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  • Writer's pictureHeidi Renee

Knowing and Doing

I'm sitting in my new found sanctuary of peace and quiet. The library.

And thinking. So much that my head hurts.

After school yesterday, I was able to chat with AJ's teacher for a few minutes. She explained to me how AJ's day is structured. She currently has parallel days planned for AJ and the other kiddos in his class. All of the other children in his class are 4. Yes, I said 4 years old.

Which means, not only is AJ the youngest at 3.3 years old, he's also the youngest, by far, developmentally. What is appropriate for the other kiddos isn't appropriate for AJ. We knew this but had wondered, with full trust in his teacher, how this was going to work.

We are thrilled with the schedule he has. He is SO where he needs to be. But I can't help but feel a little saddened that his developmental level keeps him from engaging in the activities that his peers are. His lack of socialization is something that is really beginning to worry both of us. When your child has a hundred therapy appointments a week, play date invitations are constantly turned down...and the invites eventually stop coming. Not only that, but his play skills range from solitary to the onlooker, to some parallel play (ie plays independently but beside others with same or similar toys).

Knowing that he would be in school with his peers was exciting to us. As AJ progresses and brings his levels up, his schedule will be adjusted appropriately. At this point he is with his peers for snack, on the playgrond, and during free-play at that classroom's different activity centers. Yesterday, he was at the art center, painting with dog bones and making spots on dalmatians with cotton balls.

His one-on-one instruction is going well, don't get me wrong! In just a total of 5 days at school AJ has shown major cognitive gains:

-Remembering the classroom -Walking around to the front of school to find Mom when it was time to leave instead of gravitating toward the playground -Signed 4 WORDS in a row to his teacher last week and then got upset yesterday because he wanted strawberries at snack and they weren't having strawberries even though he kept signing strawberries to his teacher -Came to Mom and got excited when we did bubbles over the weekend, because they are doing bubbles each morning with him at school -Shows more interest in books both independently and when being read to -Has gotten better with transitioning from activity to activity in school -Is comfortable with all of the teaching staff that is working with him -Gravitates to the snack table where all his peers are at snack time -Climbs in and out of his chair on his own

A few weeks ago I pulled out all of his tests/evaluations...and mentioned I would post about it. No time like the present. Please keep in mind that AJ is 39 months old. If we really want to be technical about it, he was at least 2 months early, so thats 37 months, then minus the 13 months of nothing in the orphange, thats 26 months...........

We are still stuck at 15-17 months for gross motor skills. Who knew walking backward, kicking a ball, throwing a ball, and walking sideways are learned at 15-17 month age level! I know this sounds silly to most, but I want to see him jump on a trampoline so bad. I know his Daddy would love to play catch with him. I want to see him zoom around the driveway on his tricycle. We are working on more independent walking, walking on uneven surfaces, and climbing.

His fine motor skills are average for his age-YAY! We still continue to work on getting him to put things "IN" to a container-consistently. He gets the concept, and knows how to do it, he just wants to do it when he feels like it, or with the toy that he wants. He prefers the mailbox & letters toy at the Speech clinic rather than the Piggy with the Coins at home. His self-care skills are below age level. And forget stacking-no interest AT ALL. I secretly think he can read these evaluations and decides not to do the task required. Seriously. We are working on placing simple shapes into an insert puzzle, stacking cubes, copying a horizontal line, a vertical line, and circle, and participate in appropriate dressing skills.

Moving on to his auditory skills...I revisited the Auditory Skills Checklist. I was amazed when I opened the copy his TOD gave me. The chart had nothing on it except the date of 1-28-08 and under #1 (wearing amplification during waking hours?) of the Detection section: 4hrs/day, in the evening he's very active, they whistle a lot and come out. Under #2 (use body language to indicate when something is heard?): startled. This was done on our TOD's very first visit; when AJ had hearing aids. Nothing else was filled in. Wow. I started going through and am pleased to see that he has more S's (has skill) and E's (emerging skill) than D's (doesn't have skill). The Detection, Discrimination, and Identification sections had mostly S's and E's. I found that very exciting.

In pre-symbolic communication he's at around 8 months, with scattered skills above that level, and missing some in younger levels that are speech oriented-for obvious reasons. We need to work on: repititive cooing of one-syllable "ah-ah-ah", vocalizing consonants in combination of one vowel, consonant-vowel syllable repitition "ma-ma-ma", imitation of adult-produced changes in pitch and loudness, and much more in imitation. All of the things I just listed are under 7 months, which astounds me. We also need to work on waving "Hello and Bye-Bye", imitating non-speech sounds-raspberries or tongue clicking, and clapping his hands. He's 4.5 months hearing, so.... The checklist goes to 16-18 months, I'm making the completion of this checklist a goal.

For the SKI-HI Language Development Scale, he's stuck at Unit 5, 8-10 months. He does have one or two skills in each of the Units 6-9, which is 10 through 18 months.

While we've never been ones to focus on numbers, I still want and need to know where AJ is and what we need to work on, in specifics. My "Type A" personality is kicking in-big time. And I'm aggrivated with myself because I KNOW that I could be DOING more at home for AJ. I can tell he is bored out of his gourd at home, especially now that he gets so much structure and routine at school. The four days off over the weekend were, ah hem, interesting. More self-stimulation, more wandering into his room and wanting to be alone and self-stim, more wandering with objects that weren't his, more pushing of Mom and Dad's buttons.

I need to incorporate AJ's visual schedule more. I need to find things for us to do that are structured play. I need to create a functional space for AJ to play and learn at home. His art bin (which is overflowing) is over here, books are over there, this is in another room, and thats over there. I'll figure it out eventally.

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