I am in awe. The Lord knew exactly what He was doing when He prompted me to start this blog. Because of it, I am so much more aware of the hand He has had in Elli's life this past week.
The day after I began this blog, I had what's called an IEP meeting with Elli's teachers. Right now, she attends a special needs preschool for two hours a day, four days a week. In that classroom is one main teacher, three aids, a speech therapist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist. In addition, Elli has a vision/mobility therapist who is with her for an hour and a half each day. In other words, Elli is getting LOTS of quality one on one time. During the meeting, her teachers/therapists talked about some concerns they have had with Elli. Because her communication skills are so poor, there are often behavior issues. For instance, she likes to bite-- OUCH! And if she's mad, she can really throw a fit that gets in the way of any learning. She doesn't like to sit still, and has a hard time transitioning from one thing to another. She has lots of meltdowns at school. Well, they had been talking about how to best serve Elli, and came up with an idea that they presented to us at the meeting. There is another preschool in the district that is smaller (a maximum of 8 children in the class) and that focuses on behavior and routines. It is fairly strict. The idea is that they learn how to sit still for short periods of time, follow routines, etc. SO that they are better able to learn. They really start with the basics and practice, practice, practice. There is supposedly less chaos (which would be good for Elli-- she really doesn't do well when there is lots of noise and different things going on.) We have given permission for her to be evaluated for this class, and if she qualifies, we can go observe it and see if we as parents feel it would be a good fit for Elli. I was very hesitant about the whole thing until I learned that her vision/mobility specialist, Eileen, (the one who spends the most time with her) would move with her to the new preschool. We love Eileen and feel like if she transitioned too, it would make it much easier on Elli. So... there is a very good chance that this could be exactly what Elli needs. I found it interesting that this opportunity came the day after we started this blog! (: We'll obviously keep you posted on this.
Also, we have been debating for quite some time about Elli's birthday. She was found when she was about six months old, and was given as estimated birthday of August 24. Because of this birthday, she would not qualify for another year of preschool (missing that opportunity by 8 days) and should be moving on to kindergarten next year. Jeremy and I both feel like kindergarten is NOT the place for her right now. We know she would still receive all the services she now receives, but feel like it would be so beneficial to give her another year to "catch up" before we begin kindergarten. Her situation is so unique, having spent the first two and a half years of her life with little interaction, and then switching languages-- all while being blind. To give her the additional challenge of being the youngest in the class because of 8 DAYS seems unfair. Especially when it's not really her birthday. So, after much thought and prayer, we petitioned the courts to have her birthday changed. Our doctor wrote a letter to say he approved of it, and yesterday, we had an appointment with the judge. I had heard through adoption blogs that changing a birthday is rarely granted by a judge, unless you are trying to change it by at least a year because of significant medical reasons that suggest the original birthday is way off. We were asking for a change of just a few days, but wrote a letter expressing why we thought it would be beneficial to Elli. Well, guess what-- the judge totally granted it!! No questions asked!!! He was extremely gracious and came down from his chair to meet Elli and wish us luck. So, Elli's birthday is now officially September 9, 2004. We chose this day because it is my grandma's birthday, and we thought it would be special for them to share it. Now Elli can have one more year with special education preschool services. We feel truly BLESSED!!!!!
Now for the other miracles-- ones that might seem tiny to anyone that doesn't know Elli, but HUGE to us!!!!
Three times this week, Elli said "night, night?" following her lunch. She knew it was time for her nap!!! I couldn't believe it-- I am AMAZED whenever she uses a word on her own and in the right context!! (:(:(:
Elli opened the door from her bedroom for the first time. What a big step!!!!!!!!!!
When I put Elli's coat on the other day, she immediately said, "the bus?" She had anticipated going to school, and had let us know using a word! YAY!!!!!
Last night I was rocking Elli and touching all her body parts as I labeled them. When I got to her belly button, she said, "button, button, who's got button?" It was so cute!! We played that game in her Sunbeam class on Sunday, and she obviously remembered it. So funny that she made the connection, and so so cute.
The last two days, Elli has had way less frequent meltdowns-- a huge blessing for us. We love when she's happy, and it's so hard when she's upset and there's nothing we can do. This girl can get really MAD!
We have taught Elli to drum to the song "Little Drummer Boy." Now when we give her a drum, she starts singing, "pa rum pa pum pum!"
And, a BIGGIE, yesterday at the courthouse Elli was trying to get me to pick her up, and I was ignoring her. She then said, "Hold me!" WOW. I have practiced this with her lots-- I always make her say "hold me" when she wants me to pick her up, but I always have to say it first, and then she copies me. So this was BIG to do it on her own. (:(:(:
We feel like there is a marked change in Elli. It is wonderful. Jeremy has seemed to have more hope for her, and it is a beautiful thing to watch.
I cannot tell you what your comments on the last post meant to me. As a parent, there is nothing in the world that means more to me that to have someone rooting for and praying for my child. Thank-you, thank-you.