Jordan Progress Report – Beginning of Kindergarten

Dear Teacher ________,

I tend to ramble a bit, so here is what I will be sharing updates on. Obviously, lots of stuff crosses boundaries between these categories:

Special needs/Summary
Fine Motor
Gross Motor
Eating (behavior and food progression)

Special needs/Summary: Jordan has Down Syndrome. He also spent his first 2 1/2 years in a socially and sensory deprived situation in an orphanage, receiving institutional care. He experiences anxiety for often hard-to-identify reasons. (tired, pain, illness, learning a new skill, too much touch, new people, new places, new routines, etc.) He finds touch to be helpful at some times, but usually finds it to be overly exciting. He is challenging to engage, but often applies himself and is always learning. He has a good memory of places and routines. He has a pattern of working hard for a period of time and then needing a few seconds/moments of disorganization/stimming/corner time before he can come back and try again.

Fine Motor: Jordan uses a palm grasp with a strange advanced thumb and palm grasp. We encourage him to use his index finger and he does successfully switch to pushing buttons and playing the piano with his fingertips instead of palm. He very rarely uses a pincer grasp and only with support. He will sometimes draw without hand over hand, but with most “work” he will prefer to throw the object, so hand over hand (or quick reflexes) are a good idea. He is understanding the concept of very easy puzzles and is most likely to be able to manipulate the piece into position if both hands are used. He does not know how to shape sort or color sort yet. He knows how to push buttons and is really motivated to do so for musical rewards, as music or some other sounds are soothing and stimming for him.

Gross Motor: Jordan has a walk and a haphazard sort of run. He can go both up and down stairs holding one hand without marking steps, though it is easier when he closes his feet before the next step. For steep stairs, like the bus, I prefer him to sit down and scoot on his bottom. However, he does not have good awareness of where his body is in space. He struggles to see steps and put his feet onto them. He will often step too far or too shallow, sometimes making him fall. He can navigate stairs on his own safely by crawling up and down (we have stairs in our home) but when standing upright, he should hold onto a railing and/or a hand. He has some strength, but needs more. Finding hilly areas and working on stairs and balance beams and sitting on rocking boards… all those things that help him feel his body in space, build strength and coordination are good for him.

Eating: Jordan is used to eating breakfast around 7am and lunch around 11am. He will have had breakfast before he gets to school, but he will need a decent snack or an 11am lunch before coming home. He could snack while the other kids have breakfast (therapeutically) and eat lunch around 11am (you spoon feeding – making it less stressful… he needs those calories). What do you think?

Jordan eats pureed, homemade, high calorie, thickened soups for his meals. He does not snack much at home, because they aren’t offered much. He also accepts crunchy meltables into his mouth and sometimes cookies. He struggles to know where food is in his mouth, but is getting better at manipulating it and is not much of a choking hazard any more. He has high anxiety about eating and food that has been overcome by a very slow progression of temperature, texture and consistency. He can have texture in his soup (rice, tiny noodles, etc.) so long as he is able to swallow it down without chewing. He does “pocket” chunks into his cheeks and is capable of leaving it there all day. When there is significant food in his cheeks, he struggles to manipulate next bites. I think the next step in texture (per the feeding clinic at OHSU) is to introduce some stringy or fibrous textures.

Behavior wise, Jordan will refuse and become very orally defensive when new foods are introduced. For foods that he likes, he will put more crackers into his mouth before he’s swallowed the last and it can gum up in his mouth. This is his main choking hazard. I feed Jordan his meals with an adult spoon, waiting for him to properly sign “eat” (by touching his fingertips to his lower lip) before giving him the next bite. Sometimes he doesn’t stop signing eat during the entire meal and I have to watch him to see when he has swallowed and when he is really ready for the next bite.

I was hoping hoping that I would work on introducing new spoon-fed foods at home and that you would focus on him learning to self feed. At home, I feed him with a spoon every bite, but he is familiar, if imprecise with self feeding by spoon. It is very important that he request food or have some sort of delay and interaction with you before he gets more and more and more food. It becomes chaotic very quickly if everything is within reach. Anyway, if he could sign eat and practice pointing and then receive a little food and then repeat that, I can visualize success. Examples of good snack foods are applesauce and crackers. Introducing new foods to play with would be really helpful too, though it’s unlikely they’d go in his mouth, maybe his resistance to new foods would decrease if they were present and touchable.

He is good at drinking from a straw or sippy cup. He rarely will drink more than a sip of water, but will finish a cup of juice or watered down juice. If he has had a lot of crackers, taking a drink of water will help him have a cleaner mouth.

