Wednesday, March 23, 2011

*banging head against wall*

Sometimes I think we're going forward pretty quickly with Miss Aleksa.  Other times it's like we're just taking babysteps forward and LEAPS backward!

Today has been... the latter :)

We worked on colors again today-- brought out the counting bears and sorted them into cups by color.  The cups are the same color as the bears... should be a basic concept of sorting with the added benefit of continuing to learn the three basic colors.  Red, blue, yellow, red, blue, yellow, red, red, red, red, red, blue blue, blue, blue.... yeah, you get the idea.  That's what we did for about 45 minutes today (ok, not 45 minutes straight...).  And by the end?  Aleksa still had NO idea why we were putting them in different cups, why each one went in the one that they did and not the others, and hadn't caught on to the color names whatsoever.  Everything is "Lell" which is her version of yellow, the only one of the three colors she would attempt to imitate.

I know-- repetition, repetition, repetition... and I can do that!  Repetition really doesn't even bother me.  We could do this for the next 3 weeks, every day, for 45 minutes, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't bother me a single bit.

Actually, what is SAD and FRUSTRATING at the same time, is that every single time that I hand Aleksa a bear and say the name of it, she sits and stares at me.  Even after we'd been doing the activity for such a long time and then a break and then came back... from the very beginning she would take the bear and sit there.  She wouldn't look at it, look at the cups, look at me.  So I'd show her the bear, make her look toward it, say its name, and point toward the cups.  She'd put it ABOVE a cup and sit there holding it.  Using the same words every time "Put it in" became this chanted mantra around here.  She wouldn't release the bear.

Then, when I went to have her release it, she'd scream.  Yep, like I was pinching her or burning her... THAT kind of scream.  But really, I was just trying to help her release the bear so we could go to the next one.  Each time she got it right (even after 2 or 3 or 4 tries... yes, there were only 3 cups...) then I'd give her a fruit loop.  I learned quickly at the beginning that she had NO motivation to do this and didn't want to try in the least.  She was distracted and staring to space rather than doing what I was helping her to do.  She couldn't care less.

When food came out, THEN she listened... a little.  In the end I sent her to sit and color (with red yellow and blue crayons) at the kitchen table because I was tired of 1- her screaming during every single match, and 2- her not caring or trying to figure out what we were doing.

Yes, I realize that is totally a lack of patience on my part, but goodness, we've done this many times, and I thought it would at least be starting to sink in a little by now!

In other areas Aleksa has been exerting her independence as well, and showing us that she understands more English as well as that she is more comfortable around us and at her new home.  She has been 'exploring' other areas of the house which aren't where she usually is told to be.  The kitchen, living room, closet room, guest room, and boys' bedroom.  She's also been manipulating and attempting to get other kids in trouble!

Several times now she's picked up someone else's glasses and brought them to me while pointing at the other kid and yelling!  She wants me to put them back on and she stomps and pouts if they don't get in trouble!  She takes her OWN glasses off and throws them half way up the car or hides them in the toy box... but if someone else takes them off, they should get in BIG trouble...

Just yesterday I brought Aleksa, Wesley, and Micah to the pediatrician. Aleksa was told 3 or 4 times in a row not to touch the iPad, that it was playing a book and that would stop it.  She kept doing it.  I kept putting her hands away from it and saying 'no.'  I looked away to do something with Wesley and saw her grab Micah's hand out of the corner of my eye.  She put HIS hand on the iPad!  I told HER no, again, and Micah too.  She did it two more times, using his hand, and would wait until I was involved in something else in the room to do it, but I saw her do it each time!

At nap times Aleksa is "being nice" and is throwing any toys she finds around the bedroom into Lynae's crib.  So all the toys have left that bedroom...  She's on the top bunk, but if I don't follow her in to bed and make sure she goes right up, then she sits and gets into stuff.

Aleksa is SMART.  She has figured her way around "in the system" and survived three years in a mental institution and five years in an orphanage in Ukraine.  She knows how to manipulate VERY well!  She also knows how to freak out to try to get someone to stop doing whatever they may be doing which she doesn't want.  That is a GOOD thing when it comes to kids taking her toy or hurting her!  I'm sure it came into play with food, too, in her former settings.  Now, however, she screams if someone looks at her toy (or she just gives them to them... she goes back and forth on that...).  She screams if you take her hand to get her to do something, or if you lead her to do something (for instance taking her upper arm instead of her hand when directing her toward the 'right' answer on an activity).

So, this morning between getting nowhere fast with colors and sorting, and having her scream at every instance when she was being redirected, it really felt like I was just banging my head against a wall!

