I get many questions about what we have done with Kristina to help her with her FAS, so I thought I would try to answer them all in one place.
Two of the older kids had doctors appointments this week, so Kristina came along. Our family doctor has been through a lot with our family--she even delivered Connelly and Annika. She also was the doctor of Kristina's first adoptive family, so she met Kristina the day after Kristina arrived in the USA.
Every time our doctor sees Kristina, she gets teary-eyed because she can't believe how far Kristina has come, and this visit was no exception. The words she used to describe Kristina were "miraculous," "unbelievable," and "it would be impossible for Kristina to be doing this well if you hadn't found all the things you've done with her."
So, what have we done with her?
Sensory Learning Center:
The 30 day brain re-boot we did at the Sensory Learning Center last spring was very important for Kristina's healing. It allowed her to have access to all the information we had stored into her brain. I had been teaching her to read using flashcards, but her recall of those words was very poor. During the therapy, her reading skills took off as her brain became able to utilize that information. She also learned to count during that time, and now she can add numbers. She is starting to phonetically spell words, and she has been sounding words out when she reads.
Kristina reacts badly to many foods. Her digestive system does not work well. Feeding her the wrong foods makes it impossible for her to learn.
Gluten free, soy free, dairy free (only cow milk free, she can tolerate goat milk), chemical free (no colors or preservatives, organic food when practical), salycilate free (research the Feingold diet), no nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, paprika, etc), no sugar.
What is left for her to eat? Rice, quinoa, flax, millet, oats, vegetables, unprocessed meats, goat cheese, goat kefir, goat milk, some fruits. Her diet consists of simple, healthy, whole foods.
When her diet is followed precisely, Kristina's behavior is mostly good; when her diet is messed up, she behaves horribly. She becomes aggressive and oppositional. Kristina accidentally ate the wrong things recently, and she went from her usual compliant self to an angry little girl screaming, "Don't tell me what to do!" She also was very mean to her siblings.
When she does offend a sibling, she gets a "sit time." She sits on the living room couch for a while, until she is ready to ask forgiveness of the person she has offended. We have always had our kids return to the person they have offended, and for any purposeful offenses, they have to state what they did wrong, and ask for forgiveness. For example, "I am sorry for taking your toy. please forgive me."
We give her many opportunities for "do-overs" so she can practice the correct way to interact with people. We frequently use role play to help her understand what to do in various situations.
Now I am having Kristina practice relaxing. I realized that some part of her body is always moving, and she has no idea how to relax. I read books to her while she snuggles on my lap. I keep reading while she holds still. When she wiggles, I stop reading. When we started practicing this skill two weeks ago, Kristina could only keep still for a couple of seconds. Tonight I was able to sing two short songs to her while she held still. She is also practicing slow movements because she always moves quickly. She is now able to walk slowly across the living room.
Kristina does much better at staying dry during the daytime if we give her daily magnesium supplements. Magnesium is used to treat urinary incontinence. If she doesn't have magnesium, Kristina can't make it all the way to the bathroom before she leaks.
Treatment at the Sensory Learning Center helped her be able to feel the need to use the bathroom.
She is not dry at night yet.
We followed the instructions in "How to Teach Your Baby to Read" to teach Kristina some sight words. Now she is reading through the Pathway Readers series. (Two of the characters, Peter and Rachel, have become her imaginary friends.) She supplements with Thomas the Tank Engine books from the library.
Kristina also uses All About Spelling. It teaches phonetic spelling and reading.
For math, we are using Math-u-See Primer. She is over halfway through the book and is really starting to catch on to math concepts. She named all the math blocks with the names of trains from Thomas the Tank Engine. The trains are numbered, so she named the blocks based on the numbers of the trains. When she does addition problems, she says she is "coupling" them together.
For the rest of her school subjects,new concepts are introduced on Fridays at Classical Conversations. We practice those concepts for the rest of the week. Kristina prepares and delivers a presentation at her class every week. That is her favorite part! She LOVES public speaking!!!
We take Kristina swimming at the YMCA 3-4 times per week. She is an amazing swimmer! She hasn't had any lessons yet, but she has started watching the people swimming laps and tries to copy them. She loves to swim to the bottom of the pool and retrieve diving toys. She is so tiny (36 pounds) that people can't believe she can swim so well. I read once that a study of kids with FAS showed that letting the kids spend an hour of their school day focusing on something they were good at, allowed them to improve in ALL other academic areas. Kristina is a gifted swimmer, so I try to take her swimming as often as possible.