Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Books about boys - help me build my list!

A mom in one of my Yahoos groups asked about adoption books for boys. They are hard to find, but not impossible. And there are plenty of gender-neutral choices out there.

Here are my favorites:

A Mother for Choco, by Keiko Kasza
My all-time favorite adoption book. It's the story of a bird - a BOY bird! - who is lonely because he has no mom but everyone he asks says they can't be his mom because they don't look alike. Finally a bear asks him to be her son and says their looks don't matter because she can give him hugs and dance with him and feed him pie. Lovely, lovely story with funny illustrations that always make kids laugh.

Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies, By Ann TurnerAn oldie but goodie. And it's about A BOY!! It follows his journey to his new family and features him telling his own story, which is super sweet. Don't miss the illustration of him being driven home - basically sitting on a basket on the front seat!! My son noticed that one right away. :-)

Sesame Street's We're Different, We're the Same AND I Don't Have Your Eyes by Carrie Kitze
Both feature boys and girls and have the same great thread - we may look different on the outside, but we share traits and we share love.

I Am a T. Rex from the Dinosaur Train TV show
Buddy the T. Rex is adopted into a family of Pterandons. From the PBS Kids show of the same name, this is Buddy's birth story.

Let's Talk About It: Adoption by Fred Rogers.Yes, a Mister Rogers book. And other than the fashions and hairstyles, it's shockingly current. It features all sorts of families and talks about why kids are adopted. Deals very sensitively with some thorny issues surrounding adoption.

The Family Book by Todd ParrVery simple and geared toward little kids, but it's so fun and colorful that kids much older still enjoy it. It just simply shows ALL kinds of families., from adoptive to single-parent to gay parents to inter-racial. Also some funny stuff mixed in like families that all have the same hairstyle - even the pets.

Disney's TarzanThe classic tale of the by raised by gorillas. Just make sure you read the copy before you choose one. Some of them have some not so great wording, like 'real mother.'

The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale by Grace LinA king and queen go in search of the red thread pulling at their hearts and end up finding a baby in China. The last page shows the baby to be a girl, but until then it's pretty gender-neutral.

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee CurtisMy second-favorite adoption book. A little girl tells the story of her adoption - but there is nothing "girly" about it. Only the cover and the last page shows a girl. And all the text could be about a boy or a girl. Sample page: "Tell me again abut the first night you were my daddy and you told my about baseball being the perfect game, like your daddy told you." At first I thought this book didn't apply to us because it's about a domestic adoption at birth, but now this is exactly how my son tells his own adoption story. "Mama, were you so excited to meet me that you wore the wrong color socks?" "Did I poop for the first time at the Temple of Heaven?" I LOVE this book.

Letter of Love from China by Bonnie CuzzolinoAgain, there's a girl on the cover and the last page, but that's it. This book is really wonderful as it's written by a birth mother in China. It's very sensitively done and assuring to a child, at least in my opinion. And as an added bonus, there's something so soothing about the word choice and syntax that - just like Goodnight Moon used to do - it puts my son straight to sleep.

Do you have any to add to my list???

Monday, October 15, 2012

At long last, a connection

Until now, guys like this have been Quinn's favorite friends

Even at five years and four months, Quinn has still been stuck in the parallel play phase. He doesn't mind kids, but he shows no real interest in them, either.

This summer we had him in two social skills groups, and they seemed to make a bit of difference. We also tried some play dates, which mostly involved him playing with other kids' toys - or talking to their moms.

But lately he's been showing some interest in other kids. Unfortunately, he's showing it by stealing their toys and screaming at them to chase him as he runs away. But hey, we moms of special-needs kids take progress where we find it. And to me, this is progress. Even so, Quinn and I have talked quite a bit in the last week about other ways to get kids to play. He can say, "Can I play with that when you're done with it?" or "Can I play with you?" or "Would you like to play tag?"

And then... a massive leap forward.

