Cognitive: Nasko continues to show how smart he really is. He is very clever in how he communicates and problem solves.
The Occupational Therapist (more on her in a moment) was impressed that he was a "planner." She could tell that he would use a variety of techniques to get whatever he wants - even manipulation. For example, she had him swing on a log-like swing during her evaluation. The first time, he accidentally fell off, but it wasn't a problem since the floor was covered with cushions and mats. Then, Nasko decided he really liked falling off the swing. He began to do it over and over. He would act as though the fall surprised him though - just like the first time. The therapist would even attempt to stop him from falling, but he would patiently wait until he was far enough away or she was distracted before he would execute his plan. Now if we can only get him to use these plans for good instead of evil...
Nasko was able to stack eight nesting cups this week for the first time! I keep a set in our bathtub, and every night (or morning, or both, depending on his day!) I unstack them and make him re-stack them as part of the clean up process. Until this week, he always required assistance. Tonight, Chance was setting up for a conference where he is presenting a class, and Nasko and I found a children's area in which to play. There was a set of ten nesting cups there. Nasko put most of them together, but struggled with a few.
I forget that Nasko has only been home for three weeks when I think of all the phrases he knows (but doesn't always obey) receptively. This week he has begun to mix up a few words that sound similar - pray and play, help and up, etc.
Nasko can now identify his eyes and nose without hesitation. His new Sunday School class (I moved him from his age group to the three-year-old room for now) sings "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" every week, so we will probably work on those body parts next.
Nasko put together one three-word (part-English, part-Bulgarian) phrase this week. As he was heading to bed, he wanted to ask me if he could sleep with a car. This Hot Wheels car seems to be his favorite. We call it "Mama's koola" because it is a van like mine. He said to me, "Go night-night koola?" He was seeking my permission to sleep with the car. Considering he whipped out a three-word phrase, I of course obliged. He sleeps with that car every night now.
One night, Nasko was looking for that specific car, and he wasn't able to find it. We've been trying to get him to identify pictures (ex. "Where is the cow?") so we've been cueing him by raising our hands and shoulder in a "what" position. I didn't know what Nasko was doing (because it was bedtime, and Mama was tired) so Nasko mimicked our "where-is" sign and said "Night-night koola." I quickly joined his search. FYI, "Night-night Koola" was in his dirty clothes pile. Logical, yes?
Since Nasko seemed to understand the "where-is" sign, we immediately reinforced it by looking at books with common pictures and asking "Where is the ____?" Now, he can easily identify apple, baby, car, ball, bear, flower, choo-choo, boat, bike, fish, shoes, keys, and cow in realistic photographs. He still struggles with illustrations of the objects.
On Tuesday, Nasko begins seeing the speech therapist regularly. She completed his evaluation, and we'll have to see how he does during the sessions. She likes him to sit still in a chair to focus. Not so much Nasko's preferred style... He'll see her every Tuesday for an hour and then every other Thursday for an hour.
We don't focus much on gross motor because, let's be honest, I'd prefer that this kid not get any better at running or climbing. I'm struggling to keep up with him as it is.
Thank the Lord for the beautiful weather though. We've been riding about a mile everyday on that trike still.
Today I was able to coerce Nasko into drawing a picture on his easel. I realized that I might have more success with that, than sitting at the table. I was right! He stood and used about four different colors of markers and scribbled in a circular motion before he was done. That is an improvement!
Nasko's habitual moving of his fingers seems to happen less and less when he is in comfortable and familiar situations. He is also signing more, and even "babbling" in sign language, so maybe his fingers don't have as much time to do the habitual movements.
Nasko continues to make great strides towards attaching to us. Tonight, however, I realized that he still does not trust us.
We were at a church in Springfield and there is a fake car/registration desk in their kids' area (which, by the way, was stinking cool.) Nasko was very interested in this car. He really wanted to be lifted up to the counter/window area of the car so he could peer inside. He was very hesitant though, because he thought I wouldn't let him. He wasn't afraid of heights or safety, he was afraid I wouldn't follow through on my promise.
To help the situation, I gave Nasko some time and space. I backed away from him and "acted out" lifting him up and holding him to see in the car. I did this routine for almost fifteen minutes. I would say, "Mama help Nasko? Nasko up?" and he would always answer "Da!" (yes), but when I started to reach for him, he would shrink backwards. He didn't trust me to do what I said.
Finally, I got him to come towards me while I had my arms stretched towards him. He slightly fought my grabbing him, but then squealed with delight when I lifted him to see inside the car. He stayed in my arms for a good ten minutes. He is continuing to test our faithfulness and our follow-through.
Since we are working on dependence in this catagory, there isn't much to report. We did purchase a belt for Nasko this week. It is his favorite accessory and he feels the need to wear it all the time. He isn't able to remove the belt on his own, so he has to alert us when he needs to go to the bathroom, rather than just disappear to do his thing.
As I mentioned, Nasko had his Occupational Therapy evaluation this week. I. love. our. occupational. therapist. There, I said it. She's amazing. Her name is Arena and she is, I believe, also European (or maybe from heaven). I have heard really good things about her, so I requested that she do his evaluation. I was told though, that she didn't have any openings in her schedule to see Nasko on-going. After meeting him, Arena told me that she finds Nasko to be very bright, and full of potential. She has agreed to see him weekly. She understands institutionalization and orphanage behaviors. (Unlike our speech therapist who was shocked that he didn't know all the farm animals...) She and Nasko are going to be quick friends. Can't wait to see what assistance she brings us.
Nasko was on a biting streak early in the week (my dad twice and Chance twice) but he seemed a little better as the week progressed. He realizes it is wrong, and he ALWAYS kisses the affected location RIGHT after he bites. It's like he has trouble stopping the bite, but then feels remorse afterwards.
Here's to three weeks of forever!