Skills: I would prefer Jordan not learn how to take off his pants yet. However, he is learning to assist in putting all of his clothes on, by pushing arms and legs in the right places, using one hand (or both) to assist in pulling clothing up or down as needed. He can especially help pull his pants up.
For diaper changes, I request that he sit down nicely by bending his knees(rather than flopping). Then I prepare my items while he sits. Then I ask him to lay down. I do all of the cleaning and leg movements necessary for him. Usually I have him lay down while not holding any toys so that he doesn’t get too busy and crazy up there. I prefer he pays attention. If it is a poopy diaper, he tends to get giggly when I am wiping him and will sometimes pee during a change. He has some anxiety about diaper changes. After his new diaper is on, I help him “sit up” then put his “feet in” or “pants on” and then I help him stand up and “pull up” his pants. Then we are “all done!”
Jordan knows how to go potty on a toilet when he is placed there and has his feet positioned comfortably (such as on a stool). If you picked one time a day to have him go potty, I would appreciate that. He goes potty every night before bed and sometimes I take him in the morning too. He has a hard time with keeping his trunk upright while sitting on the potty since he has such low tone. If I notice him being a little stinky and I put him on the potty, he will occasionally go number 2 on the toilet. (yay!) He does not have much anxiety about sitting on the potty, though he may try to get down before he is done.

Social: Jordan did not form any attachments or social awareness during his first 2 1/2 years. He is beginning to form the beginning of an attachment with us, his family, but it is not strong yet. He has a little bit of stranger anxiety, but not a safe amount. If you sit down, he will sit himself into your lap. I would like it if he only had that close physical contact with people he sees regularly. I do like that he is learning about affection and the pleasure of relationships, but we need to find ways to help him recognize and practice keeping his distance from people he does not know well. For example, if he backs himself into the arms or lap of a new person, we have found it successful to just direct his bum to the floor next to us instead of directly onto our lap. Another example of social awareness, is that I ask him to turn around and “ask me” if he can “sit down” on my lap before welcoming him into my space. Jordan would resist, but probably respond well to in-hand treatment whenever he is actively involved in anything. (When he needs to rest/retreat/stim, it’s best to be hands off.)

Jordan can often have good eye contact. You will begin to recognize his eyes as being good signals for how he is doing, as he avoids looking at things that are hard work for him. Even putting a puzzle piece in, he will look anywhere else if he is struggling.

Jordan is learning how to give hugs and this can be done appropriately at class time, but high fives would be even better. Or hand shakes.

Communication: When Jordan came home when he was 2 1/2, he had no communication… including barely any passive communication. It has been a real joy to see him become aware of his ability to influence the world around him. His passive communication is back and I tried to explain some of it above in terms of expressing anxiety by turning his eyes away, retreating to stim, etc. He has some semi-active communication going on too. He will sometimes whine when he is stuck, doing something hard or wants something he can’t get. He will sometimes growl when he is angry, unable or refusing. He has a wonderful smile and laugh, but he also has a nervous laugh that comes out as a giggle and is often dangerously close to tears. When he doesn’t want to go somewhere and/or if he is unhappy with you or wants to manipulate, he will sit down instead of coming with you where you are leading. I find that putting a hand under each armpit until he realizes he’s coming with me is helpful.

His receptive communication has really grown. He understands fairly well what these mean: “stay here” “come back” “no no” “hands out” (of mouth or diaper) “sit down” “no throw” “give” “eat” “all done” “more”

His expressive communication is what he is working really hard on. He has a few signs that he can use in context and sometimes needs prompting. They are, “eat” “drink” and “all done” Other signs he’s seen before but has never done without support are “cracker” “apple” (for applesauce) “again” “more” and maybe a couple others. I would REALLY like to know what signs and phrases you are working on with him, as I want to support (and not undermine) anything he does at home. He learned apple at school last year, but I corrected him and told him to sign “eat” because I didn’t know what it was. Thanks in advance for keeping me up to speed!

He is learning to point and to reach for what he wants. Offering choices is so great for him, but he does not understand choices yet. He is on the verge of understanding choices.

A huge breakthrough happened over the summer that is not a solid skill yet. That is that on a couple different occasions, he has made intentional vocalizations into a tube. With his SLP and me and OT, we have practiced making sounds into a tube or empty bucket and going back and forth between his mouth and ours. He loves this, but has not made any sounds while looking into the tube himself. Well… until recently. He is trying so very hard to get his voice to work. I would LOVE it if you continued to support him vocalizing in this way. Baby steps. He will recognize an empty oatmeal container or other cylinder as something for playing this game with. Sounds to start with are muuuuuuuuuuuh, buh-buh-buh and so forth. I am excited for him to find and play with his voice!

Play: Learning appropriate play is such a big deal for Jordan. Learning communication and learning about imagination are big, big things for him. He has done imaginative play maybe three times in the last 2 1/2 years for just a few seconds each time. Once, he put on his grandpa’s hat. Once, he pretended to feed a doll. And once he put an empty spoon to my mouth. I would LOVE for you to support him by setting up very simple imagination scenarios and to demonstrate and help him practice using things appropriately. Oh! He is learning how to brush a doll’s head and then his own head. Body awareness! Yay!

Other things he can do already are: put things in, take things out, clean up (not a fan, though), wiping spills, wiping windows (wiping is hand over hand), rolling or throwing something back and forth, driving a truck/car, pushing buttons, and he has tried to put rings on a tower at the SLP that makes sounds every one he puts on. Lots of structure usually reduces his feelings of chaos.

Well, that’s it! It’s super long. Sorry! Please, can you share it with his therapy team and one-on-one, though? It would make me feel more comfortable as the mom of this little boy to know you have read through this update.