After school one day last week, Quinn walked up to a little girl sitting on a wall and asked her, "What are you doing?" When she didn't answer he asked again. She still didn't answer, so he got on the wall too and started sliding away from her - and she followed him! I told him to tell her his name, which he did, and they started little-kid chatting away. I was just about crying I was so happy.

Then yesterday after Chinese school, he walked up to a little girl he knows (he's gone to her house to play with her toys!) and said, "Let's play tag!" She was too shy to respond, but her little brother wasn't, and pretty soon there was a rowdy game of three-way tag going on around us.

So many times I've watched Quinn play on his own as friendships form all around him and wondered if he'd ever connect. And now, at last, I see signs that he's doing just that.

It's a good day.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rules, rules, and more rules

I try to keep things positive with Quinn. Before we brought him home, we were lucky enough to have breakfast with awesome psychologist and author Dr. Kevin Leman. He lamented how he hears so many parents walking into Walmart while telling their kids, "You had better not act up! You better not touch anything! You better not ask for any toys." When you do that you're just planting negative ideas, he says.

So we keep it positive. But in our desperate quest to help Quinn stay at the school we really like, we've been blasting him with a barrage of rules. "Don't turn on the microwave." "Don't bang into any friends." Actually, it seemed to be working - he wouldn't do whatever thing we told him not to do, but the list kept getting longer as we added whatever had trouble he'd gotten into at school that day.

Then at lunch last week, I noticed him mumbling and I bent down to hear what he was saying. This is what I heard: "Do not pop anyone's bubble. Keep your hands to yourself. Keep your body to yourself. Do not put pebbles in your friend's mouth. Do not kick any friends on the slide. Do not touch the buzzer. Do not touch the microwave. Do not touch the green button. Do not bump into any friends."

Well, that was just about enough to make me cry. Poor kid. Who could keep straight that litany of rules? No wonder he was getting into new trouble each day. With so much negativity bouncing around in his head, honestly, what other outcome could we expect?

So you might think that this was a wake up call and I immediately changed my ways. You would be wrong. That didn't happen until the next evening, when I was telling Quinn that Miss Leticia said he did a good job of stopping a negative behavior when she told him to (believe me, that was progress!). He looked up at me and said hopefully, "Was she proud of ya?"

By George, she's finally got it! Let's get back to positivity! So on Thursday and Friday we kept telling Quinn how proud we were that he was trying so hard to stay inside his own bubble and how we knew he was going to keep doing better and better.

And guess what? GUESS WHAT? He's doing better. So much better that when Tom picked him up from school Friday Quinn's teacher pulled Tom into the classroom so he could see all the good things Quinn had done that day.

As always, who knows if we've cracked the code? Who knows if this will last? But positive certainly feels better than negative. To all of us.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Swimmin' Quinny

He may still get his pronouns mixed up, but at summer's end this kiddo can now go hold his breath and go underwater. Just enough knowledge to be a danger to himself, his swim teacher says. So one last cute video before the pool goes away for the season:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A new school, a new worry

Quinn's new school is fabulous and his new teacher is terrific. Under her care he's already made so many strides - he's participating in songs, listening at story time, noticing (although not quite playing  with) other kids.

And then.

On Thursday, he had an absolute nightmare of a school day. So bad the teacher sadly told us that the (private) school might not be equipped to handle him. In retrospect, I shouldn't be surprised. Before school even started that morning, I saw him refuse to move when the teacher asked him too - VERY unusual for Quinn - and get right up in a little girl's face even after she asked him not to do that. Once inside the classroom, he was running around wildly, banging into kids and knocking them down, knocking over block towers little kids were building. He went down the slide before his turn and hit a girl already on it, and later he poked a girl in the eye.

It was about as bad as it could be.

And then.

