Friday, February 3, 2012

3 month home update! Part 1

Maria just continues to grow and thrive!  She is learning new words and signs every day- she surprises us by her amazing memory retention. This girl imitates everything, has a great attention span and is eager to keep learning.

The process to get doctor appointments and therapy has been quite drawn out since we have HMO and have to get referrals to everything.  Besides the fact that we are newly navigating the world of special needs services.  It also makes it more complicated because she didn’t receive early intervention (0-3 years) and wasn’t already in the system. 

We are working on getting a Behavior Management program started for Potty Training! Should be starting next week!  We thought Maria was somewhat potty trained at the orphanage, but since gotcha day, she has indicated very strong aversions to potty use. She has already shown lots of improvement, including  using the “big” potty now, staying dry most of the day and even has asked to go “poo-poo” about 3-4 times this week.  Seriously if you had told me last week that she would be ASKING to go poo poo this week, I would not have believed it- woohoo!

Yesterday we saw the pediatric ophthalmologist and we found out Maria’s vision is even more limited than our optometrist was able to see.  However, since we have not been seeing any strabismus, he gave us a new prescription for half of the strength her lenses are now.  This is because her current lenses are doing all of the focusing for her and it will be better long-term for her eyes to have their own focusing work. 

We also saw an ENT who followed up with her low hearing evaluation.  Her hearing did fail the normal test in both ears but it could be due to her small ear canals. In the other tests performed, her hearing was adequate and she responded well to auditory cues, so we will follow up in 3 months.  I asked the ENT about performing a sleep study because Maria is a restless sleeper and we just don’t know if there could be any sleep apnea, so I was pleased that she agreed to send out a referral.  Our local sleep clinic doesn’t work with 4 year olds, so now we are waiting for a referral to UCLA. I am so excited about this because we will be working with a neurologist who specializes in Down syndrome. If our insurance approves J

We also were doing some Physical Therapy for about 4 weeks.  I’m pretty sure Maria never was made to do anything she didn’t want to do at the orphanage.  If the exercises became too much “work”, she would try to walk away or just sit down.  She even would lay her head on the therapist’s lap and hug her.  Unfortunately the therapist fell for this!   There were two things wrong with this: 1. She was obviously trying to get out of the exercise by distracting the therapist with her cuteness and 2.  I had already explained to the therapist that because we just adopted her, we are working on bonding and that we are teaching her to only hug mommy and daddy and to shake hands with “strangers and friends”.  I did have to remind the therapist of the “rules” and the next time and after that, things went great! Maria has been getting stronger. 

Maria grew 1 inch and lost 3 pounds!  I was never allowed to know exactly what Maria ate on a regular basis, but from all of the photos I have of her, it is apparent that she was on a very high bread diet!  We have been feeding her all sorts of healthy vegetables, fruits, legumes, meats, dairy and grains.  She pretty much loves everything.  She loves salad! Last night I gave her spinach salad with sprouts, mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots along with baked sweet potatoes and BBQ chicken. So far her least favorite foods are oatmeal and blueberries (but she will eat them!)  We also give her a multivitamin, Omega-3, a probiotic and Vitamin D. 

On Tuesday, I met with the local school representatives for an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting.  I was a little nervous, but it went very, very well. We would like to get in-home speech/language therapy and Occupational Therapy.  They have a great inclusion preschool, but I know she needs more time at home to learn what a family means, so we declined the school offer.  Besides, I home school my other kids and I truly believe Maria will do great learning alongside her siblings.  The speech and language is a given, I think she will be receiving it twice a week. The OT, however, is serviced through the county and she will need to be evaluated first.  This is the area where I feel Maria needs the most support and where I feel the least capable.  She has already missed out on 4 years of OT.

I think Maria is starting to feel more settled lately. I told some friends that it seems like there is a 12 week milestone- so many improvements since the first weeks home.  Thank you to so many of you who continue to lift us up in prayer.  We still need just as much prayer now  (maybe more) as we did before bringing her home.  What an encouragement it has been when someone has said, "I've been praying for you." Especially when I didn't know they were!

Stay tuned for Part 2: Attachment and more!

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