[Today was the kindergarten/PreK screening. We’re probably going to enroll Nasko in the Early Childhood PreK program here in Athens for the remainder of the school year. He’ll begin by attending classes just three days per week. He will have a one-on-one aide as well. Some of these new developments that I’m going to share are from Nasko’s screening today. He did very well despite his language barrier. We’re hoping to locate someone to do a Bulgarian translation for a re-evaluation.]
Nasko is beginning to show early signs of appropriate play. This week, he started dumping bins of toys onto the floor and looking through them. He rarely attempted to play with them, but he was at least interested in them. As annoying as it may be to parents, this “dumping and looking” type of play is typical of two-year-olds.
Last night, Nasko pretended to cook me dinner. He did not use his toy kitchen much, but he “set the table” on our footstool. He also made a “beep, beep” sound while he pressed the pretend buttons on his microwave. I attempted to involve Nasko in many different cooking activities this week (from frying potatoes to making smoothies.)
On Wednesday night, our church’s people-mover bus takes the high school youth students to their home groups around Athens. This week’s bus driver was kind enough to allow Nasko and I go along for the ride. He absolutely loved it. [So did the high school girls; they kept saying “He’s so cute!” “Hi!” to the girls who subscribe to the chronicles of Nasko! I’ll be calling you to babysit eventually… might want to start training for the marathon now!] This ride gave us time to practice signing “bus” and singing “The Wheels on the Bus.” When we arrived back at the church, Nasko found a toy bus in the nursery. He loaded all the people onto the bus [and potentially a cow. Cows are his favorite animal and he thought they deserved a ride too, I guess.] He drove the bus across the room, and then he unloaded the people. It’s understandable that part of the reason that Nasko struggles to play dramatically is because he has never seen many of these experinces demonstrated in real life.
We are trying to teach Nasko to spell his name by reworking the song “BINGO.” We sing, “There is a boy we love very much and Nasko is his name-o. N A S K O, N A S K O, N A S K O and Nasko is his name-o.” Nasko loves that we sing about him, and he claps along or sings “N A S K O” with us. We try to point at the letters as we sing them – on his bedroom wall, or in the bathtub, etc. One day, during naptime, I was wearing my homemade shirt that says “Your body is not wrong, society is.” The words are written in clear, block letters. Nasko rolled over, looked at my shirt, pointed at the “S” in “is” and starting singing “N A S K O.” Considering all of Bulgarian is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, this was super exciting!
Nasko’s receptive language is growing at an astronomical rate. He understands basic words, and it’s fun to watch him understand them when they are put together. For example, we’re starting to work on identifying body parts [in the bathtub, in the mirror, on Allen, and on a dead deer head – you don’t want to know.] This week, we focused on, “Where’s Nasko’s nose?” He is able to listen and respond appropriately about 50% of the time. The rest of the time, he just isn’t listening for words that he understands. So, last night, I said, “Where’s Mama’s nose?” Nasko knows his nose, and he knows “Mama.” It took him a few seconds, and he started to point at his nose, but eventually corrected himself and jabbed me in the nose.
Some other phrases that Nasko has added this week are:
Mama/Taty says “No!”
Go sit [for time-in].
Turn it down [about the volume on his keyboard].
[Ride your bike] on the road. [As opposed to in people’s yards, through people’s flowers, in others’ driveways, etc.]
Nasko is a signing fool! He has learned quite a few signs, and will do them (without demonstration) when the English word is named.
Once in a while, Nasko will sign many of these spontaneously as well. His favorite spontaneous signs are “shoes” and “bike” at the moment. The minute he wakes up, he wants to put on his shoes and go for a bike ride.
Nasko has also added “up” and “down” to his list of verbalizations. He uses them to tell us to raise and lower his window in the car. [If you see us driving down the highway, raising and lowering the back window with a little brown boy hanging out, you’ll understand, right?] We are just beginning to encourage Nasko to use two-word phrases like “Up, Mama.” or “Taty, down!” He’s struggling to repeat the words in succession, but will repeat them individually. [Actually as I write this, Nasko just told the windows of his Hot Wheels minivan to go “down.”]
Nasko had his hearing tested this week, and the audiologist thinks it is probably fine. They tested his ear drums and his reflexes and they were normal. They also tested his directional hearing using the human voice, and he responded appropriately. He is not yet able to respond by raising a specific hand when he hears the beep in his right or left ear, so the hearing test was not entirely complete. We plan to go back in six months to double-check for those tones.
