Recently at Anchor Home we have seen some really great progress in some of the kids! It seems like the kids go in spurts. I will do the same thing over and over again for months and get the same blank stares. And then one day it all clicks and they finally start to make some progress!
Right now our main time for school based activities is in the mornings. We start off with circle time at 10 where every child gets the chance to choose their picture, put it on the board, and then we sing to them. Our song goes a bit like this “Look who came to school today, school today, school today, look who came to school today, (child’s name) did!” At first it was just me singing it but after so many months of repetition some of the kids and the caregivers will sing along to! For our kids with visual impairments there is a texture on their picture card that signals to them which one belongs to them and for Cara, Julie, and Caden they now have to choose which letter their name starts with out of three felt letters and then choose their photo. When I first introduced this activity in July all the kids needed hand over hand assistance but now they are much better at identifying themselves and really enjoy seeing everyones photos!
After everyone is welcomed we sing preschool songs! We have a bank of songs that the kids know and I usually give them a choice between 2 songs. The favorites come and go in waves but right now our favorites are wheels on the bus, slippery fish, itsy bitsy spider, where is thumbkin, and row row row your boat. Cara, Caden, and Julie know all the hand motions to the songs and Abe, Josie, and Emerald are working on learning them! I’m not exactly known for my singing voice but after each and every song the kids clap which is a good self esteem boaster! Typically after singing several songs we read a book. All of the kids really enjoy books and like to touch the pages of the book as we read them. Sometimes Abe gets a bit of of control and knocks the book out of my hand with his enthusiastic touching!
After reading we typically do a big group activity. I try to switch it up so its a bit different everyday but we rotate through several of the same activities. A crowd favorite is parachute games! The kids love playing with the parachute and we work in counting to three, identifying colors, and listening while we play. We’ve also recently introduced hot potato which gets intense not so much with the kids but with the caregivers. They want the child they are helping to win and they get cutthroat sometimes! We also will get out of box of instruments and play them to music, each take a turn putting on a part of Mr. Potato Head’s body parts, and identifying different toy animals and their sounds. We try to get a bit creative during this time while also trying to accommodate everyone’s different needs! We finish our circle time every day with calendar time where we put up the date, sing our day of the week song, and talk about the weather.
After circle time wraps up the kids start their various activities. Thomas, Valor, Katherine, Sarita, Emerald, and Shiloh all have a giant tummy time party while Julie goes to her preschool class with our teacher Hanna. Josie, Cara, Caden, and Abe all have free play time where they choose between activities such as blocks, sensory play with rice or water beads, book, or another activity. Penny usually works with me during this time on her communication and other skills. At around 11:15 we take a break for snack time!
After snack Caden and Cara go to their preschool class and then at 12 Thomas, Valar, Katherine, Penny, and Sarita go outside to attend class with their special education teacher. I usually take Shiloh and Emerald during this time and work on some baby play skills such as reaching, sitting up, reading books, and singing songs. Then at 12:15 Josie and Abe go to class and I usually set up an activity for Caden, Cara, and Julie to do at the table. At around 12:45 we start transitioning to cleaning everything up and eating lunch! Our mornings are very busy but with this current schedule we have seen some great gains in the kids.
- Emerald has learned to sit up and is starting to clap her hands and babble more!
- Julie can identify what letter her name starts with and knows everyone names. She used to call everyone “Amma” but recently she has started calling the kids and staff by their names
- Cara is counting up to 5, knows her animal sounds, can identify what letter her name starts with, and is starting to work more on her shapes and colors
- Josie is starting to talk more and is starting to learn her animal noises. She also loves to do the motions to songs during circle time.
- Caden is counting up to 3 and knows some of his colors. He’s also able to identify the letter his name starts with and singing along with most of our circle time songs.
- Penny finally mastered the ring stacker and is working hard on using her picture communication. We’ve seen her become more consistent with her communication over the past couple of months!
- Valor is working on using his two sided switch during his classes with good success. Right now he’s still working on “more” and “stop”.
