Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cursed Auditory Processing Disorder

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


Dan and Karen said...

I am sure after doing some reading that we are dealing with APD to some degree in at least one of our boys. He was slow to pick up English, still slow to understand what is said sometimes, had a terrible time pronouncing words in Spanish and therefore in English too, uses some of those "made-up" words and the list goes on. He says things like "dark time" for night. He will use descriptive words instead of the actual word many times. I thought he would never learn vowel sounds, but when he finally got he it seems he now is our best reader. We have not had him tested, but have worked and worked and worked with him. Repetition, simpler sentences when giving instructions and such. I also think that perhaps he has dyscalculia. For instance, if I ask him "What is 2 plus 3?" he doesn't know, but if I say "What is 2 and 3 more?" he understands. He also has the most challenging behavior issues.

I'm like you - I wish we knew what caused this. Neglect (they certainly were neglected), illness (maybe), genetics (our oldest also evidently had issues with speech at a younger age and still has difficulty pronouncing new words)- who knows! But, it is something that we hadn't really considered before their adoption. While we wish they had kept their Spanish, I think for them at this point the English is more important.

Cindy LaJoy said...

Man can I relate to this post! Our son Kenny, home 3 1/2 years, has serious APD and it affects every aspect of his life. He can't follow directions if they are more than one step and even then has problems sometimes. He can't read well as he can't discern sounds, he has speech issues due to cleft lip and palate but I am finding his speech issues are actually far worse due to APD. We are trying a few things but nothing seems to be providing us with real success yet.

What challenges our kids go through! How hard it is for us, as parents, to discern what all is going on for them when it can be a slew of things!

deanna willett said...

We too have significant speech/language/developmental dalays. Angelica has no feeling in the front of her mouth which obviously make it hard to say some words but recently diagnosed as aprahxia (motor processing delay) so that what she is thinking and what comes out of her mouth or two totally different things. Angelica also has had surgery for strabimus. Language delays are difficult and in our case have lead to LOTS of aggressive behavior at school because she can not communicate or initiate conversation appropriately. She is getting better and she no longer bites (except her para). In our case Angelica was only 18 months when adopted but the damage had already been done. Severe malnutrition, abuse and neglect had already impacted her life compounded by seizures disorder. Al I know is we watch her improve more and more everyday AND hope that we keep proving her neurologist wrong.

Lola Granola said...

We may be dealing with this as well. Our daughter, home a year and a half from China, leaves the ends off of all words if they end in a consonant (although oddly she gets them if they end in a vowel-- as in, potty is right, but pot is more like "pa.")

And command s are really impossible for her, which we put down to a behavioral issue but I am now realizing is more than that. Thanks for your post!