I have to admit I am a little worried about Rory’s language. She isn’t exactly a non-native English speaker. Her foster parents spoke English, and so did she, although it was about on the level of a two year old (we adopted her at almost four). But the nannies and other staff spoke Chinese or dialects, and I imagine the children did a lot of physical communication, since they would have had varying speech abilities.
Rory is still behind, and in a pretty big way. I think we have been denying it. For one thing, there’s her speech issue, which apparently isn’t related to her cleft directly but may stem from some late development. She leaves off the final consonants of any words ending in a consonant or double consonants. So she can say “Caddie” very clearly (our dog) but will be hard to understand if she says “can.” She could be saying cat, or cap, and she would sound the same.
Then theres the next issue, which is one of not learning the actual words. I am not sure how to handle this. It may be that there are just SO MANY words, and I can sure understand that. But it seems like she isn’t making an effort, and I don’t really mean that she is making a conscious choice not to make an effort, but just that she doesn’t. I don’t think it’s some evil master plan or laziness. What I don’t know is how normal it is, or if it’s an issue. Basically, she takes short cuts. If she’s learned one word for something, like dinner, she uses that word in every possible other context with respect to meals, even though we use many other words. She doesn’t like to be read to, although we read every night. It’s hard for her to hold still. Even when she does, we recently realized she’s not taking in a single thing. As in, read a page in which the name of the protagonist is said no less than six times, ask her what the little girl’s name is, and get a blank stare. She simply has no idea.
That’s obviously personally frustrating–I mean, hello, I’m not reading for my health here–but I’m also concerned with WHY she does it. She’s sitting there, but shes totally tuned out. Picture books are better, especially if she can sit on your lap, but anything a little longer and she’s lost.
And, just because I’m listing my worries here, she can’t count to ten accurately and leaves letters out in the alphabet song (and I’m not sure she associates the alphabet song with actual letters). She can write an assortment of letters, maybe twelve or fifteen of them. But she’s a million miles away from reading.
And she has trouble learning the rules of simple games, even if she wants to play. I’m not sure if that’s the complexity of following multiple commands (if you have two cards that match, hit the plastic hand) or disliking doing what other people tell her to do (certainly true) or just the excitement of playing–Rory has a LOT of trouble holding still or sitting down. She’s learned to be a good sport somewhat, but she always loses, because she just can’t hold all the complexities of the game in her head at once.
I’m not sure if I should worry about any of this. I don’t know if it’s normal international adoptee, or normal any adoptee who didn’t start out in as rich an environment as she now lives in. I don’t know if maybe it’s normal five year old, and because Sam wasn’t surrounded by siblings doing different stuff, I didn’t notice and I suspect Lily and Wyatt don’t represent a fair sample (Sam is generally pretty on target for his age, whereas Lily and Wyatt are generally ahead of the game). I just don’t know. Speech therapy will, in theory, start soon, and she is still in preschool (she technically made the K cut-off, but we wisely held her back). I just don’t know. I figure it will probably all even out in the wash, but I wish I knew for sure!