On Friday, he was back to his old self. I hope - I pray - that Thursday was an aberration. That he was just out of sorts. We had messed up his schedule by pulling him out of school for two days to visit my brother. Also, we were out of milk so he had an unusually sugary breakfast of blueberries and a waffle with syrup, with none of his usually Cheerios and milk. Maybe one of those two things put his nervous system out of whack. Maybe neither had anything to do with it.

So we're on high alert, role-playing good behavior and talking about proper actions and reactions. But, Lord is this scary.

I would do anything to help Quinn achieve everything he is capable of achieving. I just wish I had a clue of how to do that.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My SPD toolbox

Quinn's sensory-seeking (part of his sensory-processing disorder) is the one thing about him that can really cause him problems. He craves deep pressure when he gets wound up, and that can lead to some problematic behaviors like leaning hard on kids, running across the room and banging right into them rather than stopping, and driving his chin into the dog's back. He might stomp on the ground during circle time, spin out of control when he is supposed to be sitting down or run through a shop or restaurant with little regard for who might be in his way. Taking him out can be a breeze, or it can be scary as heck.

We've been in lots of therapy, with four different occupational therapists. And in case your kiddo is in the same boat, I thought I'd share what's working for us:

First, some tools :

- A core disk. This works so well with Quinn that if I walk into preschool without it the teacher looks visibly nervous and asks hopefully, "Did you bring his cushion?" So we try never to forget it. His teachers use it during circle time, but also carry it into the church for worship time with other classes or into the audotorium for group activities. Something about sitting on this thing calms Quinn tremendously and helps him to sit still.

- A weighted vest. This is a tricky one. The vest definitely helps ground Quinn. But for some inexplicable reason, every time it's on he will only talk with teeth clenched. So we only use it at times when we really, really need for him to stay calm.

- A chewie. I bought a cute necklace from a company called Chewlry with a silver-dollar-sized disc to bite. Quinn won't wear the necklace - it comes off it you pull it hard, and he can't resist doing that -- so I carry it in my purse and it's always there when we need it.

- A backpack (on his back). The heavier the better. Deep pressure to go!

Next, some techniques:

- Engine check: This awesome technique was suggested by one of his OTs. When he starts winding up - and with practice I can spot this earlier and earlier - I get down to his eye level and say, "Quinn, your engine is running too fast. What would help it to slow down?" Often times he will tell me what he needs - a bear hug, to push on the wall, deep pressure on his shoulders, to chom on the chewie. If he doesn't tell me what he needs I list the above things - "would you like a bear hug? do you need to bit on your chewie?" - and he chooses.

- Move the wall: This one came from his really excellent school OT, who one day saw me trying desperately to sign him into school with one hand while attempting a death grip on his arm with the other hand so he wouldn't bolt.  If I need him to stand still like in line at the bank - which is REALLY hard for him - is I ask him to push really, really hard against the wall and try to make it move. It keeps him still, is instant deep pressure and calms him very quickly.

- Don't pop her bubble: Quinn was getting into a lot of trouble at his private school for getting in kids' faces, poking toward their eye, leaning on them, etc. So the OT from his public school (the same one referenced above) suggested that we tell him that everyone has a bubble around him or her, and he should not pop anyone's bubble (except for Mama's, Baba's and Nana's) without asking. Wow, does he get this one. The day after I introduced the technique, he ended up at the bottom of a pile of kids, with his friend Nicole on top. Out popped his little head and he shouted, "Nicole popped my bubble!"
He initiates this technique more than any other.

- Being loud in a whisper: The louder and more out of control he gets, the softer I talk to him. Yelling or traditional discipline just seems to fire him up. Talking soft gets his attention and helps calm him down.

Do all these techniques work all the time? Heck, no. But knowing I have all these options has helped me feel more confident when we go out, which I think Quinn can sense. In short, I'm not expert on sensory-processing disorder (not yet, anyway!) but these things have helped me, and I hope they can help someone else, too!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Has anyone tried 23andMe?

