Thursday, August 16, 2012

Three Months Home!

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!


  1. So happy for your family! So is absolutely precious! What a blessing for your family :)

  2. Wow! This is an amazing post. I have been following your blog for a while. Congratulations on all you have accomplished. Katie is making AMAZING progress. I am going to try and send you two links to blogs I follow that you might find useful, one about school and one woman who writes "heart" and "love" letters to her daughter. I have friends who adopted a daughter with DS many years ago, she is now an adult, I think they taught her that only family hug each other. Obviously you can extend to very close family friends but it puts a stop to the hugging people in stores and out and about side of it. When their daughter entered her teens and young adulthood the hugging was, and continues to be, more about touching. You are very wise to start this "education" when Kate is so young.
    Congratulations again, Katie is absolutely adorable.
    The Love and Heart letters

    School post - look at the Thursday, Aug. 16 post

    My blog - if you scroll down to the bottom of the right hand column below my time line I have school, teacher and family/friends resources from an organization here in BC called AFABC


    Please keep posting. I love hearing about and seeing how Miss Katie is doing.
    Take care,

  3. Do you know this family? They too have adopted a daughter with DS.

  4. Love the sparkle in her eyes! Good luck in preschool Ms K!

  5. She is a rock star. Make sure you include in her IEP no hugging etc, as teachers LOVE to hug our kids. I didn't at first then went back when she was getting loved on by everyone and made a change. We use fist bumps and high fives for anyone that is not family!


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