Monday, July 25, 2011

"Maya, Where have you been?"

This summer has been so busy.  The summer before Maya was three was just a sign of hot months passing in the desert.  Now that Maya is in preschool, summer is our time to travel and kick back a little.  We've certainly taken advantage of this time away from school schedules.  So far we have taken four trips out of state.   It's been awesome on many levels but it's been also quite exhausting.  Traveling with a three year old is always an adventure.  We are lucky that Maya does very well on the plane and usually doesn't have any major issues with new environments.  Thank goodness for ipads and ipods because they really help us get through those long hauls.

A few firsts happened this summer, first Maya was able to spend some time with her Great-Aunt and Uncle from her Dada's side.  They were visiting from India so it was a special occasion. She also went to the beach for the first time and got to splash around a bit in the water.  She just loved the waves! We visited two new children's museum's, one Cali and Texas. Finally we were able to visit a wonderful park called Morgan's Wonderland, in San Antonio.  This park was designed to provide a fun environment for ALL abilities of children to play and experience.  Maya's favorite activity there was the water table and sensory building.  We also had a chance to ride a train around the park and play on the playground. It is truly a special place for all children.

Here are a some highlights of the milestones Maya is accomplishing lately:

Maya new word is help.  This is huge!  One night when I was on the computer she came to me and grabbed my shirt and said, "hhhheellp".  The p was mostly silent but I could hear exactly what she said.  She had a little game in her hand and wanted me to open the box for her.  It was so amazing to hear this word used in an appropriate manner.    Since then she's been using it often, when she needs help and just for saying it.  I'm thinking the H sound is a new and interesting sound for her since sometimes she repeats it over and over almost as if she is astonished by the sound itself.

Another big change that I see in Maya is that she is starting to use two and three words (ASL) together.  We have been working on this for the last three months very intensely.  For a long time now we have always used "please" after we ask for something but in the last three months I started to add the word "want".  So I sign to her "what you want?" or "you want barney?".  It has taken a little time for her to learn the word "want". I do think it is an abstract concept, not so much an object or an action.  The other curious thing is that she signs it backwards.  "Want" is signed almost like you are grabbing something face up moving towards you...she signs it the other way, fingers facing her.  It's hard to explain but I wonder if it is because she is mirroring the action.  I'm not complaining at all about how she signs it, because the fact that she is using this word at all makes me so happy.  Today I asked her, "which you want? fruit or waffle?"  She signed, "want fruit please".  Yes!!!   Just the other day she signed, "want ice cream please".  You know she got it.  =)

While all this is going on, I see that Maya is also starting to vocalize more.  She isn't really saying clear words yet, but she is trying to mimic the sound.  It seems to always be the sound at the end of the word, like "eeee" for please or "aaaak" for quack.   I hear her sometimes trying to sing along with barney songs.  Many times I have found her reading books, not in silence anymore, not just using her ASL signs, but now using her voice.  She makes expressions when she is reading the pages and tries to say the words.

I really have to hand it to Barney for changing Maya's life.   There are  four shows that Maya really responds to, Signing time, Barney, Hi-5 and The fresh beat band, but Barney has really brought a lot of personality out of her.  I've noticed that she has more patience in listening to the storyline now than before.  She even laughs at some of the jokes now.  The happiness in her eyes when she sees barney is just priceless. Thank goodness for Barney.

I have to say that all these accomplishments mean so much more than they usually do because some days I do feel a bit discouraged.  For a while there it almost felt like we had hit a wall.   My theory has been that she is on the verge of a breakthrough and she is just frustrated.  But the other part of me wonders if some of this has to do with the new discovering that she has sensory issues.  The hardest part is that these behaviors in my mind have pushed others away from her and enable her from interacting in public settings.  I often feel like she doesn't quite understand how to relate to other children.  Then there is the environment that I can't control.   Whether it's too much going on around her or certain sounds that she can't stand, it sets her off and there is no going back.  My poor girl becomes someone else and I feel so helpless in knowing how to calm her down.  I feel so perplexed because I wonder how this little person that does so well with her therapist can fall apart when she interacts with her peers.

I do see hope coming our way though, this week I'm taking Maya to an evaluation with an occupational therapist who has done a lot of work in this area. My hope is that once Maya is evaluated we can begin the journey in dealing with these behaviors.  I'm so looking forward to learning all about sensory processing.

Here are some photos from our summer adventures...

Maya's first time on the moving walkway in the airport.  She loved it!

Just chilling in Cali with our friend and doggies.
Maya reading the alphabet at the San Jose Children's Museum.

Maya and her cousin watching Barney in Cali.

At the playground with her cousins.  So much fun!

Doesn't she look so big?!

Maya's first time at the beach, Newport Beach Cali.

She loved the waves!

Looking cool on the beach.

Playing and dancing on the playground.

Our first time at Morgan's Wonderland.

The water station was one of Maya's favorite activities.

Train ride with Grandma.


Michelle said...

Matthew often seems ot go backwards a bit before he explodes forward again. He loved Barney too for sucha long time - LOL! She does look soooo big!!!!!! You guys have been on the go this summer! :)

Becca said...

That's so GREAT to find something (like Barney, even though I personally despise him...) that works so well and engages her. I agree, Samantha has learned so much from just a few TV shows. For all those naysayers who say TV is bad for kids, I seriously beg to differ.

Wow, 3-word communicating!!! That's HUGE. Go, Maya! I think that once she realizes how much she can accomplish by her communication and how much of a result she can get, those building blocks will continue to grow. Development comes and goes in waves. There are so many complicated little parts that have to come together just. right. But when they do, watch out!! :-)

I'm VERY interested in what you find out from the OT about her sensory issues and what kind of plan you come up with. I keep vaccilating back and forth about whether we should do that, but think that for now, I'm not worried. I have just learned that there are some things Sammi just can't do, unless, perhaps, we look into getting some sort of noise-reduction headphones. I'm slowly figuring it out...

Love the photos! Maya is getting sooooo big, and she's just BEAUTIFUL!! Love the pic of her on the train.

Btw, word on the street has it that the next NDSC conference is being held here in DC - you coming? I'm willing to bet I can convince my husband to have you guys stay with us...