- Abe is sitting and attending to activities for several minutes at a time which is huge for our little busy body! He’s also counting up to 3.
Here at SCH we believe in the power of education. Education is such a privilege and we are blessed to have access to some really great resources but here and abroad. For the 12 kids in my house they are only able to be served by education in the home for several reasons. First off its hard to find schools that will accept our children with more severe needs. There is no law that mandates equal access to education for children with disabilities. Second many of the kids from a medical standpoint that can’t attend school at the moment. With their unique set of needs its hard for many of them to attend school even if they could serve their special needs. Also it makes more sense for our budget if we just hire one teacher that can come to us as opposed to having to pay school fees separately for all the kids! I’m currently spread too thin to meet all the needs of the kids so we were able to find a new teacher who will start tomorrow! We’re excited about the chance to get to train her and teach her how to work with our kids. But we need to bring in the funds to help pay her salary. The incoming teacher’s salary will be $140/month or $2,000 for the whole year. We are searching for monthly sponsors or one time donations to help us provide for this need. Education is one of the most powerful tools we can give these kids, can you join us and help give the kids at Anchor a better education? Use the link below to help us educate our kids!
Also we are looking to partner with schools and teachers. If you or someone you know might be interested please let me know and we can chat. We would love to communicate with other classrooms all around the world and teach each other!
Wow! 2017 has flown by already! Brittany and I sat down and made goals back in the beginning of the year and as the year is almost half way over I wanted to re-evaluate where the kids are and see where they can go moving forward. Plus extra time with good wi-fi gives me time to work on some new ideas and plans for the kids. And as per usual we’re always open to new ideas and tips!
Pretty much Emerald’s goals are to keep being a baby and hitting appropriate developmental milestones! She should be getting a g-tube placed in January and a cleft palate repair in December of 2017.
Emerald got her g-tube placed and has been eating some solid foods recently! She does appear to have some motor delays that we are trying to figure out but she’s a very curious baby who likes to play with her toys and see what is going on!
- Gain weight Emerald is a chunk now a days! She’s growing like crazy and outgrowing clothes and cloth diapers like crazy!
- More tummy time Emerald hates tummy time but we power through. She’s lifting up her head and is able to roll over to get out of tummy time!
- Sit up independently Not there yet. She wants to but doesn’t have the strength.
- Continue to hit developmental milestones Emerald is babbling and making some different noises! She discriminates strangers and those she is comfortable with and is overall making great progress in every area but motor
Moving forward: Our goals with Emerald are to continue to work with her to reach motor and developmental milestones. She is still primarily feed by the bottle but I’m hoping to really push her eating more solids in the next couple of months to get ready for her palate repair as she won’t be able to take the bottle after surgery for a bit.
Shilohs’s goals for next year is to thrive! Although she is still severely malnourished we are hoping that we can see her make some progress this upcoming year once we get her body out of survival mode. We recently got an MRI done that showed extensive brain damage but she’s still young so the brain has some plasticity during the first 5 years that we are hoping to take full advantage of!
Shiloh is really doing well! She has a great caregiver who works with her and has gotten her eating much better. She’s even drinking from a open nosey cup and is not taking quite so long to eat. Shiloh is much more content and is even able to be on the floor and play with toys without crying. She’s smiling much more and overall is much happier!
- Sleep through the night She’s getting there! Shiloh is a much better sleeper then she used to be and isn’t up crying as much in the night
- More physical therapy Shiloh gets physical therapy from our therapist, her caregiver, and myself or another volunteer almost daily! We’re working on strengthening her muscles so she can sit up and she’s trying to reach for objects.
- Better eating in a better seating device. Figuring out tongue thrust and sensory aversion. I’m very excited that I’m bringing back a tumble foam chair that someone donated to me to use with Shiloh! It will be a much better position for feeding and playing. Her feeding is so much better and she’s eating faster and better then she used to.
