I've read on other blogs about other parents being saddened by their children's loss of their first language (usually Spanish). I have to tell you, I can't relate to those feelings at all. We have now been home almost 22 months and we still often hear several Spanish words used in the middle of otherwise English sentences. And often the sentence in English is still structured as a sentence in Spanish.
We also hear words that are not English or Spanish ("made up" words that I now know came from not being able to correctly decode phenomes in Spanish before, and in English now). For example, there is the word "unday". Huh? you say - well me too... for over a year. I even tried to look it up in dictionaries and on BabelFish with no success. Only when the Spanish slowly started to give way to more intelligible English was I able to figure out what this mysterious word was supposed to mean. It is actually supposed to be "cuando" in Spanish ("when" in English).
Communication continues to be an issue at our house after almost two years - albeit on a much lesser scale. Memory and sequencing problems continue - and are also part of the auditory processing disorders we are battling.
Before we brought our kids home, I thought that it was important for them to become bilingual. Now, not so much. Now, I just want them to be proficient in English. I want them to be able to read in English. I want them to be able to write in English. I want them to be able to speak in English so that others can understand what they are saying. Yes, my vision of what is "important" has changed dramatically over the past couple of years.
We have been attacking the APD on three fronts: Therapy for the APD itself, speech therapy and through the special education school that we send our older children to - where they understand the roots of the problems our children are up against. The director of the school and his wife have a disabled biological daughter and a son (from Colombia) that they fostered when his adoption disrupted after his arrival in the US. Their son had undiagnosed learning disabilities too. Their experience with LD is first-hand.
So where does APD come from? 'No one knows for certain,' is the less-than-satisfactory answer to that question. Our audiologist (and APD therapist) believes that our kids had "unresolved" recurring ear aches/infections at very young ages. Our orthodontist says that the discoloration in Oscar's teeth is due to recurring high fevers. These (especially the recurring ear aches) are often listed as likely causes for APD.
So why did I devote an entire blog post to APD? Well, before adoption, I had never even heard of APD. We knew we were adopting one child with strabismic amblyopia. We thought we were prepared for a certain course of treatment and ended up going a completely different direction. We were briefed on tantrums and PTSD and RAD, but not APD (or VPD's) or learning disabilities that could have been caused by early neglect.
Post-adoption, I believe APD quite possibly may be linked with many educational/behavioral issues that many older adopted children have. For a long time, we summed up our kids' slowness at acquiring English to being able to speak Spanish to each other and being older and therefore having more "first language" already ingrained. As the months went by, and the English that was being spoken was poorly articulated (sounds added where they shouldn't be and left out where they should have been - or both) we started to realize that there must be something else going on. The public schools attributed any issues I brought to them were due to "language acquisition issues". I determined that I wasn't up for an uphill fight with the school (times four), so we took the path of least resistance and put our kids in their various therapies (the school refused to provide speech therapy for the reason stated above) and then pulled them from public school and placed them in private schools. We are blessed to have the means to afford these options.
It's still been uphill, but I don't feel like it's nearly as steep a hill or that I'm trying to push a boulder up that hill in front of me anymore. God created us to be incredibly resilient - if we choose to be. Incidently, our kids have all begun reading within their first semester since making all these changes. Coincidence? I don't think so.
More examples of "APD words":
peep = peed
hun-gedd = hundred
no brilly = not really
bi = bite
fi = fight
tie = tight
fodder = father
code = cold
hay-ope = help