Nasko has an Speech Therapy evaluation on Tuesday of this week.
Nasko seems to be doing very well in this department. Maybe too well…
This week, we’ve probably ridden his trike around seven or eight miles. We try to do at least a lap [one mile] through our subdivision everyday.
Nasko showed less fear at open gym this week. [ I know, you’re thinking, “Fear? Nasko?”] He was more willing to jump into the foam block pit and walk across the balance beam (with his hands held).
Nasko stacked around nine blocks multiple times this week. He even was able to do it for the Kindergarten screening today. He also imitated the making of a block train – although it wasn’t exactly like the example, it had similar elements and he made the “choo-choo” sound while making it.
At the evaluation today, he even strung little beads onto shoestring with a demonstration and absolutely no assistance.
Nasko has become slightly more comfortable with a fork. He prefers to shovel a large amount of food into his mouth all at once using a spoon though. As you can imagine, he has a hard time chewing at that point!
Nasko did a couple “craft projects” with me this week. I let him put dots of glue on a letter “N” and glue scraps of paper to the picture. These weren’t the most beautiful works of art, but he did sit and engage in the project for a few minutes. It helps that I strapped him into his high chair for this. Love that high chair!
Nasko has an Occupational Therapy evaluation on Tuesday of this week. He also sees an ophthalmologist on Wednesday to discuss his vision and the fact that his left eye seems to turn in on occasion.
The past two days have been huge for attachment, as Nasko has come directly into our bedroom in the mornings when he wakes up. He now understands where Mama and Taty sleep and that we are always here. He even wants to get into our bed and snuggle with us for a while. He’s kind of a squirmy snuggler, but I’ll take the extra few minutes of rest!
Nasko continues to grow more attached to us daily. He shares spontaneous kisses and becomes upset if we leave a room without him. This attachment level is similar to a one-and-a-half or two-year-old, so we are excited as he works through those stages.
He really is learning the rules of our home [even if I feel like I have to repeat them every two minutes.] We can drive by neighborhood cars and Nasko won’t try to touch them. I can also say “stop!” and he will typically freeze until I come to him.
He has gotten our time-in routine down pat – so much so that we are increasing his time on occasion. We are required to be consistent in this routine because if we aren’t, Nasko smirks or giggles that he has gotten away with something. Because we are working to establish the hierarchy of our home, we can’t let him “win” when he has disobeyed. This makes for exhausting parenting, but we are beginning to see the fruits of our labor. Nasko rarely ever throws something at the dog anymore!
After pulling one girl’s hair at church on Wednesday, I considered never letting Nasko interact with another child again! But, Thursday was a new day, and at open gym, he held hands with a girl and sang “Ring Around the Rosey.” It only last for half a round on the trampoline though, because Nasko fell on top of the little girl he was singing it with! Mama and Taty have gotten good at apologizing to others while running in the other direction to catch their Bulgarian terror!
We are continuing a form of backwards parenting in order to teach Nasko who he should come to and depend upon. We are always present when he goes to the bathroom (despite the fact that he doesn’t really need us), we help him with getting dressed (even though he is quite capable of putting even his socks and shoes on independently.)
Today, Nasko attempted to eat three crayons. We’re still working on the eating and smelling stuff! The Occupational Therapy evaluation will be interesting on Tuesday.
We’ve worked a lot on “No bite,” this week. I now keep a baby’s chew toy [that appears relatively indestructible] buckled to my pants at all times. When Nasko begins to get overwhelmed and chew his fingers or bite anything and everything in sight, I say “Do you need to bite?” and he answers yes or no in Bulgarian. He has refused the toy occasionally, and stopped biting, but typically he bites it, and then moves on. He has not attempted to bite Chance or me at all this week. He has also stopped biting his pillow quite a bit.
Nasko’s roughest sensory moment was the car ride from open gym to the Athens park. He went from lots of stimulation (running, jumping, music, bright lights, people) to no stimulation (sitting quietly in the car) very quickly. We had to pull over twice to deal with behaviors of biting and unbuckling the seatbelt.
Nasko enjoys having a breeze blow on his head and face. He likes to ride with the window down in the car [with his head hanging out, if Mama weren’t so mean.] He also loves to have his hair blow-dried after bath. He now sleeps with a fan because the breeze is calming to him.
We’ve figured out some ways to help his sensory and developmental needs, but we still have a ways to go. I guess it’s good that we are in this for the long-haul!
[Thanks to all my educator-friends who shared their appreciation of last week’s developmental report. Glad I’m not the only nerdy one out there!]