- Gain weight. 2 snacks a day (morning/afternoon) with more protein. Shiloh is gaining weight and eating 2 snacks plus she’s drinking formula now! She’s even got a little belly.
Moving Forward: Continuing on her current path! Shiloh is doing good and we’re hoping to see her continue to make good progress!
Josie is pretty much developmentally on target so we would like to see that continue plus see more gross motor skills develop. Last night she said her first word- mama! She continues to be an incredibly happy baby who loves food! No weight gain goal for her 🙂
Josie is also doing really good! Shiloh’s caregiver used to be Josie’s caregiver and she along with Josie’s current caregiver like to team up and make her do physical therapy! Josie hates it but she is making some good gains even if she has to have food during physical therapy to cut down on some of the tears! Josie is talking more and is generally a very happy child!
- Crawl/bear weight Josie is holding 4 point crawl for up to 10 seconds and does this inchworm crawl that is probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
- Saying simple words Josie is saying several words but still needs some more work on saying words instead of crying to get what she wants
- Sit up independently (She can currently sit up but can’t get into that position by herself) Josie mastered this is May!
- Finger/self feed food Josie can feed herself snack like a champ!
- Drink from a sippy cup- no more bottle! We need to bottle wean Josie. I’ve been working on open cup drinking but she still prefers to tote her bottle around.
- No more diaper rash Not much progress on this one but some ideas on how to proceed
Moving Forward: We would love to see Josie start crawling and building her upper arm strength. And getting her using a cup instead of her bottle. She’s starting to attend class with our in-site teacher so she can continue to make progress with her language and developmental skills!
Abe has come so far from the tiny baby I got in Delhi! He’s currently bearing weight and we hope that 2017 is the year he walks! He has some global developmental delays but he’s been consistently making good progress so we’re excited to see what 2017 brings for this silly boy.
Abe is quite the funny kid! He’s walking independently when he wants to but still prefers to scoot as its the fastest method to get from point A to B. I think he will walk once he learns to run! At the beginning of the year he was having a lot of sensory regulation issues but its been getting better and he’s not struggling as much in that area as he used to.
- Walk He can but only when he wants to 🙂
- Eat non-mixey food consistently Abe has been eating crackers, popcorn, and cookies! He will also eat curd rice but not curry rice so we’re mixing a spoonful of rice into his mixey food to work him up.
- Tolerate more textures He’s still not a big fan of different textures but we continue to work on playing with different textures.
- Start saying simple words and requesting more. Abe is saying about 15 words, some meaningful, some not. He needs more work in this area as well!
Moving Forward: We’re hoping to get Abe walking consistently, eating a variety of foods that aren’t pureed, and speaking more. He also needs to gain some weight as he is still a tiny kid!
Caden is also in the beginning stages of learning how to walk! He’s bearing weight and starting to show limited interest in walking. He’s also going to start attending an outside enrichment class this week along with Julie and Cara. Caden is a ham inside the house but as soon as we get outside he gets scared and starts crying. We’re hoping to widen his circle and allow him to get over some of his social anxiety.
Caden has been doing great recently! He’s really starting to blossom and is getting closer to walking. He’s been interacting more with the other kids and is not as fearful of strangers as he used to be. Caden is tolerating being way from me and is forming a strong bond with his current caregiver!
- Walk Caden is pulling up to stand and will cruise around his crib or outside on the railing! He’s a bit fearful but he’s made a ton of progress
- Talking more with words Caden is saying up to 50 words and even stringing 2 words together.
- Gain weight Slow and steady on weight gain! We met with a dietitian in Bangalore and got a better tube feeding schedule in place.
- Complete independent feeding Caden rarely eats by mouth now a days but he is good at drinking from an open cup and feeding himself cake!
- Bath 2x week and fingers wrapped individually We’ve got both of these integrated into his routine and they are being done!
- Counting up to 3, identifying colors and shapes, preschool concepts Caden is counting up to 3 and saying animal noises! Still working on the rest in his preschool class.
