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I need advice.

Calling all homeschool parents, parents of kids with special needs, or therapists/teachers of kids with special needs.

This is Anna.
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Anna is a very intelligent, almost eight year old, little girl.  A little girl that I am having a hard time with knowing what to do with.  I can’t seem to find what motivates Anna.  I feel like I’ve tried it all.  We are at a crossroads.

Anna wants to be treated like an infant.  This scares me since we are about to have an infant.  Anna is capable of so much, in fact just how much she is capable of, well….it’s pretty awesome.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t want to do anything.

She can put her own shoes on, but will fight it.  She can even do the fancy little clasps, but again will fight it.  She can put on and take off her own coat.  She fights it though.  She can button her own jeans, but doesn’t want to.  So much of her time is spent in refusal. 

I won’t do it for her.  I also won’t let other people do it for her either.  Now at home she doesn’t open up the water works anymore.  She tried that the first few months after coming home, but quickly realized that we still weren’t going to do things for her that she can do herself.  Out in public though, oh boy, she turns those crocodile tears on. 

Anna also doesn’t want to play with toys.  Any toys.  She knows how to play with everything available to her, but since we don’t have anything that she can sit and just repitively push buttons on, she usually won’t play. 

Every now and then she will yell for Andy to play ponies with her, but other than that when it’s free time, and we tell her she can play with her toys…..she cries. 

I’ve had her completely checked out, she’s not sick, nothing in her diet is causing issues, and she gets an adequate amount of rest.  She’s well hydrated, has no hearing issues, no health issues at all. 

I can’t find her motivator.  It seems as if it’s going to cause her to put forth the smallest effort, then she shuts down and won’t do it.  We are at an impasse.  Right now she knows her alphabet and the sounds, but we can’t branch into phonics and reading.  I have various types of programs both sight word reading (which is supposed to be more effective for Ds) and different phonics programs.  She has the vocabulary, but refuses to talk with it, and I feel like something internally is holding her back.  Something is holding her back from letting herself excel in the ways that she is capable.   

But what?  What can I do?  How can I help her?  Anyone have any ideas? 

4 thoughts on “I need advice.

  1. This may be completely out of question for you, but maybe she just needs a little more variety in her surroundings and totally new experiences? Our Anya started thriving once we put her in school. But then she is at a charter school and has a wonderful one-on-one aide in her kindergarten class. I think I remember you trying public school and it was a bad experience, but I'll just say it's been the best thing for Anya.

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  2. We don't homeschool, our kids are not special needs, and I have no training in therapy, so this advice might be completely useless, but maybe the Accountable Kids program might help motivate her? Like I said, I'm way out of my zone of knowledge, but I thought I would mention it in case it would be worth trying. Love the blog! 🙂

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  3. I will look into the Accountable Kids program, thanks for the rec!

    As for school, I think if we had great schools, charter schools, funding for special needs programs around here, we'd look into it. However, when we bought the farm, we knew the schools were extremely run down, poor, and that the special ed department would not be helpful to us. There's only one to choose from by the way, the county school is it. We knew this in advance. It was a gamble, one that paid off though. As Andy is no longer presenting Aspergy symptoms what so ever. His 4-5 hour long meltdowns have pretty much disappeared (which we had read could happen once given the opportunity to be in nature). She does go to church, we tried dance (it didn't work out), she socializes with the other siblings who are at Andy's wrestling practices, so she does get out and have variety in her days. I feel like something emotional has her stuck, just wish we could talk it out.

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  4. I wonder if Anna's reluctance/refusal to speak much might be somehow related to her initial language being Russian – I remember how she was “trained” to recite poems and “perform” at the orphanage. Of course, performing and reciting by rote are not exactly what you're going for here! But it does indicate that forming and pronouncing and remembering words shouldn't be too hard for her physically – comprehension and spontaneously forming sentences are something else, of course. Could she somehow think that she's being asked to “perform” once again??

    How about public library story times and other programs? I am not sure about the library system in your present location, but the library in your former town is good and has an active children's department. Even though you're over the county line, their programs should be available to out-of-county families at no charge (there may be an out-of-county charge to borrow materials, unless you're in the same library district, in which case they probably have reciprocal agreements with other counties in the same district – this is true for the Bluegrass North and Bluegrass South districts just beyond you). It's a ways up the road – but might be worth trying. There may also be library programs in your present county.

    If not, you could always emulate library story-and-craft times at home, with a bit more structure than usual storybook/reading time. Pick a theme – holidays, seasons, animals, whatever – find three books, a song or poem, and a simple craft (construction paper rules!). Have the children sit on the floor in a semi-circle with you facing them on a low chair. Maybe wear a storyteller's hat or light the storytelling candle – whatever makes it special and helps grab their attention. That's it – add on related outdoor activities when weather permits.

    DSACK has a lot going on for children of various ages, though they're centered up here where I am – perhaps when spring arrives, their activities might be more do-able.

    Are there any Brownie troops in your area that Anna could join? Again, I know there are some in your former town… or perhaps play groups, or other little girls or boys nearby with whom she could enjoy unstructured play? When I first met Anna, she gave the baby doll I'd just given her a ride down the playground slide – so she was certainly capable of imaginative role-playing with her dolly.

    Good luck…and I love the Valentine's Day picture!

    Susan up the road
    Retired Children's Librarian, LPL!

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