I've seen some posts on Quinn's orphanage listserv recently about families that have done DNA testing on their kids through this company. The results sound incredibly detailed, and have been hugely informative and comforting to the teens who have gotten them. One girl from his orphanage turned out to be Thai and Vietnamese, only slightly Chinese, and another turned out to be of mixed heritage as well.

Quinn has brownish-black hair and some kinda westernized features, so I've always wondered if he is fully Chinese or of a mixed heritage. I think I'll take a swab and find out.

The report also includes some medical information, although I'm not clear on exactly what that means, and the company can connect you with blood relatives who have signed up.

Has anyone tried this? If so, what did you think of the results? Did you sign up for the monthly service or pay all at once?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Two-year post surgical checkup

We're in Boston for our annual visit with Dr. Peter Waters, who did a truly masterful job on the tendon transfer surgery that corrected Quinn's brachial plexus injury two years ago. Last year's visit was a nightmare, with Quinn uncharacteristically crying, hiding behind the curtain, spinning wildly (well, that one wasn't so uncharacteristic...) and refusing to be touched. Only the following day did his clueless parents realize that we had not prepared him for the visit, and the poor boy was terrified we were in town for another surgery. Duh.

So this year, LOTS of preparation. And a much better result, hallelujah. He raised his arms when he was supposed to, reached for the toy monkey when he was supposed to and generally did what they wanted him to do. And this was through three different visits - one with the OT, one with a fellow of Dr. Waters and one with Dr. Waters himself. We were very proud of our brave little patient. Despite all our preparation, through, he was quiet and solemn all day. Some fears are just hard to shake, I guess.

As for the doctor's report, he said Quinn's surgery was about as successful as it could have been. His range of motion and use of his arm (which was almost not useable pre-surgery) is at the top of what's possible. His only real deficit is strength, so the OT gave us some good ideas, like lifting balls overhead, having him hand heavy things up to me when we're emptying the dishwasher, etc.

Unfortunately, Dr. Waters said Quinn is doing so well he was lifting any limitations he had placed on him, meaning the ban on football evaporated before my eyes. But when he was the horror on my face, he said he would reinstate the ban just for me and would happily let me blame him for it. Whew!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

What to Expect When You're... Comparing Your Kid to Others

Quinn will turn 5 next week (!!). In anticipation, I got an email from Fisher-Price suggesting some things my 5-year-old might like based on 11 ways that they're sure he plays now.

I chucked the "What to Expect in the Toddler Years" book long ago, about the time I forced myself to stop watching other kids at the playground and noticing all the things they were doing that Quinn wasn't.

But it's been a while. So I read the 11 things he's obviously doing, according to Fisher-Price. And you know what? He is doing five of them. All things considered, I see that as a triumph -- both for Quinn, who for so long was not meeting practically any milestones no matter how basic, and for me, who used to worry myself silly with silly comparisons.

I tell people all the time that I've come to believe Quinn is on HIS schedule, and no one else's. I'm glad to prove to myself that I actually believe it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thank you for your comments!!

After a long drought, comments have returned. And for that I am most grateful.

I get traffic numbers every day and see that people are reading, but rarely commenting. It's hard putting stuff out there and not knowing if people find it meaningful or helpful or wrong-minded (I am certainly open to people who disagree with me!) So I sincerely appreciate anyone who takes the time to leave a comment.

If you'd like to offer me ideas on how to make the blog better, I'd love to hear them. And if you'd rather email me than leave a comment, the address is jspitz at azstarnet.com

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Finally, an Old McDonald's visit that doesn't depress me

Quinn loves visiting the playland at "Old McDonald's," as he calls it. For me, each visit is a new level of sadness. There was the baby Quinn suddenly and without warning knocked down, causing everyone who saw it to gasp in unison. The time I heard screaming from inside the play structure - not Quinn's, but I instinctively knew who was causing it -- and high-tailed it up the slide to find out I was right. The grandfather who glared at us for a good 20 minutes, even as he was leaving, because he mistakenly thought Quinn had bumped his beloved angel while he was spinning. The place seems to exacerbate Quinn's sensory-seeking nature in ways that looks a lot like serious disciplinary problems.

