Thursday, 7 August 2014

Sibling contact

Peter's having a fantastic Summer holiday! He relaxed into the swing of things about one week in, and we've had some really lovely days out as a family. We even went camping together near the seaside, and Peter enjoyed the whole tent experience, paddling in the sea and watching the boats.

We had Peter's first sibling contact this week at a local soft play centre. Peter has several siblings - some in other foster placements, and some placed with relatives. The children were removed from their parents getting on for 18 months ago, they haven't seen each other for around a year, and it was fascinating to see them all instantly drop back into the roles they had when they were at home. The oldest child became "the parent", the youngest child became "the baby", and they all treated Peter as though he'd made no progress at all since they last saw him although they clearly adore him and have missed him. Two sets of their grandparents had also travelled to be there, and it was a strange and wonderful experience chatting to all the people present, and realising that they are now all part of our extended family because Peter is part of our family. Sibling contact will be arranged at least four times a year, and it will be lovely to watch the other children grow up and see them progress, just as it will be lovely for them to know Peter as he gets older.

One bizarre consequence of having a large, loving, extended family who don't communicate or see each other regularly seems to be duplicate presents! It's no secret that looked-after children tend to have a lot of "stuff" (although we've tried to stem the tide a bit by saving towards more expensive items that meet a sensory need rather than endless toys), but as an example Peter has received no less than three remote control cars from various members of his family for his birthday! Not that he is complaining at all, although he hasn't got the coordination to work them yet so they've been put away for now.

We've noticed that Peter seems to go through phases of rapid progression and then plateaus for a while to process everything before starting again. He's in a rapid progression phase at the moment, especially with his speech and understanding, which has been fantastic as it's reduced his overall frustration and anxiety. He's putting several concepts together now to ask questions and tell us what he wants in more detail - still no grammar, just lists of words such as "come on come on watering can paddling pool Peter blue slide tummy" to tell me I'm not filling up the watering can with the paddling pool water fast enough, he wants to slide down the blue slide on his tummy whilst I spray him!

He also now understands how a calendar works, and accepts if we tell him something fun is happening "on Friday", rather than having a meltdown because he didn't understand that the fun thing would ever happen if it wasn't happening now. We use a visual calendar with symbols for activities we're doing during the week, and he regularly checks it to remind himself what's going on. It will be a very different child going back to school in September!

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