Moving Forward: I’m looking forward to seeing what else Caden will accomplish this year! He’s in a developmental spurt and making tons of progress. I’m hoping we can get him walking soon and continuing to learn preschool concepts. Overall he’s been pretty healthy and hopefully we can keep him that way.
Penny’s goals for 2017 are to be more independent! We would love to see our sunshine girl standing, eating by herself, and communicating with us.
Penny sure is happy! After a rough time with rehabbing her broken elbow she’s finally getting back to bearing weight on her left arm and starting to use it again. She hasn’t made much progress with her picture communication but we continue to use it and keep trying with her!
- Independent eating Penny will feed herself snacks but will not feed herself rice! We need to try again with introducing this concept to her
- Standing with Orthotics Penny need orthotics! Anyone want to sponsor them?
- Wearing glasses everyday We need to get back to having her wear them consistently.
- Using picture communication consistently. We try to use her pictures throughout the day but she hasn’t made much progress in this area!
- Increasing attention span We’re working on this in our normal daily activities and I’ve seen some small improvements in this area
Moving Forward: I’m hoping to try to get back to working with Penny on independence. She self feeds snacks but not rice so we need to try some different approaches with her and just be consistent with whatever we try to do.
Cara had a pretty major year in 2016 when she learned to walk and finally got her surgery! For 2017 we’re hoping to get her completely healthy again and more independent as well. And get her comfortable outside the home- she’s enrolled in the same class as Julie and Caden!
Cara has also been doing really well this year! She attended a summer day camp in May and did great at her first experience away from the house without any of the other kids on our floor. Snack time appeared to be a favorite for her at summer camp but she’s still a very picky eater. She’s been pretty healthy up until May when she had a short hospitalization but we’re working to get her back on track!
- Walk outside of Anchor Home independently She’s got this one (mostly) down. She’s not afraid to walk by herself in the mall and even walk away from us!
- Climb up and down stairs If she’s holding onto the railing with both hands she can go up and down stairs.
- Preschool concepts Cara is pretty smart and able to grasp a lot. She’s counting up to 3, can identify some colors, and has an ever expanding vocabulary.
- Gain weight- 2nd snack, eating more at mealtimes Still working on this one.
- Better behavior (eating meals sitting down, no beating other children) And this one is also still a work in progress. Those terrible twos…
- Appropriate peer interaction Riley and Cara have become good friends over the past couple of months when Riley has been staying with us. Cara and him play together really well and some of that has carried over with her interactions with Caden.
Moving Forward: Cara is a little sponge and soaks up everything! We’re still working on better behavior with her and trying to get her to eat more to gain weight. She’s got a couple of medical issues we’re trying to get a handle on and figure out how to best move forward to keep her as healthy as possible. She’s so smart and does well in her preschool class and is on her way to being even more independent!
Sweet Katherine had a rough year in 2016! We put a lot of hope into her cochlear implant and then it got infected. Hopefully in 2017 we can get her reimplanted and get her back on track! We are also considering a hip surgery for her to address her hip that is out of socket.
We’re still working on Katherine’s cochlear implant. We sent off her application to the government program so now we just have to wait and see of they approve it or not. We’ve decided against the hip surgery for the time being and will just monitor that hip. Katherine hasn’t been making much progress but she does love her 1:1 time with her teacher and is growing and getting so big!
- Increase time in vision room (1 on 1) Katherine gets into the vision room a couple of afternoons a week with me. We’re working on tracking objects and she’s been doing really good!
- Eating non-mixey food I’ve been introducing some crackers and veggie sticks to Katherine. She’s not a huge fan but she tolerates them for a bit. She’s also started using a nosey cup to learn how to drink from an open cup.
- Increased tummy time We have a better routine so all the kids get tummy time right after circle time for 30-45 minutes!
- Sensory integration Always ongoing for Katherine!
- Getting a better seating device Still working on this one. She has the car seat that she sits in but she’s too young for a big wheelchair but too small for the other seating devices we have!