And that's not the worst of it. Each time we visit we watch kids make friends and play together. Other than when things go south, Quinn generally doesn't even acknowledge any other children. Finally, it's cute to watch kids make it to the top of the play structure and then holler or wave down at their parents. Quinn gets up there and does his own thing, in his own world, until we tell him it's time to go or the food has arrived.

It reached the point where we stopped going about six months ago. And then this morning, with my husband out of town and me looking to run down Quinn's battery before his final assembly and performance at Chinese School, he asked if we could go to Old McDonald's.

So we did.

And what a difference.

First, he scampered to the top and yelled down to me. Then he stuck his face against the inside of a bubble-shaped window and hollered at me, "Are you inside the bubble?" After a bit a little girl and her grandma came in to eat breakfast, but Grandma wanted to leave before the girl got to play. Quinn watched her the whole time and then asked, "Is the little girl not going to play?" Later on he asked, "Is a kid going to come play?" He actually noticed kids, and he wanted to play with them!

To another parent, this was hardly anything. To me, it was everything.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Well, this is cool

Do some shopping in May at any of these 58 cool-looking sites and they'll give 10 percent to the Sparrow Fund, which helps kids in orphanages and helps fund adoptions.

DTD = Quinn

Wow. Someone posted this in the Yahoo group for Quinn's orphanage, and it just about knocked me out of my chair.

Scroll down to the stuff about Developmental Trauma Disorder. Quinn looks so much  like at ADHD kid in so many ways, but I've never believed that he is. I guess I'm not alone...

This article isn't exactly light reading, but if you adopted internationally, you might see some stuff you recognize!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Are special needs funny?

Today I saw an adoptive mom's advertisement for t-shirts she's selling. One said something about how it wouldn't be terrible to have a kid with special needs, it would be terrible to raise a kid who was cruel to people with special needs. I don't love the implication that it is inherently unwelcome to have a kid with special needs, but I certainly appreciate the sentiment behind the shirt.

But another shirt said, "Ask me about my attention deficit disorder" and then listed a bunch of random thoughts, ending with, "hi." Um, isn't making fun of a very challenging special need just a little bit cruel?

I sent an email to the mom saying the ADD shirt really made me cringe, and she responded that humor is what parents of SN kids need and that the shirt is her best seller among her clients, who are loving Christians with senses of humor. She also said the creator of the shirt was her 11-year-old son, who has ADD.

I'm not comforted. If her son wants to laugh at his own challenges, awesome. But do the people who see such a shirt recognize and admire a kid who is laughing at his own challenges? Or do they see such a message as sanctioning their own prejudices? I fear it's the latter.

Humor? Absolutely! At our kids' expense? Never.

That's my take. What do you think?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Good vibes for my little orator, please...

About six weeks ago, when Quinn's Chinese school teacher announced that all her students would participate in the school's annual speech competition, my stomach did a little lurch. Speech competition? As in, sentences? Spoken on demand? Quinn?

On top of the idea seeming a little far-fetched, the speech itself seemed crazy long:
I am Jianrong.
I am four years old.
I am a boy.
I know how to count.
(Then he counts to 10.)

This child is FOUR YEARS OLD! He spoke his first word at 26 month, strung together his first mangled sentence at 3, is so delayed in his speech that he qualifies for special education services, is still considerably short of what you could call conversational.

And yet.

Tomorrow is the speech competition.

Quinn knows his speech by heart and willingly recites it on command. His Mandarin is clear and beautiful.

Truly, I am in awe of this child.

