When y came to live with us. he had the attention span of literally about 1 second. He would bounce from one topic to the next. not making a lot of sense and was CONSTANTLY on the move. the boy could not focus for BEANS. oh my. He was very small. being 9 years old and weighing in around 39 pounds! i kid you not!!!! YIKES! he was pale, gaunt, thin, not healthy looking, had a not very pleasant odor (i later came to find out it was the odor one gets if you are severely malnourished) He did not know any of his alphabet, nor did he know how to add 1+1 or any other simple math facts. He could not read. Even though he moved here from Israel, he lived there for about 5 years his hebrew reading was slower than my bio-sons. He was reading MAYBe at a kindergartner level? and that is a definite maybe. It was slow and labored. His diet had mostly consisted of eating normally one time per week and then he would sometimes get "avocado soup" or leftovers from pizza (the crusts) or rotten fruit. ugh. poor kid. needless to say, he was not a pretty sight when he got here. my handsome little boy with his beautiful brown curly hair had parts of it dyed bleach blonde. oh my. sooo it has been a long but incredible journey filled with much learning and a lot of discoveries and learning about new things over the last 19 months.
first, we got him on a stable diet. that has changed some over time but he started off eating the same things my kids were eating 19 months ago. his ema had told me that he was allergic to gluten but then she was feeding him leftover pizza crusts and such "sometimes" so that i do not get. he has been on a gluten free diet since coming here though.
Then we had visits with a nutritionist. she helped me get him on some supplements that would help him with his obvious ADHD problems. We have used the supplements faithfully for him over the last 19 months and have seen huge improvements in his ability to focus. it was very noticable at first if he missed a day without his supplements. eegad. back came the boy with absolutely no attention span. If u want to know what we are using feel free to email me, otherwise i will post it up in a few months to share with everyone.
We had several visits over the summer with the nutritionist for him. Then he started to see a therapist to help him work through some of his past trauma.
He began losing teeth like CRAZY!!!!! i kid you not, he lost 12 teeth in 6 months!!!! i guess because his body was not getting the nutrition he needed it couldn't do what it needed to do. His nails and hair grow like crazy. now if i could just get his body to do the same thing. being malnourished for so many years, he is small for his size and doesn't look his age. although he has grown a lot since being here. like 4 inches. I am praying that permanent damage was not done to him and that he will grow up to be a normal size for a man. at least like 5'7. he soooo wants to get big. he sooo wants to get out of his car seat. the fire dept said he is too small to not be in one. for him that sucks. he is 11 and still stuck in what he deems a "baby seat"
Anyhow - i digress. after that was the journey of trying to get him enrolled in school and fighting with them about what grade level courses he actually needed to be taking. that was a long process. but it finally got settled. he is doing 4th grade work for non core classes and he is now in 1st grade work for core classes. try telling a school even homeschool which we do that a almost 10 year old needs to be doing kindergarten work and see what kind of response you get. not a very good one. i will tell you that. but finally after much testing and i mean MUCH - school psych tests, spec ed teacher tests, ELL tests and and and.... they finally let me do it. They got him a IEP by mid year. He works with a OT and speech therapist which have been very beneficial to him. And i am very thankful for all their helpful advice when it comes to learning. I am glad he has them for his journey.
then on we moved to our next nutritionist, our first one moved out of state. she had me read the book "GAPS diet" . People using the GAPS diet have had luck in helping their kids grow out of or come into remission or reverse or not have as severe learning disabilities, autism, ADHD/ADD, depression, schizophrenia, etc. Again with the theory that the state of health of our gut affects the rest of our being. I started him on GAPS in march 2011. He has grown even more. he is weighing in around 59 pounds these days. so 20 pounds up from when he first got here and 4 inches taller. He has developed even more focus and is learning better in school even though it is still NOT easy for him. He is at least finding that he CAN do it. it IS in him. That he is indeed CAPABLE of being successful. finding that balance of not babying him because i know that he has learning disabilities but pushing him to his maximum potential by showing him that i believe in him is not always easy. some days we have had many tears. because of the wall that was there but we push through the wall (with tears sometimes) and he GETS the concept. he gets it and then we just keep reviewing it and he CAN do it. he IS learning. he can read some now. It is slow but he is getting mroe and more every day. I am so proud of him and all his many accomplishments he has made and how far he has come even though it is a struggle. The thing is i can not show him that i know how hard it is i have to tell him how smart i know he is and how much i know he can do it. the extra encouragement seems to help him believe in himself even if he gets mad at me while we are doing it. non core class lessons he is mastering better. i read it to him in such a way though that holds attention wiith interesting voices and asking questions. making sure i still have their attention. and changing out big words and putting them into words he can get. I celebrate every success.
Recently he got glasses and WOW what an amazing difference that has made in his concentration. he is evern MORE focused! amazing! he starts vision therapy in 2 months. now if the OT had not recommended vision therapy i would have gone on thinking his eyes were fine. i had them tested in 2010 and 2011 at a different local eye dr. they told me he was good. the vision therapy eye dr said no, he was far sighted and that he needed glasses. well THANK YOU. thank you for helping me find another piece of this puzzle for him.
tomorrow we go to a local hospital and get him tested by the pediatric developmental unit for specific learning disabilities. i want to see what i am working with. not that i will let a label decide what he can do. I usually go by my gut instincts and what i see he is capable of doing with a little extra effort. I am pretty familiar with his limits and when we hit that i dont push him beyond what i believe he can do but it is more than what others think he can do. I want him to always feel successful and never dumb. He has a low self esteem on his own and i dont need to be part of that. although that has gotten a lot better since being here as well.
as far as his heatlh as a baby - he had a lot of ear infections, he was very sickly, didn't really gain weight, was listed as FTT (failure to thrive), was in and out of the hospital all the time for eczema issues and throwing up. he was not healthy. i knew him from ages 3 to 5 and took care of him some then on a babysitting level though he was with us a lot - he was still very sickly oh my. i am proud to say that he has not had any eczema flair ups since living here, he has not had to use his inhaler once we got him stable, he is growing, he has NOT BEEN SICK, he has not had any ear infections, or throwing up. He has been doing amazing!!!!!
I really want to get his GI tract tested. hopefully soon! i am going to ask his dr at his well child check in january about doing some testing there. i want to see where he stands.
Never give up when it comes to your kids and their healthy. you as their parent know them best. the journey may seem long and full of bumps but health CAN be obtained. he is walking proof of this. he has the benefit that he ONLY lives with me. he does not bounce back and forth like my bio kids do. Their dad is singlehandedly destroying their health. but that is for another day. Y-man only stays with us and he is doing AMAZING. there is still more to his journey to be had. I can only pray i continue to get the answers i need to help him. But every step brings him one more step closer to healing and finding answers that we need to help him continue to thrive and help him to be the best he can be! little y-man i love you.