I know "this too shall pass" and she will figure out what we're saying and most likely will learn English and will catch on to more of the verbal parts of what's going on, thus understanding more... We know that eventually she'll learn to both trust us and respect us, because those are two major things that we work on with our 'new' kids.  But right now, we haven't got her trust, her respect, or more than 20 seconds of eye contact.  One of these days...  And until then, I'll just keep plugging on...


  1. I'ver never posted before but I check your blog every single day and I have since before Emma and Micah were home. But today, of all your days you've shared, I just want to give you a hug. From one mom to another. There you go, (()), you feel it?

    I'm not gonna tell you anything you don't know. But I'll remind you anyway :)
    Aleksa has spent her whole life, til you, without love, without trust, without a mommy, without high expectations. You ask alot of her for the first real time in her life, it's hard, it's new, and a bit of the battle of wills. Her will has served her well her whole life. It is why she is alive. Old habits, that are tried and true, are hard to break. Patience is the gift you can give. Patience, love and consistency. And you do that so very well. You are the perfect mom for her! She will figure out those colors. You know she will. And on that day, when she is doing it happily - to please you, you will know how far she has come.


  2. Maybe she is color-blind??

  3. This is my first time posting. I am an OT and a mom of two internationally adopted special needs kids, one from Russia who I homeschooled for a year. I think you are an awesome mom and are doing amazing with the kids God has given you. I know that frustration your talking about and often find myself there to (afterall we are only human). Have you tried sign language with her? Opposite of what most people think, it actually stimulates verbal language. If you do try it start with just a few words, like red, blue, and yellow. Each time you put the bear in sign the color, say the color a few times and then put the bear in. My daughter would start saying each word shortly after she would learn to sign it. Maybe try rewarding her after the placement of each bear, even if you are doing most of the work for her to succeed. Then slowly take away the amount of assistance you are giving her. Good luck. Try to pray before you sit down to work each time. I was always amazed at how much more patience and success we would have when we remembered to pray first.

  4. Wes HATED those bears. I know exactly which ones you are talking about, and there is no way in this world he would cooperate with those! I don't know what it was, but that task you could just forget it even after I was certain he knew his colors. I like the signing idea. There's a Signing Time that does the colors, I think I would pull that one out. Maybe matching colors of clothes or food might be more practical to her? You are doing a great job, Meredith.


  5. Prayers with you Mer..How about saying...Do not put the bear in the cup LOL!! They seem to do what we don't want them too at times LOL! Keep trying...Hoping to see you again sometime with your whole family and ours...Maybe our next trip to FL...Could be Easter week...

  6. Meredith, It's easier to process two colors (red and yellow) than three at a time. Put it a bunch of red than one yellow and have her take out the yellow even if you do hand over hand assistance. If she is going to comprehend the concept this facilitates understanding. However, sometimes it takes years. My Jillian still cannot sort colored teddy bear counters and that's okay.

  7. Thanks Meredith and other moms for a place to listen and learn. That's right, I may have 10 kids, but each are different and only 2 have special needs. I am still learning to have patience and thought I knew a lot about it until our child was born with Down Syndrome. Again, I thought I knew something when we decided to adopt her sister with Down Syndrome from Ukraine. I was wrong! They are exact opposites. The first child is quiet (unless she is mad, lol) and compliant for the most part and wants to please. The adopted child is very outgoing and sweet (watch out she uses it to her advantage, lol). Yet both have become good friends, sometimes teaming up and creating such chaos (running in opposite directions when we are out, sometimes the same direction, but AWAY from us, lol or getting into mischief together when no one is looking). It's true how manipulative the adopted one is, especially with people who don't know her because she is very good at getting her way. Though we have learned not to give in. People think she needs her way for some reason and think she is VERY CUTE! She is, BUT!! Anyway, that is not what I am getting at, it's just I understand your frustration and even though both of our girls go to public school, I admire you. Your love for your family inspires me to do better. You are doing an awesome job!

  8. All of the previous comments have pretty much said what I was thinking. Signing time is Ah-maze-ing!!! We used it with our kids and they still sing the songs. None are special needs but it did help with being able to express what they wanted or needed before they had the verbal skills to do that. Cut out the terrible 2's totally with our daughter.
    I feel for you, and I feel for her. It's frustrating when you spend so much time trying to teach a child something and no matter what you do it just doesn't seem to sink in. Just keep at it and be consistent in showing her that you're her family and you love her and eventually she'll open up.
    Saying prayers for you all.

    Hugs from SC.

  9. Hugs my friend!! I have to echo what others have said about that Signing Times Video. That's what taught Danny his colors. I swear, I can still hear the jingle in my head and I know all my colors in sign language too!!

    I have agree with what you said, Aleska is SO smart. Once you find that key to unlock her...she'll put all that smartness to good use!!