I don't know what will happen when he gets up on that stage, looks into the crowded audience and has a microphone shoved in his face. But I know that, no matter what happens up there, one mama, one baba and one nana in the crowd will be fiercely trying to hold the cameras steady through the tears.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The magic cushion

There's no way to know exactly why, but Quinn has gone from daily problems at school to daily successes at school. We are trying a lot of things to help him succeed - daily joint compressions, daily skin brushing, a weighted vest and good 'ole bribery. So I don't know if one thing is key, or it's the combination. But I do know that the magic cushion is a major factor in his success.

A fellow adoptive mom who herself has sensory processing disorder gave his to us when she saw how much Quinn was struggling at Chinese school. He just could not sit in his chair and was really getting in other kid's personal space. It's a bean-filled plastic disc with a thick fleeecy cover. We take it to his special-needs preschool, his typical preschool and his weekly Chinese school.

I didn't realize how much it helped until I noticed that every day when I dropped him off the teachers would ask hopefully, "Do you have his cushion?"

Here's a link to the cushion itself. The cover, which has a velcro closure, was handmade - and all of his therapists covet it, so if you've seen them for sale anywhere, please let me know!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Concrete Kid

Quinn is so very concrete. The whimsical and imaginary just makes no sense to him.

Two sample conversations from the last couple of days:

Mama (singing): "Here comes Quinny cottontail."
Quinn: "Hey, I'm a boy!"
Mama: "You're not a bunny?"
Quinn (politely but emphatically): "No, thank you."


"Quinn, what are you going to be when you grow up? Are you going to be an astronaut?"
"Are you going to be a scientist?"
"Are you going to be an engineer?"
"What are you going to be?"


Not surprisingly, drawing and coloring has been a huge challenge for Quinn. Give him a blank slate and ask him to create, and he draws a big blank. All we've gotten so far is page after page of angry back-and-forth lines covering a page.

So when I spotted a color-by-letter at the fabulous Indianapolis Children's Museum on a recent visit, I had a hunch it might appeal to Quinn's concrete nature. If it says O, you color it orange. Concrete.

I brought it home and trotted it out, and the results were nothing less than astonishing. This rooster picture was the very first one he did. And instantly, he went from angry scrawls to this (he even signed and dated it when he was done):

Friday, March 23, 2012

Our secret shame, or how we found success with bribery

I've never believed in bribing children to be good. And yet, here I am, doing it. And darned if it isn't working.

Between Quinn's many delays and his sensory processing disorder, he has a very, very, very tough time sitting still and acting appropriately in school. He also loves to bang, to lean, to push - behaviors that, even though they aren't done with aggression, look very aggressive. The girls cry. The boys push back. The teachers get frustrated. Quinn gets in trouble.

In short, Quinn's behavior was becoming a fairly serious problem at school. As in, the teacher pulled us aside when we picked him up, every day, to tell us about the latest problem. This happened at his preschool, at Chinese school and at his therapeutic play group. Making it especially challenging to help him address these issues, he doesn't do these things at home.

We tried everything we could think of and everything his various therapists suggested.
We talked about keeping our hands to ourselves. We talked about how everyone is surrounded by a bubble, and how we shouldn't pop someone else's bubble. We threatened timeouts. The behaviors continued.

Then one day about three weeks ago, I was telling Quinn how I knew he was going to do great in school that day and he said, "If you keep your hands to yourself, you get a dollar?" Hmmmm. What to do? Sorry, but I bit. And guess what? It worked. Immediately. Since that day, no inappropriate behaviors at school, and Quinn is becoming quite the math whiz adding up his haul.

As a side benefit, he's developing a sense of saving. Now when we go shopping he looks at the toys, asks the price and decides what he's saving up for. He vascillates between Smokey the Fire Truck and a big giant garbage truck, but he keeps saving.

I feel a little embarrassed that such a shameful technique is working for us. But I can't help but rejoice that it's working. My goal right now is to help him succeed in school. And if this is what works right now, then this is what I'll do.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Quinn's on a sensory diet

We have lot of things we do when sensory-seeking Quinn gets a little out of control. He knows his options, and can choose one when he agrees that "your engine is running too fast." He can get a bear hug, joint compressions, pressure on his shoulders. We can do wheel-barrow walks or he can push a big ball up the wall.

