I've been really torn about when to start Asher in school. Although he seems to be bonding with us really well, he's still so much of a baby. He's learned lots of things, but I haven't even touched on things like colors, counting, etc. No, it felt like he needed to "just be" for awhile; to learn what it meant to be part of a family, about brothers and sisters, a what it's like to have a refrigerator full of food, to watch food be prepared, discover cause and effect...and to know love. To discover things he's missed for 7 entire years. Just be.
It's hard not to compare him to Axel when he first came home. Asher has been home a little over two months. By this point Axel had 50 or so signs. Asher has about 15, but will imitate everything. I have to keep reminding myself that not only was Axel developmentally older, but he was communication starved. Axel had been exposed to four languages and didn't have a first language. He understood Serbian only slightly better than he understood English. Sign was definitely the right way to go with him. (Interestingly, in the past few weeks Axel has been saying Serbian words here and there. He never spoke while in Serbia!) He's kind of having a speech explosion at the moment, as we hear a new word or two each day.
I finally made the decision to start Asher's assessments for both private therapy services and school. I don't have any trouble starting him with private therapy since I can attend with him. But school? Yeah, I'm not sold yet. Besides, there's that whole baby thing....
So yesterday was his first school assessment. I decided I wanted the language-based portions done sooner than later so we could do them before he lost all comprehension of Serbian. A Serbian translator was arranged, and the testing began.
Asher blew us away.
Asher knows LOTS of stuff. His receptive language skills...in Serbian...put him somewhere around a 24-36 month level. (we don't have the actual tally back yet.) Given the fact he was raised in an institutional setting AND has Down syndrome, he's doing quite well. He was able to follow most directions given to him by the translator, things that in English he's not even close to understanding the language yet. It was VERY interesting to watch and in hindsight makes me wish we'd done the same for Axel when we brought him home.
One funny thing that happened. The translator arrived and greeted Asher and introduced himself. Upon hearing Serbian, Asher got a HUGE grin on his face, took the translator's hand and headed for the door with him. It looked like he was saying, "Thank GOD you came! Take me with you cuz these people talk crazy talk!"
And the part that brought tears to my eyes: The translator asked him, "Where is your Mama? Hug your mama" and Asher turned to me and gave me a hug. He KNOWS who Mama is. I knew he know who his Daddy is, but I didn't know about me. It brings tears to my eyes just to type it out here.
So now I have a better idea where to start with Asher's education. I know he's ready for colors, counting, and some other things in English. Though his motor skills are deceiving, he's really not such a baby anymore.