Therapy Street For Kids
I wanted to share the link to a website with lots of great Occupational Therapy ideas that you can use at home to reinforce what your children are learning at OT. Many of these activities I recognize from what Ben has done at his therapy sessions so far. They are broken down by skill area to target specific areas that need the extra work.
We've had a handful of therapy sessions so far. I like some of the therapists and others I am not thrilled with. I'm not sure what to think as the sessions are going. Ben gets very anxious when we are there. It does not help that we've been in a different room and seen a different therapist every time we've gone. He does best and NEEDs firm, consistent boundaries and routine. I am hoping once he gets used to it and the people, the activities they want him to do, and the newness of all the 'fun' stuff wears off, that he will calm down and it will go better. He gets bored of the activities very quickly and is always resistant to doing them at first, and is eager to clean up quickly to move onto the next thing. I am thankful that I can stay in the room and help with the guidance and boundaries. They seem to be afraid to be firm at all. He is so different at home than he is when we are at therapy, and he forgets how to act, listen and follow directions like he is fully capable of doing. I guess my expectations at home, that he is meeting easily, are much higher than they think he is capable of and he has figured out very quickly what he can get away with them. It's frustrating because it feels like all my hard work is being undone every time we are there. They said originally that they are familiar with internationally adopted children and attachment issues, but they don't seem to get our concerns about his over-friendless with strangers and why they can't let him hug/lay on/ask to be tickled, etc.
It amazes and saddens me when I think about the experiences Ben lost not being in a family from birth. Just a small example...My 2 1/2yo spilled some unpopped popcorn all over the kitchen floor. My 1yo took it upon himself to pick it up each kernel and throw it away for me. Ben isn't able to do that. He still struggles with a pincer grasp and handling multiple items in one hand and it is very awkward how he holds it. He usually uses the left hand to hold little things and the right hand to put the objects into the left hand. We have no idea what Ben's first few years were like, whether the children were in their cribs all the time or if they had an opportunity to crawl and explore much. Somewhere along the line, he missed out on what we take for granted with our bio children who have so many opportunities and are watching, touching, experiencing the whole world around them from birth. Children who grow up in orphanages miss out on so much and it affects so many areas of their development that you would not expect. Many times I have to catch myself when I give him an instruction and realize he has no basis of understanding for what I just asked him to do. So I then have to back track and explain it/demonstrate it/practice it with him multiple times until I know he has it down, and then often repeat that all over again...and these are simple things. It isn't because he isn't capable, it is just all new to him. It's easy to become impatient sometimes before remembering why the delays are there in the first place-and they aren't his fault at all.
We have found similar delays in his language. We never got a clear picture of how his language skills were in his native language before coming home. We know he was a very late talker. They said he talked some and understood directions but much of what he actually spoke were very childish/babyish versions of the actual words so our translator had a very hard time telling us what he was saying. From what Ben's speech therapist has observed, much of his speech issues are just related to learning a new language. I'm not sure how long that will take but he is slowly progressing through the normal stages of that and they think just more time and immersion in English will be what it takes to get him where he needs to be. He still prefers the easy way out (saying single words) but is catching on to the complete sentence thing that is now required of him when he wants something. He struggles greatly when you ask him questions, unless it is a question we have intentionally practiced and he remembers the 'scripted' answer. They haven't been able to do a formal evaluation of where he is at yet, because that needs to happen with a translator who speaks Bulgarian. I am just not sure after all this time, how much he would actually understand of his native language and how realistic of a representation it would give us of where he is at, and where his delays are.
Next week we have a hearing test scheduled. The speech therapist observed how intently he focuses on your face when you talk. That combined with his obvious auditory sensory seeking behaviors makes them wonder if there is something going on with his hearing. In October, Ben has an appointment with a pediatric eye doctor. It has become very obvious that he has one eye that strays. I wonder how much that affects his ability to focus.
I am trying to figure out how to start schooling with him. I made up a playlist on You Tube using learning videos that teach the days of the week, months of the year, and counting to 100 in song. He likes that and has caught onto the number pattern as you go up. Someone gave us some 'Your Baby Can Read" Dvds and I have found those to be a little helpful as well. Any suggestions in this direction would be great. I've been trying to find good basic ESL videos that do simple complete sentences but haven't come up with much yet. He does not like sitting to be read to but we are trying to make that a daily event anyways. We have lots of posters on the wall with colors/shapes/letters/numbers and verses that we are reviewing. Leapfrog videos are still a favorite though I am looking for something to use after that.
I ordered some Handwriting Without Tears supplies to work on him building up his hand skills and forming the letters until he is able to write them on his own.
I am thinking about making up some therapy busy box activities (like those in the link above) to use during blanket school time for more reinforcement. Anyone know of any fun toys along this direction that would make great birthday presents with a dual purpose of fun and learning? I need something more involved than just pushing a button. I was thinking puzzles would be good. He really liked the ones at therapy that make animal noises when you put the piece back in the slot.
That is kind of where things stand right now...this wasn't the 8 month home update :)