But it turns out, which I didn't understand until this week, that we need to be doing that stuff every day - or more - to try to regulate his nervous system.

So for the last couple days we've been getting up a little earlier to add joint compressions and brushing of his arms and legs to our morning routine. Then we do the same two things again before school, and if it's a late school day he wears his compression vest for a bit while we get ready in the morning.

Funny with all this stuff: Just when you think you're doing it right, you learn you've been doing it wrong.

Live and learn.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

He's a big boy now!

Quinn's brachial plexus injury has been successfully repaired, but because of the tendon transfer surgery he lost the ability to reach behind his back (that tendon was moved to give him the more critical motions of lifting and rotating his arm). He has very normal movement in most every way, but dressing has been an ongoing challenge. It's very hard for him to pull pants on and off, he's unable to navigate snaps and buttons and until very recently he wouldn't even try to pull a shirt on or off.

Through much encouragement and hard work, he has learned to use his left arm to reach around his body and straighten out his waist band. And although he always ask for help putting on his underpants and pants, I've noticed that at school he seems miraculously able to do it himself. Plus, in the last couple of weeks he has started pulling off his own shirt at night.

So this morning, I laid out his clothes on his bed and told him to get himself dressed and come out when he was ready for breakfast. Then Tom and I stood in the kitchen, waiting and listening. Crickets. But after a while, out came Quinn - fully dressed in rocket ship underpants, blue sweats and a striped blue shirt. ALL BY HIMSELF.

We were so proud and made a big, big fuss about what a big, big boy he was. The little negotiator, sensing an opportunity, made a suggestion: "You should get a prize!" Shrewd, that one.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

An almost unsolicited "I love you"

I have no doubt that Quinn loves me like mad. But the darn kid just will not say it on his own. If I tell him I love him, he says the same back to me. But he's never said it without prompting.

Well, we're inching closer. Last night he was sitting on my lap after dinner and smiled at his Baba. I said, "Quinn, do you love your baba?" He said yes, and then snuggled into me and said, "You love your mama." Quinn still has some pronoun confusion and refers to himself as 'you.' So add up all those elements, and, hey, pretty good, kiddo! I'll take it!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The most awesome kid gift ever

I never would have believed it, but... it's... a ...

Chia Pet!

My aunt game Quinn one for Christmas and he loves this thing like he's never loved anything. He helped me mix up the seeds and stick them on the puppy, then he checked it every day until it started sprouting. And, oh my, what a day that was.

He keeps it watered, talks to it daily and gave it a very original name: Chia.

He also likes to look at it (and everything else, including his fingers) from veeeeeeeerrrrrry close up, thanks to a magnifying glass from his godfather.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kinda funny, but mostly really telling

Since the first day she saw Quinn's picture, I've always said that if there were one seat in my mom's lifeboat for either her daughter or her grandson, I'm going down.

It was (sort of) a joke, but now I know it's actually true. Last night my mom dreamed that she and my dad had to enter a witness protection program because of my dad's government contract work. She wasn't that worried because, since they were leaving the house neat and taking their dog, I'd know they were okay.

When she woke up, though, she panicked. "I can't leave," she told herself. "I have Quinn!"

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My baby-loving boy

I took Quinn to a mall playground today and led him through some highly over-supervised play. I was constantly nervous that he'd hit or kick someone so I was on him like the most ridiculous helicopter mom. But it really worked surprisingly well - it was the first time I've seen him engage with other kids.


The only kids he showed any interest in were toddlers. Anytime a kid his own age would approach and try to talk to him, he would just stare blankly. I think his OT may be right - he doesn't know how to communicate with kids his age. But babies are awesome - they don't talk and he can lead them around like he's the Pied Piper. At one point he looked up at me all excited and said, "Mama, I am playing with the baby!"

