I guess perplexed is as good a way as any to explain it, though it's a hopeful perplexed, and a confused one, and a slightly angry one.
L and I have agreed that it would be an excellent idea for me to spend about 30 minutes in Maya's classroom most days. We'll be varying the time and circumstances to try and keep this from ending up as another one of Maya's rigid "compartments".
This morning, on my own initiative and before speaking with L, I decided to stay in the classroom for a bit to try and draw Maya out. The teachers all greeted her and then she made a beeline for the blocks. She started lining them up as always. When I sat down and suggested she make a 7 instead, she took two blocks and made a 7. Then an upside-down 7, then a sideways one, then she made a T. When I suggested a car, she made that too. At that point another little girl came over to play and wanted to make a bridge. They spent the next few minutes playing sort of together, sort of in parallel. At one point I mentioned to another girl (Maya's good friend) that she needed to wipe her nose, so Maya promptly got up, went to go get a tissue, and walked over to the girl to wipe her nose. This doesn't sound to me like a child who is uninterested in social contact, more like a girl needs to feel comfortable first, and perhaps needs a bit of a push to initiate it.
At the end of the day I made sure to come a few minutes early and try again. This time, Maya was very huggy kissy with her teachers, and then went to play. When I suggested that she hug another girl who'd come over, she did. Then they kissed and hugged some more. I then suggested that they both jump together. They did. When I suggested that they hold hands while jumping, Maya happily did that too.
One of the aides, who speaks English extremely well, also agrees with my thinking that the language is a major issue, and seems less stressed about the whole situation (since she sees it more as a temporary language issue). She said that the teacher doesn't speak much English and isn't very experienced with bilingual children, and may be underestimating the impact of this because she doesn't realize how much more fluent Maya still is in English.
There are certainly issues here, and they need to be fixed, but seeing how easily I was able to elicit an appropriate social response I can't help but wonder why her teachers can't. They are educated, warm, loving, involved and extremely capable. Why has this progressed to the level that it has?
I'll be meeting with L again on Tuesday morning for a more in-depth conversation. I hope these things I'm seeing in the school help to illuminate a clearer path towards helping Maya. In the meantime, she's encouraged us to have a lot of playdates for Maya so we're going to be very busy this week. Tomorrow her good friend is coming over (the one with the runny nose LOL). Tuesday a friend is coming over with her two kids - a boy Itai's age and a girl just a bit younger than Maya, they also play well together. Then Thursday her classroom aide (who she adores) is coming over with her daughter. She's Maya's age and they know each other enough to be friendly. I think it will be particularly helpful for Maya to see the aide out of school, and just as much so for the aide to see what Maya is actually capable of.
Never a dull moment. I do feel slightly more optimistic at the moment though.
Thank you to everyone for your support. It really does help.