Brother is a gentle soul who is confused by the world around him. Even if Sensory Processing Disorder were officially recognized, I don't think he'd qualify for a diagnosis, but, like Little Brother, I believe he has sensitivities that make it hard for him to cope; specifically I think he finds sounds over stimulating, and I think he is kinesthetically sensory-craving.
I also believe he has some cognitive processing issues--this is supported by the Beyond ACEs clinic evaluation he had in April of this year.
And then there are the emotional traumas he's still trying to heal from.
That's an awful lot for one 4-year old, less-than-40-lb boy to deal with.
As with Little Brother, we set no academic goals for Brother because:
A. he's a very, very little boy who needs to grow and play
B. our primary goal was healing and family integration
C. I needed time to observe and get to know him before setting any goals.
How is Brother doing?
He's doing incredibly well.
He has a gentle, supportive play therapist who just loves him. In return, he loves his weekly therapy appointment. He plays therapist with his siblings; my favorite line from his game is, "Welcome to therapy. May I give you a hug?"
He's learned how to play and build. He could not put 2 Legos together or 2 pieces of wooden train track together without crying in frustration when he first arrived. Now, less than a year later, he is capable of spending well over an hour building complicated train tracks without crying (as long as a baby doesn't come in the room and mess up his project). I've banned most Lego use because I caught him throwing Legos around the room one too many times, but under supervision, I see him successfully putting pieces together in patterns that satisfy him.
He plays pretend games. He's the least likely of the children to engage in dress-up-in-a-costume-and-act-out-a-story play, but he does take our Megablox toys and give them names and drive them around the living room in dump trucks, so he's learning to create stories in his mind.
He could not listen all the way through a single picture book when he first arrived, but he can now sit through 3 or 4 of them and ask for more.
He's learning how to control his rough-and-tumble play so that he's not crashing into and breaking everything in sight. He still struggles with this, but he accepts and acts on reminders that playing is not destroying.
The OT that evaluated him in April said that his fine motor skills were very, very poor, but he's far more coordinated than Little Brother (he is a year older, so that may be the reason). He can dress and undress himself, button his own buttons (dress shirt buttons are no easy feat), and cut a straight line with scissors and some guidance. He cannot hold a crayon very well, and manipulating playdough is hard work instead of fun for him. He does love to string large wooden beads (over 1" diameter) on a string, and he can make the whole alphabet in sign language (J, K, P, and I are hard).
He's a loving little fellow. He's like Super Star in his ability to sympathize with someone who's been hurt. He doesn't always recognize cues for who wants his hugs and kisses and who doesn't, but the very fact that he offers them is a blessing to us all.
He'll turn 5 this year, but he's not kindergarten age in our state until the 2017-18 school year. I've been thinking and praying quite a bit about him, and I've changed my mind about my original plans for this pre-K year ahead.
My original plan was to follow the advice I received in the Beyond ACEs clinic which corresponds to the generally accepted theory that early intervention is best for children with delays. I was going to begin a gentle academic pre-K program so that he could have a few years of repeating the same basic skills during these earliest years when studies say the brain is at its most receptive.
But I'm not going to do that.
I've been reading and praying a lot of late, and I'm not convinced that early intervention is actually the key. I'm becoming more and more led to play as the best learning tool for littles--even littles with learning issues--and I'm feeling powerfully drawn to activities that will stimulate and satisfy his senses. This fits well with the A Year of Playing Skillfully preschool curriculum I bought several months ago, and that I quite like. So far we've worked on activities from September, March, and April. They're delightful. I've put it away for the summer; we'll start over with September this fall and work our way though the whole manual (I hope). In addition to that we'll do activities out of Growing an In-Sync Child, read lots of stories, go on nature walks, sing songs, learn scripture stories, and give his brain time to develop in healthy ways.
This summer I bought a family pass to the local lake beach. We're going there 3-5 times a week, and the sand, water, sticks, rocks, feathers, and other flotsam and jetsam are sensory experiences that cannot be beat for my small boy.