He did lean on one baby too hard and made her cry, and later he grabbed a boy's foot which caused him to fall off a low play structure, but neither was as big a deal as it sounds. The first got him a time out and the second meant we had to leave. But I left feeling more encouraged than I have for a while. Despite what I thought, he does fully engage with kids - just not kids his age.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The coveted spot is Quinn's!

On our quest to find the right preschool fit for Quinn, we keep hearing people sing the praises of a magical teacher named Miss Leticia, who happens to work at a preschool about five minutes from our house. I went to see her in action last fall and agreed the hype was no exaggeration, so I took Quinn for a visit, and she seemed quite able to handle him. Visiting her class was also what convinced me to hold him back a year. We're hopeful that with a year of pre-K, he'll be better able to communicate with his peers and have more self-control so he can sit and follow directions when he needs to.

Today was the school's fall registration kickoff, so I got up before the sun and dashed over there. Ah, first in line! Mercifully, they started registration early so I handed over my forms and check and begged, begged, begged for a slot in Miss Leticia's class. The director opened the book to see if there were any slots left - current students get first dibs - and 16 of the 18 lines were already filled in.

So Quinn is IN! We're so excited and can't wait for August 6, for his next chapter to begin.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Quinn feeds the (Chinese New Year) lions

Quinn was SO excited for Chinese New Year. He decided that he wanted to feed the lions ("Quinn get some lion dance food?"), so we went to the Asian market and he picked out some coconut candy he wanted to feed them. He was pretty much bouncing up and down the whole day of our local CNY celebration, as this video shows.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The OT speaks (but Quinn, not so much...)

Mary, Quinn's wonderful occupational therapist, visited him at preschool today to get some sense of why he is acting aggressively toward the other kids - we've had some reports of eye-poking and pushing. I figured it was tied to his sensory needs, which seem to be really great when he's around other kids. Mary had a totally different - and totally unexpected - observation: She thinks it ties to his communication challenges. Her theory is that he doesn't know how to tell kids what he wants, so he either shows them with physical force or just plain ignores them. Thinking that through, it makes a lot of sense. He interacts really well with adults, who are patient and help draw out of him what he's trying to say, but very, very little with other kids.

Her idea is to work more intensively on bringing up his verbal communication skills.

I wish we had done this sooner! Quinn does so well at Mary's office that she is seeing him less and less. But today she saw very clearly that he still needs a lot of intervention. That's good for all of us, I think!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Educating the special-needs kid

We've been playing a little revolving door game trying to find the right preschool fit for Quinn. He is in a public special needs program, which is great at teaching him to follow rules and learn the ways of a classroom. However, the needs of his classmates are so great that there isn't much peer interaction, which is a real need of Quinn because he remains mostly uninterested in other children.

At his therapists' recommendation, we set out to find a "typical" preschool where Quinn would see - and hopefully model - more normal interactions. The first attempt was the excellent language preschool that just wasn't equipped to redirect him all day, and decided against enrolling him. The second try is an evangelical school with a special-needs program. Things were great until the assistant director who deals with SN kids retired at the end of the year, and was replaced by a woman who has owned a preschool but never actually dealt with SN kids. She sees his challenges as disciplinary problems that can be solved by punishment. So we yanked him out of there, but - long story - we're trying again, but without her "help." His OT will go with him to school tomorrow and offer some ideas to deal with some behaviors that are disruptive and possibly dangerous: poking kids in the eye and banging or pushing into them. He never does it out of meanness or anger, but out of a need for deep sensory input. Still, it's a problem.

On the one hand, I totally get it. If Quinn was in a class with a kid who seemed to be acting aggressively toward the other kids I'd be freaking out. And yet being around kids is the only way he's going to learn to be around kids. Such a paradox.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I could not agree more

If you haven't read this excellent essay by Amy Eldridge of Love Without Boundaries, carve out a few minutes and give it a read.