Today marks three months that our sweet Katie has been home with us.
She's continuing to do so well - better than we ever could have hoped.
When she first came home she was very guarded around the boys. I think she was unsure of how they would treat her, and that made her nervous. You would never know now that she hasn't been here forever. She climbs all over them, wants to hug and kiss them, doesn't hesitate to yell at them if they make her mad, and is constantly right with them playing. To watch this little person emerge has been magical.
Katie is so smart - she can now speak over 40 words and signs around 80. Her speech therapist is thrilled with her progress, as are we. She understands everything we say to her, which still amazes me. She signs and speaks spontaneously, although the speaking sometimes needs some prompting. I cannot wait to see how her speech has progressed a year from now. Remember, she had NO words when I brought her home, in either Russian or English. None! And now she's got a combined verbal/ASL vocabulary of over 100 words in just twelve weeks.
She's started her screenings and evaluations for preschool, and she will start in September. She did very well at her initial screenings, and the teacher was shocked to find out that she had been here for such a short time. We're very hopeful that next year we will be able to place her in a typical class for Kindergarten. That's not an option this year because of her communication skills, but we're working hard toward that goal.
She got her orthotic inserts this week, along with a snazzy new pair of New Balance shoes. She put them right on and acted like she's worn them for her whole life. Katie has flat feet and some mild pronation because of hypotonia, which is very common in people with Down syndrome. A good article about orthotics and young children that I've found is this one - it explains the importance and benefits of orthotics and talks a little bit about the UCBL insert, which is what Katie has. As KR's feet grow, we will have new inserts made. She will likely need inserts forever. Don't worry - they fit in her cute shoes. I've already checked.
Katie is such a happy girl, so vibrant and full of life. She has opened up so much in the short time she's been here. And though it's been short, it feels like she's always been here. I cannot imagine our family without her. How did we live for so long without her and without knowing she was missing? She has a fabulous sense of humor, is silly, loves to snuggle (especially at bedtime), and particularly loves sweet Henry. She and Jack are a hot mess together, getting into everything, chasing each other or the dogs around the house, dumping out legos, jumping on the beds, and dressing each other up in costumes and dress up clothes.
Some things we are working on with Katie now are using the potty (which she is doing a FABULOUS job with!), listening to directions (using the 1-2-3 method if we need to), and not hugging everyone she meets. The not hugging is important for several reasons, namely for attachment purposes and for an awareness of strangers. Katie has very firmly bonded to us, but she is going to start school soon and will be with teachers and caregivers for a large part of the day. We want to make sure she understands that we are her parents and not the people at school. This seems silly to people who have not adopted - of course the teachers aren't her parents. However, we need to remember that for almost 5 years Katie was cared for by people in a school-ish setting. She will not have forgotten that in three months, no matter how much we love her. I want her to bond to her teachers in an appropriate way, not a parental way. Also, because she is so friendly and people are excited to see her, there are often lots of hugs. I love that everyone likes Katie so much and is so excited to see her, but she has zero concept of a stranger. None. She would hug and go to everyone she meets. We need to start teaching her now that this is not appropriate for lots of reasons, but one huge one is obviously that she is far more vulnerable based on her inability to speak clearly for herself. I think this will be a long lesson for Lady K. She's just a people person!
I am thrilled with Katie's progress since she's been home. She is an absolute joy, and we are so, so lucky to be her family!