We had a busy weekend, so this update is a little late. Sorry! (but we had lots of fun, so I’m not sorry at all…) :—)
The biggest development in Nasko’s cognitive abilities this week was discovered during his PreK screening at the school. In order to qualify for the Early Childhood class, the child’s evaluation has to be completed in his or her native language. So, we needed find a translator to help complete Nasko’s evaluation in Bulgarian. Because we serve a very big God, there was of course a substitute teacher right there at Cantrall Elementary School who lived and taught in Sofia, Bulgaria for four years. Of course there was!!
On Wednesday we went to the school and had the evaluation. Here’s the huge development though – Nasko did better in English than he did in Bulgarian! Three and a half weeks in a home with loving parents who are constantly feeding his mind, talking to him, and exposing him to new activities has changed this boy so much!
In English, Nasko was able to identify his eyes, nose, mouth, tongue, ears and feet at the evaluation. He could “spell” his name (by singing it to the tune of BINGO). He identified quite a few familiar pictures. He signed “more” and “please” spontaneously.
He didn’t respond at all to the evaluation questions in Bulgarian.
Nasko has really turned a corner in his receptive language development this week. On Saturday, it felt as though he was testing EVERY rule we had ever set into place. His behavior was defiant and, in general, awful. It was my second hardest day since he has been home. Thankfully my brother and sister-in-law were here to help for part of the day (C was teaching at a conference all day.) It has been interesting though, because from Sunday on, Nasko has been a changed little boy. He is listening to our verbal commands, without the need of physical redirection or time-ins. We’ve gone from probably 30-40 time-ins daily to 5-10. This week has been much more enjoyable as a parent!
Nasko now understands bargaining as well. One of our most-used phrases is “Go la-la or night-night koola all gone.” This translates to, “Lie down and go to sleep, or we’ll take away the car with which you are sleeping.” This parenting tool is very helpful. It translates into food (eat _____ or no cookies), playtime (no bite or glasses all gone), and car rides (sit and no touch [seatbelt] or Mama stop). Much of Nasko’s undesirable behavior can be redirected with this bargaining tool!
Nasko is using signs and words spontaneously at a rate that I can hardly document! Some of his biggest gains this week were while we were fishing with C’s dad Friday night. Through a combination of sign and speech, Nasko was using four-word phrases – “More fish. Catch. Pet.” Nasko loved looking at the fish, including inside their mouths. He finally became brave enough to touch the fish too (Mama’s not even that brave!) He kept signing “pet” like he uses when he wants to pet our dog, Allen.
Speaking of Allen, Nasko has become more loving towards Allen lately. He desires to sit and pet Allen for long periods of time. He still kicks at the dog once in a while, but overall, he is becoming more kind. He has started trying to talk to Allen as well. He attempts to boss Allen around (which is comical since Allen is as independent as a cat). Nasko told Allen to go eat, go get in his bed, and get inside a cardboard box. None of which Allen did, of course!
The occupational therapist believes that Nasko might not have spent much (if any) time crawling as a baby. Since he spent the first three years of his life mostly in a crib, he possibly skipped crawling and just pulled to a stand on the rails and began scooting and walking. (The medical records show that he didn’t walk until he was almost two. Orphanages prefer that the babies don’t walk right away, because then the children are contained.) Since he potentially didn’t crawl, Arena (the OT) is concerned about his lack of movement in the trunk area and his underdeveloped shoulder muscles. She suggested using a cardboard box or a tunnel to have Nasko crawl through regularly. We started with a (free!) box, but since that was torn up right away, Chance’s aunt bought us a tunnel from ToysRUs. Nasko has practiced crawling through it this weekend. He’s doing well with it. I’ll be interested if there’s any improvement at OT.
Nasko’s Aunt Heidi bought him a bookbag a few months ago, and instead of Mama carrying his change of clothing and toys everywhere we go, we’ve started having him carry them in his book bag. He loves it! He even carries it around the house some! Hopefully he’ll build muscles and Mama will regain a free hand when we go out in public!
As mentioned in a previous post, Nasko attempted finger painting this week. He did very well. After the initial time painting, he requested to do it again! I think he enjoyed it.
The biggest development in this domain was on Monday night at our home group. Typically this small group bible study meets at our house, but this month we are visiting other members homes (since my house is not presentable on a regular basis now!)
This past week, we were at our friend Mickey’s house and the kids were all playing in her spare bedroom with our babysitter. Nasko went in there voluntarily and seemed to be playing well, so I enjoyed a few minutes of childlessness. Soon though, Nasko began to cry and the babysitter brought him out to us. He was saying my name while crying, so we assume he was missing us! I am (of course) a horrible person and I began to get excited and celebrate this step in attachment while my child was in my arms crying. Oops! Oh well, this was huge in our lives!
Nasko is beginning to understand routine – at home, at church, at open gym, etc. he knows what to expect and when. I believe that he is feeling more settled and less in his fight-or-flight mode.
Nasko has been having some symptoms that are identical to mine when I eat gluten and dairy. Tomorrow (Monday, since this post is late!) we are starting a gluten and dairy free diet for him. We’re going to try it for thirty-ish days, and potentially add one of the elements back in at that point. Hopefully we can determine the issue at that point. Hoping it’s just a temporary intolerance, but I’m grateful for my life experiences so that I can help him before it causes other problems.
Tomorrow, Nasko will have been home for exactly one month. One month of craziness, sleeplessness, love, forgiveness, development, change, and beauty. Thanks be to God for the month He has given us with Nasko. Praying for many, many more months!