Interview: Danielle Mager Gets Honest About Raising A Child On The Autism Spectrum

danielle Mager, autism family

Danielle is just like any other mom, doing her best to raise her son Noah to be a good, kind & decent human. Noah, just happens to be on the autism spectrum. 

Danielle decided to start sharing her experiences on her blog, story of noahism in June 2017, just a few months prior to Noah's official autism diagnosis. Danielle writes in wonderful, moving detail about their journey from that moment on. "As a mom, I just knew.” She recalls. "Starting my blog was a way of "coming out" for us, and once I did, I could finally breathe. It was one of the best things I've ever done."

One very special entry is Noah's birth to diagnosis story:

"Our little man was two weeks early and with only a seven-hour total delivery - I'd say he was ready to be part of the world. The first couple of months for Noah were rough. He was diagnosed with silent reflux, which caused him to be very uncomfortable and colicky. Once he was put on Prilosec { anti-acid meds } he was a whole different baby. I don't know if putting him on the meds was a good idea. At the time I was just so desperate to help him and the medicine did. So we continued using it for a couple months. After his reflux was under control, Noah was a pretty happy and content baby. 

Starting my blog was a way of “coming out” for us, and once I did, I could finally breathe. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
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Around eight to ten months is when I really recognized that Noah was a little different from other babies I'd been around. He would bounce himself in his bouncy chair, and I mean bounce! And he would do it for so so long. Noah was also constantly chewing his shirts and bibs. He was extremely sensitive to sudden loud sounds. Noah wasn't crawling, but he was always bouncing himself in a seated position and making the scream sounds he does now. Starting solid foods was a huge struggle to overcome. He would gag at the sight of most foods. Sometimes to the point that he would make himself spit up. Noah also is extremely clumsy and that is something we noticed when he started crawling at twelve months. He would run into the walls and constantly seemed like he didn't know where he was in space. Once he started walking at twenty months, we found that Noah had low muscle tone throughout his whole body. We began private physical therapy and occupational therapy to help with his stability and eating struggles. Noah wore SMO braces for over a year to help with stability and create an arch in his foot, which he was lacking.   

Noah began early childhood special education preschool last fall. We also started in-home ABA therapy in December of 2017. Both of which have helped him tremendously, along with diet/supplements. 

Noah is a happy, silly little boy who prefers to be home with his mom and dad. His favorite things to do are spinning, dancing, tickles and hugs, going on top of tables and being outdoors. Noah also loves the television and his absolute favorite show is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Sometimes he can get easily frustrated and will act out or simply leave the situation. Since Noah is non verbal, he has a hard time with day to day life. This is something we're always working with him on. To be patient, and give him time to try to express his needs. My little boy is the strongest two year old I know. He fights so hard to try and be part of a world that is all just too much for him. But he is so so loved and has a village that will never stop fighting for him."

Noah is now 3.5. You can follow her family's journey on Instagram, Facebook and on Her Blog. But before you do, get to know Danielle here:

Where do you live?

Oxford, Michigan.

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5 words that describe you...

Empathetic, honest, intuitive, kind, hopeful.

Your child's name and age:

Noah, age 3.5.

How do your children inspire you?

Noah inspires me everyday just by always showing up. He has a pretty full schedule between therapy & preschool for a three year old. But he does it, and he does it all with a smile.. most of the time, he is still a toddler after all. He is just so unapologetically himself, and I love that about him. I've seen him overcome so much in his short years on earth that I know he is capable of anything despite his challenges. That's why he inspires me.

What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your child with special needs?

I wish people knew that just because someone is nonverbal, doesn't mean they're not listening. My son understands so much more than people may think. He hears you, loud & clear, you just have be patient & listen with more than your ears. 

If you could read one book to children in a preschool or elementary school class, what would it be + why?

If I could read one book to a class, I would probably read Corduroy. It was one of my favorite books growing up and I think it holds an important message; that we shouldn't have to change for others, and the people who are meant to be in our lives will love us for who we are, missing a button & all. 

What is in your bag of tricks when you are out with your kids?

My tricks are probably no surprise, snacks {the special ones that are not given at home} and the iPad!

What is an activity your whole family loves to do together?

This past summer, we discovered that Noah absolutely loves swimming. We live near some local lakes, so we would take him out as often as we could. This was the first thing we've ever all enjoyed together as a family, and it felt really good to have that. 

How do you survive a tough day of parenting?

I survive a tough day of parenting by honestly allowing myself that good cry. If I need five minutes alone in my closest to just sob, I give that to myself without any guilt. I then like to say at least one thing that I am grateful for. I usually feel so much better after this & am able to re focus.

The advice I would give newly diagnosed parents is try not to waste too much time waiting for things to get better. I promise you your kids are perfect the way they are. And if you’re always searching for who they will be you’ll miss who they already are dancing right in front of you. 

What is the last thing you purchased for yourself that made you really, really happy?

Last thing I treated myself with was a couple of bath soaps from Lush. Their products are divine!

Do you make the time for self-care? If so, what is your self-care ritual?

As for self care, I'm not one of those who really gets their nails done or gets Starbucks, so for me self care is just being proactive in my life. I try to eat healthy, drink plenty of water, & give myself breaks when needed. I also try to keep up on washing my hair, but like any mom, dry shampoo is life.

What advice would you give to a new special needs parent?

The advice I would give newly diagnosed parents is try not to waste too much time waiting for things to get better. I promise you your kids are perfect the way they are. And if you're always searching for who they will be you'll miss who they already are dancing right in front of you. 

3 parents you follow on social media that inspire you and why?

Three inspiring moms I follow on social media are Kate @findingcoopersvoice. Vy @keepingkinnley. And Sam @theausomepirate. These mama's are some of the most amazing women out there. Their strength and perseverance is so inspiring. I'm fortunate to have these beautiful souls in my life. 

What quote do you live by?

Quote I live by without a doubt is, "this too shall pass."