Curious Colors

This week has been filled with medical appointments. Developmental psychologist for our son, bone age, echocardiogram, ENT and audiology appointments for our daughter. I’ve returned to work full-time because my boss was suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor last Saturday and had to retire, and that’s simply a lot to juggle.

So much has happened this week, but I have to say the most bizarre moment has been I was reviewing colors with our daughter. She really struggles to remember anything longer than 15 seconds. It’s almost like there’s a block between her short and intermediate memory. No matter how many times we go over the letter A, which is in her name, which she can WRITE, if it’s been more than 15 seconds since I’ve told her it’s a letter A, she can’t remember.

I digress.

Finally, as we were going through a Curious George book, I began to ask the colors of the flowers: red, yellow, and blue. Every page, we reviewed. Finally, she started to get them all correct, all by herself!

My husband and our son were in another part of the house, and so I shouted out, “Come look what your daughter can do! She knows her colors!” But she slapped both hands over my mouth and said, “No mama, no!”

Our son and my husband came in the room to watch, and she covered her eyes and refused to participate. When we finally peeled her hands away, and convinced her to do it, she got all of them wrong.

Now I wonder if part of her delay really isn’t a delay at all, but some other motivation for not learning. I’ve seen it happen before where she knows something, and my husband and her brother walk in the room, and she suddenly can’t remember. It’s just the “NO mama! No!” was new.

I do know that her brother told her not to speak English, and we’ve asked him to tell her to speak English, which has helped. She is at least making an effort now. He is still considerably ahead of her. But I just don’t know why she is afraid to learn and demonstrate learning.

Her preschool has noted that she is pretty uncooperative with testing as well, so it’s not necessarily JUST her brother or my husband.

So, is she really developmentally delayed, or does she not want to learn? Is it because she wants to stay four? Did someone tell her girls don’t belong in school? Did others tell her she wasn’t smart enough? Did her brother tell her to play dumb?

There could be a thousand things going on in her precious little brain. I hope to someday figure her out!

We are having her declared officially 6 on Monday, and she will turn 7 next May, and her brother officially turning 8 this month. We cannot legally change their birth dates because they immigrated based on their falsified birthdates, but we are trying to get a doctor’s note so that we can address their needs better in public school. Our special-needs daughter especially needs extra help that school can (hopefully) offer. If our daughter indeed has special needs.


3 responses

  1. We have found that our son learns in what we call “brain spurts” instead of growth spurts. We will repeat something like colors or a letter for weeks on end, then he will suddenly “get it.” And not only will he get that letter, he’ll get a 5-10 letters. We’ve been doing sight words for school and he wasn’t getting any of them for several weeks, then suddenly, he knew them all. I’m not sure if that’s typical, but it has been pretty consistent for us.

    As for the ages, my understanding is that you can legally change the birth dates if you have medical and development evidence of age. Have you talked to an attorney? You would need to file it with the state court where your adoption was recognized and go before the judge. Some judges are more open to it than others. I know others have done it successfully, but we feel like our kids are pretty close to their stated age, so we haven’t pursued it. That might make it easier with school, and later with sports and other activities.

    • It was our attorney who told us about the USCIS policy, and sent us the paperwork indicating we CANNOT change their age. It’s a part of a new anti-terrorism act. We get the re-aging paperwork from our adoption physician tomorrow, and we’ll use it with the school system, but not with the government.

  2. Don’t underestimate the trauma your kids have experienced. Lack of control and fear are likely consuming them. I’m not sure how long you have been home but it took our son (5 on paper, definitely older!) months and months to show us who he really was (a kind, smart, funny kid!). We’ve been home 15 months and we still have a lot of work to do. He can still be controlling, vigilant and quick to anger. But is is SO MUCH better. I echo 2 + 2 mom re: karen Purvis. From the get get-go we were having him “fix” his bad behaviors (by saying sorry and sometimes actually re-enacting the the negative event with a better choice), when he was tantruming we repeated “calm and safe, calm and safe” “when you are ready to show respect you will fix.” We’ve folded in more consequences as we’ve been home longer and developed language. We also began working with a Theraplay therapist. Our first few months were the hardest of my life and I regularly thought we’d made a mistake by adopting siblings (or adopting at all).

    My friend’s daughter (adopted around the age of 6) does what your daughter is doing about learning new concepts-knowing them and then not knowing them a second later. There was even an email thread on this very topic on the Older Children and Sibling Adoption Yahoo group (are you on those listserves?). With my friend’s daughter it seems to be a control issue–she’s doing it less and less these days, but at times it pops up.

    Thank you for sharing. This journey is so tough and it helps to talk with other adoptive parents. Take care of yourself.

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