo and I said, "Hey Eli, look at the birds". He turned around and said "No, Mommy. Dat's a crane". And sure enough, that little sucker was right. It was an African Crane. How did he know that?

He's also totally gotten into the Crocodile Hunter. He's been watching the memorial specials that they've been airing this week on Animal Planet (we get free cable with the apartment) and is so fascinated with crocodiles now. And I practically bawl everytime an episode comes on because I'm saddened by Steve Irwin's death and just feel terrible for his family. I can't even imagine losing my husband or the kids losing their dad. So, I get all sniffly everytime it comes on and Eli pats me on the hand and says, "Don't worry, Mommy. The crocodiles won't get you". Ahhh, the innocence of a 2 year old. I just want to scoop him up and protect him from everything he's going to face out there in the world and let him keep his innocence forever.

I guess that's it. I know there's probably more things that happened that I can't think of off the top of my head. I really need to try and post daily - otherwise I forget everything. One thing I haven't forgotten is the countdown to Simeon coming out here. 9 days. And today is almost gone, so it's really like 8 days, and if you don't count tomorrow, it's 7 days. Yea!!! He's coming on the 17th - Eli's 3rd birthday and I can't wait. Eli doesn't know yet, so it'll be a huge surprise for him. Also, I found a huge brand new gorgeous 3 foot crocodile stuffed animal at a thrift store for $1. One dollar!!! And I can't wait for us to give it to him. I also found two Curious George plush toys at Target on clearance for $2.98 because some kid had gotten loose and put marker all over Curious George's face and no one wanted the two toys after that. Goodness, don't people know that a bit of Aqua Net will take anything off??? Anyway, this is the first birthday that he actually knows what's going on. And I'm so glad Sim will be here to celebrate it. And then...... I'm going to let him take the kids out and I'm going to have a much anticipated nap!! :-)

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Noah's Mom

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A little progress

Well, it looks like I'm behind again. I think this might have to turn into a weekly update blog, instead of the daily blog that I had envisioned when it was first created.

We've got seven full weeks left before we go back home. Yea! I am counting the days. Seriously. This is hard work. I never, ever, ever imagined it would be so hard. Last Monday, I almost gave up. I called both Sim and my dad just bawling that I wanted to pack up and come home. Noah had stayed up all night - in fact in 39 hours he had only slept 1.5 hours. And then, of course, Eli wakes up after a full night's sleep just full of energy and ready to start the day. AND Noah's still shrieking up a storm, which wakes our neighbors up at all hours. And then, he has developed this awful habit of making grunting noises and hissing noises that remind me of those hissing cockroaches that I've seen on Fear Factor. Very lovely. There is no telling what our upstairs neighbors must think with all the shrieking, grunting, and hissing going on in our apartment. Geez.

Anyway, I was ready to chuck it all in and go back to Texas. But I held on and made it through another week. I think my weekly ritural will be to cry all day on Sunday, which will be a good tension reliever and try to make it all the way to the next Sunday.. and then just start over again until each week goes by. 7! Only 7 left!

Despite Noah's odd behaviors, we have started to see a teeny, tiny bit of progress this week. We bought a membership to the zoo and we've been going several times a week just to give us something to do. Anyway, we went on Tuesday and Noah actually paid attention to the monkeys. He's NEVER paid attention to any of the animals before. He thought they were funny and laughed at them. And then I bought him a little toy and he held onto it for dear life and wouldn't let Eli touch it. That was pretty cool. He's also had good eye contact and I think he's starting to get better receptive language - meaning that he's able to understand a few things that I say to him. I mean, this all sporadic and comes and goes, but I've seen a few things that make me think that this is all working. His skin is also getting a bit better. We still use the steroids - only because it's really the only thing that works. I do hate it and know it's not the best thing for him, but we were going through all those natural, organic lotions and creams so fast and it was just too expensive. And his skin is getting better, so I can get by with doing the steroid creams about 3x a week - as opposed to the 2x daily that we used to do. So there are some good things happening, but it just gets hard sometimes. The other kids here seem to be making such fast progress and there's Noah - spinning in circles and banging his hands together. But part of me things this is part of the progress somehow..??? Maybe he's detoxing? I mean he's getting a lot of work done here, so it's got to have some sort of effect. And he's constantly having toxins coming out of his body, so that can't be pleasant. I think we might really start to see the benefits when we go back home and he gets back into his familiar surroundings and his friends. Oh, and Sim's coming in 2 weeks for a week! I can't wait to see if Noah reacts differently to Simeon when he sees him. It'll also be nice to get another person's perspective on how Noah's doing b/c I think I miss some of his accomplishments because I'm around him 24/7 - and walking around in a sleepy fog most of the time! :-) Noah's been up since 4:00 this morning and Eli is full of energy and demanding popsicles for breakfast and wanting to watch his Barney videos (no, I don't give in!) - but you can see why my brain tends to switch off quite a bit! :-)

Hope everyone has a good week!

Noah's Mom