I update on the other boys' homeschool often enough. How about we update on little J?
We had the occupational therapist from First Steps come by today. One of my goals is to get J playing "appropriately" with toys while we homeschool. No, I don't mean that he is isolated in another room for six hours while Elf and Emperor are educated. What I mean is that J has difficulty using items properly, even for a 17-month old. Blocks are gnawed or thrown across the room. He bangs his head occasionally. He does not know how to roll a plastic vehicle on the floor, even if that vehicle is quite large and easy to move. I've been working on teaching the sign for "more" for almost two months without success.
The therapist noted he has difficulty "attending" to tasks. He does not speak or sign anything but "please," and that is "overgeneralized." That's a fancy word for the fact that the kid signs "please" to everything you ask him. Our next task is to try to teach the word "more," but she showed me a bit about how to select toys that are not "symbolic" while we're working with him.
For example, I had been using kitchen item toys like plastic grapes and bananas. These get thrown. Instead, we will work with things like shape sorters and pop beads that theoretically have only one use, and we will try to get him to sign "more" for another bead or whatever. Usually, when I homeschool, I give instruction for a bit of time and then the boys employ what they learned on a worksheet or two. Then we teach some more, etc. So I have time off and on to work with J, which is just fine. He is quite unable to sustain his attention for very long in any event.
A goal I have for him long-term would be loading clothes into the dryer. I want to hand him a wet clean towel or washcloth, and see him throw it and a dryer sheet into the dryer. You know, with five siblings, you can't teach stuff like that too early. Better to redo all the little ones' shoddy work and let them learn over time to do it well, than to have them go to college literally clueless as to how to run the washing machine as I did. My mother made all my meals (except for restaurant fare, etc.) until the day I left for college. Sad! I think I could have learned a fair bit from her if I had shown a little initiative, but my boys will get no choice. While they're young and (ahem, reasonably) willing, we'll drill that idea into them.
We'll be taking digital pictures and copying these into a "book" to try to teach J some words. Toothbrush, bottle, book... that sort of thing. I think the OT had some great ideas about how to address him as well. Apparently J is not distinguishing important words in our speech. Now, instead of saying things like, "Well, it's been a rather long afternoon, and you're quite grubby, so I imagine it would be a good idea for you to take a bath..." we now are to approach him differently. Make eye contact and use the word, "bath." Try this a couple times and if that doesn't work, lead the kid there. Hopefully eventually he'll "get it." You can tell the way he looks at you he does NOT understand at present.