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.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Yes, Noah-isms! I know... it's usually Eli, right? But Noah's use of his letterboard has exploded this past month and for the first time, he's really starting to communicate with us.

Okay, so it's probably just a 5 on a scale of 100 and we have a long, long, long way to go.... and there are days he just absolutely refuses to cooperate, but for the first time, Noah is really starting to respond to open-ended questions, which means we're able to get a glimpse into his sweet, funny little personality.

I could go on and on about about all the things Noah's going through right now (9 is a HARD age for little boys with nonverbal autism), and I could explain the struggles we're having in getting Noah to consistently do the letterboard, but I'll save all that for later. Because, right now, I want to celebrate what Noah IS doing. It may not mean much to anyone else, but I kind of want a record of all the neat things Noah's coming out with because I don't trust my brain to remember them all.

And, to us, these little snippets of communication mean the world.

So, here it is.......

1. Noah was getting frustrated with the lessons I was having him do... I guess Ancient Civilization isn't on the top of "exciting school lessons" for 9 year olds. *snicker* So I asked him, "Well, what do you want Mommy to teach you? What do you want to learn from Mommy?

And Noah spelled out N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

And then doubled over laughing (little stinker!)

So, then I threw my hands up in the air and said, "Well what do you want to do all day then?" and he spelled out S-W-I-M.

2. Noah didn't want to eat the lunch I fixed him, so I asked him, "What do you want to eat then?" and he spelled out M-C-D-O-N-A-L-D-S.

"Really? And what do you want from McDonald's?" and he spelled out C-O-K-E.

3. We were learning beginning grammar - starting with nouns. And I said, "Are you a boy or a girl?" And Noah spells out I -A-M-A-B-O-Y. So I said, 'And what is Eli?" And he spelled out E-L-I-I-S-A-G-I-R-L and started laughing.

4. At one point (and this breaks my heart), Noah had a complete meltdown.... sobbing, screaming, biting, hitting his head.... and by using a choice board, he was able to tell us that he didn't think we loved him because he had autism and couldn't talk. Oh my word, did we all cry!

Like I said, I've heard time and again that 9 is a turning point for nonverbal kids.... all these hormones and emotions. Later, he was able to calm down and tell us that he knows we love him. But it has definitely made us more aware of his feelings and what he actually may be thinking when he has a meltdown.

5. At our RPM session in Austin last week, Noah was on a roll! He spelled out, "M-O-M I-N I-N-D-I-A" and Soma, who is from India, said, "Yes, your mom was in India. I'll be going to India soon."

And Noah asked, "H-O-W I-S I-T?" so she told him about India. Then she pointed to an observer in the room and said, "Katie is from California" to which Noah replied,

"I-N T-H-E W-E-S-T".

Then, Katie leaned over and whispered, "Is Noah your oldest?" Well, apparently, Noah has supersonic bat hearing because he then spelled,

"I A-M B-I-G".

Soma, who has worked with thousands of children with autism recognizes that sometimes their choice of words is a bit different than what we may expect and she said, "Yes, yes, you are the oldest aren't you? You are the biggest!" and Noah smiled.

Then he spelled,

"M-Y L-I-T-T-L-E B-R-O-T-H-E-R I-S F-R-O-M S-O-U-T-H A-M-E-R-I-C-A"

Actually, he's from Central America, but Noah hasn't learned about that yet. I thought that was pretty smart! And, boy, was Eli shocked when I told him. "Little brother?? Little brother! I'm not a little brother!" which pretty much reinforced why Noah felt it was so important to let everyone know that he (Noah) is, in fact, the oldest and don't you forget it!

6. Later, Noah started to get agitated and I had to warn Soma that he's been biting lately and Noah spelled out,

"N-I-C-E T-E-E-T-H"

and Soma said, 'Yes, your teeth are being nice to me. I don't have to worry about you biting me."

7. The other day, I had folded all of our clothes onto our bed and Noah threw them all onto the floor and I scolded him. First of all, he looked so sad. Then he grabbed my hand and put them on his bottom.... as if he wanted a spanking. What??!! That boy doesn't get spanked. I couldn't understand what he was wanting, so I grabbed the letterboard and said, "Tell me what you're thinking" and he spelled out,

"S-O-R-R-Y M-O-M".

Oh my gosh! He not only called me "Mom" but he also considered my feelings and was able to appropriately express his sorrow. This is HUGE!

8. Yesterday, after a lesson on Sumerians (yeah, I can't let the ancient civ stuff go.. lol), I gave him some words and he had to spell the first thing that popped into his mind. He wasn't really cooperative, but I got two things out of him...

a. I say ice cream and you think..... "S-N-O-W" (We made snow ice cream this past winter)

b. I say Nonna (his grandma) and you think.... "T-W-I-X". That one surprised us because Noah doesn't eat candy or chocolate, but my mom always has a huge candy bowl filled with Snickers and Twix and Butterfingers.

9. And this last one... this is my favorite. After Noah spelling out "nothing" when I asked him what he wanted me to teach him, and after him repeatedly spelling out "N-O" whenever I asked him a question... .as in... "No, I'm not going to answer you".... I asked him what book he wanted me to read to him.

And I said, "Don't you dare spell 'nothing' or 'none'!" So Noah grabbed the letterboard and touched the letter "O" and I said, 'Okay, so the book you want me to read starts with the letter "O".

What's the next letter? And he touched "O". I said, "Noah, OO doesn't make sense. Try again." And he kept touching "O" over and over again. Then it dawned on me....

"Noah, are you touching the letter "O" to mean ZERO?? As in NOTHING or NONE??!!" and that little toot laughed and laughed and laughed.

Isn't that clever??!!

And that's all for now. It's just really exciting to see a glimpse of our sweet Noah's personality. Hope you enjoyed it, and I hope it gives you hope and inspiration if you're the parent of a nonverbal child, too. =)