I am not truly deeply concerned about this (yet), but I am very aware that Avtalyon's speech is not where it should be, either in Hebrew or in English. After a year and a half in a Hebrew gan environment his Hebrew is still really poor; also concerning is that his English is also starting to lag. A lot of the time he just doesn't have the words to express himself: he substitutes with a lot of hand motions and facial gestures and general jumping up and down to communicate his point. I know that it's normal for kids in bilingual environments to lag slightly in both languages, but it's worrying me and especially since he seems to have some of the same attention issues that Iyyar does, I am not waiting around.
I talked to his ganenet who has agreed to recommend him for a gan safah; I'm paying privately to get him evaluated by a speech therapist now to get all the paperwork in before the placement boards meet next month. And I think I will also pay privately to get him evaluated in English, just to have a general idea of where he is in terms of where he should be. The speech therapist I took Iyyar to for his English eval was very nice and seemed very good; well worth the NIS 400, I think.
His ganenet says he's happy at school, which is very important, but says he seems really spacy, which I agree with. Better to get on it early, before he becomes unhappy. Major goal: prevent a rerun of whatever happened to Iyyar last year. They do seem to have some similar issues so far as attention, although developmentally they've run on completely different schedules. Iyyar was late doing everything while Avtalyon was early, and Avtalyon has done a number of things that have given both me and previous ganenot the impression that he was really bright. Which I think he is, which is why I want even more to figure out what's getting in the way of him and, say, knowing where his cubby at school is. Because it's January and he still doesn't know where he's supposed to put his projects.
The real question right now is what to aim for with Iyyar for next year. At the moment, he's supposed to be getting an hour a week of speech therapy, although we can't start that until his evaluation is written up and sent to us in a couple of weeks. He's also supposed to be getting OT, and the eval is scheduled for Thursday; the person I am bringing him to is supposed to be good with sensory issues so hopefully she can let us know what is going on there and how to help. Also, we now have Racheli, who is a really delightful Israeli 14 yo whom we've hired to come over a few afternoons a week for an hour or two to just sit with Iyyar and Avtalyon and read them books, talk to them, make them talk etc. She's from a big family so unfazed by chaos and they have really taken to her, which is great; also, when he does start with speech therapy and we're supposed to be working with him on his Hebrew at home, I'm hoping she'll be able to help out there.
Iyyar's been having his ups and downs behaviorally. I made him that star chart to get him to look at me and listen when I call his name; that made for a good week, but then the next week was awful (even with a second star chart). Lots and lots and LOTS of talking to himself, handwaving, just checking out generally. Wednesday was a disaster and ended with everyone, including me, screaming and in tears. The last two days have been better and tonight after Shabbos I made a star chart for everyone in the family. Abba and I have rows on it too. Ours are for Not Screaming. Not that we usually do, but I felt like it was good to make it clear that not only children are expected to work on themselves, and I did scream once last week which was upsetting for everyone. Iyyar looked pretty happy when he saw me put that on the star chart. "I'm going to try really really hard not to scream. And you're going to try really really hard to look at Imma when Imma says your name, with no silly faces or silly hands or voices. OK?" He was OK with that.
This time he asked for a comic book (Bone #8) for his prize. Fair enough. I told Mr. Bigfoot that if I get a whole week of stars, I want takeout for dinner.
Oh, and want to hear some good financial news for a change? Notice all the "I'm paying privately for X" mentions above? Yes this is annoying in that it's supposed to be getting paid for and isn't and if I had known I'd be paying privately I could have just done this last September. But I just got a bonus at work equivalent to a bit more than a regular paycheck, plus an extra week's pay that I didn't realize I was getting because I had more unused vacation last year than I could carry over. So that's where the private therapy, and the star chart rewards, are coming from.
At the moment, Iyyar's ganenet wants him in a regular first grade with speech, OT and play therapy. Her main objection to a kita katana is that even though there exists such a class for kids with attention and emotional issues, and Iyyar certainly qualifies on both counts, he is not exactly a problem behaviorally. Yes he acts strangely, but he doesn't bother anyone. He doesn't hit. He's very nice to the other kids. He tries to listen, even if he doesn't always manage it. And he's very very sensitive to other kids who aren't nice. So if we put him in a class of 8 boys with emotional and attention issues, and say 2 of them hit... that would not be any improvement over the stressors of a regular class. Probably worse. Sure, you can get 2 kids hitting in a class of 30, but that's not the same as 2 out of 8. I hadn't really thought of this that much but both his ganenet and a friend with a kid in the Israeli special-ed system pointed it out to me. Peer group matters a lot, and if I have a kid who's acting strangely we'd rather he model his behavior on kids who aren't.
But. But but. In a kita katana he'll be getting all the therapy I haven't been able to get for him, and a small class, and trained teachers, and a lot more attention. So I really don't know what to do. I'm supposed to talk to the head of education in the school that we're planning to enroll the boys in next fall, and am going to try to get a sense of what next year's kita katana for first grade looks like. The gan psychologist will be observing Iyyar again on Thursday, and is going to talk to me and to Michal after that about what seems like the best plan. For myself, I really just don't know right now what's best. I wish I did.