Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Foo's Life and Lemons

I promised an update on Foo and here it is, though it feels as muddled and uncertain as everything else these days. 

We've had the report back from the Occupational Therapist's assessment and in a nutshell he's struggling with sensory processing - taking in and acting on information from his senses, especially his sense of touch and movement. We're not sure if he's getting too much information or not enough, though I lean towards the later, but it's affecting his balance, spacial awareness and movement through his vestibular sense (inner ear) and also his ability to deal with everyday situations like the cold here in Finland, getting dressed, coping with new situations. 

He's becoming more and more frustrated with things as he wants to be able to do things on his own, but doesn't have the physical ability or sometimes the understanding. He has trouble with changes in routines and things not going the way he wants. He will refuse to do something he knows he has problems with like climbing, doing arts and crafts or playing with a toy that has small parts. He can't process sequences so if doing an activity has more than one step he gets confused and can't understand or remember what comes next. Walking across the room to pick up an object becomes a drama when you have to explain to him where it is - 'on the couch next to the wall' can send him into a panic - 'what's a wall?'

He's become too much for his playgroup as they say he needs almost constant one-on-one attention as he's unpredictable and restless. He's not violent, but gets easily frustrated so if someone goes to take one of his favourite toys he'll freak out and push them. He also doesn't understand group dynamics or how to approach other children, so tends to knock down their toys or draw on their pictures in an attempt to get their attention. 

He is the sweetest boy in the world at times, but he's really struggling at the moment. He's becoming aware of his limits, has said to me recently 'I can't walk very well' when we were negotiating snowy paths and 'I don't like to go high' when we were talking about the men on the roof cleaning off snow. I'm dreading when he starts to notice that Bumpshie is already more accomplished in some physical things than he. 

So the OT's opinion was he needs Occupational Therapy sessions, but she can't fit him into her schedule until autumn, so suggested we go and look for someone else. Oh, joy. Need to wait for the local health board to approve his therapy so they'll pay for it, then we need to find someone who speaks English well, which should be fun.  And we need a psychological review which I'm trying to arrange. 

Today we had a meeting with his nursery staff and a specialist kindergarten teacher to look into new nurseries and strategies to deal with him. We may end up keeping him in the Finnish system (if we stay here) just because we'll get better support. While I'd love to send him to Mouse's nursery, they may be reluctant to take him because they'll may have to hire someone who specialist background who also speaks English. That will be something we'll have to bring up at Mousie's upcoming parent/teacher meeting. 

We've applied to Mouse's nursery and to the European school that's connected with the Chief's employer for both boys and now have the wheels in motion to find a Finnish nursery place. I've started looking into the Scottish possibilities, but it's hard to do without being present to meet with staff and visit schools. Trying to find the best for Foo without being totally certain of what that is. If the Chief gets the permanent job here, the boys will have an automatic place at the European School, but I'm unsure if he'll get the support he needs. He may end up speaking Finnish before the rest of us. 

So that's where we stand. I feel quite frustrated at our lack of tangible answers, not so much the lack of a diagnosis, but just what we're going to do next. But I try to remind myself that it has only been 7 months since we first saw the neuvola nurse with our concerns about his balance and speech. So far we've seen an ENT specialist, a speech therapist, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and a specialist teacher. In the UK we'd probably still be waiting to see the paediatrician or the first specialist. We are probably in one of the best countries for dealing with an health care/ physical needs issue and I am very grateful for that. 

How's that for lemonade?



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