Shu’s guardian that has been hosting him in the prep and recovery periods of his surgery sent us this update. So glad the Lord has placed Mandie in Shu’s life. She writes:
The surgery was successful. They revised a few things in his right eye, removed stitches, assessed for possible rejection, and gave him an injection in that eye to halt the beginnings of rejection that were showing there. His vision was also assessed and it is recommended that he begin wearing +3 lenses in his glasses asap. I’m waiting for an appointment to get these ordered and in the meantime he is wearing big grownup reading glasses for school. They are cumbersome, but he’s a good sport and is tolerating them. His left eye surgery was successful as well. Currently he has a lot of stitches in that eye (16, I think) and they said his vision may be blurry. We are seeing him show much more interest in smaller details of drawing and building with Legos. He can also see distance with his right eye (for example when we are driving, he calls out “red light…stop!” or “Green light…go!” appropriately.
He will have a follow-up appointment next week where we will discuss his next glasses, therapies, and recheck his right eye for overgrown vessels (a sign of rejection). In the meantime, the very best thing we can do for him is let him be a kid. He spends hours each day just playing with my kids and learning social skills, jumping on the trampoline, playing with the dog. Every outing is a sensory learning experience for him. He watches English and Chinese cartoons on the iPad and plays several games specially designed to enhance visual acuity. Because we’re with him every day, it can be hard to realize how much he has grown and changed since May, but when I took him to the hospital for surgery, the Child Life Specialist who worked with him last time broke down in tears multiple times because she said she hardly recognized him. He was a “completely different child”. The nurses and doctors could not believe how much he was talking, expressing needs, showing willingness to reason and try new things. That was really encouraging for me to hear.
He seems to be developing in English and social/developmental skills at about a preschool level currently. His interest is mostly in baby toys and colors/counting/parroting everything we say. That being said, he impresses us daily with his intelligence and willingness to learn. Many of the autism-like behaviors he was exhibiting back in May have completely disappeared and he is slowly gaining more and more appropriate social skills. He has a very strong will and gets angry when he doesn’t get his way, but is also reasonable and has learned how to ask forgiveness and “make things right” when he has conflict with his “siblings”. We’ve noticed that he likes predictability and routine, so he has a set schedule that he follows at home, regular chores and responsibilities that he loves to complete, and likes knowing what to expect as far as where we are going and whether or not we will eat when we get there. 😉
His favorite American foods so far are: bananas, yogurt, bread, and ice cream, but he’s a great eater and never turns down a meal – even when it’s something new. He has shown a great ability to form healthy attachments. So far he has not exhibited good skills at interactively playing with other children, but is good at side-by-side play and every day we’re seeing him desire more and more interaction with peers.
Our local public school has been such a gift to our family over the last year. They know us well and when I went to them and explained Shu Wei’s situation and needs, they were thrilled to be able to accommodate him. They have a vision specialist on site who is working with him 4 days/week to give him the skills he will need to function in the vision-impaired world. He will begin learning Braille, which seems very wise. Even though his vision will likely continue to improve over the next several years, the fact that his pupils will never be reactive to light means that his eyes may be at higher risk for vision loss as he ages. Because of these surgeries, he will likely always have more vision than he would have had otherwise, but everyone I’ve consulted (including his prospective adoptive family and their local school for the blind) believes that even highly functioning vision impaired individuals should learn Braille, just as people who can hear/lipread still benefit from learning sign language because it connects them to a community in which they can find like-minded friends with similar experiences. There will also be a mobility specialist coming to the school to help him learn to not only navigate the school functionally, but also to teach him skills such as walking and scanning his environment for obstacles. Right now he only looks down at a 45 degree angle when he walks, so he often bumps into things at eye level, so they’ll work with him on those skills and may even teach him to use a cane – something that could help him navigate very bright outdoor environments where he tends to struggle most, relying on the cane to judge the ground so his eyes can focus on what’s ahead of him at eye level, people’s faces, etc.
He absolutely loves school and drives us crazy all weekend asking to go back to school “tomorrow”. When I asked him what his favorite part of school was, he answered in Chinese, “Teacher and friends.” The school loves him and has really come together to work at record speed to accommodate him quickly. They are excited to see his potential and help him grow and develop while he is here. My hope is that beginning in school while he is here will help even more with his next transition.
Thank you for everything you’re doing for this precious boy. We love him dearly.