[I'm going to attempt to provide weekly updates of Nasko's developments now that he is home. This is mostly a report to appease the developmental therapist in me, and so I can track his progress. This is week one:] Cognitive: Nasko has demonstrated that he is a very smart little man. From figuring out child-locks to putting together puzzles, Nasko has shown that he is intelligent. He is very gifted at problem-solving as well (maybe too gifted, as we are currently on our third refrigerator lock!) He puts together simple matching puzzles and knows how to put things back where they belong.
Nasko lacks in his dramatic play abilities. He did begin to act like a dog (Allen) this week by being on all fours and barking. He does not really play dramatically with his kitchen set, but we doubt that he has spent much time in a kitchen while food is being prepared. He did put a baby doll into our stroller and pushed her around, but he didn't want to pretend to feed her or rock her.
Nasko is also delayed in his attention span. He CAN focus on a toy or activity for an appropriate amount of time, but he typically chooses not to. He continually hoards toys (an orphanage behavior - too few toys, too many children). I've already washed three hot wheels cars, as he keeps them in his pockets rather than playing with them. Nasko does most of his play in the squatted position. This appears to be part of his fight-or-flight defenses. He cannot relax enough to sit on his bottom. This also contributes to his lack of an attention span. It's not comfortable to squat for long.
Language (Receptive): Nasko was able to understand most Bulgarian, and use "da (yes)" and "nay (no)" to answer questions. Just in one week, Nasko has picked up on a lot of English-mixed-with-Bulgarian questions: Do you want to eat? Do you need to pish (or pee)? Ready to go ciao (bye-bye)? Do you want a drink?
He still answers these questions in Bulgarian.
Nasko also knows and responses appropriately to the following words and phrases: Time to eat. Help Mama (carry your plate to the sink). Wash your hands. Jump (on the trampoline). Let's play. Give Mama (or Taty, or Baba, or Allen, etc.) a kiss. (Sit in) Nasko's (car) seat. Put your coat on. Take it to Mama. Come here. Let me see. Go night-night. Light on (off). Open/Shut. Let's go home.
As I write this list, I'm amazed at what he already knows! This list grows daily.
Language (Expressive): Nasko was able to say "Ciao, (bye)" "kooya (car)," and "eat" when he arrived a week ago. We've also heard him babble "dobber den (good day)," but typically not in context.
Nasko is now imitating LOTS of words. He is also imitating the signs that we are teaching him. If he does not know a sign for something, he regularly invents one, in order to communicate his desires.
Spontaneously, Nasko signs "sit," "more," "please," "eat," and "drink."
Verbally, he is now saying "up," "more," "please," "done," "no," "jump," "dra (drink)," "hot," "Mama," "Taty," and "Allen."
Nasko is having his hearing tested on Monday to rule out hearing loss as a possible cause for his speech delay. I think his hearing is probably fine, but if I were to assess a two-year-old who was struggling to speak, I would order a hearing test for him/her. Same is true for our five-year-old son!
Nasko can sing along with "The Clean Up Song," "Old MacDonald," "Kumbya," and "Ring Around The Rosey."
Gross Motor: Nasko can run, jump, climb, and kick with the best of them. He is able to pedal his tricycle with speed and efficiency. Once in a while he forgets to watch where he is driving though!
Nasko appeared to have a fear of heights when he arrived, but many of our playground activities have helped him to overcome this fear. He is still not comfortable sitting on his Taty's shoulders however.
Fine Motor: Nasko is most definitely left-handed (except that he kicks with his right foot. Lefties, is this common?) He sometimes struggles with using his silverware, but he was really only given a serving spoon in the orphanage. One morning, he communicated to me that he was NOT going to use a fork. I then showed him how easy it was to stab his meat, and he grabbed the fork out of my hand.
Nasko can make marks on a paper using crayons, markers, or pens, but his short attention span hinders him from coloring very much.
Nasko habitually moves his fingers in an odd way (probably due to lack of stimulation as a baby), and we hope to address this issue with the Occupational Therapist.
Social-Emotional Nasko has made great strides in attaching with us this week. He regularly holds our hands without fighting against us. He gives kisses upon requests and once in a while spontaneously. This morning, he crawled into the recliner to snuggle with me, and look into my eyes for a whole minute.
For the first time tonight, Nasko preferred to be in a room with us (in the kitchen while we prepared supper) rather than exploring in another room.
Nasko still struggles to trust us with his favorite toys (cars in pockets, sunglasses, bus, etc.) He will extend them to us so we can see them, but very rarely will he let us remove them from his grip. A few times, he did ask for us to try on his sunglasses, but then he wanted them back immediately.
Self-Help: Nasko is very independent. Because we are trying to build attachment, we are discouraging his independence in many areas so he will know who his "caregivers" are. (More on this "backwards parenting" in another post.)
Nasko is able to assist in getting dressed. He extends his arms and legs appropriately.
He has not had a single bathroom accident since arriving home (hallelujah!) For attachment purposes, we help with every trip to the bathroom.
Nasko knows where his things belong, and he is very good about keeping them cleaned up. He can also use a napkin when he is finished eating. God blessed our family (of two OCD parents) with a very clean little man.
Nasko is beginning to come to us when he cannot figure out a toy. Rather than just giving up, he has begun seeking answers from those he trusts.
When we are in public, Nasko continues to reach for people he does not know. In the orphanage, all adults were safe, but now that he is home, we are attempting to teach him a healthy hesitation of strangers (even at church, which is hard).
Every time he lays down on his bed, Nasko thrashes and rocks. It depends on his exhaustion level, but sometimes he does not rock for long at all.
Regulation/Sensory: Nasko requires a large amount of sensory input. This is a fancy way of saying, "He becomes bored easily." Nasko behaves the best in situations where he is less comfortable. He typically explores new environments enthusiastically.
Nasko smells EVERYTHING. Whenever he touches something new, he smells his fingers.
Nasko benefits from very repetitive, very physical activities. He enjoys swinging, jumping, rolling on medicine balls, etc.
We're hoping some of his sensory needs will subside as his environment becomes more familiar.
We are so proud of our smart boy. We cannot wait to see what happens in the weeks to come!