Mom to Anna (04/07), Maggie (10/09), Jordan (05/09 – home on 12/03/11), Carolyn 09/12

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Do You See What I See?

Look again!

SAM_7707 (Large)

SAM_7708 (Large)

By the way – this summer with a swimming pool AND an air-conditioned house is just about the best feeling summer ever! It is amazing what not turning into a puddle every afternoon does for you. I have the air conditioning set to turn on at 76 degrees, which I hear is pretty warm, but people, it’s waaaaaaaay cooler than it is outside! And anything below 80ish allows me to keep functioning. (Well, as much as I do anyway)


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Beautiful Moments

Ok, so Jordan has been a real pill the last two days. But you know something? He had two full weeks of amazing. I hadn’t remembered about how amazing he could be. God blessed me with a window into my little boy so that I could, no, I have fallen in love with him. Oh, he has been all over the place and feeling all different ways, but he was my Jordan and I actually found myself finding him to give him smooches now and then. I love my little boy!

Something is different today, though and now I realize that it really was hard (and not just in my head) going on 3+ months of these behaviors with no break. (He had strep throat off and on for 3 months and was never 100% during that time.) It is disheartening to watch him struggle and not be able to fix it for him. But… the last two weeks I had a window of the real, underneath-the-diagnoses Jordan! And that Jordan is still under there and I will get to see him again! I just need to be stable and safe and structured and nurturing until then.

The behaviors that are back (for those of you in similar boats and those of you who just want to understand) are things like: throwing every blessed toy, be it big or small, but especially hard and noisy ones. Laughing hysterically and inappropriately and generally being unreachable and unreasonable. Stimming a lot (tongue sucking especially) and stimming more intensely and compulsively. Running around the house and getting into trouble instead of interacting with siblings or playing more appropriately (usually, grabbing and throwing all items). Just seeming more disorganized in his thought patterns. Some of this is pretty subtle, but it’s very obvious to his Mommy and is sometimes very, very obvious. :-)

Why the change? Good question! We are playing the guessing game. Attachment disorder processing? Physical discomfort from something? He learned something new that’s got his brain in hyperdrive? Something about autism or sensory processing that I don’t understand? Something we did or somewhere we went that caused him anxiety that he’s expressing after the fact? He noticed his hair is on his ears and knows I’m going to cut his hair soon? (just joking with that one) Boredom from an extended summer vacation?

Anyway, I loved that I got to re-fall-in-love with Jordan and enjoy him so thoroughly for a few weeks. And I’m praying it stays at the forefront of my mind and that I remember patience as I navigate the moment-to-moment situations. Like laughing and falling down instead of holding my hand and walking with me. What do I do with that? Anger, stay at bay! Patience, take control. Pray, pray, pray.


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Homeschool plan for 2014-2015

Anna is in second grade this year and Maggie is a young Kindergartener. Here is my weekly homeschool plan, showing basically the school plan each week. There is a space there by each subject where I can write down once a week which lessons we’re working on. Also, the words in bold are things for in the evening. Umm… the stickers referenced on the bo>ttom are this year’s motivating bonus. Every ten stickers, they get to choose a prize. Included in prizes are: new crayons, suckers, gum, coupons for minecraft, cooking with Mom, stickers, etc.

It took me awhile to get it laid out so that I felt that we had a balanced curriculum that wasn’t too HUGE. Anna’s learning a lot in second grade, but no need to cram a bijillion things in and take all day. Things you don’t really see are art (because they’re doing a lot on their own right now), science (they’re working on a field guide to our own property)…. umm… I think it’s all pretty much there. We’re getting excited!

Weekly Template

A few other details for those curious:
Handwritten things get checked for neatness by mom.
Typed things need to be typed with fingers in the right places.
Spelling, Phonics and Math are all Horizons workbooks
I’m their piano teacher – we’ll work on learning to read music and understand counting/rhythm
I have a list of early chapter books (Like Mandie Books, Bobbsey Twins and so forth) that Anna can choose from for her book reports. Book Report Template Book Reading List
Her research reports will be from books and the internet… first, she will be researching different pet options and writing me a guided report on each. Pet Report
The weekly email report will be a description of what she did that week and it will be emailed to my Mom and Dad.
The Character books are different “with the Millers” books and also Ron Coriell character books.
AWANA on Wednesdays requires Bible memorization throughout the week… usually in the evenings when Brian is reading to the girls.
Buck Denver… ok, the What’s in the Bible series is pretty awesome. I’m looking forward to watching and learning along with the kids every Friday night.
Pretty excited about taking the girls to ballet… hope it works out and we get to go all year.
Oh… and Maggie’s work – She has a Horizon’s math book and a general ed Kindergarten book. Learning to read will consist of the early readers I had from Anna… it’s always hard for me to find enough true early, early readers until they are completely launched.

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Thank you

The messages and emails and notes and comments and phone calls and in-person conversations since I wrote my blog post about getting treatment for depression have been AMAZING. I haven’t responded to a fraction of you and I probably won’t get to them all. I’m just holding those notes close to me and pressing forward. Thank you for loving me, friends.

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