Moving Forward: Hopefully we hear something positive from the government program about the cochlear implant soon and can get it reimplanted this fall! I would like to see Katherine eating more solids and drinking more from her nosey cup so lots of practice with chewing in her future.
Valor’s main goal in 2017 is to get a plan in place for his scoliosis and get communicating more! Valor’s new favorite thing is laughing when people cough. Luckily for him we have lots of that in Anchor Gold.
Valor is (finally!) straight! He got his surgery in March and has been doing great post-surgery. He’s able to sit up for much longer periods of time and his pain has decreased. We haven’t been able to work much on his communication with all his surgery and recovery but I’m hoping to reintroduce that!
- Afternoon snack to increase weight Valor has gained over 5 kgs since the beginning of the year!
- Sensory Integration Always ongoing 🙂
- Communication device Valor is using his two-sided switch to request songs during circle time and choose between two objects
- Switch activated toys/activities Still working on this one!
Moving Forward: We would like to see Valor continue to gain strength after his surgery and hopefully be able to engage a bit more with the world. Valor understands a lot of what goes on and I want to tap into that as much as possible!
Thomas’ goal for 2017 is to be happy! The big man of the house loves to sit up in his wheelchair and watch the world go by.
Thomas has had an up and down year. We’ve seen an increase in chest infections with him, leading us to believe that he may need another surgery as his fundoplication may be loose allowing him to aspirate. But overall he’s still happy and really enjoys his 1:1 teacher Puri and her work with him!
- Sitting up in wheelchair Thomas sits up in the morning and afternoon in his wheelchair
- Less “junky”- more suctioning and nebulizers Having a few setbacks on this goal. Hoping to get to the bottom of it though!
Moving Forward: Our goal with Thomas is always for him to be happy and healthy! We need to figure out a solution to his recent rounds of aspiration pneumonia. He continues to enjoy his classes and circle time and generally just being around everyone in the house!
Julie Baby’s goals for 2017 are to be more independent! She currently tells us when her huggie is wet so I think she’s ready to begin the process of being potty trained. Julie is also going to start going to an enrichment class with Caden and Cara and potentially start a school if we can find one that would work well for her!
Julie is slowly working on her independence goals. No movement in the potty training yet but she did enjoy her enrichment class and was always asking for the car. That class has finished for right now but she enjoyed her time there! I’ve been feeling a bit frustrated with Julie recently as she seems to have plateaued a little bit but I’m hoping to refocus on her and see if she can get back in the swing of making progress!
- Bearing weight Julie is currently bearing weight with our physical therapist! She also need braces- anyone want to sponsor those? 🙂
- Preschool concepts Julie is identifying most animal noises, is expanding her vocabulary, and is working on colors
- Dressing herself Julie can get her clothes half-way off but then needs help with the rest!
- Potty Training Not yet but I hopeful we will get there!
Moving Forward: I’m hoping to get Julie potty trained (or at least attempt to potty train her!) I think she can but it’s just a matter of doing it. I’m also hoping to refocus some of my attention on teaching her more self-help skills and getting her more independent!
General Anchor Gold Goals
- Oral hygiene Also a work in progress!
- Bi-weekly ayah training We were good about this for a while but now its become more on the spot training
- Oral hygiene
- Helping children reach developmental milestones
- Monthly ayah meeting Also hasn’t been happening as much but we’re in a good place with good ayahs so not needed as frequently
- Get more kids sponsored We’ve increased our sponsorship to having 72% of the house funded! I updated all the totals needed per kid on this page if you’re interested!
Whew that was a lot! If you made it all the way through congratulations! It’s always good for me to process where the kids are at and where they need to be going, especially when I’m back home so I can refocus and talk with people to get better plans in place for them. Rest is good but I’m also excited to get back and put some ideas that are swirling in my head into place!
We are raising $300 for Penny and Julie to get orthotics! Use this link if you would like to contribute towards this need.m